Nothing being said as to the causes of the war and the criminal responsibility attaching to the authors of the great conflict, and all the nations at issue being classed as equally entitled to the benefits of the condonation proposed, the message from the Vatican met with a cool reception from the Allied nations, including the United States, especially as they entertained grave suspicions that it was inspired from Berlin, by way of Vienna. The answers of President Wilson and the British and French governments were therefore awaited with little expectation that the hour for peace had struck.
The British attitude toward peace proposals was expressed July 20 by Sir Edward Carson, member of the war cabinet, who said:
“If the Germans want peace we are prepared tomorrow to treat not with Prussianism, but with the best of the German nation, and as a preliminary to such a treaty and as an earnest of their sincerity that they don’t want to acquire any territory or show violence towards others, we tell them to come forward and offer to enter negotiations. We make as the first condition of such a parley that they shall withdraw their troops behind the Rhine.
“When they have shown something like contrition for the wrongs and outrages against humanity which they have committed on poor little Belgium, in northern France, in Serbia, and in those other regions which they needlessly drenched with blood, we will be willing to enter into negotiations to see what can be done for release of the world from the terror of arms.”
CANADIANS HOLD THEIR GAINS
On August 21 Canadian troops smashed their way with bombs and cold steel farther into the German defenses of the ruins of Lens, and defeated a desperate simultaneous attack by the enemy, which developed into one of the most sanguinary hand-to-hand conflicts on this battle-scarred front. The attack began at dawn with the capture of 2,000 yards of German positions on the outskirts of the shell-torn mining center, the Canadians driving their lines closer about the heart of the city and gaining possession of many railway embankments and colliery sidings in the northwest and southwest suburbs which had been strongly fortified for defense with a series of shell-hole nests of machine guns. The battle raged fiercely for twenty-four hours.
When the Canadians went “over the top” in the thick haze of early dawn of the 21st, they saw masses of shadowy gray figures advancing toward them. The Germans had planned an attack to be delivered at the same moment, and sent in wave after wave of infantry in desperate efforts to regain their lost positions. In the words of an eyewitness, the Germans fought like cornered rats among the shell holes and wire incumbrances of “No man’s Land,” where the struggle raged, bomb and bayonet being the principal weapons. As the Canadian bayonet did its deadly work, in some of the bitterest