It is difficult to see how the world, or any considerable part of it, can belong to Germany, till she changes her mind. If she can do that, she might make a good ruler, for she has solid virtues and good instincts. It is her intellect that has gone wrong. Bishop Butler was one day found pondering the problem whether, a whole nation can go mad. If he had lived to-day what would he have said about it? Would he have admitted that that strangest of grim fancies is realized?
It would be vain for Germany to take the world; she could not keep it; nor, though she can make a vast number of people miserable for a long time, could she ever hope to make all the inhabitants of the world miserable for all time. She has a giant’s power, and does not think it infamous to use it like a giant. She can make a winter hideous, but she cannot prohibit the return of spring, or annul the cleansing power of water. Sanity is not only better than insanity; it is much stronger, and Might is Right.
Meantime, it is a delight and a consolation to Englishmen that England is herself again. She has a cause that it is good to fight for, whether it succeed or fail. The hope that uplifts her is the hope of a better world, which our children shall see. She has wonderful friends. From what self-governing nations in the world can Germany hear such messages as came to England from the Dominions oversea? ’When England is at war, Canada is at war.’ ’To the last man and the last shilling, Australia will support the cause of the Empire.’ These are simple words, and sufficient; having said them, Canada and Australia said no more. In the company of such friends, and for the creed that she holds, England might be proud to die; but surely her time is not yet.
Our faith is ours, and comes not on a
And whether Earth’s great offspring by decree
Must rot if they abjure rapacity,
Not argument, but effort shall decide.
They number many heads in that hard flock,
Trim swordsmen they push forth, yet try thy steel;
Thou, fighting for poor human kind, shalt feel
The strength of Roland in thy wrist to hew
A chasm sheer into the barrier rock,
And bring the army of the faithful through.
THE WAR OF IDEAS
An Address to the Royal Colonial Institute, December 12, 1916