In the first of these letters, I tried, by a rapid “vision” of the Fleet, as I personally saw an important section of it amid the snows of February, to point to the indispensable condition of this “effort,” without which it could never have been made, without which it could not be maintained for a day, at the present moment. Since that visit of mine, the power of the Fleet and the effect of the Fleet have strengthened week by week. The blockade of Germany is far more effective than it was three months ago; the evidence of its growing stringency accumulates steadily, and at the same time the British Foreign Office has been anxiously trying, and evidently with much success, to minimise for neutrals its inevitable difficulties and inconveniences. Meanwhile, as Mr. Asquith will explain next Tuesday, the expenditure on the war, not only on our own needs but on those of our Allies is colossal—terrifying. The most astonishing Budget of English History, demanding a fourth of his income from every well-to-do citizen, has been brought in since I began to write these letters, and quietly accepted. Five hundred millions sterling ($2,500,000,000) have been already lent to our Allies. We are spending at the yearly rate of 600,000,000 sterling ($3,000,000,000) on the Army; 200,000,000 on the Navy as compared with 40,000,000 in 1913; while the Munitions Department is costing about two-thirds as much (400,000,000 sterling) as the rest of the Army, and is employing close upon 2,000,000 workers, one-tenth of them women. The export trade of the country, in spite of submarines and lack of tonnage, is at the moment greater than it was in the corresponding months of 1913.
As to what we have got for our money, Parliament has authorised an Army of 4,000,000 men, and it is on the question of the last half million that England’s Effort now turns. Mr. Asquith will explain everything that has been done, and everything that still remains to do, in camera to Parliament next Tuesday. But do not, my dear friend, make any mistake England will get the men she wants; and Labour will be in the end just as determined to get them as any other section of the Community. Meanwhile, abroad, while we seem, for the moment, in France to be inactive, we are in reality giving the French at Verdun just that support which they and General Joffre desire, and—it can scarcely be doubted—preparing great things on our own account. In spite of our failure in Gallipoli, and the anxious position of General Townshend’s force, Egypt is no longer in danger of attack, if it ever has been; our sea-power has brought a Russian force safely to Marseilles; and the possibilities of British and Russian Collaboration in the East are rapidly opening out. As to the great and complex war-machine we have been steadily building up on French soil, as I tried to show in my fourth letter, whether in the supply bases, or in the war organisation along the ninety miles of front now held by the British Armies, it would indeed astonish