22 SEPTEMBER 1939, Page 15

Few things are more illustrative of the difference between the

temper of the country in 1914 and our present frame of mind than the attitude of the intellectuals. In 1914 the vast majority of the intellectuals faced the situation in a mood of irritated and captious antagonism. Today, in deep sorrow, they are ready for self-sacrifice ; and some of the finer minds among them seek in this self-sacrifice their only consolation. Already three of the most scholarly and able men I know have enlisted as privates. They have done this for two reasons. In the first place, they doubt their own capacity in the art of warfare, and do not wish, by taking commissions, to be responsible for the lives of others. In the second place, they feel that only a surgical severance between their past and present lives can prevent the mortification of their souls. And by so doing they have achieved, if not happiness, then at least some suspension of pain.

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