In view of all this, in view of the very sober attitude of our people upon all matters of our daily life, in view of these historical reflections, which have a very decided influence, would it be quite fair without any provocation on the side of Germany to go forth and attack her in the back, now that she is in such very dangerous straits? I repeat that this may not be the exact sentiment of all of my countrymen, but I believe that very many of us feel things that way. Perhaps we disagree in minor details, but we agree about the main issue.
We love our country. For centuries we have fought to maintain our individual civilization against the large neighbors who surround us. We try to live up to our good reputation as a home for all those who suffer. The people who are made homeless by Germany come to us and we try to feed them on such grain as the British Government allows to pass through the Channel. We try to continue in our duty toward all our neighbors, even when they declare the entire North Sea (in which we also have a certain interest) as a place of battle and blow up our ships with their mines. We patiently destroy the mines which swim away from our neighbors’ territorial waters and land upon our shores. In short, we perform a very difficult act of balancing as well as we can. But it seems to us that under difficult circumstances we are following the only correct road which can lead to the ultimate goal which we wish to reach—the lasting respect of all those who will judge us without prejudice and malice.
It is very kind of Mr. Wells to offer us territorial compensation, but we respectfully decline such a reward for the sort of attack which was popular in the days of the old Machiavelli.
HENDRIK WILLEM VAN LOON.
New York, Feb. 26, 1915.
By a Correspondent of The London Times
[From The London Times, Jan. 20, 1915.]