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Title: The Book of the Homeless - (Le livre des sans-foyer)
Author: Edith Wharton, - To be updated
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.

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                      _THE BOOK OF THE HOMELESS_


                            THE BOOK OF THE

                      (_Le Livre des Sans-Foyer_)

                               EDITED BY
                             EDITH WHARTON

                          _New York & London


                         BOOK OF THE HOMELESS

                      (_LE LIVRE DES SANS-FOYER_)

                        EDITED BY EDITH WHARTON

                   *       *       *       *       *

                 _Original Articles in Verse and Prose
     Illustrations reproduced from Original Paintings & Drawings_


                           THE BOOK IS SOLD
                     (WITH THE FOYER FRANCO-BELGE)

                               NEW YORK
                       _CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS_




_Armées de l’Est_               RÉPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE
_Le Commandant en Chef_

_Au Grand Quartier Général, le 18 Août, 1915_

_Les Etats-Unis d’Amérique n’ont pas oublié que la première page de
l’Histoire de leur indépendance a été écrite avec un peu de sang

_Par leur inépuisable générosité et leur grande sympathie, ils apportent
aujourd’hui à la France, qui combat pour sa liberté, l’aide la plus
précieuse et le plus puissant réconfort._




_Headquarters of the Commander-in-chief
of the Armies of the French Republic_

_August 18ᵗʰ 1915_

_The United States of America have never forgotten that the first page
of the history of their independence was partly written in French

_Inexhaustibly generous and profoundly sympathetic, these same United
States now bring aid and solace to France in the hour of her struggle
for liberty._



It is not only a pleasure but a duty to write the introduction which
Mrs. Wharton requests for “The Book of the Homeless.” At the outset of
this war I said that hideous though the atrocities had been and dreadful
though the suffering, yet we must not believe that these atrocities and
this suffering paralleled the dreadful condition that had obtained in
European warfare during, for example, the seventeenth century. It is
lamentable to have to confess that I was probably in error. The fate
that has befallen Belgium is as terrible as any that befell the
countries of Middle Europe during the Thirty Years’ War and the wars of
the following half-century. There is no higher duty than to care for the
refugees and above all the child refugees who have fled from Belgium.
This book is being sold for the benefit of the American Hostels for
Refugees and for the benefit of The Children of Flanders Relief
Committee, founded in Paris by Mrs. Wharton in November, 1914, and
enlarged by her in April, 1915, and chiefly maintained hitherto by
American subscriptions. My daughter, who in November and December last
was in Paris with her husband, Dr. Derby, in connection with the
American Ambulance, has told me much about the harrowing tragedies of
the poor souls who were driven from their country and on the verge of
starvation, without food or shelter, without hope, and with the members
of the family all separated from one another, none knowing where the
others were to be found, and who had drifted into Paris and into other
parts of France and across the Channel to England as a result of Belgium
being trampled into bloody mire. In April last the Belgian Government
asked Mrs. Wharton to take charge of some six hundred and fifty children
and a number of helpless old men and women from the ruined towns and
farms of Flanders. This is the effort which has now turned into The
Children of Flanders Rescue Committee.

I appeal to the American people to picture to themselves the plight of
these poor creatures and to endeavor in practical fashion to secure that
they shall be saved from further avoidable suffering. Nothing that our
people can do will remedy the frightful wrong that has been committed on
these families. Nothing that can now be done by the civilized world,
even if the neutral nations of the civilized world should at last wake
up to the performance of the duty they have so shamefully failed to
perform, can undo the dreadful wrong of which these unhappy children,
these old men and women, have been the victims. All that can be done
surely should be done to ease their suffering. The part that America has
played in this great tragedy is not an exalted part; and there is all
the more reason why Americans should hold up the hands of those of their
number who, like Mrs. Wharton, are endeavoring to some extent to remedy
the national shortcomings. We owe to Mrs. Wharton all the assistance we
can give. We owe this assistance to the good name of America, and above
all for the cause of humanity we owe it to the children, the women and
the old men who have suffered such dreadful wrong for absolutely no
fault of theirs.




MAURICE BARRÈS                                                      PAGE

Les Frères                                                            59

Translation: The Brothers                                             61


Une Promesse                                                          64

Translation: A Promise                                                64


The Orphans of Flanders. _Poem_                                        3


Après un An                                                           65

Translation: One Year Later                                           67


The Dance. _A Song_                                                    4


Le Précieux Sang. _Poem_                                               5

Translation: The Precious Blood                                        6


La Mort des Jeunes Gens de la Divine Hellade. Fragment. _Poem_         9

Translation: How the Young Men died in Hellas. A Fragment             11


Poland Revisited                                                      71


Musical Score: La légende de Saint Christophe (_Acte I, Sc. III_)     55


Libertà nella Vita                                                    98

Translation: The Right to Liberty                                     98


Harvest                                                               99


The Arrogance and Servility of Germany                               101


A Message. _Poem_                                                     14


Cry of the Homeless. _Poem_                                           16


Science et Conscience                                                105

Translation: Science and Conscience                                  106


The Little Children. _Poem_                                           17


Les Arabes avaient Raison                                            109

Translation: An Heroic Stand                                         111


The Long Wards                                                       115


Epitaphe. _Poem_                                                      18

Translation: An Epitaph                                               19


Lettre du Général Joffre                                             vii

Translation: Letter from General Joffre                             viii


Notre Héritage                                                       127

Translation: Our Inheritance                                         127


We Who Sit Afar Off                                                  129


In Sleep. _Poem_                                                      20


A Moment of Tragic Purgation                                         133


Nos Morts. _Poem_                                                     21

Translation: Our Dead                                                 21


Two Songs of a Year: 1914-1915

I. Children’s Kisses                                                  23

II. The Sans-Foyer                                                    25


Rain in Belgium. _Poem_                                               26


The Russian Bogyman                                                  139


L’Exilé. _Poem_                                                       27

Translation: The Exile                                                28


Introduction                                                          ix


Horreur et Beauté. _Poem_                                             30

Translation: Horror and Beauty                                        30


The Undergraduate Killed in Battle. _Poem_                            32


Musical Score: Souvenir d’une marche boche                            49


Chant des Galloises                                                  143

Translation: Song of the Welsh Women                                 147


The Children and the Flag. _Poem_                                     33


The Troubler of Telaro. _Poem_                                        34


Le Printemps de 1915. _Poem_                                          37

Translation: The New Spring                                           38


Wordsworth’s Valley in War-time                                      151


1915. _Poem_                                                          40


Preface                                                              xix

The Tryst. _Poem_                                                     41


Finisterre. _Poem_                                                    43


A Reason for Keeping Silent. _Poem_                                   45

       *       *       *       *       *

_The French poems, except M. Rostand’s Sonnet are translated by Mrs.



LÉON BAKST                                                FOLLOWING PAGE

Portrait of Jean Cocteau. _From an unpublished crayon sketch_          8

Ménade. _From a water-colour sketch_                                 126


A Gracious Act. (Caricature.) _From a water-colour sketch_           104


Portrait of Thomas Hardy. _From a photograph of the painting_         16

Portrait of George Moore. _From a photograph of the painting_        138

Portrait of Igor Stravinsky. _From a study in oils_                   46


A Woman’s Head. _From the original drawing_                          142


Pegasus. _From a pencil and pen-and-ink sketch_                       70


Brittany Woman. _From a drawing in coloured crayons_                  42


Interior. _From an original water-colour sketch_                      32


Turkish Soldier. _From the original pencil drawing made in 1857_     108


“The Girl he left behind Him.” _From a pen-and-ink sketch_            26


Nude Figure. _From a sketch in coloured crayon_                      150


Landscape. _From an early coloured pastel_                            22

Boats on a Beach. _From an early crayon drawing_                     100


Portrait of his Son, wounded in the War. _From a charcoal sketch_     64


Two Women. _From an original water-colour sketch_                     98


Portrait of André Gide. _From a pencil drawing_                        4

Portrait of Émile Verhaeren. _From a pencil drawing_                  36

Portrait of Vincent d’Indy. _From a photograph of the painting_       52


Portrait of Henry James. _From a photograph of the painting_         114

Two Heads. _From a pencil drawing_                                   132




Last year, among the waifs swept to Paris by the great torrent of the
flight from the North, there came to the American Hostels a little
acrobat from a strolling circus. He was not much more than a boy, and he
had never before been separated from his family or from his circus. All
his people were mummers or contortionists, and he himself was a mere
mote of the lime-light, knowing life only in terms of the tent and the
platform, the big drum, the dancing dogs, the tight-rope and the

In the sad preoccupied Paris of last winter it was not easy to find a
corner for this little figure. But the lad could not be left in the
streets, and after a while he was placed as page in a big hotel. He was
given good pay, and put into a good livery, and told to be a good boy.
He tried ... he really tried ... but the life was too lonely. Nobody
knew anything about the only things _he_ knew, or was particularly
interested in the programme of the last performance the company had
given at Liège or Maubeuge. The little acrobat could not understand. He
told his friends at the Hostels how lonely and puzzled he was, and they
tried to help him. But he couldn’t sleep at night, because he was used
to being up till nearly daylight; and one night he went up to the attic
of the hotel, broke open several trunks full of valuables stored there
by rich lodgers, and made off with some of the contents. He was caught,
of course, and the things he had stolen were produced in court. They
were the spangled dresses belonging to a Turkish family, and the
embroidered coats of a lady’s lap-dog....

I have told this poor little story to illustrate a fact which, as time
passes, is beginning to be lost sight of: the fact that we workers
among the refugees are trying, first and foremost, to _help a homesick
people_. We are not preparing for their new life an army of voluntary
colonists; we are seeking to console for the ruin of their old life a
throng of bewildered fugitives. It is our business not only to feed and
clothe and keep alive these people, but to reassure and guide them. And
that has been, for the last year, the task of the American Hostels for

The work was started in November, 1914, and since that time we have
assisted some 9,300 refugees, given more than 235,000 meals, and
distributed 48,333 garments.

But this is only the elementary part of our work. We have done many more
difficult things. Our employment agency has found work for over 3,500
men. Our work-rooms occupy about 120 women, and while they sew, their
babies are kept busy and happy in a cheerful day-nursery, and the older
children are taught in a separate class.

The British Young Women’s Christian Association of Paris has shown its
interest in our work by supplying us with teachers for the grown-up
students who realize the importance of learning English as a part of
their business equipment; and these classes are eagerly followed.

Lastly, we have a free clinic where 3,500 sick people have received
medical advice, and a dispensary where 4,500 have been given first aid
and nursing care; and during the summer we sent many delicate children
to the seaside in the care of various Vacation Colonies.

This is but the briefest sketch of our complicated task; a task
undertaken a year ago by a small group of French and American friends
moved to pity by the thousands of fugitives wandering through the
streets of Paris and sleeping on straw in the railway-stations.

We thought then that the burden we were assuming would not have to be
borne for more than three or four months, and we were confident of
receiving the necessary financial help. We were not mistaken; and
America has kept the American Hostels alive for a year. But we are now
entering on our second year, with a larger number to care for, and a
more delicate task to perform. The longer the exile of these poor people
lasts, the more carefully and discriminatingly must we deal with them.
They are not all King Alberts and Queen Elisabeths, as some idealists
apparently expected them to be. Some are hard to help, others
unappreciative of what is done for them. But many, many more are
grateful, appreciative, and eager to help us to help them. And of all of
them we must say, as Henri de Régnier says for us in the poem written
for this Book:

    He who, flying from the fate of slaves
    With brow indignant and with empty hand,
    Has left his house, his country and his graves,
    Comes like a Pilgrim from a Holy Land.
    Receive him thus, if in his blood there be
    One drop of Belgium’s immortality.



One day last August the members of the “Children of Flanders Rescue
Committee” were waiting at the door of the Villa Béthanie, a large
seminary near Paris which had been put at the disposal of the committee
for the use of the refugee children.

The house stands in a park with fine old trees and a wide view over the
lovely rolling country to the northwest of Paris. The day was beautiful,
the borders of the drive were glowing with roses, the lawns were
fragrant with miniature hay-cocks, and the flower-beds about the court
had been edged with garlands of little Belgian flags.

Suddenly we heard a noise of motor-horns, and the gates of the park were
thrown open. Down toward us, between the rose-borders, a procession was
beginning to pour: first a band of crippled and infirm old men, then a
dozen Sisters of Charity in their white caps, and lastly about ninety
small boys, each with his little bundle on his back.

They were a lamentable collection of human beings, in pitiful contrast
to the summer day and the bright flowers. The old men, for the most
part, were too tired and dazed to know where they were, or what was
happening to them, and the Sisters were crying from fatigue and
homesickness. The boys looked grave too, but suddenly they caught sight
of the flowers, the hay-cocks, and the wide house-front with all its
windows smiling in the sun. They took a long look and then, of their own
accord, without a hint from their elders, they all broke out together
into the Belgian national hymn. The sound of that chorus repaid the
friends who were waiting to welcome them for a good deal of worry and
hard work.

       *       *       *       *       *

The flight from western Flanders began last April, when Ypres,
Poperinghe, and all the open towns of uninvaded Belgium were swept by a
senseless and savage bombardment. Even then it took a long time to
induce the inhabitants to give up the ruins of their homes; and before
going away themselves they sent their children.

Train-load after train-load of Flemish children poured into Paris last
spring. They were gathered in from the ruins, from the trenches, from
the hospices where the Sisters of Charity had been caring for them, and
where, in many cases, they had been huddled in with the soldiers
quartered in the same buildings. Before each convoy started, a young
lady with fair hair and very blue eyes walked through the train,
distributing chocolate and sandwiches to the children and speaking to
each of them in turn, very kindly; and all but the very littlest
children understood that this lady was their Queen....

The Belgian government, knowing that I had been working for the
refugees, asked me to take charge of sixty little girls, and of the
Sisters accompanying them. We found a house, fitted it up, begged for
money and clothes, and started The Children of Flanders Rescue
Committee. Now, after six months, we have five houses, and are caring
for nearly 900 people, among whom are about 200 infirm old men and women
whom the Sisters had to bring because there was no one left to look
after them in the bombarded towns.

Every war-work, if it has any vitality in it, is bound to increase in
this way, and is almost certain to find the help it needs to keep it
growing. We have always been so confident of this that we have tried to
do for our Children of Flanders what the Hostels have done for the
grown-up refugees: not only to feed and clothe and shelter, but also to
train and develop them. Some of the Sisters are skilled lace-makers; and
we have founded lace-schools in three of our houses. There is a dearth
of lace at present, owing to the ruin of the industry in Belgium and
Northern France, and our little lace-makers have already received large
orders for Valenciennes and other laces. The smallest children are kept
busy in classes of the “Montessori” type, provided by the generosity of
an American friend, and the boys, out of school-hours, are taught
gardening and a little carpentry. We hope later to have the means to
enlarge this attempt at industrial training.

This is what we are doing for the Children of Flanders; but, above and
beyond all, we are caring for their health and their physical
development. The present hope of France and Belgium is in its children,
and in the hygienic education of those who have them in charge; and we
have taught the good Sisters many things they did not know before
concerning the physical care of the children. The results have been
better than we could have hoped; and those who saw the arrival of the
piteous waifs a few months ago would scarcely recognize them in the
round and rosy children playing in the gardens of our Houses.



I said just now that when we founded our two refugee charities we were
confident of getting money enough to carry them on. So we were; and so
we had a right to be; for at the end of the first twelvemonth we are
still alive and solvent.

But we never dreamed, at the start, that the work would last longer than
a year, or that its demands would be so complex and increasing. And when
we saw before us the certainty of having to carry this poor burden of
humanity for another twelve months, we began to wonder how we should get
the help to do it.

Then the thought of this Book occurred to me. I appealed to my friends
who write and paint and compose, and they to other friends of theirs,
writers, painters, composers, statesmen and dramatic artists; and so the
Book gradually built itself up, page by page and picture by picture.

You will see from the names of the builders what a gallant piece of
architecture it is, what delightful pictures hang on its walls, and what
noble music echoes through them. But what I should have liked to show is
the readiness, the kindliness, the eagerness, with which all the
collaborators, from first to last, have lent a hand to the building.
Perhaps you will guess it for yourselves when you read their names and
see the beauty and variety of what they have given. So I efface myself
from the threshold and ask you to walk in.


_Paris, November, 1915_

Gifts of money for the American Hostels for Refugees, and the Children
of Flanders Rescue Committee should be addressed to Mrs. Wharton, 53 rue
de Varenne, Paris, or to Henry W. Munroe, Treasurer, care of Mrs.
Cadwalader Jones, 21 East Eleventh Street, New York.

Gifts in kind should be forwarded to the American War Relief Clearing
House, 5 rue François Iᵉʳ, Paris (_with Mrs. Wharton’s name in the
left-hand corner_), _via_ the American offices of the Clearing House, 15
Broad Street, New York.

[Illustration: I



        W. D. HOWELLS
        W. B. YEATS

       *       *       *       *       *



    Where is the land that fathered, nourished, poured
    The sap of a strong race into your veins,--
    Land of wide tilth, of farms and granaries stored,
    And old towers chiming over peaceful plains?

    It is become a vision, barred away
    Like light in cloud, a memory, a belief.
    On those lost plains the Glory of yesterday
    Builds her dark towers for the bells of Grief.

    It is become a splendour-circled name
    For all the world. A torch against the skies
    Burns from that blood-spot, the unpardoned shame
    Of them that conquered: but your homeless eyes

    See rather some brown pond by a white wall,
    Red cattle crowding in the rutty lane,
    Some garden where the hollyhocks were tall
    In the Augusts that shall never be again.

    There your thoughts cling as the long-thrusting root
    Clings in the ground; your orphaned hearts are there.
    O mates of sunburnt earth, your love is mute
    But strong like thirst and deeper than despair.

    You have endured what pity can but grope
    To feel; into that darkness enters none.
    We have but hands to help: yours is the hope
    Whose silent courage rises with the sun.
                LAURENCE BINYON



    As the Wind and as the Wind
        In a corner of the way,
    Goes stepping, stands twirling,
    Invisibly, comes whirling,
    Bows before and skips behind
        In a grave, an endless play--

    So my Heart and so my Heart
        Following where your feet have gone,
    Stirs dust of old dreams there;
    He turns a toe; he gleams there,
    Treading you a dance apart.
        But you see not. You pass on.
                RUPERT BROOKE






    --Seigneur, qui pour un verre d’eau nous avez promis la mer illimitée,
          Qui sait si vous n’avez pas soif aussi?
    Et que ce sang qui est tout ce que nous avons soit propre
       à vous désaltérer,
          C’est vrai, puisque vous l’avez dit!
    Si vraiment il y a une source en nous, eh bien, c’est ce que nous
       allons voir!
          Si ce vin a quelque vertu
    Et si notre sang est rouge, comme vous le dites, comment le savoir
          Autrement que quand il est répandu?
    Si notre sang est vraiment précieux, comme vous le dites, si vraiment
       il est comme de l’or,
          S’il sert, pourquoi le garder?
    Et sans savoir ce qu’on peut acheter avec, pourquoi le réserver
       comme un trésor,
          Mon Dieu, quand vous nous le demandez?
    Nos péchés sont grands, nous le savons, et qu’il faut absolument
       faire pénitence,
          Mais il est difficile pour un homme de pleurer.
    Voici notre sang au lieu de larmes que nous avons répandu pour
       la France:
          Faites-en ce que vous voudrez.
    Prenez-le, nous vous le donnons, tirez-en vous-même usage et
          Nous ne vous faisons point de demande
    Mais si vous avez besoin de notre amour autant que nous avons
       besoin de votre justice,
          Alors c’est que votre soif est grande!
                P. CLAUDEL

_Juillet 1915_



    Oh, what if Thou, that for a cup of water promisest
    The illimitable sea,
    Thou, Lord, dost also thirst?
    Hast Thou not said, our blood shall quench Thee best
    And first
      Of any drink there be?

    If then there be such virtue in it, Lord,
    Ah, let us prove it now!
    And, save by seeing it at Thy footstool poured,
      How, Lord--oh, how?

    If it indeed be precious and like gold,
    As Thou hast taught,
    Why hoard it? There’s no wealth in gems unsold,
      Nor joy in gems unbought.

    Our sins are great, we know it; and we know
    We must redeem our guilt;
    Even so.

    But tears are difficult for a man to shed,
    And here is our blood poured out for France instead,
      To do with as Thou wilt!

    Take it, O Lord! And make it Thine indeed,
    Void of all lien and fee.
    Nought else we ask of Thee;
    But if Thou needst our Love as we Thy Justice need,
      Great must Thine hunger be!
                PAUL CLAUDEL

[Illustration: _LÉON BAKST_





    Antigone criant et marchant au supplice
    N’avait pas de la mort leur sublime respect;
    Ce n’était pas pour eux une funeste paix,
    C’était un ordre auquel il faut qu’on obéisse.

    Ils ne subissaient pas l’offense qu’il fît beau
    Que le soleil mûrît les grappes de glycine;
    Ils étaient souriant en face du tombeau,
    Les rossignols élus que la rose assassine.

    Ils ne regrettaient pas les tendres soirs futurs,
    Les conversations sur les places d’Athènes,
    Où, le col altéré de poussière et d’azur,
    Pallas, comme un pigeon, pleure au bord des fontaines.

    Ils ne regrettaient pas les gradins découverts
    Où le public trépigne, insiste,
    Pour regarder, avant qu’ils montent sur la piste,
    Les cochers bleus riant avec les cochers verts.

    Ils ne regrettaient pas ce loisir disparate
    D’une ville qui semble un sordide palais,
    Où l’on se réunit pour entendre Socrate
    Et pour jouer aux osselets.

    Ils étaient éblouis de tumulte et de risque,
    Mais, si la fourbe mort les désignait soudain,
    Ils laissaient sans gémir sur l’herbe du jardin
    Les livres et le disque.

    Ce n’était pas pour eux l’insupportable affront,
    Ils se couchaient sans choc, sans lutte, sans tapage,
    Comme on voit, ayant bien remué sous le front,
    Un vers définitif s’étendre sur la page.

    Ils étaient résignés, vêtus, rigides, prêts
    Pour cette expérience étrange,
    Comme Hyacinthe en fleur indolemment se change
    Et comme Cyparis se transforme en cyprès.

    Ils ne regrettaient rien de vivre en Ionie,
    D’être libres, d’avoir des mères et des sœurs,
    Et de sentir ce lourd sommeil envahisseur
    Après une courte insomnie.

    Ils rentraient au séjour qui n’a plus de saison,
    Où notre faible orgueil se refuse à descendre,
    Sachant que l’urne étroite où gît un peu de cendre
    Sera tout le jardin et toute la maison.

    Jadis j’ai vu mourir des frères de mon âge,
    J’ai vu monter en eux l’indicible torpeur.
    Ils avaient tous si mal! Ils avaient tous si peur!
    Ils se prenaient la tête avec des mains en nage.

    Ils ne pouvaient pas croire, ayant si soif, si faim,
    Un tel désir de tout avec un cœur si jeune,
    A ce désert sans source, à cet immense jeûne,
    A ce terme confus qui n’a jamais de fin.

    Ils n’attendaient plus rien de la tendresse humaine
    Et cherchaient à chasser d’un effort douloureux
    L’Ange noir qui se couche à plat ventre sur eux
    Et qui les considère avant qu’il les emmène.
                JEAN COCTEAU




    Antigone went wailing to the dust.
    She reverenced not the face of Death like these
    To whom it came as no enfeebling peace
    But a command relentless and august.

    These grieved not at the beauty of the morn,
    Nor that the sun was on the ripening flower;
    Smiling they faced the sacrificial hour,
    Blithe nightingales against the fatal thorn.

    They grieved not that their feet no more should rove
    The Athenian porticoes in twilight leisure,
    Where Pallas, drunk with summer’s gold and azure,
    Brooded above the fountains like a dove.

    They grieved not for the theatre’s high-banked tiers,
    Where restlessly the noisy crowd leans over,
    With laughter and with jostling, to discover
    The blue and green of chaffing charioteers.

    Nor for the fluted shafts, the carven stones
    Of that sole city, bright above the seas,
    Where young men met to talk with Socrates
          Or toss the ivory bones.

    Their eyes were lit with tumult and with risk,
    But when they felt Death touch their hands and pass
    They followed, dropping on the garden grass
          The parchment and the disk.

    It seemed no wrong to them that they must go.
    They laid their lives down as the poet lays
    On the white page the poem that shall praise
    His memory when the hand that wrote is low.

    Erect they stood and, festally arrayed,
    Serenely waited the transforming hour,
    Softly as Hyacinth slid from youth to flower,
    Or the shade of Cyparis to a cypress shade.

    They wept not for the lost Ionian days,
    Nor liberty, nor household love and laughter,
    Nor the long leaden slumber that comes after
          Life’s little wakefulness.

    Fearless they sought the land no sunsets see,
    Whence our weak pride shrinks back, and would return,
    Knowing a pinch of ashes in an urn
    Henceforth our garden and our house shall be.

    Young men, my brothers, you whose morning skies
    I have seen the deathly lassitude invade,
    Oh, how you suffered! How you were afraid!
    What death-damp hands you locked about your eyes!

    You, so insatiably athirst to spend
    The young desires in your hearts abloom,
    How could you think the desert was your doom,
    The waterless fountain and the endless end?

    You yearned not for the face of love, grown dim,
    But only fought your anguished bones to wrest
    From the Black Angel crouched upon your breast,
    Who scanned you ere he led you down with him.
                JEAN COCTEAU


    This is our gift to the Homeless.
      What shall it bear from me
    Safe in a land that prospers
      Girded by leagues of sea?--
    Tear moistened words of pity,
      Bountiful sympathy.

    Clearly we see the picture,
      Horror has fixed our eyes.
    Fighting to guard its hearthstones
      A nation mangled lies.
    Fire has charred its beauty,
      Murder has stilled its cries;

    And truths we love and cherish
      Hang in the trembling scale.
    If you win, we win by proxy,
      If you fail, we are doomed to fail.
    The world is beset by a monster,
      Yet we watch to see who shall prevail.

    Our souls are racked and quickened,
      But prudence counsels no.
    So we lavish our gold and pity
      And wait to see how it will go,--
    This pivotal war of the ages
      With its heartrending ebb and flow.

    For ever there comes the moment
      When destiny bids “choose.”
    By the edge of the sword men perish,
      By selfishness all they lose.
    So Belgium stands transfigured
      As the one who did not refuse.
                ROBERT GRANT


    Instigator of the ruin--
      Whichsoever thou mayst be
    Of the mastering minds of Europe
      That contrived our misery--
    Hear the wormwood-worded greeting
      From each city, shore, and lea
            Of thy victims:
      “Enemy, all hail to thee!”

    Yea: “All hail!” we grimly shout thee
      That wast author, fount, and head
    Of these wounds, whoever proven
      When our times are throughly read.
    “May thy dearest ones be blighted
      And forsaken,” be it said
            By thy victims,
      “And thy children beg their bread!”

    Nay: too much the malediction.--
      Rather let this thing befall
    In the unfurling of the future,
      On the night when comes thy call:
    That compassion dew thy pillow
      And absorb thy senses all
            For thy victims,
      Till death dark thee with his pall.
                THOMAS HARDY

_August, 1915_





    “Suffer little children to come unto me,”
     Christ said, and answering with infernal glee,
    “Take them!” the arch-fiend scoffed, and from the tottering walls
     Of their wrecked homes, and from the cattle’s stalls,
     And the dogs’ kennels, and the cold
     Of the waste fields, and from the hapless hold
     Of their dead mothers’ arms, famished and bare,
     And maimed by shot and shell,
     The master-spirit of hell
     Caught them up, and through the shuddering air
     Of the hope-forsaken world
     The little ones he hurled,
     Mocking that Pity in his pitiless might--
     The Anti-Christ of Schrecklickeit.
                W. D. HOWELLS


    Ci-gît un tel, mort pour la France et qui, vivant,
    Poussait sa voiturette à travers les villages
    Pour vendre un peu de fil, de sel ou de fromage,
    Sous les portails d’azur aux feuillages mouvants.

    Il a gagné son pain comme au Commandement
    Que donne aux hommes Dieu dans le beau Livre sage.
    Puis, un jour, sur sa tête a crevé le nuage
    Que lance l’orageux canon de l’Allemand.

    Ce héros, dans l’éclair qui délivra son âme,
    Aura vu tout en noir ses enfants et sa femme
    Contemplants anxieux son pauvre gagne-pain:

    Ce chariot plus beau que n’est celui de l’Ourse
    Et qu’il a fait rouler pendant la dure course
    Qui sur terre commence un céleste destin.
                FRANCIS JAMMES

_Orthez, 29 Juillet 1915_



    Here such an one lies dead for France. His trade
    To push a barrow stocked with thread, cheese, salt
    From town to town, under the azure vault,
    Through endless corridors of rustling shade.
    True to the sacred law of toil, he made
    His humble living as the Book commands,
    Till suddenly there burst upon his lands
    The thunder of the German cannonade.

    Poor hero! In the flash that smote him dead
    He saw his wife and children all in black
    Weeping about the cart that earned their bread--
    The cart that, by his passionate impulse sped
    On immortality’s celestial track,
    Shone brighter than the Wain above his head.
                FRANCIS JAMMES


    I dreamt (no “dream” awake--a dream indeed)
    A wrathful man was talking in the Park:
    “Where are the Higher Powers who know our need,
            Yet leave us in the dark?

    “There are no Higher Powers; there is no heart
    In God, no love”--his oratory here,
    Taking the paupers’ and the cripples’ part,
            Was broken by a tear.

    And next it seemed that One who did invent
    Compassion, who alone created pity,
    Walked, as though called, and hastened as He went
            Out from the muttering city;

    Threaded the little crowd, trod the brown grass,
    Bent o’er the speaker close, saw the tear rise,
    And saw Himself, as one looks in a glass,
            In those impassioned eyes.
                ALICE MEYNELL


    Astres qui regardez les mondes où nous sommes,
    Pure armée au repos dans la hauteur des cieux,
    Campement éternel, léger, silencieux,
    Que pensez-vous de voir s’anéantir les hommes?
    A n’être pas sublime aucun ne condescend,
    Comme un cri vers la nue on voit jaillir leur sang
    Qui sur nos cœurs contrits lentement se rabaisse.
    --Morts divins, portez-nous un plausible secours!
    Notre douleur n’est pas la sœur de votre ivresse.
    Vous mourez! Concevez que c’est un poids trop lourd
    Pour ceux qui dans leur grave et brûlante tristesse
    Ont toujours confondu la Vie avec l’Amour.
                COMTESSE DE NOAILLES



    Stars that behold our world upon its way,
    Pure legions camped upon the plains of night,
    Mute watchful hosts of heaven, what must you say
    When men destroy each other in their might?
    Upon their deadly race each runner starts,
    Nor one but will his brothers all outrun!
    Ah, see their blood jet upward to the sun
    Like living fountains refluent on our hearts!
    O dead divinely for so great a faith,
    Help us, whose agony is but begun,
    For bitterly we yield you up to death,
    We who had dreamed that Life and Love were one.
                COMTESSE DE NOAILLES

[Illustration: _CLAUDE MONET_







    So; it is nightfall then.
    The valley flush
    That beckoned home the way for herds and men
    Is hardly spent:
    Down the bright pathway winds, through veils of hush
    And wonderment.
    Unuttered yet the chime
    That tells of folding-time;
    Hardly the sun has set;--
    The trees are sweetly troubled with bright words
    From new-alighted birds.
    And yet, ...
    Here, round my neck, are come to cling and twine,
    The arms, the folding arms, close, close and fain,
    All mine!--
    I pleaded to, in vain,
    I reached for, only to their dimpled scorning,
    Down the blue halls of morning;--
    Where all things else could lure them on and on,
    Now here, now gone,
    From bush to bush, from beckoning bough to bough,
    With bird-calls of _Come Hither!_--

    Ah, but now ...
    Now it is dusk.--And from his heaven of mirth,
    A wilding skylark sudden dropt to earth
    Along the last low sunbeam yellow-moted,--
    Athrob with joy,--
    There pushes here, a little golden Boy,
    Still gazing with great eyes:
    And wonder-wise,
    All fragrancy, all valor silver-throated,
    My daughterling, my swan,
    My Alison.

    Closer than homing lambs against the bars
    At folding-time, that crowd, all mother-warm,
    They crowd, they cling, they wreathe;--
    And thick as sparkles of the thronging stars,
    Their kisses swarm.

    O Rose of Being at whose heart I breathe,
    Fold over, hold me fast
    In the dim Eden of a blinding kiss.
    And lightning heart’s desire, be still at last.
    Heart can no more,--
    Life can no more
    Than this.



    Love, that Love cannot share,--
          Now turn to air!
    And fade to ashes, O my daily bread,
          Save only if you may
          Bless you, to be the stay
            Of the uncomforted.

    Behold, you far-off lights,--
          From smoke-veiled heights,
    If there be dwelling in our wilderness!
          For Love the refugee,
          No stronghold can there be,--
    No shelter more, while these go shelterless.

    Love hath no home, beside
          His own two arms spread wide;--
    The only home, among all walls that are:
          So there may come to cling,
          Some yet forlorner thing
    Feeling its way, along this blackened star.


    The heavy rain falls down, falls down,
    On city streets whence all have fled,
    Where tottering ruins skyward frown
    Above the staring silent dead.
    Here shall ye raise your Kaiser’s throne,
    Stained with the blood for freedom shed.

    Here where men choked for breath in vain
    Who in fair fight had all withstood,
    Here on this poison-haunted plain,
    Made rich with babes’ and women’s blood,
    Here shall ye plant your German grain,
    Here shall ye reap your children’s food.

    The harvest ripens--Reaper come!
    Bring children singing Songs of Hate
    Taught by the mother in the home--
    Fit comrade she for such a mate.
    Soon shall ye reap what ye have sown;
    God’s mills grind thoroughly though late.

    The heavy rain beats down, beats down;
    I hear in it the tramp of Fate!
                LILLA CABOT PERRY

[Illustration: _CHARLES DANA GIBSON_




    “O deuil de ne pouvoir emporter sur la mer
     Dans l’écume salée et dans le vent amer,
     L’épi de son labeur et le fruit de sa treille,
     Ni la rose que l’aurore fait plus vermeille
     Ni rien de tout de ce qui, selon chaque saison,
     Pare divinement le seuil de la maison!
     Mais, puisque mon foyer n’est plus qu’un peu de cendre,
     Et que, dans mon jardin, je ne dois plus entendre
     Sur les arbres chanter les oiseaux du printemps;
     Que nul ne reviendra de tous ceux que j’attends,
     S’abriter sous le toit où nichaient les colombes,
     Adieu donc, doux pays où nous avions nos tombes,
     Où nous devions, à l’heure où se ferment les yeux,
     Nous endormir auprès du sommeil des aïeux!
     Nous partons. Ne nous pleurez pas, tendres fontaines,
     Terre que nous quittons pour des terres lointaines,
     O toi que le brutal talon du conquérant
     A foulée et qu’au loin, de sa lueur de sang,
     Empourpre la bataille et rougit l’incendie!
     Qu’un barbare vainqueur nous chasse et qu’il châtie
     En nous le saint amour que nous avons pour toi,
     C’est bien. La force pour un jour, prime le droit,
     Mais l’exil qu’on subit pour ta cause, Justice,
     Laisse au destin vengeur le temps qu’il s’accomplisse.
     Nous reviendrons. Et soit que nous passions la mer
     Parmi l’embrun cinglant et dans le vent amer,
     Soit que le sort cruel rudement nous disperse,
     Troupeau errant, sous la rafale ou sous l’averse,
     Ne nous plains pas, cher hôte, en nous tendant la main,
     Car n’est-il pas pour toi un étranger divin
     Celui qui, le front haut et les yeux pleins de flamme,
     A quitté sa maison pour fuir un joug infâme
     Et dont le fier genou n’a pas voulu ployer
     Et qui, pauvre, exilé, sans pain et sans foyer,
     Sent monter, de son cœur à sa face pâlie,
     Ce même sang sacré que saigne la Patrie.
                 HENRI DE RÉGNIER
                _de l’Académie Française_



    Bitter our fate, that may not bear away
    On the harsh winds and through the alien spray
    Sheaves of our fields and fruit from the warm wall,
    The rose that reddens at the morning’s call,
    Nor aught of all wherewith the turning year
    Our doorway garlanded, from green to sere....
    But since the ash is cold upon the hearth,
    And dumb the birds in garden and in garth,
    Since none shall come again, of all our loves,
    Back to this roof that crooned with nesting doves,
    Now let us bid farewell to all our dead,
    And that dear corner of earth where they are laid,
    And where in turn it had been good to lay
    Our kindred heads on the appointed day.

    Weep not, O springs and fountains, that we go,
    And thou, dear earth, the earth our footsteps know,
    Weep not, thou desecrated, shamed and rent,
    Consumed with fire and with blood-shed spent.
    Small strength have they that hunt us from thy fold
    To loosen love’s indissoluble hold,
    And brighter than the flames about thy pyre
    Our exiled faith shall spring for thee, and higher.
    We shall return. Let Time reverse the glass.
    Homeless and scattered from thy face we pass,
    Through rain and tempest flying from our doors,
    On seas unfriendly swept to stranger shores.
    But, O you friends unknown that wait us there,
    We ask no pity, though your bread we share.
    For he who, flying from the fate of slaves
    With brow indignant and with empty hand,
    Has left his house, his country and his graves,
    Comes like a Pilgrim from a Holy Land.
    Receive him thus, if in his blood there be
    One drop of Belgium’s immortality.
                HENRI DE RÉGNIER
                   _de l’Académie Française_


    Sabreur de mains d’enfants qui demandaient du pain,
    Brûleur de basilique et de bibliothèque,
    Geste obscène, œil sanglant, front d’anthropopithèque,
    L’homme ne s’est jamais plus hideusement peint.

    Mais Roncevaux n’a rien de plus beau, sous son Pin,
    Rien de plus pur, sous son Laurier, la fable Grecque,
    Que ce jeune Monarque et son vieil Archevêque:
    C’est Achille et Nestor, c’est Roland et Turpin.

    Roi, d’un juste reflux puissions-nous voir la vague!
    Et toi, puisque ta main éleva dans sa bague
    Le seul reflet de ciel qui bénit cet Enfer,

    Que la pourpre sur toi soit plus cardinalice,
    Prêtre! et que de la Croix qui n’était pas de Fer
    Un Christ plus abondant coule dans ton calice!
                EDMOND ROSTAND



    Gashed hands of children who cry out for bread--
      While as the flames from sacred places rise
    The Blonde Beast, hideous, with blood-shot eyes
      And obscene gesture mutilates the dead--

    But neither Roncesvalles where Roland bled
      With Turpin, nor Greek deeds of high emprise
    Can to a pitch of purer beauty rise
      Than the Young King, the Priest, unconqueréd.

    Oh King, soon all thy foes may’st thou repel!
      And thou, High-Priest, from whose ring, raised to men,
    Shone the one gleam of Heaven in that Hell,

    May thy empurpled vestments so avail
      That from the Cross--not made of Iron then--
    A richer Christ glow in thy holy grail.
                EDMOND ROSTAND

_Translated by Walter V. R. Berry_


    Sweet as the lawn beneath his sandalled tread
    Or the scarce rippled stream beneath his oar,
    For its still, channelled current constant more,
    His life was, and the few blithe words he said.

    One or two poets read he, and reread;
    One or two friends in boyish ardour wore
    Next to his heart, incurious of the lore
    Dodonian woods might murmur o’er his head.

    Ah, demons of the whirlwind, have a care
    What, trumpeting your triumphs, ye undo!
    The earth once won, begins your long despair
    That never, never is his bliss for you.
    He breathed betimes this clement island air
    And in unwitting lordship saw the blue.
                GEORGE SANTAYANA

_Oxford, August, 1915_

[Illustration: _WALTER GAY_





    _The little children in my country kiss the American flag._
                MADAME VANDERVELDE

    What of those children over the sea
    That are beating about the world’s rough ways,
    Like the tender blossoms from off a tree
    That a sudden gale in Spring betrays?
    The children? Oh, let them look for the sign
    Of a wave-borne flag, thou land of mine!

    On the old gray sea its course it holds,
    Life for the famished is in its gift....
    And the children are crowding to kiss its folds,
    While the tears of their mothers fall free and swift.--
    And what of the flag their lips have pressed?
    Oh, guard it for ever--That flag is blest.
                EDITH M. THOMAS



    Warm vines bloom now along thy rampart steeps
    Thy shelves of olives, undercliffs of azure,
    And like a lizard of the red rock sleeps
    The wrinkled Tuscan sea, panting for pleasure.
    Nets, too, festooned about thine elfin port,
    Telaro, in the Etrurian mountain’s side,
    Heavings of golden luggers scarce distort
    The image of thy belfry where they ride.
    But thee, Telaro, on a night long gone
    That grey and holy tower upon the mole
    Suddenly summoned, while yet lightnings shone
    And hard gale lingered, with a ceaseless toll
    That choked, with its disastrous monotone,
    All the narrow channels of the hamlet’s soul.


    For what despair, fire, shipwreck, treachery?
    Was it for threat that from the macchia sprang
    For Genoa’s feud, the oppressor’s piracy,
    Or the Falcon of Sarzana that it rang?
    Was the boat-guild’s silver plundered? Blood should pay.
    Hardwon the footing of the fishers’ clan
    The sea-cloud-watchers.--Loud above the spray
    The maddening iron cry, the appeal of man,
    Washed through the torchless midnight on and on.
    Are not enough the jeopardies of day?
    Riot arose--fear’s Self began the fray:
    But the tower proved empty. By the lightning’s ray
    They found no human ringer in the room....
    The bell-rope quivered out in the sea-spume....


    A creature fierce, soft, witless of itself,
    A morbid mouth, circled by writhing arms,
    By its own grasp entangled on that shelf,
    Had dragged the rope and spread the death-alarms;
    Insensitive, light-forgotten, up from slime,
    From shelter betwixt rocks, issuing for prey
    Disguised, had used man’s language of dismay.
    The spawn of perished times had late in time
    Emerged, and griefs upon man’s grief imposed

                    But the fishers closed
    The blind mouth, and cut off the suckers cold.
    Two thousand fathoms the disturber rolled
    From trough to trough into the gulf Tyrrhene;
    And fear sank with it back into its night obscene.
                HERBERT TRENCH






    Tu me disais de ta voix douce,
    Tu me disais en insistant:
    --Y a-t-il encore un Printemps
    Et les feuilles repoussent-elles?

    La guerre accapare le ciel
    Les eaux, les monts, les bois, la terre:
    Où sont les fleurs couleur de miel
    Pour les abeilles volontaires?

    Où sont les pousses des roncerois
    Et les boutons des anémones?
    Où sont les flûtes dans les bois
    Des oiseaux sombres aux becs jaunes?

    --Hélas! plus n’est de floraison
    Que celle des feux dans l’espace:
    Bouquet de rage et de menace
    S’éparpillant sur l’horizon.

    Plus n’est, hélas! de splendeur rouge
    Que celle, hélas! des boulets fous
    Éclaboussant de larges coups
    Clochers, hameaux, fermes et bouges.

    C’est le printemps de ce temps-ci:
    Le vent répand de plaine en plaine,
    Là-bas, ces feuillaisons de haine;
    C’est la terreur de ce temps-ci.
                ÉMILE VERHAEREN

_Saint-Cloud, le 31 Juillet 1915_



     Sadly your dear voice said:
    “Is the old spring-time dead,
     And shall we never see
     New leaves upon the tree?

    “Shall the black wings of war
     Blot out sun, moon and star,
     And never a bud unfold
     To the bee its secret gold?

    “Where are the wind-flowers streaked,
     And the wayward bramble shoots,
     And the black-birds yellow-beaked
     With a note like woodland flutes?”

     No flower shall bloom this year
     But the wild flame of fear
     Wreathing the evil night
     With burst of deadly light.

     No splendour of petals red
     But that which the cannon shed,
     Raining their death-bloom down
     On farm and tower and town.

     This is the scarlet doom
     By the wild sea-winds hurled
     Over a land of gloom,
     Over a grave-strewn world.
                ÉMILE VERHAEREN


    Though desolation stain their foiled advance,
      In ashen ruins hearth-stones linger whole:
    Do what they may, they cannot master France;
      Do what they can, they cannot quell the soul.
                BARRETT WENDELL



    I said to the woman: Whence do you come,
    With your bundle in your hand?
    She said: In the North I made my home,
    Where slow streams fatten the fruitful loam,
    And the endless wheat-fields run like foam
    To the edge of the endless sand.

    I said: What look have your houses there,
    And the rivers that glass your sky?
    Do the steeples that call your people to prayer
    Lift fretted fronts to the silver air,
    And the stones of your streets, are they washed and fair
    When the Sunday folk go by?

    My house is ill to find, she said,
    For it has no roof but the sky;
    The tongue is torn from the steeple-head,
    The streets are foul with the slime of the dead,
    And all the rivers run poison-red
    With the bodies drifting by.

    I said: Is there none to come at your call
    In all this throng astray?
    They shot my husband against a wall,
    And my child (she said), too little to crawl,
    Held up its hands to catch the ball
    When the gun-muzzle turned its way.

    I said: There are countries far from here
    Where the friendly church-bells call,
    And fields where the rivers run cool and clear,
    And streets where the weary may walk without fear,
    And a quiet bed, with a green tree near,
    To sleep at the end of it all.

    She answered: Your land is too remote,
    And what if I chanced to roam
    When the bells fly back to the steeples’ throat,
    And the sky with banners is all afloat,
    And the streets of my city rock like a boat
    With the tramp of her men come home?

    I shall crouch by the door till the bolt is down,
    And then go in to my dead.
    Where my husband fell I will put a stone,
    And mother a child instead of my own,
    And stand and laugh on my bare hearth-stone
    When the King rides by, she said.
                EDITH WHARTON

_Paris, August 27th, 1915_

[Illustration: _P. A. J. DAGNAN-BOUVERET_





    O that on some forsaken strand,
    Lone ending of a lonely land,
    On such an eve we two were lying,
    To hear the quiet water sighing
    And feel the coolness of the sand.

    A red and broken moon would grow
    Out of the dusk and even so
    As here to-night the street she faces,
    Between the half-distinguished spaces
    Of sea and sky would burn and go.

    The moon would go and overhead,
    Like tapers lighted o’er the dead,
    Star after silver star would glimmer,
    The lonely night grow calmer, dimmer,
    The quiet sea sink in its bed.

    We, at the end of Time and Fate,
    Might unconcerned with love or hate
    As the sea’s voices, talk together,
    Wherefore we went apart and whither,
    And all the exiled years relate.

    Thus were life’s grey chance-’ravelled sleave’
    Outspread, we something might perceive
    Which never would to chance surrender,
    But through the tangled woof its slender
    Golden, elusive pattern weave.

    Then while the great stars larger shone
    Leaned on the sea, and drew thereon
    Faint paths of light, across them faring
    Might steal the ship that comes for bearing
    Sore-wounded souls to Avalon.
                MARGARET L. WOODS



    I think it better that at times like these
    We poets keep our mouths shut, for in truth
    We have no gift to set a statesman right;
    He’s had enough of meddling who can please
    A young girl in the indolence of her youth
    Or an old man upon a winter’s night.
                W. B. YEATS




[Illustration: MUSICAL SCORE



[Illustration: Music]

[Illustration: Music]

[Illustration: Music]

[Illustration: Music]




[Illustration: MUSICAL SCORE





[Illustration: II





Je n’aime pas raconter cette histoire, dit le Général, parce que à
chaque fois, c’est bête, je pleure. Mais elle fait aimer la France....
Il s’agit de deux enfants admirablement doués, pleins de cœur et
d’esprit et qu’aimaient tous ceux qui les rencontraient. Je les avais
connus tout petits. Quand la guerre éclata, le plus jeune, François,
venait d’être admis à Saint-Cyr. Il n’eut pas le temps d’y entrer et
avec toute la promotion il fut d’emblée nommé sous-lieutenant. Vous
pensez s’il rayonnait de joie! Dix-neuf ans l’épaulette et les
batailles! Son aîné Jacques, un garçon de vingt ans, tout à fait
remarquable de science et d’éloquence, travaillait encore à la Faculté
de Droit dont il était lauréat. Lui aussi il partit comme

Les deux frères se retrouvèrent dans la même brigade de “la division de
fer,” le plus jeune au 26ᵉ de ligne et l’aîné au 27ᵉ. Ils cantonnaient
dans un village dévasté et chaque jour joyeusement se retrouvaient,
plaisant à tous et gagnant par leur jeunesse et leur amitié une sorte de
popularité auprès des soldats.

Bientôt on apprit que le régiment du Saint-Cyrien allait avoir à marcher
et que ce serait chaud. En cachette Jacques s’en alla demander au
colonel la permission de prendre la place de son petit François qu’il
trouvait trop peu préparé pour une action qui s’annonçait rude.

Le colonel reconnut la générosité de cette demande mais coupa court en

--On ne peut pas faire passer un officier d’un corps à un autre corps.

Le jour fixé pour l’attaque arriva. La première compagnie à laquelle
appartenait François fut envoyé en tirailleurs. Elle fut fauchée. Une
autre suivit. Et puis une autre encore. Leurs ailes durent se replier en
laissant sur le terrain leurs morts et une partie de leurs blessés. Le
petit sous-lieutenant n’était pas de ceux qui revinrent.

Le surlendemain nous reprîmes l’offensive. L’aîné en enlevant avec son
régiment les tranchées allemandes, passa auprès du corps de son petit
François tout criblé de balles. Un peu plus loin il reçut une blessure à

Son capitaine lui ordonna d’aller se faire panser. Il refusa, continua
et fut blessé d’une balle dans la tête.

Les corps furent ramassés et ramenés dans les ruines du village. Les
sapeurs du 26ᵉ dirent alors:

--On n’enterrera pas ce bon petit sous-lieutenant sans un cercueil. Nous
allons lui en faire un.

Ils se mirent à scier et à clouer.

Ceux du 27ᵉ dirent alors:

--Il ne faut pas traiter différemment les deux frères. Nous allons, nous
aussi, faire un cercueil pour notre lieutenant.

Au soir, on se préparait à les enterrer côte à côte quand une vieille
femme éleva la voix.

C’était une vieille si pauvre qu’elle avait obstinément refusé
d’abandonner le village. “J’aime mieux mourir ici,” avait-elle dit. On
l’avait laissée. Elle gîtait misérablement dans sa cabane sur la paille
et n’avait pas d’autre nourriture que celle que lui donnaient les
soldats. Quand elle vit les deux jeunes cadavres et les préparatifs,
elle dit:

--Attendez un instant avant de les enfermer. Je vais chercher quelque

Elle alla fouiller la paille sur laquelle elle couchait et en tira le
drap qu’elle gardait pour sa sépulture. Et revenant:

--On n’enfermera pas, dit-elle, ces beaux garçons le visage contre les
planches. Je veux les ensevelir.

Elle coupa la toile en deux et les mit chacun dans son suaire, puis elle
leur posa un baiser sur le front, en disant chaque fois:

--Pour la mère, mon cher enfant.

       *       *       *       *       *

Nous nous tûmes quand le Général eut ainsi parlé et il n’était pas le
seul à avoir des larmes dans les yeux. Une prière d’amour se formait
dans nos cœurs pour la France.

_de l’Académie Française_




I’m not fond of telling this story, said the General, because each time,
like the old fool I am, it brings tears to my eyes ... but the best of
France is in it.

It’s about two boys, astonishingly gifted, full of heart and brains,
that nobody could meet without liking. I knew them when they were tiny
little fellows. At the time war broke out, the younger one, François,
had just passed his examinations for St. Cyr. He had no time to enter;
he was rushed along in the wholesale promotion and made second
lieutenant then and there. Fancy what it meant to him--epaulettes and
battles at nineteen! His elder brother, Jacques, a boy of twenty,--a
really remarkable fellow in his studies, was hard at work in the Law
School, where he had taken honors. He went off to the front as second
lieutenant, too.

The two brothers were thrown together for the first time in the same
brigade of the “iron division,” as it was called--the younger in the
26th of the line, the other in the 27th. They were quartered in a ruined
village, and each day they met, making themselves liked everywhere and
enjoying a great popularity with the soldiers on account of their youth
and friendliness.

It soon got round that the St. Cyr boy’s regiment was going to get some
hot fighting. Jacques said nothing, but he went to his colonel and asked
for permission to take the place of his brother, whom he considered too
little prepared for what promised to be a violent engagement.

The colonel recognized the generosity of this request, but he cut the
young man short.

“An officer can’t be transferred from his own corps to another,” he

The day fixed for the attack came. The first company--François’
company--was sent ahead to skirmish. It was simply mowed down. Another
followed, and then another. They finally had to fall back, leaving their
dead and part of the wounded on the field. The little second lieutenant
was not among those who returned.

Two days later our men took the offensive again. The elder brother,
storming the German trenches with his regiment, passed close by the body
of his little François as it lay there all shot to pieces. A bit farther
on, a bullet caught him in the shoulder.

His captain ordered him back to have the wound dressed; he refused, kept
on, and was hit full in the forehead.

The bodies were taken up and carried back to the ruins of the village.
The sappers of the 26th said:

“He was a fine fellow, that little second lieutenant. He shan’t go
underground without a coffin, at any rate. Let’s make one for him.”

And they began sawing and hammering.

Then the men of the 27th put their heads together and said:

“There must be no difference between the two brothers. We might as well
make a coffin for our lieutenant, too.”

By nightfall, when they were ready to bury the brothers side by side, an
old woman spoke up. She was a wretched old creature, so poor and broken
that she stubbornly refused to leave the village. “I’ve lived here, I’ll
die here,” she kept on saying. She lay huddled up on some straw in her
little hovel, and her only food was the leavings of the soldiers. When
she saw the bodies of the two lads and understood what was going on, she

“Wait a minute before you nail the covers on. I’m going to fetch

She hobbled away, fumbled around in the straw she slept on, and pulled
out a piece of cloth that she was keeping for her shroud.

“They shan’t nail those boys up with their faces against the boards. I
want to shroud them,” she said.

She cut the shroud in two and wrapped each in a half of it. Then she
kissed each one of them on the forehead, saying,

“That’s for your mother, dearie.”

       *       *       *       *       *

No one spoke when the General ended. And he was not the only one to have
wet eyes. In each of our hearts there was a prayer for France.

_de l’Académie Française_



Séchez vos larmes, Enfants des Flandres!

Car les canons, les mitrailleuses, les fusils, les sabres et les bras
n’arrêteront leur élan que lorsque l’ennemi vaincu vous rendra vos

Et ces foyers; nous, les femmes de France, d’Angleterre, de Russie et
d’Italie, nous les ensoleillerons.





Children of Flanders, dry your tears!

For all the mighty machinery of war, and the stout hearts of brave men,
shall strive together till the vanquished foe has given you back your

And to those homes made desolate, we, the women of France, of England,
of Russia and of Italy, will bring again happiness and sunlight!







Je me trouvais, au début de ce mois d’août 1915, voyager en automobile
dans une des provinces du centre de la France, que j’avais traversée de
même, juste une année auparavant, quand la mobilisation commençante
remplissait les routes de camions, de canons, de troupes en marche. Une
année! Que de morts depuis! Mais la résolution demeure la même qu’à
cette époque où le Pays tout entier n’eut qu’un mot d’ordre: y aller.
Non. Rien n’a changé de cette volonté de bataille. J’entre dans un
hôtel, pour y déjeuner. La patronne, que je connais pour m’arrêter là
chaque fois que je passe par la petite ville, est entièrement vêtue de
noir. Elle a perdu son frère en Alsace. Son mari est dans un dépôt à la
veille de partir au front. “Faites-vous des affaires?” lui
demandé-je.--“Pas beaucoup. Personne ne circule, et tous les mobilisés
s’en vont. La caserne se vide. Encore ce matin--”--“C’est bien long,”
lui dis-je, pour la tenter.--“Oui, monsieur,” répond-elle, “mais
puisqu’il faut çà--” Et elle recommence d’écrire ses menus, sans une
plainte. Dans la salle à manger, deux servantes, dont une aussi tout en
noir. Je la questionne. Son mari a été tué sur l’Yser. Son visage est
très triste. Mais pas une récrimination non plus. Elle est comme sa
maîtresse. Elle accepte “puisqu’il faut ça.” Un sous-officier ouvre la
porte. Il est suivi d’une femme en grand deuil, d’un enfant et d’un
homme âgé.--Sa femme, son fils et son père, ai-je su depuis. Je le vois
de profil, et j’observe dans son regard une fixité qui m’étonne. Il
refuse une place dans le fond, et marche vers la fenêtre: “J’ai besoin
d’avoir plus de jour maintenant,” répète-t-il, d’un accent singulier. A
peine est-il assis avec sa famille, qu’un des convives de la table
d’hôte, en train de déjeuner, se lève, et vient le saluer avec une
exclamation de surprise. “Vous ici! Vous êtes donc debout? D’ailleurs,
vous avez très belle mine.”--“Oui,” dit le sous-officier, “çà n’empêche
pas qu’il est en verre--” Et il montre son œil droit. En quelques mots,
très simplement, il raconte qu’une balle lui a enlevé cet œil droit en
Argonne. “C’est dommage,” continue-t-il, “on était si bien, si contents
de n’être plus dans l’eau et dans la boue.” Et l’autre de s’écrier:
“Vous êtes tous comme çà, dans l’armée, si braves, si modestes! Nous
autres, les vieux, nous n’avons été que de la Saint-Jean à côté de vous.
70, qu’est-ce que c’était? Rien du tout. Mais çà finira autrement.”--“Il
le faut,” dit le sous-officier, “et pour nous, et pour ces pauvres
Belges à qui nous devons d’avoir eu du temps. Oui,” insiste-t-il, en
posant sa main sur la tête de son enfant, “pour ceux-là aussi il le
faut.”--“Qui est ce monsieur?” dis-je à la servante.--“Ce
sous-officier?” répond-elle, “un négociant de Paris. Le frère de sa dame
a été tué.” Je regarde manger ces gens, si éprouvés. Ils sont bien
sérieux, bien accablés, mais si dignes. Les mots que ce borgne héroïque
a prononcés, cet “il le faut” donne à tous leurs gestes une émouvante

Je reprends ma route, et je le retrouve cet “il le faut” du sergent, ce
“puisqu’il faut çà” de l’hôtelière, comme écrit dans tous les aspects de
cet horizon. C’est le moment de la moisson. Des femmes y travaillent,
des garçonnets, des petites filles. La suppléance du mari, du père, du
frère absents, s’est faite simplement, sans qu’il y ait eu besoin
d’aucun appel, d’aucun décret. Sur deux charrettes que je croise, une
est menée par une femme. Des femmes conduisent les troupeaux. Des femmes
étaient derrière les guichets de la Banque où je suis descendu chercher
de la monnaie, dans la petite ville. Un de mes amis, qui a de gros
intérêts dans le midi, me racontait que son homme d’affaires est aux
Dardanelles: “Sa femme gère mes propriétés à sa place. Elle est
étonnante d’intelligence et de bravoure.” Oui, c’est toujours ce même
tranquille stoïcisme, cette totale absence de plainte. Un bataillon de
territoriaux défile. Ils ne sont plus jeunes. Leur existence était
établie. Elle est bouleversée. Ils subissent l’épreuve sans un murmure
et marquent le pas sur la route brûlée de soleil avec une énergie qui
révèle, chez eux aussi, le sentiment de la nécessité. C’est, pour moi,
le caractère pathétique de cette guerre. Elle a la grandeur auguste des
actions vitales de la nature. Elle est le geste d’un pays qui ne veut
pas mourir, et qui ne mourra pas, ni lui ni cette noble Belgique, dont
parlait le sous-officier, et qui, elle, a prononcé avec autant de
fermeté résolue son “il le faut,” quand l’Allemand l’a provoquée, et
plus pathétiquement encore. Ce n’était pas pour la vie qu’elle allait se
battre, c’était pour l’honneur, pour la probité. Il n’est pas un
Français qui ne le sente, et qui ne confonde sa propre cause avec celle
des admirables sujets de l’admirable Roi Albert.

_de l’Académie Française_



During the first days of August, 1915, I found myself motoring in one of
the central provinces of France. I had crossed the same region in the
same way just a year before, when the beginning of mobilization was
crowding the roads with waggons, with artillery and with marching
troops. Only one year! How many men are dead since! But the high resolve
of the nation is as firm as it was then, when all through the land there
was only one impulse--to go forward. The willingness to fight and to
endure has not grown less.

I went into an hotel for luncheon. I know the woman who keeps it,
because I always stop there when I go through the little town. I found
her dressed in black: she had lost her brother in Alsace. Her husband
was waiting to be sent to the front. I asked her if she were doing any
business. “Not much,” she answered. “Nobody is travelling, and all the
mobilized men are gone. The barracks are empty; why, only this
morning--” “It seems a long time,” I said, to draw her on. “Yes,” she
said, “but since we must ...” and she went back without complaint to the
task of writing her bills of fare. There were two maids in the
dining-room, one of them also in black. I questioned her and learnt that
her husband had been killed on the Yser. Her face was full of sorrow,
but like her mistress she blamed no one, and accepted her loss because
it “must” be so.

Soon a non-commissioned officer came in, followed by a woman in deep
mourning, a little boy, and an elderly man; I learnt afterwards that
they were the sergeant’s wife, his son, and his father. I saw his
profile, and noticed that he seemed to stare fixedly. He declined a
place at the back of the room, and came toward the window. “I need
plenty of light now,” he said in an odd voice. He and his family had
just seated themselves when one of the guests at the long _table d’hôte_
rose with an exclamation of surprise and came over to him, saying: “Why,
are you out again? How well you look!” “Yes,” said the sergeant; “but
all the same this one is glass,” pointing to his right eye, and in a few
words he told how it had been knocked out by a bullet in the Argonne.
“It was such a pity,” he said, “for we were all so glad when the
fighting began, and we got out of the mud and water in the trenches.”
“You are all just like that in the army!” said his friend, “all so
plucky and so simple! We old fellows were only amateurs compared to you!
What was the war of 1870 to this one? This time there will be a
different ending.” “There must be,” said the sergeant, “not only for us
but for the Belgians, who gained us so much time.” And he repeated,
laying his hand on his boy’s head, “Yes, for these little chaps also it
must be so.”

Presently I found a chance to ask the maid what she knew about the
soldier who had been speaking. “That sergeant? He is a Paris shopkeeper.
His wife’s brother has been killed.” I watched these people at table, so
serious, so sorely tried, but so full of dignity, and the words which
the half-blinded man had pronounced seemed to make even his ordinary
gestures impressive.

All along the road, for the rest of that journey the “it must be” of the
hotel-keeper and the sergeant seemed to be written over the whole
country-side. It was harvest-time, and women, lads and little girls were
working in the fields, replacing absent husbands, fathers and brothers.
They were doing it quite simply, not drawn by any appeal, nor compelled
by any order. Every other cart I met was driven by a woman. Women were
herding the cattle. There was a woman at the cashier’s desk of the bank
in the town where I went to get some money changed.

One of my friends, who has large interests in the south of France, told
me that his man of business was at the Dardanelles. “His wife looks
after my property in his place. She is astonishingly intelligent and
capable.” Everywhere the same tranquil stoicism, the same entire absence
of complaint.

A battalion of territorials marched past. They were not young men. All
of them had had fixed duties and habits which were now broken up. Yet
they submitted without a murmur, marching along the hot and dusty road
with an energy which revealed in them also the same sense of compelling
necessity. That, to my mind, gives to this war its pathetic side. It has
all the imposing grandeur of the vital forces of nature; it is the
heroic movement of a country which defies death, which is not meant to
die. Nor will she allow Belgium to die--the Belgium to whom the sergeant
paid his tribute, and whose “we must” rang out with such poignant
firmness under the German menace. It was not for life alone that Belgium
fought, but for honour and for justice. No Frenchman lives who does not
feel this, and who does not merge his own cause in that of the
indomitable subjects of Belgium’s indomitable King.

_de l’Académie Française_

[Illustration: _LÉON BONNAT_




à Madame Wharton
hommage très respectueux.
L^{éon} Bonnat




I have never believed in political assassination as a means to an end,
and least of all if the assassination is of the dynastic order. I don’t
know how far murder can ever approach the efficiency of a fine art, but
looked upon with the cold eye of reason it seems but a crude expedient
either of impatient hope or hurried despair. There are few men whose
premature death could influence human affairs more than on the surface.
The deeper stream of causes depends not on individualities which, like
the mass of mankind, are carried on by the destiny which no murder had
ever been able to placate, divert or arrest.

In July of [1914] I was a stranger in a strange city and particularly
out of touch with the world’s politics. Never a very diligent reader of
newspapers, there were at that time reasons of a private order which
caused me to be even less informed than usual on public affairs as
presented from day to day in that particular atmosphere-less,
perspective-lessness of the daily papers which somehow for a man with
some historic sense robs them of all real interest. I don’t think I had
looked at a daily for a month past.

But though a stranger in a strange city I was not lonely, thanks to a
friend who had travelled there with me out of pure kindness, to bear me
company in a conjuncture which, in a most private sense, was somewhat

It was this friend who one morning at breakfast informed me of the
murder of the Archduke Ferdinand.

The impression was mediocre. I was barely aware that such a man existed.
I remembered only that not long before he had visited London, but that
memory was lost in a cloud of insignificant printed words his presence
in this country provoked. Various opinions had been expressed of him,
but his importance had been archducal, dynastic, purely accidental. Can
there be in the world of real men anything more shadowy than an
archduke? And now he was no more, and with a certain atrocity of
circumstance which made one more sensible of his humanity than when he
was in life. I knew nothing of his journey. I did not connect that crime
with Balkanic plots and aspirations. I asked where it had happened. My
friend told me it was in Serajevo, and wondered what would be the
consequences of that grave event. He asked me what I thought would
happen next.

It was with perfect sincerity that I said “Nothing,” and I dismissed the
subject, having a great repugnance to consider murder as an engine of
politics. It fitted with my ethical sense that an act cruel and absurd
should be also useless. I had also the vision of a crowd of shadowy
archdukes in the background out of which one would step forward to take
the place of that dead man in the sun of European politics. And then, to
speak the whole truth, there was no man capable of forming a judgement
who attended so little to the march of events as I did at that time.
What for want of a more definite term I must call my mind was fixed on
my own affairs, not because they were in a bad posture, but because of
their fascinating, holiday promising aspect. I obtained my information
as to Europe at second hand, from friends good enough to come down now
and then to see us with their pockets full of crumpled papers, and who
imparted it to me casually with gentle smiles of scepticism as to the
reality of my interest. And yet I was not indifferent; but the tension
in the Balkans had become chronic after the acute crisis, and one could
not help being less conscious of it. It had wearied out one’s attention.
Who could have guessed that on that wild stage we had just been looking
at a miniature rehearsal of the great world drama, the reduced model of
the very passions and violences of what the future held in store for the
powers of the Old World? Here and there, perhaps, rare minds had a
suspicion of that possibility while watching the collective Europe stage
managing a little contemptuously in a feeling of conscious superiority,
by means of notes and conferences, the prophetic reproduction of its
awaiting fate. It was wonderfully exact in the spirit, same roar of
guns, same protestations of superiority, same words in the air: race,
liberation, justice, and the same mood of trivial demonstration. You
could not take to-day a ticket for Petersburg, however roundabout the
route. “You mean Petrograd,” would say the booking-clerk. Shortly after
the fall of Adrianople a friend of mine passing through Sophia asked for
some “café turc” at the end of his lunch.

--“Monsieur veut dire café balkanique,” the patriotic waiter corrected
him austerely.

I will not say that I had not seen something of that instructive aspect
in the war of the Balkans, both in its first and even in its second
phase. But those with whom I touched upon that vision were pleased to
see in it the evidence of an alarmist cynicism. As to alarm I pointed
out that fear is natural to man and even salutary. It has done as much
as courage for the preservation of races and institutions. But from a
charge of cynicism I have always shrunk instinctively. It is like a
charge of being blind in one eye, a moral disablement, a sort of
disgraceful calamity that must be carried off by a jaunty bearing--a
sort of thing I am not capable of. Rather than be thought to be a mere
jaunty cripple I allowed myself to be blinded by the gross obviousness
of the usual arguments. It had been pointed out to me that those were
nations not far removed from a savage state. Their economics were yet at
the stage of scratching the earth and feeding pigs. The complex material
civilization of Europe could not allow itself to be disturbed by war.
The industry and the finance could not allow themselves to be
disorganised by the ambitions of the idle class or even the aspirations,
whatever they might be, of the masses.

Very plausible all this sounded. War does not pay. There had been even a
book written on that theme--an attempt to put pacifism on a material
basis. Nothing more solid could have been imagined on this trading and
manufacturing globe. War was bad business! This was final.

But truth to say on this fateful July I reflected but little on the
condition of the civilised world. Whatever sinister passions were
heaving under its splendid and complex surface, I was too agitated by a
simple and innocent desire to notice the signs, or to interpret them
correctly. The most innocent of passions takes the edge off one’s
judgement. The desire which obsessed me was simply the desire of travel.
And that being so, it would have taken something very plain in the way
of symptoms to shake my simple trust in the stability of things on the
continent. My sentiment and not my reason was engaged there. My eyes
were turned to the past, not to the future--the past that one cannot
suspect and mistrust, the shadowy and unquestionable moral possession,
the darkest struggles of which wear a halo of glory and peace.

In the preceding month of May we had received an invitation to spend
some weeks in Poland in a country house in the neighbourhood of Cracow
but on the other side of the Russian frontier. The enterprise at first
seemed to be considerable. Since leaving the sea to which I have been
faithful for so many years, I have discovered that there is in my
composition very little stuff from which travellers are made. I confess
it with shame, my first idea about a projected journey is to leave it

But that invitation, received at first with a sort of uneasiness, awoke
the dormant energies in my feelings. Cracow is the town where I spent
with my father the last eighteen months of his life. It was in that old
royal and academical city that I ceased to be a child, became a boy,
knew the friendships, the admirations, the thoughts and the indignation
of that age. It was between those historic walls that I began to
understand things, form affections, lay up a store of memories and a
fund of sensations with which I was to break violently by throwing
myself into an unrelated life which permitted me but seldom to look back
that way. The wings of time were spread over all this, and I feared at
first that if I ventured bodily in there I would find that I who have
evoked so many imaginary lives had been embracing mere shadows in my
youth. I feared. But fear in itself may become a fascination. Men have
gone alone, trembling, into graveyards at midnight--just to see what
would happen. And this adventure was to be pursued in sunshine. Neither
would it be pursued alone. The invitation was extended to us all. This
journey would have something of a migratory character, the invasion of a
tribe. My present, all that gave solidity and value to it at any rate,
would stand by me in this test of the reality of my past. I was pleased
to show my companions what Polish country life was like and the town
where I was at school, before my boys got too old, and gaining an
individual past of their own should lose the fresh sympathies of their
age. It is only in this short understanding of youth that perhaps we
have the faculty of coming out of ourselves to see dimly the visions and
share the trouble of another soul. For youth all is reality, and with
justice; since they can apprehend so vividly its images behind which a
longer life makes one doubt whether there is any substance. I trusted to
the fresh receptivity of these young beings in whom, unless heredity is
merely a phantasy, there should have been fibre which would quicken at
the sight, the atmosphere, the memories, of that corner of the earth
where my own boyhood received its first independent impressions.

The first of the third week in July, while the telegraph wires hummed
with the words of enormous import which were to fill blue-books,
yellow-books, white-books and rouse the wonder of the world, was taken
up with light-hearted preparation for the journey. What was it but just
a rush through Germany to get over as quickly as possible?

It is the part of the earth’s solid surface of which I know the least.
In my life I had been across it only twice. I may well say of it, “Vidi
tantum,” and that very little I saw through the window of a railway
carriage at express speed. Those journeys were more like pilgrimages
when one hurries on towards the goal without looking to the right or
left for the satisfaction of deeper need than curiosity. In this last
instance, too, I was so uncurious that I would have liked to fall asleep
on the shores of England and open my eyes only, if it were possible, on
the other side of the Silesian frontier.

Yet in truth, as many others have done, I had “sensed it,” that promised
land of steel, of chemical dyes, of method, of efficiency; that race
planted in the middle of Europe, assuming in grotesque vanity the
attitude of Europeans amongst effete Asiatics or mere niggers, and with
a feeling of superiority freeing their hands of all moral bonds and
anxious to take up, if I may express myself so, the “perfect man’s
burden.” Meantime in a clearing of the Teutonic forest their sages were
rearing a Tree of cynical wisdom, a sort of Upas tree, whose shade may
be seen lying now over the prostrate body of Belgium. It must be said
that they laboured open enough, watering it from the most authentic
sources of all evil, and watching with bespectacled eyes the slow
ripening of the glorious blood-red fruit. The sincerest words of peace,
words of menace, and I verily believe, words of abasement even, if there
had been a voice vile enough to utter them, would have been wasted on
their ecstasy. For when a fruit ripens on a branch, it must fall. There
is nothing on earth that can prevent it.


For reasons which at first seemed to me somewhat obscure, that one of my
companions whose wishes are law decided that our travels should begin in
an unusual way by the crossing of the North Sea. We should proceed from
Harwich to Hamburg. Besides being thirty-six times longer than the usual
Dover-Calais passage this rather unusual route had an air of adventure
in better keeping with the romantic feeling of this Polish journey,
which for so many years had been before us in a state of a project full
of colour and promise, but always retreating, elusive, like an enticing

And, after all, it had turned out to be no mirage. No wonder they were
excited. It’s no mean experience to lay your hands on a mirage. The day
of departure had come, the very hour had struck. The luggage was coming
downstairs. It was most convincing. Poland then, if erased from the map,
yet existed in reality; it was not a mere “pays du rêve,” where you can
travel only in imagination. For no man, they argued, not even father, an
habitual pursuer of dreams, would push the love of the novelist’s art
of make-believe to the point of burdening himself with real trunks for a
voyage “au pays du rêve.”

As we left the door of our house, nestling in, perhaps, the most
peaceful nook in Kent, the sky, after weeks of perfectly brazen
serenity, veiled its blue depths and started to weep fine tears for the
refreshment of the parched fields. A pearly blurr settled over them; a
light sifted of all glare, of everything unkindly and searching that
dwells in the splendour of unveiled skies. All unconscious of going
towards the very scenes of war, I carried off in my eye this tiny
fragment of Great Britain: a few fields, a wooded rise, a clump of trees
or two, with a short stretch of road, and here and there a gleam of red
wall and tiled roof above the darkening hedges wrapped up in soft mist
and peace. And I felt that all this had a very strong hold on me as the
embodiment of a beneficent and gentle spirit; that it was dear to me not
as an inheritance, but as an acquisition, as a conquest in the sense in
which a woman is conquered--by love, which is a sort of surrender.

Those were strange, as if disproportionate thoughts to the matter in
hand, which was the simplest sort of a Continental holiday. And I am
certain that my companions, near as they are to me, felt no other
trouble but the suppressed excitement of pleasurable anticipation. The
forms and the spirit of the land before their eyes were their
inheritance, not their conquest--which is a thing precarious, and,
therefore, the more precious, possessing you if only by the fear of
unworthiness, rather than possessed by you. Moreover, as we sat together
in the same railway carriage, they were looking forward to a voyage in
space, whereas I felt more and more plainly that what I had started on
was a journey in time, into the past; a fearful enough prospect for the
most consistent, but to him who had not known how to preserve against
his impulses the order and continuity of his life--so that at times it
presented itself to his conscience as a series of betrayals--still more

I confess here my thoughts so exclusively personal to explain why there
was no room in my consciousness for the apprehension of a European war.
I don’t mean to say I ignored the possibility. I simply did not think of
it. And it made no difference; for, if I had thought of it, it could
only have been in the lame and inconclusive way of the common
uninitiated mortals; and I am sure that nothing short of intellectual
certitude--obviously unattainable by the man in the street--could have
stayed me on that journey which now that I had started on it seemed an
irrevocable thing, a necessity of my self-respect.

London--the London of before the war, flaunting its enormous glare as of
a monstrous conflagration up into the black sky--received us with its
best Venice-like aspect of rainy evenings, the wet, asphalted streets
lying with the sheen of sleeping water in winding canals, and the great
houses of the city towering all dark like empty palaces above the
reflected lights of the glistening roadway.

Everything in the subdued incomplete night life around the Mansion House
went on normally, with its fascinating air of a dead commercial city of
sombre walls through which the inextinguishable night life of millions
streamed East and West in a brilliant flow of lighted vehicles.

In Liverpool Street, as usual too, through the double gates, a
continuous line of taxicabs glided down the inclined approach and up
again, like an endless chain of dredger-buckets pouring in the
passengers, and dipping them out of the great railway station under the
inexorable pallid face of the clock telling off the diminishing minutes
of peace. It was the hour of the boat trains to Holland, to Hamburg, and
there seemed to be no lack of people, fearless, reckless, or ignorant,
who wanted to go to these places. The station was normally crowded, and
if there was a great flutter of evening papers in the multitude of
hands, there were no signs of extraordinary emotion on that multitude of
faces. There was nothing in them to distract me from the thought that it
was singularly appropriate that I should start from this station on the
retraced way of my existence. For this was the station at which,
thirty-six years ago, I arrived on my first visit to London. Not the
same building, but the same spot. At eighteen years of age, after a
period of probation and training I had imposed upon myself as ordinary
seaman on board a North Sea coaster, I had come up from Lowestoft--my
first long railway journey in England--to “sign on” for an Antipodean
voyage in a deep-water ship. Straight from a railway carriage I had
walked into the great city with something of the feeling of a traveller
penetrating into a vast and unexplored wilderness. No explorer could
have been more lonely. I did not know a single soul of all these
millions that all around me peopled the mysterious distances of the
streets. I cannot say I was free from a little youthful awe, but at that
age one’s feelings are simple. I was elated. I was pursuing a clear aim.
I was carrying out a deliberate plan of making out of myself, in the
first place, a seaman worthy of the service, good enough to work by the
side of the men with whom I was to live; and in the second place, I had
to justify my existence to myself, to redeem a tacit moral pledge. Both
these aims were to be attained by the same effort. How simple seemed the
problem of life then, on that hazy day of early September in the year
1878, when I entered London for the first time.

From that point of view--youth and a straightforward scheme of
conduct--it was certainly a year of grace. All the help I had to get in
touch with the world I was invading was a piece of paper not much bigger
than the palm of my hand--in which I held it--torn out of a larger plan
of London for the greater facility of reference. It had been the object
of careful study for some days past. The fact that I could take a
conveyance at the station had never occurred to my mind, no, not even
when I got out into the street and stood, taking my anxious bearings, in
the midst, so to speak, of twenty thousand cabs. A strange absence of
mind or unconscious conviction that one cannot approach an important
moment of one’s life by means of a hired carriage? Yes, it would have
been a preposterous proceeding. And indeed I was to make an Australian
voyage and encircle the globe before ever entering a London hansom.

Another document, a cutting from a newspaper, containing the address of
an obscure agent, was in my pocket. And I needed not to take it out.
That address was as if graven deep in my brain. I muttered its words to
myself as I walked on, navigating the sea of London by the chart
concealed in the palm of my hand; for I had vowed to myself not to
inquire my way from any one. Youth is the time of rash pledges. Had I
taken a wrong turn I would have been lost; and if faithful to my pledge
I might have remained lost for days, for weeks, have left perhaps my
bones to be discovered bleaching in some blind alley of the Whitechapel
district, as had happened to lonely travellers lost in the bush. But I
walked on to my destination without hesitation or mistake, showing
there, for the first time, something of that faculty to absorb and make
my own correctly the imaged topography of a chart, which in later years
was to help me in regions of intricate navigation to keep the ships
entrusted to me off the ground. And the place I was bound to was not so
easy to find, either. It was one of those courts hidden away from the
charted and navigable streets, lost amongst the thick growth of houses,
like a dark pool in the depths of a forest, approached by an
inconspicuous archway, as if by a secret path; a Dickensian nook of
London, that wonder-city, the growth of which bears no sign of
intelligent design, but many traces of freakishly sombre phantasy which
the great Master knew so well how to bring out by magic of his great and
understanding love. And the office I entered was Dickensian too. The
dust of the Waterloo year lay on the panes and frames of its windows;
early Georgian grime clung to its sombre wainscoting.

It was one o’clock in the afternoon, but the day was gloomy. By the
light of a single gas-jet depending from the smoked ceiling I saw an
elderly man, in a long coat of black broadcloth. He had a grey beard, a
big nose, thick lips, and broad shoulders. His longish white hair and
the general character of his head recalled vaguely a burly apostle in
the “barocco” style of Italian art. Standing up at a tall, shabby,
slanting desk, his silver-rimmed spectacles pushed up high on his
forehead, he was eating a mutton chop, which had been just brought to
him from some Dickensian eating-house round the corner.

Without ceasing to eat he turned to me his barocco apostle’s head with
an expression of inquiry.

I produced elaborately a series of vocal sounds which must have borne
sufficient resemblance to the phonetics of English speech; for his face
broke into a smile of comprehension almost at once.--“Oh it’s you who
wrote a letter to me the other day from Lowestoft about getting a ship.”

I had written to him from Lowestoft. I can’t remember a single word of
that letter now. It was my very first composition in the English
language. And he had understood it; because he spoke to the point at
once, explaining that his business, mainly, was to find good ships for
young gentlemen who wanted to go to sea as premium apprentices with a
view of being trained for officers. But he gathered that this was not my
object. I did not desire to be apprenticed. Was that the case?

It was. He was good enough to say then, “Of course I see that you are a
gentleman too. But your wish is to get a berth before the mast as an
Able Seaman if possible. Is that it?”

It was certainly my wish; but he stated doubtfully that he feared he
could not help me much in this. There was an Act of Parliament which
made it penal to procure ships for sailors. “An Act--of--Parliament. A
law,” he took pains to impress it again and again on my foreign
understanding, while I looked at him in consternation.

I had not been half an hour in London before I had run my head against
an Act of Parliament! What a hopeless adventure! However, the barocco
apostle was a resourceful person in his way, and we managed to get round
the hard letter of it without damage to its fine spirit. Yet, strictly
speaking, it was not the conduct of a good citizen. And in retrospect
there is an unfilial flavour about that early sin. For this Act of
Parliament, the Merchant Shipping Act of the mid-Victorian era, had been
in a manner of speaking a father and mother to me. For many years it had
regulated and disciplined my life, prescribed my food and the amount of
my breathing space, had looked after my health and tried as much as
possible to secure my personal safety in a risky calling. It isn’t such
a bad thing to lead a life of hard toil and plain duty within the four
corners of an honest Act of Parliament. And I am glad to say that its
severities have never been applied to me.

In the year 1878, the year of Peace with Honour, I had walked as lone as
any human being in the streets of London, out of Liverpool Street
Station, to surrender myself to its care. And now, in the year of the
war waged for honour and conscience more than for any other cause, I was
there again, no longer alone, but a man of infinitely dear and close
ties grown since that time, of work done, of words written, of
friendship secured. It was like the closing of a thirty-six years’

All unaware of the War Angel already waiting with the trumpet at its
lips the stroke of the fatal hour, I sat there, thinking that this life
of ours is neither long nor short, but that it can appear very
wonderful, entertaining, and pathetic, with symbolic images and bizarre
associations crowded into one half-hour of retrospective musing.

I felt, too, that this journey so suddenly entered upon was bound to
take me away from daily life’s actualities at every step. I felt it more
than ever when presently we steamed out into the North Sea, on a dark
night fitful with gusts of wind, and I lingered on deck, alone of all
the tale of the ship’s passengers. That sea was to me something
unforgettable, something much more than a name. It had been for a time
the schoolroom of my trade. On it, I may safely say, I had learned, too,
my first words of English. A wild and stormy abode, sometimes, was that
fine, narrow-waters academy of seamanship from which I launched myself
on the wide oceans. My teachers had been the coasting sailors of the
Norfolk shore. Coast men, with steady eyes, mighty limbs, and gentle
voice. Men of very few words, which, at least, were never bare of
meaning. Honest, strong, steady men, sobered by domestic ties, one and
all as far as I can remember.

That is what years ago the North Sea, I could hear growling in the dark
all round the ship, had been for me. And I fancied that I must have been
carrying its voice in my ear ever since, for nothing could be more
familiar than those short, angry sounds I was listening to with a smile
of affectionate recognition.

I could not guess that before many days my schoolroom would be
desecrated by violence, littered with wrecks, with death walking its
waves, hiding under the waters. Perhaps while I am writing these words
the children, or maybe the grandchildren, of my pacific teachers are out
in drifters under the naval flag, dredging for German submarine mines.


I have said that the North Sea was my finishing school of seamanship
before I launched myself on the wider oceans. Confined as it is in
comparison with the vast stage of this water-girt globe, I did not know
it in all its parts. My classroom was the region of the English East
Coast which, in the year of Peace with Honour, had long forgotten the
war episodes belonging to its maritime history. It was a peaceful coast,
agricultural, industrial, the home of fishermen. At night the lights of
its many towns played on the clouds, or in clear weather lay still, here
and there, in brilliant pools above the ink-black outline of the shore.
On many a night I have hauled at the braces under the very shadow of
that coast, envying, as sailors will, the people ashore sleeping quietly
in their beds within sound of the sea. I imagine that not one head on
these envied pillows was made uneasy by the slightest premonition of the
realities of naval war the short lifetime of one generation was to bring
to their peaceful shores.

Though far away from that region of kindly memories and traversing a
part of the North Sea much less known to me, I was deeply conscious of
the familiarity of my surroundings. It was a cloudy, nasty day, and the
aspects of nature don’t change, unless in the course of thousands of
years--or, perhaps, centuries. The Phœnicians, its first discoverers,
the Romans, the first imperial rulers of that sea, had experienced days
like this, so different in the wintry quality of the light even on that
July afternoon, from anything they had ever known in their native
Mediterranean. For myself, a very late comer into that sea and its
former pupil, I accorded amused recognition to the characteristic aspect
so well remembered from my days of training. The same old thing. A
grey-green expanse of smudgy waters grinning angrily at one with white
foam-ridges, and over all a cheerless, unglowing canopy, apparently made
of wet blotting-paper. From time to time a flurry of fine rain blew
along like a puff of smoke across the dots of distant fishing boats,
very few, very scattered, very solid and motionless against an ever
dissolving, ever re-forming sky-line.

Those flurries, and the steady rolling of the ship, accounted for the
emptiness of the decks favouring my reminiscent mood.

It might have been a day of five-and-thirty years ago, when there was on
this and every other sea more sails and less smoke-stacks to be seen.
Yet, thanks to the unchangeable sea, I could have given myself up to the
illusion bringing the past close to the future, if it had not been for
the periodical transit across my gaze of a German passenger. He was
marching round and round the boat-deck with characteristic
determination. Two sturdy boys gambolled round him in his progress like
two small disorderly satellites round their parent planet. He was
bringing them home from their school in England for their holiday. What
could have induced him to entrust his offspring to the unhealthy
influences of that effete, corrupt, rotten and criminal country, I
cannot imagine. It could hardly have been from motives of economy. I did
not speak to him. He trod the deck of that decadent British ship with a
scornful foot, while his breast (and to some extent his stomach, too)
appeared expanded by the consciousness of a superior destiny. Later, I
could observe the same truculent bearing, touched with the racial
grotesqueness, in the men of the Landwehr corps, the first that passed
through Cracow to reinforce the Austrian Army in Eastern Galicia.
Indeed, the haughty passenger might very well have been, most probably
was, an officer of the Landwehr; and perhaps those two fine, active boys
are orphans by now. Thus things acquire significance by the lapse of
time. A citizen, a father, a warrior, a mote in the dust-cloud of six
million of fighting particles, still tossed East or West in the lurid
tempest, or already snapped up, an unconsidered trifle, in the jaws of
war, his very humanity was not consciously impressed on my mind at the
time. Mainly, for me, he was a sharp tapping of heels round the corner
of the deck-house, a white yachting-cap and a green overcoat getting
periodically between my eyes and the shifting cloud-horizon of the
ashy-green North Sea. He was but a shadowy intrusion and a disregarded
one, for far away there to the West, in the direction of the Dogger
Bank, where fishermen go seeking their daily bread and sometimes find
their graves, I could behold an experience of my own in the winter of
1881, not of war truly, but of a fairly lively contest with the elements
which were very angry indeed.

There had been a troublesome week of it, including one hateful night--or
a night of hate (it isn’t for nothing that the North Sea is also called
the German Ocean)--when all the fury stored in its heart seemed
concentrated on one ship which could do no better than to float on her
side in an unnatural, disagreeable, precarious, and altogether
intolerable manner. There were on board besides myself, seventeen men,
all good and true, including a round enormous Dutchman who, in those
hours between sunset and sunrise, managed to lose his blown-out
appearance somehow, became as it were deflated, and thereafter for a
long time moved in our midst wrinkled and slack all over like a
half-collapsed balloon. The whimpering of our deck-boy, a skinny,
impressionable little scarecrow out of a training-ship, for whom,
because of the tender immaturity of his nerves, this display of German
Ocean frightfulness was too much (before the year was out he developed
into a sufficiently cheeky young ruffian), his desolate whimpering, I
say, heard between the gusts of that black, savage night, was much more
present to my mind and indeed to my senses, than the green overcoat and
the white cap of the German passenger circling the deck indefatigably,
attended by his two gyrating children.

“That’s a very nice gentleman.” This information, together with the fact
that he was a widower and a regular passenger twice a year by the ship,
was communicated to me suddenly by our captain. At intervals through the
day he would pop out of his cabin and offer me short snatches of
conversation. He owned a simple soul and a not very entertaining mind,
and he was, without malice and, I believe, quite unconsciously, a warm
Germanophil. And no wonder! As he told me himself, he had been fifteen
years on that run, and spent almost as much of his life in Germany as in

“Wonderful people they are,” he repeated from time to time, without
entering into particulars, but with many nods of sagacious obstinacy.
What he knew of them, I suppose, were a few commercial travellers and
small merchants, most likely. But I had observed long before that German
genius has a hypnotising power over half-baked souls and half-lighted
minds. There is an immense force of suggestion in highly organised
mediocrity. Had it not hypnotised half Europe? My man was very much
under the spell of German excellence. On the other hand, his contempt
for France was equally general and unbounded. I tried to advance some
arguments against this position, but I only succeeded in making him
hostile to myself. “I believe you are a Frenchman yourself,” he snarled
at last, giving me an intensely suspicious look; and forthwith broke off
communications with a man of such unsound sympathies.

Hour by hour the blotting-paper sky and the great flat greenish smudge
of the sea had been taking on a darker tone, without any change in their
colouring and texture. Evening was coming on over the North Sea. Black
uninteresting hummocks of land appeared, dotting the duskiness of water
and clouds in the eastern board; tops of islands fringing the German
shore. While I was looking at their antics amongst the waves--and for
all their manifest solidity they were very elusive things in the failing
light--another passenger came out on deck. This one wore a dark overcoat
and a grey cap. The yellow leather strap of his binocular-case crossed
his chest. His elderly red cheeks nourished but a very thin crop of
short white hairs, and the end of his nose was so perfectly round that
it determined the whole character of his physiognomy. Indeed, nothing
else in it had the slightest chance to assert itself. His disposition,
unlike the widower’s, appeared to be mild and humane. He offered me the
loan of his glasses. He had a wife and some small children concealed in
the depths of the ship, and he thought that they were very well where
they were. His eldest son was about the decks somewhere.

“We are Americans,” he remarked weightily, but in a rather peculiar
tone. He spoke English with the accent of our captain’s “wonderful
people,” and proceeded to give me the history of the family’s crossing
the Atlantic in a White Star ship. They remained in England just the
time necessary for a railway journey from Liverpool to Harwich. His
people (those in the depths of the ship, I suppose) were naturally a
little tired.

At that moment a young man of about twenty, his son, rushed up to us
from the fore-deck in a state of intense elation. “Hurrah!” he cried
under his breath, “The first German light! Hurrah!”

And those two American citizens shook hands on it with the greatest
fervour, while I turned away and received full in the eyes the brilliant
wink of the Borkum lighthouse squatting low down in the darkness. The
shade of the night had settled on the North Sea.

I do not think I have ever seen before a night so full of lights. The
great change of sea-life since my time was brought home to me. I had
been conscious all day of an interminable procession of steamers. They
went on and on as if in chase of each other, the Baltic trade, the trade
of Scandinavia, of Denmark, of Germany, pitching heavily into a head-sea
and bound for the gateway of Dover Strait. Singly, and in small
companies of two or three, they emerged from the dull, colourless,
sunless distances ahead, as if the supply of rather roughly finished
mechanical toys were inexhaustible in some mysterious cheap store, away
there, below the grey curve of the earth. Cargo steam-vessels have
reached by this time a height of utilitarian ugliness which, when one
reflects that this is the product of human ingenuity, strikes hopeless
awe into one. These dismal creations look still uglier at sea than in
port, and with an added touch of the ridiculous. Their rolling waddle
when seen at a certain angle, their abrupt clockwork nodding in a
seaway, so unlike the soaring lift and swing of a craft under sail, have
in them something caricatural, a suggestion of low parody directed at
noble predecessors by an improved generation of dull, mechanical
toilers, conceited and without grace.

When they switched on (each of these unlovely cargo-tanks carried tame
lightning within its slab-sided body), when they switched on their lamps
they spangled the night with the cheap, electric, shop-glitter, here,
there, and everywhere, as of some High Street, broken up and washed out
to sea. Later, Heligoland cut into the overhead darkness with its
powerful beam, infinitely prolonged out of unfathomable night under the

I remained on deck till we stopped and a steam pilot-boat, so
over-lighted amidships that one could not make out her complete shape,
glided across our bows and sent a pilot on board. I fear that the oar,
as a working implement, shall become presently as obsolete as the sail.
The pilot boarded us in a motor dinghy. More and more is mankind
reducing its physical activities to pulling levers and twirling little
wheels. Progress! Yet the older methods of meeting natural forces
demanded intelligence too; an equally fine readiness of wits. And
readiness of wits working in combination with the strength of muscles
made a more complete man.

It was really a surprisingly small dinghy, and it ran to and fro like a
water-insect fussing noisily down there with immense self-importance.
Within hail of us the hull of the Elbe Lightship floated all dark and
silent under its enormous, round, service lantern; a faithful black
shadow watching the broad estuary full of lights.

Such was my first view of the Elbe approached under the wings of peace
already spread for a flight away from the luckless shores of Europe. Our
visual impressions remain with us so persistently that I find it
extremely difficult to hold fast to the rational belief that now
everything is dark over there, that the Elbe Lightship has been towed
away from its post of duty, the triumphant beam of Heligoland
extinguished, and the pilot-boat laid up, or turned to warlike uses for
lack of its proper work to do. And obviously it must be so.

Any trickle of oversea trade that passes yet that way must be creeping
along cautiously, with the unlighted, war-blighted, black coast close on
one, and sudden death on the other hand. For all the space we steamed
through on that Sunday evening must be now one great mine field, sown
thickly with the seeds of hate; while submarines steal out to sea, over
the very spot, perhaps, where the insect-dinghy put a pilot on board of
us with so much fussy importance. Mines, submarines. The last word in
sea warfare! Progress--impressively disclosed by this war.

There have been other wars! Wars not inferior in the greatness of the
stake, and in the fierce animosity of feelings. During that one which
was finished a hundred years ago, it happened that while the English
fleet was keeping watch on Brest, an American, perhaps Fulton himself,
offered to the maritime Prefect of the port and to the French Admiral,
an invention which would sink the unsuspecting English ships one after
another--or at any rate, most of them. The offer was not even taken into
consideration; and the Prefect ends his report to the Minister of Marine
in Paris with a fine phrase of indignation: “It is not the sort of death
one would deal to brave men.”

And, behold, before history had time to hatch another war of the like
proportions in the intensity of aroused passions and the greatness of
issues, the dead flavour of archaism descended on the manly sentiment of
those self-denying words. Mankind had been demoralised since by its own
mastery of mechanical appliances. Its spirit apparently is so weak now,
and its flesh has grown so strong, that it will face any deadly horror
of destruction and cannot resist the temptation to use any stealthy,
murderous contrivance. It has become the intoxicated slave of its own
detestable ingenuity. It is true, too, that since the Napoleonic times
another sort of war doctrine has been inculcated to a nation, and held
out to the world.


On this journey of ours, which for me was essentially not a progress but
a retracing of footsteps on a road travelled before, I had no beacons to
look out for in Germany. I had never lingered in that land, which, as a
whole, is so singularly barren of memorable manifestations of generous
sympathies and magnanimous impulses. An ineradicable, invincible
provincialism of envy and vanity clings to the forms of its thought like
a frowsy garment. Even while yet very young I turned my eyes away from
it instinctively, as from a threatening phantom. I believe that children
and dogs have, in their innocence, a special power of perception as far
as spectral apparitions and coming misfortunes are concerned.

I let myself be carried through Germany as if it were pure space,
without sights, without sounds. No whispers of the war reached my
voluntary abstraction. And perhaps not so very voluntary, after all!
Each of us is a fascinating spectacle to himself, and I had to watch my
own personality returning from another world, as it were, to revisit the
glimpses of old moons. Considering the condition of humanity, I am,
perhaps, not so much to blame for giving myself up to that occupation.
We prize the sensation of our continuity, and we can only capture it in
that way. By watching.

We arrived in Cracow late at night. After a scrambly supper, I said to
my eldest boy, “I can’t go to bed. I must go out for a look round.

He was ready enough. For him all this was part of the interesting
adventure of the whole journey. We stepped out of the portal of the
hotel into an empty street, very silent and bright with moonlight. I was
indeed revisiting the glimpses of the moon. I felt so much like a ghost
that the discovery that I could remember such material things as the
right turn to take and the general direction of the street gave me a
moment of wistful surprise.

The street, straight and narrow, ran into the great Central Square of
the town, the centre of its affairs and of the lighter side of its life.
We could see at the far end of the street a promising widening of space.
At the corner an unassuming (but armed) policeman, wearing ceremoniously
at midnight a pair of white gloves, which made his big hands extremely
noticeable, turned his head to look at the grizzled foreigner holding
forth in a strange tongue to a youth on whose arm he leaned.

The square, immense in its solitude, was full to the brim of moonlight.
The garland of lights at the foot of the houses seemed to burn at the
bottom of a bluish pool. I noticed with intimate satisfaction that the
unnecessary trees the Municipality persisted in sticking between the
stones had been steadily refusing to grow. They were not a bit bigger
than the poor victims I could remember. Also, the paving operations
seemed to be exactly at the same point at which I left them forty years
before. There were the dull, torn-up patches on that lighted expanse,
the piles of paving material looking ominously black, like heads of
rocks on a silvery sea. Who was it that said Time works wonders? What an
exploded superstition! As far as these trees and these paving-stones
were concerned it had worked nothing. The suspicion of the
unchangeableness of things already vaguely suggested to my senses by our
rapid drive from the railway station and by the short walk, was
agreeably strengthened within me.

“We are now on the line A.B.,” I said to my companion, importantly.

It was the name bestowed in my time to that side of the square by the
senior students of that town of classical learning and historical
relics. The common citizens knew nothing of it, and even if they had,
would not have dreamed of taking it seriously. He who used it was of the
initiated, belonged to the Schools. We youngsters regarded that name as
a fine jest, the invention of a most excellent fancy. Even as I uttered
it to my boy I experienced again that sense of privilege, of initiation.
And then, happening to look up at the wall, I saw in the light of the
corner lamp, a white, cast-iron tablet fixed thereon, bearing an
inscription in raised black letters, thus: “Line A.B.” Heavens! The name
had been adopted officially! Any town urchin, any guttersnipe, any
herb-selling woman of the market-place, any wandering Boetian, was free
to talk of the line A.B., to walk on the line A.B., to appoint to meet
his friends on the line A.B. It had become a mere name in a directory. I
was stunned by the extreme mutability of things. Time _could_ work
wonders, and no mistake. A Municipality had stolen an invention of
excellent fancy, and a fine jest had turned into a horrid piece of cast

I proposed that we should walk to the other end of the line, using the
profaned name, not only without gusto, but with positive distaste. And
this, too, was one of the wonders of Time, for a bare minute had worked
that change. There was at the end of the line a certain street I wanted
to look at, I explained to my companion.

To our right the unequal massive towers of St. Mary’s Church soared
aloft into the ethereal radiance of the air, very black on their shaded
sides, glowing with a soft phosphorescent sheen on the others. In the
distance the Florian Gate, thick and squat under its pointed roof,
barred the street with the square shoulders of the old city wall. In the
narrow brilliantly pale vista of bluish flagstones and silvery fronts of
houses, its black archway stood out small but very distinct.

There was not a soul in sight, and not even the echo of a footstep for
our ears. Into this coldly illuminated and dumb emptiness there issued
out of my aroused memory a small boy of eleven, wending his way, not
very fast, to a preparatory school for day-pupils on the second floor of
the third house down from Florian Gate. It was in the winter months of
1868. At eight o’clock of every morning that God made, sleet or shine, I
walked up Florian Street. But of the school I remember very little. I
believe that one of my co-sufferers there has become a much appreciated
editor of historical documents. But I didn’t suffer very much from the
various imperfections of my first school. I was rather indifferent to
school troubles. I had a private gnawing worm of my own. This was the
time of my father’s last illness. Every evening at seven, turning my
back on the Florian Gate, I walked all the way to a big old house in a
quiet little street a good distance beyond the Great Square. There, in
a large drawing-room, panelled and bare, with heavy cornices and a lofty
ceiling, in a little oasis of light made by two candles in a desert of
dusk, I sat at a little table to worry and ink myself all over till the
task of preparation was done. The table of my toil faced a tall white
double door which was kept closed; but now and then it would come ajar
and a nun in a white coif would squeeze herself through, glide across
the room and disappear. There were two of these noiseless nursing nuns.
Their voices were seldom heard. For indeed what could they have to say!
When they did speak to me, it was with their lips hardly moving, in a
claustral clear whisper. Domestic matters were ordered by the elderly
housekeeper of our neighbour on the second floor, a Canon of the
Cathedral, lent for the emergency. She too spoke but seldom. She wore a
black dress with a cross hanging by a chain on her ample bosom. And
though when she spoke she moved her lips more than the nuns, she never
let her voice rise above a peacefully murmuring note. The air around me
was all piety, resignation and silence.

I don’t know what would have become of me if I had not been a reading
boy. My lessons done I would have had nothing to do but sit and watch
the awful stillness of the sick-room flow out through the closed white
door and coldly enfold my scared heart. I suppose that in a futile
childish way I would have gone crazy. But I was a reading boy. There
were many books about, lying on consoles, on tables, and even on the
floor, for we had not had time to settle down. I read! What did I not
read! Sometimes the eldest nun gliding up and casting a mistrustful
glance at the open pages would lay her hand lightly on my head and
suggest in a doubtful whisper: “Perhaps it isn’t very good for you to
read these books.” I would raise my eyes to her face mutely and with a
vague gesture of giving it up she would glide away.

Later in the evening, but not always, I would be permitted to tiptoe
into the sick-room to say good-night to the figure prone on the bed
which often could not recognise my presence but by a slow movement of
the eyes, put my lips dutifully to the nerveless hand lying on the
coverlet, and tiptoe out again. Then I would go to bed, in a room at the
end of a corridor, and often, not always, cry myself into a good, sound

I looked forward to what was coming with an incredulous terror. I turned
my eyes from it, sometimes with success; and yet all the time I had an
awful sensation of the inevitable. I had also moments of revolt which
stripped off me some of my simple trust in the government of the
universe. But when the inevitable entered the sick-room and the white
door was thrown wide open, I don’t think I found a single tear to shed.
I have a suspicion that the Canon’s housekeeper looked upon me as the
most callous little wretch on earth.

The day of the funeral came in due course, and all the generous “Youth
of the Schools,” the grave Senate of the University, the delegations of
the trade-guilds, might have obtained (if they cared) _de visu_ evidence
of the callousness of the little wretch. There was nothing in my aching
head but a few words, some such stupid sentences as: “It’s done,” or
“It’s accomplished” (in Polish it is much shorter), or something of the
sort, repeating itself endlessly. The long procession moved on out of
the little street, down a long street, past the Gothic portal of St.
Mary’s between its unequal towers, towards the Florian Gate.

In the moonlight-flooded silence of the old town of glorious tombs and
tragic memories I could see again the small boy of that day following a
hearse; a space kept clear in which I walked alone, conscious of an
enormous following, the clumsy swaying of the tall black machine, the
chanting of the surpliced clergy at the head, the flames of tapers
passing under the low archway of the gate, the rows of bared heads on
the pavements with fixed, serious eyes. Half the population had turned
out on that fine May afternoon. They had not come to honour a great
achievement, or even some splendid failure. The dead and they were
victims alike of an unrelenting destiny which cut them off from every
path of merit and glory. They had come only to render homage to the
ardent fidelity of the man whose life had been a fearless confession in
word and deed of a creed which the simplest heart in that crowd could
feel and understand.

It seemed to me that if I remained longer there in that narrow street I
should become the helpless prey of the Shadows I had called up. They
were crowding upon me, enigmatic and insistent, in their clinging air of
the grave that tasted of dust and in the bitter vanity of all hopes.

“Let’s go back to the hotel, my boy,” I said. “It’s getting late.”

It will be easily understood that I neither thought nor dreamt that
night of a possible war. For the next two days I went about amongst my
fellow men, who welcomed me with the utmost consideration and
friendliness, but unanimously derided my fears of a war. They would not
believe in it. It was impossible. On the evening of the second day I was
in the hotel’s smoking-room, an irrationally private apartment, a
sanctuary for a few choice minds of the town, always pervaded by a dim
religious light, and more hushed than any club reading-room I’ve ever
been in. Gathered into a small knot, we were discussing the situation in
subdued tones suitable to the genius of the place.

A gentleman with a fine head of white hair suddenly pointed an impatient
finger in my direction and apostrophised me.

“What I want to know is whether, should there be war, England would come

The time to draw a breath, and I spoke out for the Cabinet without

“Most assuredly. I should think all Europe knows that by this time.”

He took hold of the lapel of my coat and, giving it a slight jerk for
greater emphasis, said forcibly:

“Then if England will, as you say, and all the world knows it, there can
be no war. Germany won’t be so mad as that.”

On the morrow by noon we read of the German ultimatum. The day after
came the declaration of war and the Austrian mobilisation order. We were
fairly caught. All that remained for me to do was to get my party out of
the way of eventual shells. The best move which occurred to me was to
snatch them up instantly into the mountains to a Polish health resort of
great repute--which I did (at the rate of one hundred miles in eleven
hours) by the last civilian train permitted to leave Cracow for the next
three weeks.

And there we remained amongst the Poles from all parts of Poland, not
officially interned, but simply unable to obtain permission to travel by
train or road. It was a wonderful, a poignant two months. This is not
the time, and perhaps not the place, to enlarge upon the tragic
character of the situation; a whole people seeing the culmination of its
misfortunes in a final catastrophe, unable to trust any one, to appeal
to any one, to look for help from any quarter; deprived of all hope, and
even of its last illusions, and unable in the trouble of minds and the
unrest of consciences to take refuge in stoical acceptance. I have seen
all this. And I am glad I have not so many years left me to remember
that appalling feeling of inexorable Fate, tangible, palpable, come
after so many cruel years, a figure of dread, murmuring with iron lips
the final words: “Ruin--and Extinction.”

But enough of this. For our little band there was the awful anguish of
incertitude as to the real nature of events in the West. It is difficult
to give an idea how ugly and dangerous things looked to us over there.
Belgium knocked down and trampled out of existence, France giving in
under repeated blows, a military collapse like that of 1870, and England
involved in that disastrous alliance, her army sacrificed, her people in
a panic! Polish papers, of course, had no other than German sources of
information. Naturally, we did not believe all we heard, but it was
sometimes excessively difficult to react with sufficient firmness. We
used to shut our door, and there, away from everybody, we sat weighing
the news, hunting up discrepancies, scenting lies, finding reasons for
hopefulness, and generally cheering each other up. But it was a beastly
time. People used to come to me with very serious news and ask, “What do
you think of it?” And my invariable answer was, “Whatever has happened
or is going to happen, whoever wants to make peace, you may be certain
that England will not make it, not for ten years, if necessary.”

But enough of this, too. Through the unremitting efforts of Polish
friends we obtained at last the permission to travel to Vienna. Once
there, the wing of the American Eagle was extended over our uneasy
heads. We cannot be sufficiently grateful to the American Ambassador
(who all along interested himself in our fate) for his exertions on our
behalf, his invaluable assistance, and the real friendliness of his
reception in Vienna. Owing to Mr. Penfield’s action we obtained
permission to leave Austria. And it was a near thing, for his Excellency
has informed my American publishers since that a week later orders were
issued to have us detained until the end of the war. However, we
effected our hair’s-breadth escape into Italy and, reaching Genoa, took
passage in a Dutch mail-steamer, homeward bound from Java, with London
as a port of call.

On that sea route I might have picked up a memory at every mile if the
past had not been eclipsed by the tremendous actuality. We saw the signs
of it in the emptiness of the Mediterranean, the aspect of Gibraltar,
the misty glimpse in the Bay of Biscay of an outward-bound convoy of
transports, in the presence of British submarines in the Channel.
Innumerable drifters flying the naval flag dotted the narrow waters, and
two naval officers coming on board off the South Foreland piloted the
ship through the Downs.

The Downs! There they were, thick with the memories of my sea life. But
what were to me now the futilities of individual past! As our ship’s
head swung into the estuary of the Thames a deep, yet faint, concussion
passed through the air, a shock rather than a sound, which, missing my
ear, found its way straight into my heart. Turning instinctively to look
at my boys, I happened to meet my wife’s eyes. She also had felt
profoundly, coming from far away across the grey distances of the sea,
the faint boom of the big guns at work on the coast of Flanders--shaping
the future.



Da un’ anno, l’orror della guerra, e l’affanno della coscienza, per
comprenderne la inevitable necessità. L’Antico Libro dice: “_La spada
levata per uccidere guarisce talvolta_,” e a nostri giorni, una povera
donna del popolo firmo una carta questo affirmando: “_Sia la guerra, per
distrugger la guerra_;” e la povera donna del popolo ha due figlioli al

--Infinita è la strage, e in ogni terra, disperazione e protesta!

--Per tanto dolore nel mondo, per ogni giovane esistenza troncata, sia
conquista e diritto, per ogni Patria, il somme dei beni: La libertà
nella Vita.


_Il Cerro,

  Boscolungo Pistoiese_



For the past year the horror of war, and the struggle of our minds to
comprehend its inevitable necessity!--Holy Writ says: “For all they that
take the sword shall perish with the sword,” and now in our day a poor
woman of the people ends her letter with these words: “There must be
war, that war may perish”--and this poor woman of the people has two
sons at the front.

Infinite is the suffering, and over the earth wailing and despair!

Through all this sorrow in the world, through all these young lives cut
short, may victory bring to every land the crown of life--the right to


_Il Cerro,

Boscolungo Pistoiese_

[Illustration: _AUGUSTE RODIN_





The sky to-night looks as if a million bright angels were passing--a
gleaming cloud-mesh drawn across the heaven. One star, very clear,
shines beside a full moon white as the globe-campion flower. The wan
hills and valleys, the corn-stooks, casting each its shadows, the grey
boles of the beeches--all have the remoteness of an ineffable peace. And
the past day was so soft, so glamorous; such a hum, such brightness, and
the harvest going on....

This last year millions have died with energy but one third spent;
millions more unripe for death will yet herald us into the long shades
before these shambles cease--boys born just to be the meat of war,
spitted on each others’ reddened bayonets, without inkling of guilt or
knowledge. To what shall we turn that we may keep sane, watching this
green, unripe corn, field on field, being scythed by Death for none to
eat? There is no solace in the thought: Death is nothing!--save to those
who still believe they go straight to Paradise. To us who dare not to
know the workings of the Unknowable, and in our heart of hearts cannot
tell what, if anything, becomes of us,--to us, the great majority of the
modern world--life is valuable, good, a thing worth living out for its
natural span. For, if it were not, long ere this we should have sat with
folded arms, lifting no hand till the last sighing breath of the human
race had whispered itself out into the wind, and a final darkness come;
sat, like the Hindu Yogi, watching the sun and moon a little, and
expired. The moon would be as white, and the sun as golden if we were
gone, the hills and valleys as mysterious, the beech-trees just as they
are, only the stooks of corn would vanish with those who garner them. If
life were not good we should make of ourselves dust indifferently--we
human beings; quietly, peacefully; not in murderous horror reaped by the
curving volleys, mown off by rains of shrapnel, and the long yellow
scythe of the foul gases. But life is good, and no living thing wishes
to die; even they who kill themselves, despairing, resign out of sheer
love of life; out of craving for what they have found too mutilated and
starved, out of yearning for their meed of joy cruelly frustrated. And
they who die that others may live are but those in whom the life-flame
burns so hot and bright that they can feel the life and the longing to
live in others as if it were their own--more than their own. Yea, life
carries with it a very passion for existence.

To what then shall we turn that we may keep sane, watching this harvest
of too young deaths, the harvest of the brave, whose stooks are raised
before us, casting each its shadow in the ironic moonlight? Green corn!
Green corn!

If, having watched those unripe blades reaped off and stacked so
pitifully, watched the great dark Waggoner clear those unmellowed
fields, we let their sacrifice be vain; if we sow not, hereafter, in a
peaceful Earth that which shall become harvest more golden than the
world has seen--then Shame on us, unending, in whatever land we

This harvest night is still. And yet, up there, the bright angels are
passing over the moon. One Star!


_August 28, 1915_

[Illustration: _CLAUDE MONET_





We abound, while the war progresses, with examples of the calculated
ferocity of the Germans, of their lack of humanity, of their scorn of
the generous convention of behaviour. But there is a great danger that
on reflection, we may be tempted to regard these developments of
savagery as due to the fact of war itself, to a sudden madness of
blood-lust, to rage in the face of unanticipated resistance, even to
alarm, the emotion of terror being a fruitful source of cruelty as well
as of cowardice. It is well, therefore, lest we be tempted to excuse the
barbarism of the enemy, to cast our eyes backward and to endeavour to
recall what he was in times of peace, in his domestic surroundings,
unassailed by anger or fear or ill-humour. I make no apology, then, for
recounting an anecdote which illustrates, I think, certain qualities
which distinguish the German mentality from that of all the other races
which call themselves civilised. The incident which I will proceed to
describe was a trifling one, but the impression it left upon my memory
was profound.

In the early summer of 1911 my wife and I joined our dear friends, the
Dutch novelist Maarten Maartens and his daughter, in a motor-trip
through parts of the Rhine Province, and in particular the romantic and
volcanic districts of the Eiffel. Maarten Maartens (who died in Holland
so lately as the 3rd of August, 1915) was the most delightful travelling
companion, and the perfection of his linguistic gifts--for he spoke
English, French, Italian and German in each case like a native--made the
face of Europe one wide home to him. Our tour was nearly over; we had
descended the Moselle, and had paused where the Benedictine Abbey of
Laach, on the edge of its serene and wood-encircled crater-lake offers
hospitality to the stranger; and then we went down to the Rhine and
reached Königswinter late one afternoon. At Königswinter, as travellers
know, there is an hotel which Germans brag of as “the best in the
world.” It is, in fact, or was then, very large, sumptuously furnished,
nobly situated on the bastion of the Rhine, looking right over to
Drachenfels. The service was rapid and noiseless, the cooking as good as
a Teuton kitchen can produce. It had the air of highly-organised
prosperity, of a machine exactly suited to harmonise with wealth. To
call it “the best hotel in the world” is to show a false conception of
excellence as applied to hotels, but it presented everything that German
luxury could demand.

We were given a row of excellent rooms on the first floor, with long
windows opening on to a terrace which roofed the great restaurant, and
whence there was a noble prospect. We went to bed early, and soon the
whole vast establishment seemed wrapped in velvet silence. Not a sound
broke in the dark warm summer night, not even a whisper from the river.
Suddenly an amazing, an unintelligible riot woke the row of us from
slumber. The electric light, switched hurriedly on, revealed that the
hour was three. In front of us, apparently on our terrace, a turmoil was
proceeding of a character to wake the dead. Explosions of glass, what
seemed the deeper note of crockery, strange shrieks of metal,
bassoon-like and drum-like noises, a deafening roar. Turning off the
light, with face pressed to the window, there were dimly to be
distinguished phantom-objects descending from above our heads, a shower
of vague orbs and bosses, splinters of light, a chaos of the
indescribable. Presently the hubbub ceased, deep silence reigned again,
and after whispered and bewildered confabulation from door to door, we
fell again to dreamless sleep.

In the morning, the riot of the night was our only subject. The terrace
in front of our windows showed not the slightest evidence of any
disturbance, and we almost doubted our senses. At breakfast, the man who
served us knew nothing; he had not wakened all night, he declared.
Maarten Maartens, more and more intrigued, insisted on asking the
headwaiter. The answer of that worthy was, “There was no disturbance at
any time last night. If there had been, I could not have failed to hear
it.” Maarten Maartens broke from this sturdy liar, and went off to the
bureau of the Hotel. Here he found the manager, with whom he was
personally acquainted, seated at his desk; two or three other people
were near. To the Dutch novelist’s inquiry the manager answered--“There
was no noise in any part of the hotel at any time last night. You were
dreaming,--you had a nightmare.” Maarten Maartens, now thoroughly
baffled, almost began to think that the noise must have been a delusion
of the brain; when the manager, coming to him along a passage, and
glancing hither and thither to make sure no one was listening, said,
“The officers of a crack regiment from Cologne were supping last night
here, in the large private room on the second floor. At three o’clock,
as they were leaving, they threw everything that was on the
table,--glass, china, silver, everything,--out of window on to the
terrace below. But before four o’clock my waiters had removed every
trace of what the officers had done. I tell you the facts because you
are so persistent, but I must beg you to ask no more questions and make
no more remarks. If it were known to the authorities that any complaints
had been made, my licence would be withdrawn. My people are so well
disciplined, that not a single man or woman employed in the hotel would
admit that any incident had taken place.” Maarten Maartens said, “But
would you allow civilians to behave like that?” “Civilians!” exclaimed
the manager; “in their case I should telephone to the police at the
crash of the first wine-glass.”

Before we left Königswinter that day we went with Maarten Maartens to
call on the publisher of the German edition of his writings, which had a
very large sale. We were received with much ceremony in a modern house,
sumptuously furnished, and set in an enchanting park which goes down to
the Rhine. The civility of the great publisher and of his family was
extreme. In the course of conversation Maarten Maartens, in whom the
nocturnal bombardment of his bed-room rankled, told the story with a
great deal of humour and liveliness. When he had finished there was a
silence, and then the publisher said, very sententiously, “We never
criticise the Army! Allow me to show you that part of the garden which
has been finished since your last visit!”

This, then, is the spirit in which Germany has arrived at her present
amazing development. It renders her unique. Can any one conceive a party
of English officers, dining at the Ritz, and hurling all their plates
and dishes into the street below? Can any one conceive a party of French
civilians, of all classes, accepting a tyranny of arms so humiliating?
The arrogance and wantonness of a military aristocracy balanced by an
unquestioning servility of the great bulk of the nation. A Kultur of
which the watchword is, “We never criticise the Army!” An army in which
the qualities of self-respect and respect for others are totally
ignored. An amalgam of these contrasted elements makes up the atrocious
and formidable temperament of our enemy.


[Illustration: _MAX BEERBOHM_





La caractéristique de ce conflit européen sera sans doute, aux yeux de
nos descendants, qu’il aura été l’instant où la science aura failli à sa
mission. La science, cet attribut des dieux dont l’anoblissement s’est
étendu aux mortels depuis le temps de Prométhée, la science, cette
conquête pure, cette bienfaitrice, cette aïeule tutélaire, oui! la
céleste science, nous l’avons vue, en certaines mains, devenir
provisoirement scélérate. Elle a choyé l’incendie, rendu pratiques les
milliers d’assassinats par noyade. Elle s’est faite empoisonneuse des
poumons, vitrioleuse des visages. Les savants d’outre-Rhin auront passé
leurs nuits à chercher quel nouvel attentat aux lois divines et
humaines, quel crime inédit pourraient être lancés en défi aux nations,
par le mauvais génie de leur science à eux, par cette science qui a
réussi à rendre la guerre plus hideuse encore qu’elle n’était de

Si c’étaient ces innovations impies qui dussent ouvrir les chemins que
prendra l’avenir, alors une guerre future s’emploierait à rendre
vénéneux les épis du froment, sophistiquerait les nuages pour que leur
ondée verse les épidémies dont les germes sont actuellement découverts
ou celles que créerait le travail des laboratoires allemands. La Kultur
drainerait les laves des volcans sous les villes, et arrêterait d’avance
les étendues d’écorce terrestre à projeter dans l’espace. Et ceux des
diverses planètes, qui sont à lorgner la nôtre, constateraient, aux
siècles prochains, qu’une monstrueuse science aurait fait de notre
Terre, une seconde Lune, sans espèce vivante ni atmosphère, autour de
laquelle des satellites soudain mort-nés seraient les continents
exploses de l’Ancien-Monde, ou de l’une et l’autre Amériques.

Mais non! Le vieux maître écrivain François Rabelais a écrit: “Science
sans conscience est la ruine de l’âme.” La science sans conscience sera
la ruine aussi des gens qui l’ont choisie pour base de leur empire. La
science démoniaque verra briser ses ailes de chauve-souris, par ce
pouvoir invisible et impondérable qui, ange gardien des hommes,
s’appelle la conscience.

Depuis que la civilisation est en marche, elle va lentement, patiemment,
irrésistiblement, vers le mieux, vers le bien. Elle a constitué
l’inépuisable réserve, l’invincible armée des valeurs morales, d’où
sortent les affranchissements, les justices, les dignités de la race et
toute loi de vérité. Cette puissance morale, on a l’Histoire pour en
démontrer la constante victoire contre les tyrannies les plus solides,
contre les violences les mieux organisées. Mais je n’en veux que la
démonstration suivante:

L’État qui a dit que la force prime le droit, l’État qui a piétiné
effroyablement toute faiblesse et qui n’a d’égards que pour ce qui est
fort, d’où vient que cet État jugea nécessaire de mentir à son peuple,
et à la face de tous les peuples sur les vraies causes de la guerre et
sur les vrais auteurs responsables? D’où vient que cet État ne manque
pas, à chaque occasion, de rééditer le mensonge et de s’y gargariser
vainement, ridiculement, follement? Il a marqué ainsi son effroi de la
conscience universelle. Celui qui ne s’inquiétait, il y a un an, ni du
ciel ni de l’enfer, avait pourtant senti tout de suite, il ne cesse de
sentir, aujourd’hui, l’action vengeresse et triomphale s’élaborant dans
toutes les consciences de l’humanité, ennemies, neutres, et même


_de l’Académie Française_

_31 Juillet 1915_



It will be left to our descendants to realize that the chief
significance of this European conflict lies in its marking the moment
when Science failed in her mission. Science, our heritage from the gods,
whose high destiny has been fulfilling itself among mortals since the
days of Prometheus: Science, mankind’s purest conquest, the
benefactress, the tutelary guardian--celestial Science, corrupted by
strange teachings, has turned and rent us. She has let loose the horror
of fire and set her hand to the murder of thousands by drowning. She has
poisoned the air that men breathe, and flung vitriol in their faces. Her
votaries beyond the Rhine have passed the watches of the night in
seeking some new violation of laws human and divine--some undreamt
outrage to be launched against the nations by the evil genius of that
Science of theirs which has made War, hideous as it was at birth, more
loathsome still.

If these unholy innovations were to blaze the way for the future, we
should find the war-makers of to-morrow causing the wheat-fields to bear
a poisoned harvest and forcing the very clouds in heaven to rain down
pestilences whose germs are known to us now, or would in time be brought
to birth in the alembics of German laboratories. Kultur would channel
the lava of volcanoes under great cities, and hurl into space vast
stretches of the earth’s crust. The planets of the universe, watching,
would learn in centuries to come that a monstrous Science had
transformed our World into another Moon, void of life and air, around
which swim still-born satellites that were once the blasted continents
of the Old World or the Americas.

But this is not to be. The old master-writer, François Rabelais, has
said: “Science without conscience spells ruin to the soul.” And so
Science without conscience must mean the destruction of that nation
which has chosen it as the foundation of empire. Demoniacal Science,
dragon-winged, will be shattered against that invisible and imponderable
force, the guardian angel of mankind, which is called Conscience.

From the dawn of civilization it has moved slowly, patiently,
irresistibly toward the better, toward the good. It has constituted the
inexhaustible reserve, the invincible army of moral values, out of which
the liberties, the justices, the dignities of the race, and every law of
truth, have come to being. History stands ready to number the victories
of this moral force over the most strongly organized lawlessness and the
mightiest tyrannies. And I ask no better demonstration than this:

The State which has declared that might is right, which has trampled
under foot all weakness and respects only that which is strong--how
comes it that this State finds itself constrained to lie to its own
people and to all the nations about the true causes of this war and the
men who are responsible for it? How comes it that this State never
fails, whenever chance offers, to repeat the dreary lie and mouth it
over desperately, absurdly, vainly? Thus does it betray its terror of
the universal Conscience. The power which, one year ago, feared neither
heaven nor hell, felt instantly and must ever feel the avenging and
triumphant assault of all the consciences of humanity--enemy, neutral,
and even subject to itself.

_de l’Académie Française_

_July 31, 1915_

[Illustration: _J. L. GÉRÔME_





Le 28 août 1914, après une sanglante bataille, la 1^{ère} Division du
Maroc avait refoulé l’ennemi de la Fosse à l’Eau dans la direction de

La nuit venue, malgré des pertes cruelles, la satisfaction était grande:
chacun espérait pour le lendemain l’achèvement de la victoire.

Mais contrairement à ces prévisions, l’ordre arriva, sur le coup de onze
heures du soir, de se dégager au plus vite et de marcher en retraite
vers les plateaux qui dominent à l’Est la route de Mézières à Rethel.

Ce mouvement était une conséquence de la manœuvre géniale conçue dès le
25 août par le Général JOFFRE et qui devait aboutir, comme chacun sait,
à la victoire de la Marne; mais nous l’ignorions.

Donc, il fallut se “décrocher” immédiatement. La nuit était très noire;
les troupes accablées par une dure journée de combat, couchaient sur
leurs positions.

Néanmoins, les ordres se transmirent rapidement et, à minuit, dans un
silence complet, la Division retraitait en plusieurs colonnes face à

L’ennemi allait-il éventer le mouvement? Il faillait craindre en tout
cas qu’à l’aube, c’est à dire après 3 heures de marche, il ne s’en
aperçut et ne commençât une poursuite qui aurait été fort gênante.

Il nous aurait en effet rattrapés au pied du plateau, alors que la
Division était obligée de se former en une colonne de route unique pour
y accéder.

Mais, contrairement à nos craintes rien ne gêna notre opération; à midi,
les troupes étaient rassemblées et en ordre parfait dans les environs de
Neuvizy, à l’Est de Launois.

Que s’était-il passé? L’ennemi était-il resté sur place? Avait-il
lui-même battu en retraite?

C’est dans la journée seulement que l’explication de son attitude nous
fut connue.

Par suite de l’obscurité de la nuit ou pour tout autre motif, un
bataillon de Tirailleurs Algériens, celui du Commandant MIGNEROT,
n’avait pas été touché par l’ordre de repliement.

Il était en toute première ligne et ne possédait d’autre ordre que celui
qu’il avait reçu la veille en fin de journée: “Avant-postes de combat;
résister à tout prix.”

Aussi à l’aube, lorsque l’ennemi se rendant compte enfin de notre
dérobade, voulut pousser de l’avant, il trouva, au centre de notre
front, tel qu’il était la veille, ce bataillon en position, ferme,
résolu à exécuter son ordre coûte que coûte.

La lutte, au dire des témoins, fut homérique; accablé par des forces
supérieures, écrasé par l’artillerie, le bataillon résista sur place
d’abord, puis lorsqu’il fut enveloppé sur ses ailes, recula pas à pas,
défendant vigoureusement chaque pouce de terrain.

C’est cette superbe attitude qui, à mon insu, assura à la Division, le
temps voulu pour exécuter son ascension sur le plateau.

Mais, hélas, ce fut au prix des plus douloureux sacrifices; ce
magnifique bataillon qui comptait plus de 1,000 combattants avait perdu
le Commandant, la plupart des officiers et 600 hommes.

Au cours de cette glorieuse résistance se produisit l’incident que je
veux raconter.

Lorsque le repli commença, il ne pouvait être question de relever morts
ou blessés.--Grande fut la stupéfaction des Arabes. C’étaient de vieux
soldats, qui avaient combattu un peu partout, en Algérie, au Maroc;
toujours ils avaient vu leurs chefs veiller soigneusement à ce qu’aucun
blessé, aucun cadavre ne risquât d’être massacré ou profané par
l’ennemi--le Berbère ou le Chleuh.--Voici que cette fois, on abandonnait
les blessés et les morts. Ils n’en croyaient pas leurs yeux. Des
murmures s’élevèrent dans les rangs; un vieux sergent alla même jusqu’à
menacer de son fusil un officier en l’appelant traître.

On eut toutes les peines du monde à leur rappeler ce qu’on leur avait
pourtant dit: dans les armées de l’Europe, les blessés, les morts,
lorsqu’ils tombent aux mains de l’ennemi constituent un dépôt sacré;
ils sont traités avec humanité, avec respect.

Hélas, les Arabes avaient raison. Combien de fois l’avons-nous constaté
avec indignation et colère!

Mais, au début de la guerre, qui de nous n’eût pas accordé à l’ennemi
les sentiments qui sont l’honneur d’une armée: la générosité,
l’humanité, le respect des conventions, de la parole donné?

Qui eut imaginé que 45 ans de “Kultur” produiraient de si tristes

Heureusement, nous avons trouvé à ces désillusions de douces

Comme tout se compense dans l’univers, il s’est rencontré des âmes
exquises qui se sont ingéniées à opposer aux misères de la guerre, les
remèdes les plus touchants.

Telle est l’œuvre des Sans-Foyer.

Pour les bienfaits qu’elle a prodigués, pour les nombreux affligés
qu’elle a secourus, notre reconnaissance lui est acquise.

Honneur à ses Fondateurs.


_Q. G. IIIᵉ Armée, 28 Août 1915_



On the 28th of August, 1914, after a hard-fought battle, the First
Moroccan Division drove the enemy back from la Fosse à l’Eau, in the
direction of Thin-le-Moutiers.

Despite our many losses we were exultant when night fell, and confident
of winning a decisive victory the next morning.

But at eleven o’clock, contrary to our expectations, we got an order to
retreat at once towards the east, in the direction of the heights which
command the road from Mézières to Rethel.

This movement was part of the strategic plan made by General Joffre on
the 25th of August, a plan which led, as every one now knows, to the
victory of the Marne--but of that we knew nothing at the time.

The night was pitch dark. The men, worn out by the long day’s fighting,
had fallen asleep where they had halted, but the order was rapidly
transmitted, and at midnight, in dead silence, the columns of our
Division set their faces eastward.

There was a chance that the enemy might discover our purpose. We feared
that in three hours when daylight came, we should be pursued, and if we
were overtaken it might be awkward, for, to mount to the plateau that
lay ahead of us the Division would be obliged to take the narrow road in
single column.

Nothing, however, interfered with us; we carried our movement through
successfully, and soon the troops were assembled in perfect order to the
east of Launois, near Neuvizy.

We could not understand why we had not been molested. Had the enemy
remained where we left him, or had he retreated?

Later in the day we learnt the reason of our security. Because of the
darkness, or for some other reason, the order to fall back was not
transmitted to a battalion of the Tirailleurs Algériens, led by
Commandant Mignerot.

The battalion therefore remained where it was, in the first fighting
line, in obedience to an order of the day before, which had been to hold
its ground at whatever cost.

Thus at dawn, when the enemy found we had given him the slip, and tried
to follow us up, this battalion, bent on carrying out the only order it
had received, was there to face him.

Those who saw the battle said it was Homeric. Overwhelmed by superior
numbers, crushed by artillery, the battalion at first fought where it
stood, and then, enveloped on both wings, fell back step by step,
fiercely contesting every inch of ground.

That splendid stand gave the Division time to climb the heights in
safety. But a heavy price was paid; when the fight began the battalion
numbered more than a thousand; when it was over the Commandant, almost
all his officers and six hundred of his men were dead.

It was in the course of this glorious resistance that the following
incident took place. When the battalion was forced back it was
impossible to carry off the dead and wounded. The Arabs were amazed.
They were old soldiers who had fought all over Morocco and Algeria, and
they had always seen their leaders take the utmost care that no wounded
comrades, no corpse of a brave man, should be left behind to be
massacred or defiled by savage tribesmen. And now they were abandoning
their wounded and their dead. They could not believe their eyes; murmurs
arose from the ranks; one old sergeant went so far as to menace his
officer with his rifle and call him “traitor.”

Often as they had been told by their chiefs of the respect with which
the dead and wounded are treated by European armies, it was almost
impossible to reassure them as to the fate of their comrades.

How often since, alas, with bitter wrath, we have had reason to recall
their instinctive distrust of the foe!

But in those early days of the war, which one of us would have hesitated
to give our enemies credit for the feelings which are part of an Army’s
very soul: generosity, humanity, respect for the word of honour?

Who could have imagined that forty-five years of “Kultur” would have
borne such fruit?

Fortunately there is consolation even for such disillusionment. This is
a universe of compensations, and compassionate souls are striving to
lessen the inevitable misery of this most terrible of wars.

Among them we gladly reckon those who come to the aid of the Homeless.
And in the name of the many helpless sufferers whom they relieve we
offer them our gratitude.

_Commanding the Third Army of France_

[Illustration: _JOHN SINGER SARGENT, R.A._





There comes back to me out of the distant past an impression of the
citizen soldier at once in his collective grouping and in his impaired,
his more or less war-worn state, which was to serve me for long years as
the most intimate vision of him that my span of life was likely to
disclose. This was a limited affair indeed, I recognise as I try to
recover it, but I mention it because I was to find at the end of time
that I had kept it in reserve, left it lurking deep down in my sense of
things, however shyly and dimly, however confusedly even, as a term of
comparison, a glimpse of something by the loss of which I should have
been the poorer; such a residuary possession of the spirit, in fine, as
only needed darkness to close round it a little from without in order to
give forth a vague phosphorescent light. It was early, it must have been
very early, in our Civil War, yet not so early but that a large number
of those who had answered President Lincoln’s first call for an army had
had time to put in their short period (the first term was so short then,
as was likewise the first number,) and reappear again in camp, one of
those of their small New England State, under what seemed to me at the
hour, that of a splendid autumn afternoon, the thickest mantle of heroic
history. If I speak of the impression as confused I certainly justify
that mark of it by my failure to be clear at this moment as to how much
they were in general the worse for wear--since they can’t have been
exhibited to me, through their waterside settlement of tents and
improvised shanties, in anything like hospital conditions. However, I
cherish the rich ambiguity, and have always cherished it, for the sake
alone of the general note exhaled, the thing that has most kept
remembrance unbroken. I carried away from the place _the_ impression,
the one that not only was never to fade, but was to show itself
susceptible of extraordinary eventual enrichment. I may not pretend now
to refer it to the more particular sources it drew upon at that summer’s
end of 1861, or to say why my repatriated warriors were, if not somehow
definitely stricken, so largely either lying in apparent helplessness or
moving about in confessed languor: it suffices me that I have always
thought of them as expressing themselves at almost every point in the
minor key, and that this has been the reason of their interest. What I
call the note therefore is the characteristic the most of the essence
and the most inspiring--inspiring I mean for consideration of the
admirable sincerity that we thus catch in the act: the note of the quite
abysmal softness, the exemplary genius for accommodation, that forms the
alternative aspect, the passive as distinguished from the active, of the
fighting man whose business is in the first instance formidably to
bristle. This aspect has been produced, I of course recognise, amid the
horrors that the German powers had, up to a twelvemonth ago, been for
years conspiring to let loose upon the world by such appalling engines
and agencies as mankind had never before dreamed of; but just that is
the lively interest of the fact unfolded to us now on a scale beside
which, and though save indeed for a single restriction, the whole
previous illustration of history turns pale. Even if I catch but in a
generalising blur that exhibition of the first American levies as a
measure of experience had stamped and harrowed them, the signally
attaching mark that I refer to is what I most recall; so that if I
didn’t fear, for the connection, to appear to compare the slighter
things with the so much greater, the diminished shadow with the
far-spread substance, I should speak of my small old scrap of truth,
miserably small in contrast with the immense evidence even then to have
been gathered, but in respect to which latter occasion didn’t come to
me, as having contained possibilities of development that I must have
languished well-nigh during a lifetime to crown it with.

One had during the long interval not lacked opportunity for a vision of
the soldier at peace, moving to and fro with a professional eye on the
horizon, but not fished out of the bloody welter and laid down to pant,
as we actually see him among the Allies, almost on the very bank and
within sound and sight of his deepest element. The effect of many of the
elapsing years, the time in England and France and Italy, had indeed
been to work his collective presence so closely and familiarly into any
human scene pretending to a full illustration of our most generally
approved conditions that I confess to having missed him rather
distressfully from the picture of things offered me during a series of
months spent not long ago in a few American cities after years of
disconnection. I can scarce say why I missed him sadly rather than
gladly--I might so easily have prefigured one’s delight in his absence;
but certain it is that my almost outraged consciousness of our
practically doing without him amid American conditions was a revelation
of the degree in which his great imaging, his great reminding and
enhancing function is rooted in the European basis. I felt his
non-existence on the American positively produce a void which nothing
else, as a vivifying substitute, hurried forward to fill; this being
indeed the case with many of the other voids, the most aching, which
left the habituated eye to cast about as for something to nibble in a
state of dearth. We never know, I think, how much these wanting elements
have to suggest to the pampered mind till we feel it living in view of
the community from which they have been simplified away. On these
occasions they conspire with the effect of certain other, certain
similar expressions, examples of social life proceeding as by the
serene, the possibly too serene, process of mere ignorance, to bring to
a head for the fond observer the wonder of what is supposed to strike,
for the projection of a furnished world, the note that they are not
there to strike. However, as I quite grant the hypothesis of an observer
still fond and yet remarking the lapse of the purple patch of militarism
but with a joy unclouded, I limit myself to the merely personal point
that the fancy of a particular brooding analyst _could_ so sharply
suffer from a vagueness of privation, something like an unseasoned
observational diet, and then, rather to his relief, find the mystery
cleared up. And the strict relevancy of the bewilderment I glance at,
moreover, becomes questionable, further, by reason of my having, with
the outbreak of the horrors in which we are actually steeped, caught
myself staring at the exhibited militarism of the general British scene
not much less ruefully than I could remember to have stared, a little
before, at the utter American deficit. Which proves after all that the
rigour of the case had begun at a bound to defy the largest luxury of
thought; so that the presence of the military in the picture on the mere
moderate insular scale struck one as “furnishing” a menaced order but in
a pitiful and pathetic degree.

The degree was to alter, however, by swift shades, just as one’s
comprehension of the change grew and grew with it; and thus it was that,
to cut short the record of our steps and stages, we have left
immeasurably behind us here the question of what might or what should
have been. That belonged, with whatever beguiled or amused ways of
looking at it, to the abyss of our past delusion, a collective state of
mind in which it had literally been possible to certain sophists to
argue that, so far from not having soldiers enough, we had more than we
were likely to know any respectable public call for. It was in the very
fewest weeks that we replaced a pettifogging consciousness by the most
splendidly liberal, and, having swept through all the first phases of
anxiety and suspense, found no small part of our measure of the matter
settle down to an almost luxurious study of our multiplied defenders
after the fact, as I may call it, or in the light of that acquaintance
with them as products supremely tried and tested which I began by
speaking of. We were up to our necks in this relation before we could
turn round, and what upwards of a year’s experience of it has done in
the contributive and enriching way may now well be imagined. I might
feel that my marked generalisation, the main hospital impression, steeps
the case in too strong or too stupid a synthesis, were it not that to
consult my memory, a recollection of countless associative contacts, is
to see the emphasis almost absurdly thrown on my quasi-paradox. Just so
it is of singular interest for the witnessing mind itself to feel the
happy truth stoutly resist any qualifying hint--since I _am_ so struck
with the charm, as I can only call it, of the tone and temper of the man
of action, the creature appointed to advance and explode and destroy,
and elaborately instructed as to how to do these things, reduced to
helplessness in the innumerable instances now surrounding us. It
doesn’t in the least take the edge from my impression that his sweet
reasonableness, representing the opposite end of his wondrous scale, is
probably the very oldest story of the touching kind in the world; so far
indeed from my claiming the least originality for the appealing
appearance as it has lately reached me from so many sides, I find its
suggestion of vast communities, communities of patience and placidity,
acceptance submission pushed to the last point, to be just what makes
the whole show most illuminating.

“Wonderful that, from east to west, they must _all_ be like this,” one
says to one’s self in presence of certain consistencies, certain
positive monotonies of aspect; “wonderful that if joy of battle (for the
classic term, in spite of new horrors, seems clearly still to keep its
old sense,) has, to so attested a pitch, animated these forms, the
disconnection of spirit should be so prompt and complete, should hand
the creature over as by the easiest turn to the last refinements of
accommodation. The disconnection of the flesh, of physical function in
whatever ravaged area, _that_ may well be measureless; but how
interesting, if the futility of such praise doesn’t too much dishonour
the subject, the exquisite anomaly of the intimate readjustment of the
really more inflamed and exasperated part, or in other words of the
imagination, the captured, the haunted vision, to life at its most
innocent and most ordered!” To that point one’s unvarying thought of the
matter; which yet, though but a meditation without a conclusion, becomes
the very air in which fond attention spends itself. So far as commerce
of the acceptable, the tentatively helpful kind goes, one looks for the
key to success then, among the victims, exactly on that ground of the
apprehension pacified and almost, so to call it, trivialised. The
attaching thing becomes thus one’s intercourse with the imagination of
the particular patient subject, the individual himself, in the measure
in which this interest bears us up and carries us along; which name for
the life of his spirit has to cover, by a considerable stretch, all the
ground. By the stretch of the name, moreover, I am far from meaning any
stretch of the faculty itself--which remains for the most part a
considerably contracted or inert force, a force in fact often so
undeveloped as to be insusceptible of measurement at all, so that one
has to resort, in face of the happy fact that communion still does hold
good, to some other descriptive sign for it. That sign, however,
fortunately presents itself with inordinate promptitude and fits to its
innocent head with the last perfection the cap, in fact the very crown,
of an office that we can only appraise as predetermined goodnature. We
after this fashion score our very highest on behalf of a conclusion, I
think, in feeling that whether or no the British warrior’s goodnature
has much range of fancy, his imagination, whatever there may be of it,
is at least so goodnatured as to show absolutely everything it touches,
everything without exception, even the worst machinations of the enemy,
in that colour. Variety and diversity of exhibition, in a world
virtually divided as now into hospitals and the preparation of subjects
for them, are, I accordingly conceive, to be looked for quite away from
the question of physical patience, of the general consent to suffering
and mutilation, and, instead of that, in this connection of the sort of
mind and thought, the sort of moral attitude, that are born of the
sufferer’s other relations; which I like to think of as being different
from country to country, from class to class, and as having their
fullest national and circumstantial play.

It would be of the essence of these remarks, could I give them within my
space all the particular applications naturally awaiting them,
that they pretend to refer here to the British private soldier
only--generalisation about his officers would take us so considerably
further and so much enlarge our view. The high average of the beauty and
modesty of these, in the stricken state, causes them to affect me, I
frankly confess, as probably the very flower of the human race. One’s
apprehension of “Tommy”--and I scarce know whether more to dislike the
liberty this mode of reference takes with him, or to incline to retain
it for the tenderness really latent in it--is in itself a theme for fine
notation, but it has brought me thus only to the door of the boundless
hospital ward in which, these many months, I have seen the successive
and the so strangely quiet tides of his presence ebb and flow, and it
stays me there before the incalculable vista. The perspective stretches
away, in its mild order, after the fashion of a tunnel boring into the
very character of the people, and so going on forever--never arriving or
coming out, that is, at anything in the nature of a station, a junction
or a terminus. So it draws off through the infinite of the common
personal life, but planted and bordered, all along its passage, with the
thick-growing flower of the individual illustration, this sometimes
vivid enough and sometimes pathetically pale. The great fact, to my now
so informed vision, is that it undiscourageably continues and that an
unceasing repetition of its testifying particulars seems never either to
exhaust its sense or to satisfy that of the beholder. Its sense indeed,
if I may so far simplify, is pretty well always the same, that of the
jolly fatalism above-mentioned, a state of moral hospitality to the
practices of fortune, however outrageous, that may at times fairly be
felt as providing amusement, providing a new and thereby a refreshing
turn of the personal situation, for the most interested party. It is
true that one may be sometimes moved to wonder which _is_ the most
interested party, the stricken subject in his numbered bed or the
friendly, the unsated inquirer who has tried to forearm himself against
such a measure of the “criticism of life” as might well be expected to
break upon him from the couch in question, and who yet, a thousand
occasions for it having been, all round him, inevitably neglected, finds
this ingenious provision quite left on his hands. He may well ask
himself what he is to do with people who so consistently and so
comfortably content themselves with _being_--being for the most part
incuriously and instinctively admirable--that nothing whatever is left
of them for reflection as distinguished from their own practice; but the
only answer that comes is the reproduction of the note. He may, in the
interest of appreciation, try the experiment of lending them some scrap
of a complaint or a curse in order that they shall meet him on congruous
ground, the ground of encouragement to his own participating impulse.
They are imaged, under that possibility, after the manner of those
unfortunates, the very poor, the victims of a fire or shipwreck, to
whom you have to lend something to wear before they can come to thank
you for helping them. The inmates of the long wards, however, have no
use for any imputed or derivative sentiments or reasons; they feel in
their own way, they feel a great deal, they don’t at all conceal from
you that to have seen what they have seen is to have seen things
horrible and monstrous--but there is no estimate of them for which they
seek to be indebted to you, and nothing they less invite from you than
to show them that such visions must have poisoned their world. Their
world isn’t in the least poisoned: they have assimilated their
experience by a process scarce at all to be distinguished from their
having healthily got rid of it.

The case thus becomes for you that they consist wholly of their applied
virtue, which is accompanied with no waste of consciousness whatever.
The virtue may strike you as having been, and as still being, greater in
some examples than others, but it has throughout the same sign of
differing at almost no point from a supreme amiability. How can
creatures so amiable, you allow yourself vaguely to wonder, have
welcomed even for five minutes the stress of carnage? and how can the
stress of carnage, the murderous impulse at the highest pitch, have left
so little distortion of the moral nature? It has left none at all that
one has at the end of many months been able to discover; so that perhaps
the most steadying and refreshing effect of intercourse with these
hospital friends is through the almost complete rest from the facing of
generalisations to which it treats you. One would even like perhaps, as
a stimulus to talk, more generalisation; but one gets enough of that out
in the world, and one doesn’t get there nearly so much of what one gets
in this perspective, the particular perfect sufficiency of the
extraordinary principle, whatever it is, which makes the practical
answer so supersede any question or any argument that it seems fairly to
have acted by chronic instinctive anticipation, the habit of freely
throwing the personal weight into any obvious opening. The personal
weight, in its various forms and degrees, is what lies there with a head
on the pillow and whatever wise bandages thereabout or elsewhere, and
it becomes interesting in itself, and just in proportion, I think, to
its having had all its history after the fact. All its history is that
of the particular application which has brought it to the pass at which
you find it, and is a stream roundabout which you have to press a little
hard to make it flow clear. Then, in many a case, it does flow,
certainly, as clear as one could wish, and with the strain that it is
always somehow English history and illustrates afresh the English way of
doing things and regarding them, of feeling and naming them. The sketch
extracted is apt to be least coloured when the prostrate historian, as I
may call him, is an Englishman of the English; it has more point, though
not perhaps more essential tone, when he is a Scot of the Scots, and has
most when he is an Irishman of the Irish; but there is absolutely no
difference, in the light of race and save as by inevitable variation
from individual to individual, about the really constant and precious
matter, the attested possession on the part of the contributor of a free
loose undisciplined quantity of being to contribute.

This is the palpable and ponderable, the admirably appreciable,
residuum--as to which if I be asked just how it is that I pluck the
flower of amiability from the bramble of an individualism so bristling
with accents, I am afraid I can only say that the accents would seem by
the mercy of chance to fall together in the very sense that permits us
to detach the rose with the fewest scratches. The rose of active
goodnature, irreducible, incurable, or in other words all irreflective,
_that_ is the variety which the individualistic tradition happens, up
and down these islands, to wear upon its ample breast--even it may be
with a considerable effect of monotony. There it is, for what it is, and
the very simplest summary of one’s poor bedside practice is perhaps to
confess that one has most of all kept one’s nose buried in it. There
hangs about the poor practitioner by that fact, I profess, an aroma not
doubtless at all mixed or in the least mystical, but so unpervertedly
wholesome that what can I pronounce it with any sort of conscience but
sweet? That is the rough, unless I rather say the smooth, report of it;
which covers of course, I hasten to add, a constant shift of impression
within the happy limits. Did I not, by way of introduction to these
awaiters of articulate acknowledgment, find myself first of all, early
in the autumn, in presence of the first aligned rows of lacerated
Belgians?--the eloquence of whose mere mute expression of their state,
and thereby of their cause, remains to me a vision unforgettable
forever, and this even though I may not here stretch my scale to make
them, Flemings of Flanders though they were, fit into my remarks with
the English of the English and the Scotch of the Scotch. If other
witnesses might indeed here fit in they would decidedly come nearest,
for there were aspects under which one might almost have taken them
simply for Britons comparatively starved of sport and, to make up for
that, on straighter and homelier terms with their other senses and
appetites. But their effect, thanks to their being so seated in
everything that their ripe and rounded temperament had done for them,
was to make their English entertainers, and their successors in the long
wards especially, seem ever so much more complicated--besides making of
what had happened to themselves, for that matter, an enormity of outrage
beyond all thought and all pity. Their fate had cut into their spirit to
a peculiar degree through their flesh, as if they had had an unusual
thickness of this, so to speak--which up to that time had protected
while it now but the more exposed and, collectively, entrapped them; so
that the ravaged and plundered domesticity that one felt in them, which
was mainly what they had to oppose, made the terms of their exile and
their suffering an extension of the possible and the dreadful. But all
that vision is a chapter by itself--the essence of which is perhaps that
it has been the privilege of this placid and sturdy people to show the
world a new shade and measure of the tragic and the horrific. The first
wash of the great Flemish tide ebbed at any rate from the
hospitals--creating moreover the vast needs that were to be so
unprecedentedly met, and the native procession which has prompted these
remarks set steadily in. I have played too uncertain a light, I am well
aware, not arresting it at half the possible points, yet with one aspect
of the case staring out so straight as to form the vivid moral that
asks to be drawn. The deepest impression from the sore human stuff with
which such observation deals is that of its being strong and sound in an
extraordinary degree for the conditions producing it. These conditions
represent, one feels at the best, the crude and the waste, the ignored
and neglected state; and under the sense of the small care and scant
provision that have attended such hearty and happy growths, struggling
into life and air with no furtherance to speak of, the question comes
pressingly home of what a better economy might, or verily mightn’t,
result in. If this abundance all slighted and unencouraged can still
comfort us, what wouldn’t it do for us tended and fostered and
cultivated? That is my moral, for I believe in Culture--speaking
strictly now of the honest and of our own congruous kind.


[Illustration: _LÉON BAKST_





Si l’on pouvait suivre des yeux ce qui se passe dans le monde idéal qui
nous domine de toutes parts, on constaterait sans nul doute que rien ne
se perd sur les champs de bataille. Ce que nos admirables morts
abandonnent, c’est à nous qu’ils le lèguent; et quand ils périssent pour
nous, ce n’est pas métaphoriquement et d’une manière détournée, mais
très réellement et d’une façon directe qu’ils nous laissent leur vie.
Tout homme qui succombe dans un acte de gloire émet une vertu qui
redescend sur nous, et dans la violence d’une fin prématurée, rien ne
s’égare et rien ne s’évapore. Il donne en grand et d’un seul coup ce
qu’il eût donné dans une longue existence de devoir et d’amour. La mort
n’entame pas la vie; elle ne peut rien contre elle. Le total de celle-ci
demeure toujours pareil. Ce qu’elle enlève à ceux qui tombent passe en
ceux qui restent debout. La mort ne gagne rien tant qu’il y a des
vivants. Plus elle exerce ses ravages, plus elle augmente l’intensité de
ce qu’elle n’atteint point; plus elle poursuit ses victoires illusoires,
mieux elle nous prouve que l’humanité finira par la vaincre.




If our vision could open on that unseen world which dominates us from
all sides, we should unquestionably learn that on the battlefields there
can be no loss. The heritage which our splendid soldiers yield up in
dying is bequeathed to us; and when they perish for our sakes, they give
us their lives in no metaphoric, roundabout sense, but really and
directly. From every man who meets death gloriously there goes forth a
virtue which enters into us, and even in the violence of an untimely
end nothing goes astray or vanishes. In one short moment the soldier
gives open-handed the offering of an entire lifetime of love and duty.
Death is powerless to prevail over Life. Its total remains forever
unchanged. That which is taken from the fallen passes on to those left
standing. While men still live, Death can win nothing. The more
desperate its efforts, the brighter burns the flame it would fain
extinguish; the more cruelly it pursues its phantom victories, the
clearer is it proven that in the end Humanity must surely vanquish.


_Translated by J. G. D. Paul_



“I, skeptic though I am, am, like every Englishman, a mystic. I see in
this war almost literally a fight between God and the Devil.... With all
my soul I believe that the ideal of pity is the noblest thing we have,
and that its denial which waves on every German flag is the denial of
all that the greatest men have striven for for centuries.... I feel that
the two enormous spirits that move this world are showing their weapons
almost visibly, and that never was the garment of the living world so
thin over the gods that it conceals.

“I am not much elated by the thought. I have little opinion of
Providence as an ally, and I am surprised at the weakness the Kaiser
shows for his pocket deity. What we have to do, in my opinion, we do
ourselves, and our task is none the lighter that we defend the right.
But I am hardened and set by the thing I believe. We feel that we are
fighting for the life of England--yes, for the safety of France--yes,
for the sanctity of treaties--yes, but behind these secondary and
comparatively material issues, for something far deeper, far greater,
for something so great and deep that if our efforts fail I pray God I
may die before I see it.”

These are words from a letter of an English physician with the British
expeditionary force to an American physician who had sent him Dr.
Eliot’s war-book. He, in the war, disclosing how he feels about it, has
described also how it seems to thousands of us who are looking on. We
too are mystics in our feelings about this war. We too have, and have
had almost from the first, this profound sense of a fundamental conflict
between the powers of good and evil, the soul of the world at grips with
its body.

And while we feel so profoundly that the Allies are on the Lord’s side,
a good many of us at least prefer the English doctor’s small reliance on
Providence as an ally to the Kaiser’s proprietary confidence in the
Almighty’s backing. It is not safe to count on Providence to win for
us. He knows us much better than we know ourselves, and may have views
for our improvement and the world’s which our minds do not fathom and
which do not match our plans. Nevertheless, in a vast crisis to feel
one’s self on the Lord’s side, there to fight, win or lose, there to
stay, alive or dead, is an enormous stay to the spirit. “I am hardened
and set,” says the English doctor, “by the thing I believe.” Then truly
is Providence his ally.

To work is to pray; to fight is to pray; to tend the wounded in
hospitals and avert disease is to pray. The people in action are
quickened and sustained in their faith by their exertions, but what of
us who sit afar off in safety and look on at Armageddon?

Our case is pretty trying. When the war first came it was hard for the
thousands of us who cared, to sleep in our beds. We felt it was our war,
too, and it was, for we too are Europeans, and have besides as great a
stake in civilization as any one has. We have kept up our habit of
sleeping in our beds because that was more convenient and there was no
advantage to any one in our doing otherwise. And we have gone on without
much outward change in our work and our habits of life. And we have
grown a little callous, and doubtless a little torpid, and lost some of
the ardor that came with the first shock. Nevertheless, hundreds of
thousands of Americans have had one continuing, underlying thought for a
year and a quarter--the war, the great conflict between good and evil,
and what to do about it.

There never has been a moment’s doubt about which side would be ours if
we went in. But how get in? Where lies duty? By what course may we best
help? Is it our war? When and how will the mandate come to us, too, to
resist the crushing of civilization under the Prussian jack-boot? There
are millions of Americans who want to get into the war, but there are
more millions who want to keep out. Our English doctor appreciates the
predicament of neutral countries, and this is what he says about it:

“War being what it is, it is hopeless to expect that any nation will
engage in it who does not fear great loss or hope great gain. Nations
will always be swayed by the influences which are now swaying Italy,
Greece, Bulgaria and Rumania. No desire of justice would lead those
countries to join us. I doubt if it would justify their rulers in
declaring war.”

Perhaps that is another way of saying that no country will get into the
war that dares to stay out. Nations, especially democratic nations, are
not much like men. They may not say, “I will fight for you; I will spend
my strength and treasure for you; I will die for you and your cause.”
Individuals may feel, say, do all that, but individuals are not nations.
A nation says: “The laws of my being must determine my conduct. I must
go my own gait according to those rules. But if war stretches across my
path I need not turn out for it.”

How far this war has still to go, no one knows. It may still, any day,
stretch across the path of the United States, so that the natural drive
of our procedure will carry us into it.


[Illustration: _JOHN SINGER SARGENT, R.A._





Let me say forthwith that this is a book which I shall read with deep
interest, but to which I contribute reluctantly. There is gloom enough
in the air, and I see no profit in adding the scruples and doubts of my
troubled mind to the general sum. For I can find little reason for hope
in the evils that have fallen upon the world; and where are the signs of
the wisdom that is to be born of these calamitous times? When all is
over and in the hush of desolation we have leisure to reckon up the cost
of our madness, will it appear that we have learned the meaning of the
sentimental shirking of realities? Or shall we continue, as we have done
for a century and more, to place sympathy above justice, and to forget
the responsibility of the individual in our insistence on the
obligations of society; inflaming the passions of men by rebellious
outcries against the unequal dealings of Fate, relaxing the immediate
bonds of duty by vague dreams of the brotherhood of man, weakening
character by reluctance to pursue crime with punishment, preparing the
way for outbursts of hatred by fostering the emotions at the expense of
reason; and then, in alarm at our effeminacy, rushing to the opposite
glorification of sheer force and efficiency? One naturally hesitates to
add this note of discouragement to a book in which others of clearer
vision will no doubt record the signs of returning balance and sanity
among men.

Meanwhile, I have found, if not hope, at least moments of tragic
purgation in another sort of reading. By chance I have been going
through some of the plays of Euripides this summer, particularly those
that deal with the disasters of Troy and Troy’s besiegers, and the
pathos of these scenes has blended strangely with the news that reaches
me once a day from the city. Inevitably the imagination turns to
comparisons between the present and the remote past. So, for instance,
the very day that brought me the request to contribute to the Belgian
relief I was reading the story of Iphigenia, sacrificed in order that
the Greek army might sail from Aulis and reach its destination:

    O father! were the tongue of Orpheus mine,
    To charm the stones with song to follow me,
    And throw the spell of words on whom I would,
    So should I speak. But now, as I am wise
    In tears, and only tears, I speak through these.
    This body which my mother bore to thee,
    Low at thy knees I lay, imploring thus
    To spare my unripe youth. Sweet is the light
    To human eyes; oh! force me not to see
    Those dark things under earth! I first of all
    Called thee by name of “father”; heard “my child”;
    I first here on thy knees gave and received
    The little, dear, caressing joys of love.
    And I recall thy words: “O girl,” thou saidst,
    “Shall ever I behold thee in thy home
    Happy and prosperous as becomes thy sire?”
    And my words too, while then my tiny hand
    Clung to thy beard, as now I cling: “And I,
    Some day when thou art old, within my halls,
    Dearer for this, shall I receive thee, father;
    And with such love repay thy fostering care?”
    These words still in my memory lodge; but thou
    Must have forgotten, willing now my death.
    By Pelops and thy father Atreus, oh,
    And by my mother, who a second time
    Must travail for my life, oh, hear my prayer!
    Why should the wrongs of Helen fall on me,
    Or why came Paris for my evil fate?
    Yet turn thine eyes upon me, look and kiss,
    That dying I at least may have of thee
    This pledge of memory, if my prayer is vain.
    O brother, little and of little aid,
    Yet add thy tears to mine, and with them plead
    To save thy sister. For in children still
    Some sense of coming evil moves the heart.
    See, father, how he pleads who cannot speak;
    Thou wilt have mercy and regard my youth.

From this passage, which furnished Landor with the theme of one of the
most beautiful, in some respects the most classical, of modern poems, it
is natural to turn to the still more exquisite account of the death of
Polyxena, the youngest daughter of Hecuba, slain as a peace-offering to
the shade of Achilles. The brave words and self-surrender of the girl
are related to the stricken mother by the herald Talthybius:

    “O Argives, ye have brought my city low,
     And I will die; yet, for I bare my throat,
     Myself unflinching, touch me not at all.
     As ye would please your gods, let me die free
     Who have lived free; and slay me as ye will.
     For I am queenly born, and would not go
     As a slave goes to be among the dead.”
     Then all the people shouted, and the king
     Called to the youths to set the maiden free;
     And at the sheer command the young men heard,
     And drew their hands away, and touched her not.
     And she too heard the cry and the command;
     Then straightway grasped her mantle at the knot,
     And rent it downwards to the middle waist,
     So standing like a statue, with her breast
     And bosom bared, most beautiful, a moment;
     Then kneeling spoke her last heroic words:
     “This is my breast, O youth, if here the blow
     Must fall; or if thou choose my neck,
     Strike; it is ready.”
                           And Achilles’ son,
     Willing and willing not, for very ruth,
     Cleft with his iron blade the slender throat,
     And let the life out there. And this is true,
     That even in death she kept her maiden shame,
     And falling drew her robe against men’s eyes.

These pathetic scenes, we should remember, were enacted before the
people of Athens at a time when the lust of empire and the greed of
expanding commerce had thrown Greece into a war which was to leave the
land distracted and impoverished of its men, to be a prey to the
ambitions of Alexander and the armies of Rome. What deep and poignant
emotions Euripides stirred in the breasts of the spectators those can
guess who have seen his _Iphigenia_ and _Trojan Women_ acted in English
in these similar days of trial. And the _catharsis_, or tragic
purgation, was the same then as now, only more perfect, no doubt, and
purer. By these echoes of cruel deeds, ancient even in the years of the
Peloponnesian war, the mind is turned from immediate calamities and
apprehensions to reflecting on the fatality of sin and madness that
rests on mankind, not now alone but at all times. With the tears shed
for strange, far-off things, some part of the bitterness of our personal
grief is carried away; the constriction of resentment, as if somehow
Fate were our special enemy, is loosened, and the hatred of cruel men
that clutches the heart is relaxed in pity for the everlasting tragedy
of human life. Instead of rebellion we learn resignation. When at last
Iphigenia surrenders herself to be a victim for the host, the chorus
commend her act and draw this moral:

    Noble and well, it is with thee, O child;
    The will of fortune and the god is sick.

In later times Lucretius was to take up this thought, and in repeating
the story of Iphigenia was to denounce the very notion of divine
interference in perhaps the most terrible line that ever poet wrote:

    Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum.

That is one way of regarding the evils of human destiny, as if they were
the work of blind chance, but not the wise way; for at the end of such
atheism only madness lies. The truer counsel is in that humility which
faces the facts, yet acknowledges the impotence of man’s reason to act
as judge in these high matters. Christianity and paganism come close
together in the lesson taught by Euripides:

    O daughter, God is strange and all his ways
    Past finding out. So for his own good will
    He turns the fortunes of mankind about,
    And hither thither moves.

That is the element of religious purgation which Euripides brought to
the people of Athens when their whole horizon was darkened by war. But
this is not all. Indeed, were this all, we should reject such
consolation indignantly, as being akin to that form of humanitarianism
which has been disintegrating modern society by throwing the
responsibility for crime anywhere except on the individual delinquent.
Euripides may have found alleviation in the universal mystery of evil,
but neither he, in his better moments, nor any other of the true Greeks
turned consolation into license, or doubted that a sure nemesis followed
the infractions of justice, or the insolence of pride, or the errors of
guilty ignorance:

    Strong are the gods, and stronger yet the law
    That sways them; even as by the law we know
    The gods exist, and in our life divide
    The bounds of right and wrong.

The madness of Troy and the Achaean army may have been the work of
heaven, but no small part of Greek tragedy, from the _Agamemnon_ of
Aeschylus to the _Hecuba_ of Euripides, is taken up with the tale of
retribution that came to this man and that for his arrogance or folly.
So are consolation and admonition bound together. If their union in
ancient ethics seems paradoxical, or even contradictory, it is
nevertheless confirmed by the teaching of Christianity: For evil must
come into the world, but woe unto him through whom it comes.

It is a curious and disquieting fact that the poet who was able to
compress the moral of Greek tragedy into a single memorable stanza,
belongs to the people who, if there is any truth in that moral, must
shortly reckon with the nemesis appointed for sins of presumption and

    Ihr zieht ins Leben uns hinein;
    Ihr lasst den armen schuldig werden;
    Dann überlasst ihr ihn der Pein;
    Denn alle Schuld rächt sich auf Erden.
                PAUL ELMER MORE






The devastating war in Europe has robbed the United States of one
familiar figure, of one cherished illusion. In the stage setting of the
nations, we have long expected Russia to play the villain’s rôle. We
have depended on her for dark deeds, we have owed to her our finest
thrills of virtuous indignation. From the days when Mr. George Kennan
worked the prolific Siberian prison vein (our own prison system was not
then calculated to make us unduly proud), down to the summer of 1914, we
have never failed to respond to any outcry against a nation about which
we were reliably misinformed. It was quite the fashion, when I was
young, for some thousands, or perhaps some millions of modest American
citizens to sign a protest to the Czar, whenever we disapproved of the
imperial policy. What became of these protests, nobody knew; the chance
of the Czar’s reading the millions of names seemed, even to us,
unlikely; but it was our nearest approach to intimacy with the great and
wicked ones of earth, and we felt we were doing our best to stem the
tide of tyranny.

A great deal of this popular sentiment came to us from England, where
hostility to Russia was bred of national fear. A great deal of it was
fostered by Jewish immigrants in the United States. But the dislike of
democracy for autocracy was responsible for our most cherished

    Some god this severance rules.

A well-told story like Mr. Kipling’s “The Man Who Was” seemed to us an
indictment of a nation. Popular magazines cultivated a school of fiction
in which Russian nobles were portrayed as living the unfettered lives,
and enjoying the unfettered pastimes, of Dahomey chiefs. Popular
melodrama showed us the heads of the Russian police department devoting
themselves unreservedly to the persecution of innocent maidenhood. The
only good Russian ever presented to us was the nihilist, some one who,
like Mademoiselle Ixe, spent her time in pursuit of a nameless official,
and shot him for a nameless crime. Even our admiration for Count Tolstoy
was founded on his revolt from the established order of things in his
own country. It seldom occurred to us that the established order of
things in any other country would have been equally obnoxious to this
thorough-paced reformer. New York would have been as little to his taste
as was St. Petersburg.

The exigencies of a political alliance have impelled England to lay
aside her former animosities, and bury them in oblivion. For many months
she has tried hard to reinstate Russia in popular opinion, chiefly by
means of serious papers in serious periodicals, which the populace never
reads. Mr. Bernard Shaw is perhaps the only man left in the United
Kingdom who clings desperately to the good old Russian bogyman, as we
cling to the ogre of our infancy, and the pirate of our tender youth.
Mr. Shaw’s Russia is not merely a land where pure-minded, noble-hearted
disturbers of the peace are subject to shameful captivity. It is a land
where “people whose worst crime is to find the Daily News a congenial
newspaper are hanged, flogged, or sent to Siberia, as a matter of daily
routine.” This is worse than Dahomey, where the perils of the press are
happily unknown. Most of us would change our morning paper rather than
be hanged. Few of us would find any journal “congenial,” which paved the
long way to Siberia.

England sympathized with Japan in the Japanese-Russian war from
interested motives. We did the same out of pure unadulterated sentiment.
Japan was an unfriendly power, given to hostile mutterings. Russia was a
friendly power, which had done us more than one good turn. But Japan was
little, and Russia was big. “How,” asks the experienced Mr. Vincent
Crummles, “are you to get up the sympathies of an audience in a
legitimate manner, if there isn’t a little man contending against a big
one?” Japan, moreover, was the innocent land of cherry blossoms, and
Russia was the land of knouts, and spies, and Cossacks. Russia
worshipped God with rites and ceremonies, displeasing to pious
Americans. Japan belonged to Heathendom, and merited enlightened

A fresh deal in international policy may at any time sever and re-unite
the troubled powers of Europe. Their boundary lines are hostages to
fortune. But we, with two oceans sweeping our shores, have lost our
bogyman beyond all hope of recovery. It is not with us a question of
altered interests, but of altered values. Germany’s campaign in Belgium
has changed forever our standards of perfidy and of frightfulness. We
can never go back to the old ones. Once we spoke of Russia as a nation

    Which to the good old maxim clings,
    That treaties are the pawns of Kings.

Now we know that Germany outstrips her far in faithlessness. Once we
called Russia oppressive, cruel, unjust. Now the devastated homes of
Flanders teach us the meaning of those words. Once we reproached Russia
for being the least civilized of Christian nations. Now we have seen a
potent civilization crash down into pure savagery, its flimsy restraints
of no avail before the loosened passions of men.

And for our own share of injury and insult? Is it possible that a few
years ago we deeply resented Russia’s disrespect for American passports;
that we abrogated a treaty because she dared to turn back from her
frontiers American citizens armed with these sacred guarantees? To-day
our dead lie under the ocean; and Germany, who sent them there, sings
comic songs in her music halls to celebrate the rare jest of their
drowning. Our sensitive pride which could brook no slight from the
friendly hand of Russia, is now humbled to the dust by Germany’s mailed
fist. She has spared us no hurt, and she has spared us no jibe. Bleeding
and bewildered, we have come to a realization of things as they are, we
have seen the naked truth, and we can never go back to our illusions. We
enjoyed our old bogyman, our shivers of horror, our exalted sentiments,
our comfortable conviction of superiority. Now nothing is left but
sorrow for our dead, and shame for the wrongs which have been done us.
As long as history is taught, the tale of this terrible year will
silence all other tales of horror. Not for us only, but for the
listening world, the standard of uttermost evil has been forever








Voici que le soir tombe, avec l’orage. Et le soleil passionné descend,
comme un blessé se traîne avec lenteur sur la colline: il descend sur la
mer, avec un sourire, tout en sang. Et tout à l’heure, le divin Héros
sera couché sur le lit qu’il préfère.

Voici que le soir tombe. Les jeunes filles de l’Ouest viennent sur la
prairie; et viennent aussi les jeunes femmes de la douce terre. Elles
sont deux chœurs qui se rencontrent dans l’herbe fleurie et l’odeur du
blé noir, qui sont le miel et la vanille.

Elles s’avancent les unes vers les autres, les vierges et celles qui le
furent, les nids à baisers et celles qui voudraient l’avoir été. Elles
désireraient de danser: mais ni les amants, ni les fiancés ne sont plus
là. Est-ce qu’ils sont tous morts? Ils sont tous partis pour l’œuvre
dure et pour la guerre. Elles ne pourront plus fouler le raisin de la
joie dans la danse. Et elles ne veulent pas danser aux bras l’une de
l’autre. Il ne leur reste qu’à lancer leur âme dans le chant.

Chantez, les belles! L’heure du chant sonne pour vous, sur la prairie
brûlante, entre le mur des chênes et les lèvres de l’océan. Allez, mes
belles! Mettez-vous, les libres jeunes filles, au bord de la vague
verte. Et vous, les jeunes femmes, contre la haie des feuilles au cœur
déchiqueté, qui vous sépare de l’Orient.



Amour! un an de guerre! et les treize mois sont révolus! O fiancées que
nous sommes! Douloureuses, pleines de sourires, avides de danser et tant
déçues, où êtes-vous, nos fiancés?

Notre voix est toute chaude. Notre voix vient du feu, pour vous
appeler. Beaux fiancés, où êtes-vous, si doux, si chers à celles qui
vous attendent?

Nous ne danserons plus. Nous chanterons notre peine.

Une sœur, hier, a frappé dans la nuit, toc toc, sur nos portes, à la
chambre des vierges.

Et vierge comme nous, elle est entrée tout en pleurs et nous a dit: “Je
suis Poleska, la jeune fille de Pologne. Sœurs de Bretagne, sœurs
galloises, savez-vous la danse et le chant, cet été, de vos sœurs
polonaises? Elles sont la couronne et le tombeau. Elles vont,
coquelicots de deuil et bleuets, par la plaine; et la bêche à la main,
du matin au soir, elles creusent des fosses. Elles mettent dans la terre
leurs fiancés et leurs amants. Voilà l’été de la Pologne, et nos couches
nuptiales, ô sœurs de l’Occident.”

Ayant dit son message, elle a pâli, la brune jeune fille de l’Orient,
aux yeux si bleus, au visage si blanc; et baissant son col souple sur sa
gorge, elle est morte en pleurant.

Et vous, qui êtes contre la haie, après ce long hiver dans la brume, ô
tendres veuves du baiser, quel fut votre printemps? et quel est votre
été? Vers nous levez les yeux, belles émeraudes mouillées. Répondez,
blondes orphelines du soleil, chères sœurs galloises.



Nous sommes les amantes et les jeunes femmes. Petites sœurs, vous n’êtes
que les fiancées.

Un an de dévorante amour et de regret! Une année dans le gouffre de
l’ombre sèche! Un an de solitude et de douleur.

O petites sœurs, vous espérez la vie, même quand vous la pleurez. Mais
nous, elle nous dévore.

Nous voici prêtes à mourir d’amour. Et vainement. Et nul ne veut notre
don. Et notre cœur est inutile. Ah! C’est bien là le pis. Nous mourons
de nous-mêmes et de tout.

Au plus tendre de nous, le désespoir ronge ce que le souvenir déchire.
Fiancées, fiancées, vous ne savez pas les ardeurs des amantes, et que
leurs larmes sont du sang.

       *       *       *       *       *

Vous ne savez pas non plus, tu l’ignores encore, toi qui chantes, suave
jeune fille, quelle moisson nous avons faite, et quel est ce cortège,
là-bas, ouvrant la haie, qui s’avance sur la prairie, portant un trésor
caché, comme une châsse dans les blés.

O ma sœur, toi qui es si chaude et la plus pâle, viens dans mes bras, si
tu ne veux tomber.

Celui que ces jeunes femmes promènent sur leurs épaules, parmi les
fleurs, c’est ton beau fiancé.

Il est mort d’amour pour Notre Dame, entre la mer et la Marne.

Il aimait.


Comme le soleil rougit, d’une dernière effusion, toute la mer verte, on
couche le beau jeune homme dans les seigles.

Il est mort. Il est nu, il est blanc dans les épis. Blanche est sa
bouche, et ses yeux sont clos comme les portes du jour: silence éternel
sur le rire, la lumière et le bruit.

Ses lèvres sont de cendres. La double flamme est morte. Plus de tison.
Et la fleur virile est à jamais fauchée. Qu’il est beau, le jeune corps
de l’homme! Et le héros est toujours pur.

Elles le baisent toutes, cent fois, suavement, comme on mange le raisin
à la grappe; et les unes pleurent; les autres sourient, telles de
tendres folles.

C’est moi, l’amant! C’est moi le fiancé, que vous portez ainsi, mes
belles. C’est moi, le soc de la terre et le coutre d’amour que vous
allez ensevelir dans l’herbe.

Et celle qui eût été mon champ, mourra sans fleurs et sans épis.

Du moins, sauvez-moi de la mort froide et de l’oubli.

Prenez moi dans votre paradis de femmes, entre vos lèvres.

Une heure encore, tenez moi et me serrez dans votre doux giron qui sent
la menthe fraîche, le miel, le romarin et la brûlante giroflée.

Gardez moi, je vous prie, dans la chambre des baisers. Je me suis séparé
de mes autres armes: immortelles, elles n’ont pas besoin de moi.

Et puisqu’il faut un linceul, cousez moi dans vos cheveux avec vos
larmes. Cousez moi, à longues aiguillées de pleurs, dans vos ardents


Si nous ne sommes amour, que sommes nous? Toutes, ici, nous voici
vouées, adieu semailles! au soleil qui s’en va chaque soir et aux
cruelles pluies.

Amants, nos bien aimés, tel est donc l’amour pour qui nous sommes nées?
Mères, pourquoi fîtes-vous ces filles malheureuses? Nos âmes bondissent
en révolte. Et tous nos cœurs qui veulent sortir de nous!

Baisons nous, sœurs chéries, au nom de l’amour et de la mort: et du
Seigneur qui aime, qui ouvre au ciel les sources, et les parcs d’amour,
pour tous les Aimés, au paradis.

--O belles, ô douloureuses, chantent les jeunes filles, vous qui êtes
séparées de votre chair et de vos baisers, venez.

--Et vous, petites filles, disent les jeunes femmes, ô délicieuses,
divisées de vos désirs, privées de votre attente et des caresses, venez.

--Chers cœurs!

--Chères femmes!

       *       *       *       *       *

Elles pleurent, et se baisent doucement aux lèvres, avec un sourire.

Puis elles se sont saluées, en chantant, sous le portique de la nuit,
tandis que l’océan dévorait les derniers tisons et les œillets suprêmes
du couchant.





Here comes the night, with the storm. Slowly the passionate sun goes
down; like a wounded man he drags himself over the hill; swimming in
blood he sinks toward the sea. Soon the divine Hero will be laid on the
bed of his choice.

Here comes the night. The maidens of the West come out across the
meadows, and the young women of the land come out to meet them. Two
singing choirs, they mingle in the flowered grass, and in the smell of
the black wheat that is like the smell of honey and vanilla.

Forward they go to meet each other, maids and they that once were
maids--nests of kisses, and those that willingly would be so. They long
to dance, but lovers and bridegrooms are far away: all have gone out to
the stern work of war. No more can the women tread the red wine of joy
in the dance; they have no mind to dance with one another, and so they
sing instead.

Begin, fair women! The hour of your song has come, in the hot meadows
between the dark wall of oaks and the pale lips of ocean. Come! Take
your places, you free-limbed maidens, by the green wave, and you, young
women, by the hedge-rows with fretted leaves that stand between you and
the east.



Love!--and a year of war! The twelvemonth has fulfilled itself, and one
month more! Sorrowful and full of smiles, eager to dance and pale with
waiting--tell us, our lovers, where you linger!

Our voices are warm, our voices come from the fire to call you. Where
are you, our lovers, you that are so dear to those who wait?

We have forsworn the dance, and grief shall be the burden of our song.

Yesterday, in the night, a sister came knock-knocking at our door, the
door of the virgins. A maid as we are maids, she came in to us, all
weeping, and said:

“I am the daughter of Poland. Sisters of Britain, sisters of Wales, do
you know the dance that your Polish sisters dance, and the songs they
sing? The grave and the funeral garland are their song. Like black
poppies and dark corn-flowers sprinkled on the plain, they move in sad
lines, from night to morning digging graves; and in those graves they
lay their bridegrooms and their lovers. This, my sisters, has the summer
brought to Poland, and these have been our bridal beds.”

And having spoken, the daughter of the East grew pale, and drooped her
dark head upon her neck and died.

And you who stand beside the hedge-rows, what was your spring-time, what
your heavy summer? Turn toward us the wet emeralds of your eyes: answer,
golden daughters of the sun--our sisters of Wales!



We are the young women and the beloved. Little sisters, what are you but
the betrothed?

A year of devouring love, a year of longing; long year in the valley of
parched shadow--year of loneliness and grief!

See, we are dying of love, and none to slake us. Worst waste of all, our
hearts are useless; we are dying of ourselves and of all life. O young
girls, little do you know of the hearts of women beloved, and lovers’
tears like blood!

Little do you know of the harvest we have reaped, or of the meaning of
that funeral train that comes across the meadows, parting the hedges to
right and left and bearing a hidden treasure like a monstrance born
across the wheat.

O my sister, burning hot and palest, come to me lest you fall, and let
me hold you.

He whom the young women carry on their shoulders, knee-deep in flowers,
was your once lover.

Between the sea and the Marne he died for love of our Lady, the Blessed
Virgin. He loved....


As the last flush of sunset suffuses the green ocean the young man is
laid amid the wheat.

He is dead. White and naked he lies among the wheat-ears. White are his
lips, and his eyes are closed like the eyes of the day. His laughter,
the light and sound of him, are gone.

His mouth is ashes. The double flame of his lips is dead. In its flower
his manhood is cut down. How beautiful is the young man’s body! And
stainless is the body of the hero.

The women bend to kiss him one by one, slowly, lingeringly, as grapes
are eaten from the vine; and some weep, and others laugh, beside
themselves for grieving.

I am the lover, whom you thus bear upon your shoulders; young maidens, I
am the betrothed. I am the ploughshare in the wheatfield, whom thus you
lay down for burial. And she who should have been my field and my
harvest shall die without flower and without ripening.

Save me at least, O pitying women, from the cold earth and from
oblivion. Keep me warm in the paradise of your lips, an hour longer keep
me among you, in the sweet air that smells of honey and rosemary, of
clove-pinks and the flowering mint.

Build about me the warm chamber of your kisses. My sword and my shield
are gone from me; deathless, they have no need of the dead.

And for my shrouding, women, wind me about with your long hair, and sew
my shroud with your tears. With the long needles of your tears sew me
fast into your burning hair.


If we are not Love and the food of Love, what are we? Our blossoming cut
down, we follow the setting sun into darkness and the night of rain.

Lovers, our beloved, is this the love for which our mothers bore us? O
mothers, why bring us forth to such grieving? Our souls leap up against
our fate, and our hearts break from our bosoms.

Kiss us, young sisters, in the name of Love and Death; and of the Lord
of Love, who is King of its fountains and gardens, and opens their gates
to the Beloved in Paradise.

O fair and stricken and undone--the young maids answer--come to us, you
who are parted from the lips that cherished you and the flesh of your

And you, young maidens--the mourning women reply to them--you, who have
missed your dream and your fruition, come to us, dear hearts.

Poor wives.... Poor maids!

They weep, and kiss each other, and clasp each other smiling through
their sorrow.

Then, singing, they part beneath the roof of night, while Ocean consumes
the last embers of day, and darkens under the sky incarnadine.


[Illustration: _ÉMILE-RENÉ MÉNARD_





August 8ᵗʰ, 1915. It is now four days since, in this village of
Grasmere, at my feet, we attended one of those anniversary meetings,
marking the first completed year of this appalling war, which were being
called on that night over the length and breadth of England. Our meeting
was held in the village schoolroom; the farmers, tradesmen, innkeeper
and summer visitors of Grasmere were present, and we passed the
resolution which all England was passing at the same moment, pledging
ourselves, separately and collectively, to help the war and continue the
war, till the purposes of England were attained, by the liberation of
Belgium and northern France, and the chastisement of Germany.

A year and four days, then, since the war began, and in a remote garden
on the banks of the Forth, my husband and I passed, breathless, to each
other, the sheets of the evening paper brought from Edinburgh by the
last train, containing the greater part of Sir Edward Grey’s speech
delivered in the House of Commons that afternoon--War for Belgium--for
national honour--and, in the long run, for national existence!
War!--after these long years of peace; war, with its dimly foreseen
horrors, and its unfathomed possibilities:--England paused and shivered
as the grim spectre stepped across her path.

And I stand to-night on this lovely mountain-side, looking out upon the
harvest fields of another August, and soon another evening newspaper
sent up from the village below will bring the latest list of our dead
and our maimed, for which English mothers and wives have looked in
terror, day after day, through this twelve months.

And yet, but for the brooding care in every English mind, how could one
dream of war in this peaceful Grasmere?

Is it really true that somewhere in this summer world, beyond those
furthest fells, and the Yorkshire moors behind them, beyond the silver
sea dashing its waves upon our Eastern coasts, there is still going on
the ruin, the agony, the fury, of this hideous struggle into which
Germany plunged the world, a year ago? It is past eight o’clock; but the
sun which is just dipping behind Silver How is still full on Loughrigg,
the beautiful fell which closes in the southern end of the lake. Between
me and these illumined slopes lies the lake--shadowed and still, broken
by its one green island. I can just see the white cups of the
water-lilies floating above the mirrored woods and rocks that plunge so
deep into the infinity below.

The square tower of the church rises to my left. The ashes of Wordsworth
lie just beyond it--of Wordsworth, and that sister with the “wild eyes,”
who is scarcely less sure of immortality than himself, of Mary
Wordsworth too, the “perfect woman, nobly planned,” at whose feet, in
her white-haired old age, I myself as a small child of five can remember
sitting, nearly sixty years ago. A little further, trees and buildings
hide what was once the grassy margin of the lake, and the old coach road
from Ambleside, with Wordsworth’s cottage upon it. Dove Cottage, where
“mighty poets” gathered, and poetry that England will never let die was
written, is now, as all the world knows, a national possession, and is
full of memorials not only of Wordsworth, his sister and his wife, but
of all the other famous men who haunted there--De Quincey, who lived
there for more than twenty years, Southey and Coleridge; or of
Wordsworth’s younger contemporaries and neighbours in the Lakes, such as
Arnold of Rugby, and Arnold’s poet son Matthew. Generally the tiny house
and garden are thronged by Americans in August, who crowd--in the
Homeric phrase--about the charming place, like flies about the milk
pails in summer.

But this year there are no Americans, there are few visitors, indeed, of
any kind as yet, though the coaches are beginning to bring
them--scantily. But Grasmere does not distress itself as it would in
other years, Wordsworth’s village is thinking too much about the war.
Before the war--so I learn from a gentle lady, who is one of the most
eager guardians of Grasmere traditions, and has made remarkable and
successful efforts, through the annual “Grasmere play,” which is her
creation, to maintain the rich old dialect of the dales--there were
_two_ Grasmere men in the Navy, _two_ soldiers in the Regular army, and
_three_ Reservists--out of a total male population of all ages of three
hundred and eighty-nine. No one ever saw a soldier, and wages, as all
over the north, were high. There was some perplexity of mind among the
dale-folk when war broke out. France and Belgium seemed a long way
off--more than “t’oother side o’ Kendal,” a common measure of distance
in the mind of the old folks, whose schooling lies far behind them; and
fighting seemed a strange thing to these men of peace. “What!--there’ll
be nea fightin’!” said an old man in the village, the day before war was
declared. “There’s nea blacks amongst ’em [meaning the Germans]--they’se
civilised beings!” But the fighting came, and Grasmere did as Grasmere
did in 1803, when Pitt called for volunteers for Home Defence. “At
Grasmere,” wrote Wordsworth, “we have turned out almost to a man.” Last
year, within a few months of the outbreak of war, seventy young men from
the village offered themselves to the army; over fifty are serving.
Their women left behind have been steadily knitting and sewing since
they left. Every man from Grasmere got a Christmas present of two pairs
of socks. Two sisters, washerwomen, and hard worked, made a pair each,
in four consecutive weeks, getting up at four in the morning to knit.
Day after day, women from the village have gone up to the fells to
gather the absorbent sphagnum moss, which they dry and clean, and send
to a manufacturing chemist to be prepared for hospital use. Half a ton
of feather-weight moss has been collected and cleaned by women and
school-children. One old woman who could not give money gathered the
tufts of wool which the sheep leave behind them on the brambles and
fern, washed them, and made them into the little pillows which prop
wounded limbs in hospital. The cottages and farms send eggs every week
to the wounded in France. The school-children alone bring fifty a week.
One woman, whose main resource was her fowls, offered twelve eggs a
week; which meant starving herself. And all the time, two pence, three
pence, six pence a week was being collected by the people themselves,
from the poorest homes, towards the support of the Belgian colony in the
neighbouring village of Ambleside.

One sits and ponders these things, as the golden light recedes from
Loughrigg, and that high crag above Wordsworth’s cottage. Little
Grasmere has indeed done all she could, and in this lovely valley, the
heart of Wordsworth’s people, the descendants of those dalesmen and
daleswomen whom he brought into literature, is one--passionately
one--with the heart of the Allies. Lately the war has bitten harder into
the life of the village. Of its fifty young sons, many are now in the
thick of the Dardanelles struggle; three are prisoners of war, two are
said to have gone down in the Royal Edward, one officer has fallen,
others are wounded. Grasmere has learnt much geography and history this
last year; and it has shared to the full in the general deepening and
uplifting of the English soul, which the war has brought about. France,
that France which Wordsworth loved in his first generous youth, is in
all our hearts,--France, and the sufferings of France; Belgium, too, the
trampled and outraged victim of a Germany eternally dishonoured. And
where shall we find nobler words in which to clothe the feeling of
England towards a France which has lost Rheims, or a Belgium which has
endured Louvain, than those written a hundred years ago in that cottage
across the lake?

                    Air, earth and skies--
    There’s not a breathing of the common wind
    That will forget thee; thou hast great allies;
    Thy friends are exultations, agonies,
    And love, and man’s unconquerable mind!

To Germany, then, the initial weight of big battalions, the initial
successes of a murderous science: to the nations leagued against her,
the unconquerable power of those moral faiths which fire our clay, and
in the end mould the history of men!

... Along the mountain-side, the evening wind rises. The swell and beat
of it among the rocks and fern, as the crags catch it, echo it, and
throw it back reverberate, are as the sound of marching feet....

I hear it in the tread--irresistible, inexorable--of an avenging
Humanity. The living and the dead are there, and in their hands they
bear both Doom and Comforting.


[Illustration: text decoration] _Of this book, in addition to the
regular edition, there have been printed and numbered one hundred and
seventy-five copies de luxe, of larger format._

     _Numbers 1-50 on French hand-made paper, containing four facsimiles
     of manuscripts and a second set of illustrations in portfolio._

     _Numbers 51-175 on Van Gelder paper._

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