“Yes, you are right. All this bloodshed is dreadful. But responsibility for bloodshed rests not with the people who end a war but with the people who began it. As for discussing terms of peace now, what terms could be arranged which Germany could be relied upon to observe a moment longer than suited her? Have you forgotten the way the War was forced on the world by Prussian militarism? The trick played on Russia over mobilization? The violation of Belgian neutrality? Malines, Termonde, Louvain? The official raping in the market-place at Liege? The Lusitania? Edith Cavell? The Zeppelin murders? Chlorine gas? The deportations from Belgium and Lille? Wittenburg typhus camp, where men were left to rot, without doctors, or medicine, or bedding? How can one talk of “honourable peace” with such a gang of criminal lunatics? Ask yourself who would be such a fool as to propose to end a war upon terms which left the safety of the world exposed to the prospect of another outbreak from the same source?
“You, sir? Why can’t you people in England be a bit kinder in their tone to us here in America? Ah, now you are talking! Let us get away from this crowd and go into the matter—get together, as you say.”
So the average Briton and the average American retire to a secluded spot, and “get together.” The American repeats his question:
“Why can’t your people over there be a bit kinder? Why can’t you consider our feelings a bit more? You haven’t been over and above polite to us of late—or indeed at any time.”
“No,” admits the Briton thoughtfully, “I suppose we have not. Politeness is not exactly our strong suit. In my country we are not even polite to one another!” (Try as he will, he cannot help saying this with just the least air of pride and satisfaction.) “But I admit that that is no reason why we should be impolite to other nations. The fact is, being almost impervious to criticism ourselves, we naturally find it difficult to avoid wounding the feelings of a people which is particularly sensitive in that respect.”
“Very well,” replies the American. “Now, we want to put this right, don’t we?”
“We do,” replies the other, with quite un-British enthusiasm. “No one who has spent any time as a visitor to this country could help——”