Those who glibly condemn a lyric philosopher in order to make out a case against Germany reveal the weakness of their position. It is strange that these lantern-eyed critics haven’t cited Heine as an enemy of democracy because he adored Napoleon. Was it because Heine lived for years in Paris on the adulation of advanced feminines?
New York, Oct. 13, 1914.
By Sir Gilbert Parker.
Sir Gilbert Parker, M.P., went to Holland at the request of the American Committee for the Relief of Belgium a week ago to inquire into the work of the committee and the needs of the Belgians.
Sir Gilbert visited frontier towns and the camps of the refugees for the purpose of making a personal investigation into the conditions. That he is deeply impressed by the desperate need of the Belgians may be gathered from the following graphic statement and appeal, dated Dec. 5, 1914, to the American people:
Since the beginning of the war the hearts of all humane people have been tortured by the sufferings of Belgium. For myself the martyrdom of Belgium had been a nightmare since the fall of Liege. Whoever or whatever country is to blame for this war, Belgium is innocent. Her hands are free from stain. She has kept the faith. She saw it with the eyes of duty and honor. Her Government is carried on in another land. Her King is in the trenches. Her army is decimated, but the last decimals fight on.
Her people wander in foreign lands, the highest and lowest looking for work and bread; they cannot look for homes. Those left behind huddle near the ruins of their shattered villages or take refuge in towns which cannot feed their own citizens.
Abyss of Want and Woe.
Many cities and towns have been completely destroyed; others, reduced or shattered, struggle in vain to feed their poor and broken populations. Stones and ashes mark the places where small communities lived their peaceful lives before the invasion. The Belgian people live now in the abyss of want and woe.
All this I knew in England, but knew it from the reports of others. I did not, could not, know what the destitution, the desolation of Belgium was, what were the imperative needs of this people, until I got to Holland and to the borders of Belgian territory. Inside that territory I could not pass because I was a Britisher, but there I could see German soldiers, the Landwehr, keeping guard over what they call their new German province. Belgium a German province!
There at Maastricht I saw fugitives crossing the frontier into Holland with all their worldly goods on their shoulders or in their hands, or with nothing at all, seeking hospitality of a little land which itself feels, though it is neutral, the painful stress and cost of the war. There, on the frontier, I was standing between Dutch soldiers and German soldiers, so near the Germans that I could almost have touched them, so near three German officers that their conversation as they saluted me reached my ears.