May 2nd.—So I come to the end of the task you set me!—with what gaps and omissions to look back upon, no one knows so well as myself. This letter starts on its way to you at a critical moment for your great country, when the issue between the United States and Germany is still unsettled. What will happen? Will Germany give way? If not, what sort of relations will shape themselves, and how quickly, between the Central Empires and America? To express myself on this great matter is no part of my task; although no English man or woman but will watch its development with a deep and passionate interest. What may be best for you, we cannot tell; the military and political bearings of a breach between the United States and Germany on our own fortunes are by no means clear to us. But what we do want, in any case, is the sympathy, the moral support and co-operation of your people. We have to thank you for a thousand generosities to our wounded; we bless you—as comrades with you in that old Christendom which even this war shall not destroy—for what you have done in Belgium—but we want you to understand the heart of England in this war, and not to be led away by the superficial difficulties and disputes that no great and free nation escapes in time of crisis. Sympathy with France—France, the invaded, the heroic—is easy for America—for us all. She is the great tragic figure of the war—the whole world does her homage. We are not invaded—and so less tragic, less appealing. But we are fighting the fight which is the fight of all freemen everywhere—against the wantonness of military power, against the spirit that tears up treaties and makes peaceful agreement between nations impossible—against a cruelty and barbarism in war which brings our civilisation to shame. We have a right to your sympathy—you who are the heirs of Washington and Lincoln, the trustees of liberty in the New World as we, with France, are in the Old. You are concerned—you must be concerned—in the triumph of the ideals of ordered freedom and humane justice over the ideals of unbridled force and ruthless cruelty, as they have been revealed in this war, to the horror of mankind. The nation that can never, to all time, wash from its hands the guilt of the Belgium crime, the blood of the Lusitania victims, of the massacres of Louvain and Dinant, of Aerschot and Termonde, may some day deserve our pity. To-day it has to be met and conquered by a will stronger than its own, in the interests of civilisation itself.
This last week, at the close of which I am despatching this final letter, has been a sombre week for England. It has seen the squalid Irish rising, with its seven days’ orgy of fire and bloodshed in Dublin; it has seen the surrender at Kut of General Townshend and his starving men; it has seen also a strong demonstration in Parliament of discontent with certain phases of the conduct of the war. And yet, how shall I convey to you the paradox that we in England—our