To realise what that means, we must retrace our steps a little.
AMERICA IN FRANCE
On March 2nd, 1917, I found myself lunching at Montreuil, then the General Headquarters of the British Expeditionary Force, with the Staff of the Intelligence Department. After lunch I walked through the interesting old town, with the Chief of the Department, and our talk turned on the two subjects of supreme importance at that moment—America and Russia. When would America come in? For that she would come in was clear. It was now a full month since diplomatic relations between Germany and the United States had been broken off, and about a week since President Wilson had asked Congress to arm American vessels in self-defence against the new submarine campaign announced by Germany in January. “It can’t be long,” said my companion quietly; “Germany has gone too far to draw back. And the President will have the whole country with him. On the whole I think he has been right to wait. It is from Americans themselves of course that one hears the sharpest criticism of the President’s ‘patience.’”
My own correspondence of the winter indeed with American friends had shown me the passion of that criticism. But on the 2nd of March there was small further need for it. Germany was rushing on her fate. During the course of the month, England and America watched the piling up of the German score as vessel after vessel was sunk. Then on the 1st of April came the loss of twenty-eight American lives in the Aztec, and the next day but one we opened our London newspapers to find that on April the 2nd President Wilson had asked Congress for a Declaration of War.
“America is in,” wrote an officer at G.H.Q., “and the faces of everybody one sees show a real bit of spring sunshine. People begin to say: ‘Now we shall be home by Christmas.’”
But something else had happened in that fateful month of March. March the 9th saw the strange, uncertain opening of the Russian revolution, followed by a burst of sympathy and rejoicing throughout Europe. Only those intimately acquainted with the structure of Russian society felt the misgivings of those who see the fall of a house built on rotten foundations and have no certainty of any firm ground whereon to build its successor. But the disappointment and exasperation of the Allies at that moment, as to all that had happened in Russia during the preceding months, under the old regime, was so great that the mere change bred hope; and for a long time we hoped against hope. All the more because the entry of America, and the thrilling rapidity of her earlier action put the Russian business into the shade, may, indeed, have dulled the perceptions of the Allies with regard to it. In forty days from the declaration of war the United States had adopted Conscription, which had taken us two years; General