Still, even now, as Mr. Jerome himself contends, the term is partly justified by a certain fine feeling of which it is descriptive and which is indeed very noticeable in all ranks. Whether in the Army or Navy, among bluejackets or private soldiers or officers, the feeling is certainly very much that of a big game—with its own rules of honour and decency which must be adhered to, and carried on with extraordinary fortitude, patience, and good-humour. Whether it arises from the mechanical nature of the slaughter, or from any other cause, the fact remains that among our fighting people to-day—at any rate in the West—there is very little feeling of hatred towards the “enemy.” It is difficult, indeed, to hate a foe whom you do not even see. Chivalry is not dead, and at the least cessation of the stress of conflict the tendency to honour opponents, to fraternize with them, to succour the wounded, and so forth, asserts itself again. And chivalry demands that what feelings of this kind we credit to ourselves we should also credit to the other parties in the game. We do cordially credit them to our French and Belgian allies, and if we do not credit them quite so cordially to the Germans, that is partly at least because every lapse from chivalrous conduct on the part of our opponents is immediately fastened upon and made the most of by our Press. Chivalry is by no means dead in the Teutonic breast, though the sentiment has certainly been obscured by some modern German teachings.
While these present war-producing conditions last, we have to face them candidly and with as much good sense as we can command (which is for the most part only little!). We have to face them and make the best of them—though by no means to encourage them. Perhaps after all even a war like the present one—monstrous as it is—does not denote so great a deviation of the old Earth from its appointed orbit as we are at first inclined to think. Under normal conditions the deaths on our planet (and many of them exceedingly lingering and painful) continue at the rate of rather more than one every second—say 90,000 a day. The worst battles cannot touch such a wholesale slaughter as this. Life at its normal best is full of agonizings and endless toil and sufferings; what matters, what it is really there for, is that we should learn to conduct it with Dignity, Courage, Goodwill—to transmute its dross into gold. If war has to continue yet for a time, there is still plenty of evidence to show that we can wrest—even from its horrors and insanities—some things that are “worth while,” and among others the priceless jewel of human love and helpfulness.