The War on All Fronts: England's Effort eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 187 pages of information about The War on All Fronts.
The zest and pleasure which for any story-teller goes with the first shaping of a story died away at the very beginning.  For the day’s respite had gone.  The little “wind-warm” space had disappeared.  Life and thought were all given up, without mercy or relief, to the fever and nightmare of the war.  I fell back upon my early recollections of Oxford thirty, forty years ago—­and it was like rain in the desert.  So that, in the course of months it had become a habit with me never to write about the war; and outside the hours of writing to think and talk of nothing else.

But your letter suddenly roused in me a desire to write about the war.  It was partly I think because what you wrote summed up and drove home other criticisms and appeals of the same kind.  I had been putting them mechanically aside as not having any special reference to me; but in reality they had haunted me.  And now you make a personal appeal.  You say that England at the present moment is misunderstood, and even hardly judged in America, and that even those great newspapers of yours that are most friendly to the Allies are often melancholy reading for those with English sympathies.  Our mistakes—­real and supposed—­loom so large.  We are thought to be not taking the war seriously—­even now.  Drunkenness, strikes, difficulties in recruiting the new armies, the losses of the Dardanelles expedition, the failure to save Serbia and Montenegro, tales of luxurious expenditure in the private life of rich and poor, and of waste or incompetence in military administration—­these are made much of, even by our friends, who grieve, while our enemies mock.  You say the French case has been on the whole much better presented in America than the English case; and you compare the international situation with those months in 1863 when it was necessary for the Lincoln Government to make strenuous efforts to influence and affect English opinion, which in the case of our upper classes and too many of our leading men was unfavourable or sceptical towards the North.  You who know something of the vastness of the English effort—­you urge upon me that English writers whose work and names are familiar to the American public are bound to speak for their country, bound to try and make Americans feel what we here feel through every nerve—­that cumulative force of a great nation, which has been slow to rouse, and is now immovably—­irrevocably—­set upon its purpose.  “Tell me,” you say in effect, “what in your belief is the real spirit of your people—­of your men in the field and at sea, of your workmen and employers at home, your women, your factory workers, your soldiers’ wives, your women of the richer and educated classes, your landowners and politicians.  Are you yet fully awake—­yet fully in earnest, in this crisis of England’s fate?  ‘Weary Titan’ that she is, with her age-long history behind her, and her vast responsibilities by sea and land, is she shouldering her load in this incredible war, as she must shoulder it; as her friends—­the friends of liberty throughout the world—­pray that she may shoulder it?”

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The War on All Fronts: England's Effort from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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