14 NOVEMBER 1914, Page 15


[To THE EDITOR OF THZ "SPECTATOR."' SIR,—In your spirited appeals for "Men, Men, Men," I do not know that you have as yet touched on one considerable countervailing influence. In the University town where I live, whether rightly or wrongly, a feeling undoubtedly exists that there has been for some time a tendency to undertake public works meriting the name at the head of this letter— works which are not required by immediate necessity, but are undertaken with the object inter alia of relieving "the unemployed." We may be wrong, but I think something of the same feeling exists elsewhere. Now, I do not propose here to enter on a criticism of this use of public money as a general principle. Personally I consider it bad economy and mistaken philanthropy : but I am aware that it is adopted and advocated by many estimable people on the highest motives. All I wish to remark is that it seems to me peculiarly unsuited to the present crisis. In every newspaper we hear of the urgent need of more recruits. The man who has parents or a wife and family to support is no doubt needed at home. But the able-bodied labourer who has not these ties ought to be either at the front or in training for it. When he returns from service be will have a prior claim over any one else for such public employment as is going, even if work has to be made for him. To tempt him away from his manifest duty now is to play into the hands of our enemies.—I am, Sir, &c.,