As I look back I find that the one thing that stands out with distinctness above everything else is the quality of the men that constitute the British Army in the field. I had seen thousands in that one day. But I had seen them also north of Ypres, at Dunkirk, at Boulogne and Calais, on the Channel boats. I have said before that they show race. But it is much more than a matter of physique. It is a thing of steady eyes, of high-held heads, of a clean thrust of jaw.
The English are not demonstrative. London, compared with Paris, is normal. British officers at the front and at headquarters treat the war as a part of the day’s work, a thing not to talk about but to do. But my frequent meetings with British soldiers, naval men, members of the flying contingent and the army medical service, revealed under the surface of each man’s quiet manner a grimness, a red heat of patriotism, a determination to fight fair but to fight to the death.
They concede to the Germans, with the British sense of fairness, courage, science, infinite resource and patriotism. Two things they deny them, civilisation and humanity—civilisation in its spiritual, not its material, side; humanity of the sort that is the Englishman’s creed and his religion—the safeguarding of noncombatants, the keeping of the national word and the national honour.
My visit to the English lines was over. I had seen no valiant charges, no hand-to-hand fighting. But in a way I had had a larger picture. I had seen the efficiency of the methods behind the lines, the abundance of supplies, the spirit that glowed in the eyes of every fighting man. I had seen the colonial children of England in the field, volunteers who had risen to the call of the mother country. I had seen and talked with the commander-in-chief of the British forces, and had come away convinced that the mother country had placed her honour in fine and capable hands. And I had seen, between the first and second lines of trenches, an army of volunteers and patriots—and gentlemen.
QUEEN MARY OF ENGLAND
The great European war affects profoundly all the women of each nation involved. It affects doubly the royal women. The Queen of England, the Czarina of Russia, the Queen of the Belgians, the Empress of Germany, each carries in these momentous days a frightful burden. The young Prince of Wales is at the front; the King of the Belgians has been twice wounded; the Empress of Germany has her sons as well as her husband in the field.
In addition to these cares these women of exalted rank have the responsibility that comes always to the very great. To see a world crisis approaching, to know every detail by which it has been furthered or retarded, to realise at last its inevitability—to see, in a word, every movement of the great drama and to be unable to check its denouement—that has been a part of their burden. And when the denouement came, to sink their private anxieties in the public welfare, to assume, not a double immunity but a double responsibility to their people, has been the other part.