Meanwhile the idea is born; but into a Europe still ringing with the discords of war, and in a France still doubtful and full of fears. There is a brooding and threatening presence beyond the Rhine. And among the soldiers going and coming between the Rhine bridge-heads and Paris, there is a corresponding and anxious sense of the fierce vitality of Germany, and of the absence of any real change of heart among her people. Meanwhile the relations between Great Britain and America were never closer, and the determination of the leading men in both countries to forge a bond beyond breaking between us was never so clear. There are problems and difficulties ahead in this friendship, as in all friendships, whether national or individual. But a common good-will will solve them, a common resolve to look the facts of the moment and the hopes of the future steadily in the face.
THE DEFENSIVE BATTLE OF LAST SPRING
Among the impressions and experiences of my month in France there are naturally some that stand out in particularly high relief. I have just described one of them. But I look back to others not less vivid—an evening, for instance, with General Horne and his staff; a walk along the Hindenburg line and the Canal du Nord, north and south of the Arras-Bapaume road; dinner with General Gouraud in the great building at Strasbourg, which was formerly the headquarters of the German Army Corps holding Alsace, and is now the French Prefecture; the eastern battle-field at Verdun, and that small famous room under the citadel, through which all the leaders of the war have passed; Rheims Cathedral emerging ghostly from the fog, with, in front of it, a group of motor-cars and two men shaking hands, the British Premier and the Cardinal-Archbishop; that desolate heart of the Champagne battle-field, where General Gouraud, with the American Army on his right, made his September push towards Vouziers and Mezieres; General Pershing in his office, and General Pershing en petit comite in a friend’s drawing-room, in both settings the same attractive figure, with the same sudden half-mischievous smile and the same observant eyes; and, finally, that rabbit-warren of small, barely furnished rooms in the old Ecole Militaire at Montreuil, where the British General Staff worked during the war, when it was not moving in its staff train up and down behind the front.
But I do not intend to make these letters a mere omnium gatherum of recollections. All through, my object has been to lay hold of the main outline of what has happened on the Western front during the past eleven months, and if I could, to make them clear to other civilians, men and women, as clearly and rapidly as possible, in this interval between the regime of communiques and war-correspondence under which