Last year, under stress of these circumstances, the average Briton relinquished his age-long propensity to “let George do it,” and evolved a sudden and rather inspiring sense of personal responsibility for the safety and welfare of his country. He no longer limited his patriotism to the roaring of truculent choruses at music-halls, or the decorating of his bicycle with the flags of the Allies. He went and enlisted instead. Now he has faced Death in person—and outfaced him. He has ceased to attach an exaggerated value to his own life. Life, he realizes, like Peace, is only worth retaining on certain terms, the first of which is Honour, and the second Honour, and the third Honour.
Finally, he regards the present War as a Holy War—a Crusade, in fact. He went into it with no ulterior motives: his sole impulse was to stand by his friends, France and Belgium, in the face of the monstrous outrage that was being forced upon them. He is out, in fact, to save civilization and human decency. Consequently he finds it just a little difficult to understand how a warm-hearted and high-spirited nation can be expected to remain “neutral even in thought.”
With this much introduction to the man and his point of view, we will allow him to speak for himself.
“Do I realize that you are pro-Ally over here? Well, somehow I have always felt it, but now I know it. When I get home I shall rub that fact into everyone I meet. What our people at home don’t grasp is the fact that America is inhabited by two distinct races—Americans, and others. The others appear to me—mind you, I’m only giving you a personal impression—to consist either of alien immigrants who have not yet absorbed their new nationality, or professional anti-Ally propagandists, or people of mixed nationality with strong commercial interests in Germany, whose heart is where their treasure is. These make a surprising amount of noise, and attract a disproportionate amount of attention: but I know, and I intend the people at home to know, that the genuine American is with us in this business heart and soul.
“What’s that? The Blockade? Yes, I want to talk to you about that. I take it you will admit that a blockade is a justifiable expedient of war. There have been one or two of them in history. In the American Civil War, for instance, the North established a pretty successful blockade against the Southern ports. British cotton ships were everlastingly trying to run through that cordon. In fact, I rather think we exchanged a few cousinly notes on the subject. Of course blockades are irksome and irritating to neutrals. But we look to you here to endure the inconvenience, not merely as one of the chances of war, but rather to show us that you in this country do recognize and indorse the ideal for which we are fighting. We are fighting for an ideal, you know: I