The tale of woe is nearly complete. My “A” Coy. got as far as Kut and was set to feverish entrenching and wiring. Now the whole force there, some 8,000 in all, is cut off there and besieged. They have rations (some say half rations) for six weeks or two months, and ammunition. They are being bombarded, and have been attacked once, but repelled it easily. We aren’t worried about them; but I with my leg (like another egoist) can’t be sorry to be out of it. I should like to be there to mother my men. Our Major is wounded and the other officers infants; the Captain a Colonial one I’m glad to say.
Meanwhile our reinforcements have turned up in great numbers and expect to be able to relieve Kut by the end of the month. I mustn’t particularise too much. In fact I doubt whether this or any letters will be allowed to go through this week. The men are warned only to write postcards. The dear censor has more excuse where Indians are concerned. I can walk short walks now. Life is rather slow, but I have several books luckily.
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December 20, 1915.
There is a double mail to answer this week and only two days to do it in, so this may be rather hurried.
I do get the Round Table. I don’t think it suggests a World State as practical politics, but merely as the only ideal with which the mind can be satisfied as an ultimate end. If you believe in a duty to all humanity, logic won’t stop short of a political brotherhood of the world, since national loyalty implies in the last resort a denial of your duty to everyone outside your nation. But in fact, of course, men are influenced by sentiment and not logic: and I agree that, for ages to come at least, a World State wouldn’t inspire loyalty. I don’t even think the British Empire would for long, if it relied only on the sentiment of the Mother Country as home. The loyalty of each Dominion to the Empire in future generations will be largely rooted in its own distinctive nationalism, paradoxical as that sounds: at least so I believe.
Please don’t refrain from comments on passing events for fear they will be stale. They aren’t, because my Times’s are contemporary with your letters: and the amount of news we get by Reuter’s is negligible. Indeed Reuter’s chiefly enlighten us as to events in Mesopotamia. Last night we heard that Chamberlain had announced in the House that the Turks lost 2,000 and the Arabs 1,000 in the attack on Kut on December 12th: that was absolutely the first we’d heard of it, though Kut is only ninety miles as the crow flies, and my Company is there! All we hear is their casualties, thrice a week. They now total 2 killed and 11 wounded out of 180: nearly all my Company and 3 of my draft wounded.