11 MARCH 1922, Page 10


[Letters of the length of one of our leading paragraphs are often more read, and therefore more effective, than those which fill treble the space.] THE RED FLAG AND THE C.O.S.


SIR,-I shall be surprised if a good many readers of the Spectator have not, like me, suffered the blackest kind of melancholy every time during the last eight years they have met a man or woman seriously and deliberately out to wreck this England of ours. We have turned away from the phenomenon with such hot and bitter indignation, such con- temptuous loathing, that we have never, we must confess, observed it closely. Who are the people who laboriously indoctrinate little children with hatred of this green isle of ours, and endeavour to build up in their little hearts an ever- ripening determination to destroy it? Are they lunatics? Are they a kind of venomous serpent? Or are they very much like you and me, but with a different experience of life? I have come to believe that the latter description is true. What gives all the driving-force it has got to the movement to wreck society and commerce in England is the existence of individual men and women of sensitive dispositions, whose feelings have been deeply wounded by what they consider ill-treatment, deliberately meted out to them, and, secondly, of others who have come into contact with them, and from sympathy have•

acquired a share of their resentment. All this growth, of course, blossoms into a phase of politics, and in that form you and I can do nothing with it. But it is open to us, if we can spare a little time and energy, to meet the recruits of the Red Army at the critical moment when they are overwhelmed by the misfortune, the iron of which will sooner or later enter into their souls. The method of C.O.S. work requires that somebody—that is to say, you—shall have a long, friendly, private chat with the person in need, giving him or her the amplest opportunity and encouragement to utter all that is in the heart. There you will get the reaction of sensitive, not clever, not logical, not learned., humanity to the impact of what is felt at least to be unmerited disaster. The present depression is wrecking unnumbered homes. As the furniture, clothing, &c., goes, there comes a point when the man—or, more likely the woman—will burst out to you in impotent raving against the "rich," the employer, and all the State agencies intended for her assistance. When you have patiently bided the storm you have done two things: you have made the victim feel ever so much better about it all, and you have seen with your own eyes the very sap and substance of that impulse to wreck your country, which has so often aroused impotent fury in yourself. Remember the recipients of public assistance in all its many forms are not received in this manner; all they have to do is to prove with the utmost brevity that they are entitled to a certain amount of cash or kind under the Poor Laws or some other statute. The details of their misfortunes do not concern the authorities, still less the expression of their feelings. Como and take a hand in this work; it is the finest opportunity to show your love for England which exists to- day.—I am, Sir, &c.,