But this sort of foolish calumny dies hard, together with such phrases as:—“England is prepared to hold on, to the last Frenchman!” While not strictly relevant to our present discussion, the following figures may be of interest. In August 1914 the British Regular Army consisted of about a hundred and fifty thousand men. To-day, British troops in France number two million; in Salonica, a hundred and forty thousand; in Egypt, a hundred and eighty thousand; in Mesopotamia, a hundred and twenty thousand. The Navy absorbs another four hundred thousand, while a full million are occupied in purely naval construction and repair. And at home again enormous masses of new troops are undergoing training. This seems to dispose of the suggestion that Great Britain is winning the War by proxy.
And for the upkeep of this mighty host, and for this general comforting of the Allies, the British taxpayer is now paying cheerfully and willingly, in addition to such trifling impositions as a 60 per cent tax on his commercial profits, income tax at the rate of twenty-five cents in the dollar.
On the other side of the account, Life, the American equivalent of Punch, (if it is possible for the humour of a particular nation to find its equivalent in any other nation), published not long ago a special “John Bull” number, which will for ever remain a monument of journalistic generosity and international courtesy. Life’s good deed was gracefully acknowledged by Punch and The Spectator.
But in spite of Life’s good example, enough has been said under this head to illuminate the fact that a common language is a doubtful blessing. The joint possession of the tongue that Shakespeare and Milton and Longfellow and Abraham Lincoln spoke has bestowed little upon our two nations but a convenient medium, too often, for shrewish altercation, coupled with the profound conviction of either side that the other side is unable to speak correct English.
Well, this nonsense must stop.
Therefore, whenever a true American and a true Briton get together, let them hold an international symposium of their own. If it were not for the unfortunate interposition of the Atlantic Ocean, this interview would be extended, with proportional profit, to the greatest symposium the world has ever seen. Meanwhile, we will make shift with a company of two.
The following counsel is respectfully offered to the participants in the debate.
Let the Briton remember:—
1. Remember you are talking to a friend.
2. Remember you are talking to a
man who regards his nation as
the greatest nation in the world. He will probably tell you
3. Remember you are talking to a
man whose country has made an
enormous contribution to your cause in men, material, and
money, besides putting up with a good deal of inconvenience
and irksome supervision at your hands. Remember, too, that
your own country has made little or no acknowledgement of
its indebtedness in this matter.