It’s been extremely interesting. The psychology of crowds is one of the most satisfying subjects I have ever studied. Say, fifteen, twenty millions, that individually hate you, but as a crowd, a body of readers, unconsciously, perhaps, even against their will, do exactly what you say. We’re going to have war, because the people have now got to a state in which they believe that nothing short of war will save them from utter ruin. They want war. I know it. The circulation of my papers has mounted by the hundred thousand daily. And it isn’t only because the people want the news. They want the excitement. It’s the gambling instinct in them. They’ve seen the ball rolling, and they can’t keep out of the game. The very bigness of the thing lures them on; the bigger the issue, the bigger the fascination. The millions of men and the billions of dollars—that lures them. And the awfulness—the dead, the wounded, the horrors, that lures them like nothing else. There was one thing missing until tonight.
What was that?
Fear. They were too cocksure. But I gave them fear in the eight o’clock extra. There was a rumor that the rest of Europe would take part.
[With a malicious glance.
That looks well for your business, Conroy.
I’m not complaining.
We’re playing the thing up in the late editions all over the country. It’ll give the people a queer catch in the throat. They’ll see the possibility of a fierce struggle, even of defeat. There’ll be a wonderful wave of patriotism. You watch. The people’ll rise right up. In twenty-four hours there won’t be a man in the country that’ll be able to tell black from white. All they’ll see will be red.
[Pointing out of the window.
Look at the people out there, standing round. They can’t stay indoors. They’re waiting for the extras. They won’t believe ’em when they read ’em, but they can’t resist the excitement. Well, the bonfire’s ready. Nothing lacking now except the match.
[Striding up and down.
That’s all very well, Mr. Pollen. But suppose the King over there backs down?
He won’t. The people won’t let him.
His people? They don’t want war.
Not his people.