26 DECEMBER 1914, Page 4



WE are not going to write a Christmas article ou palm boughs and olive branches and the Angel of Peace. Not only is there no peace in sight for the world at the moment, but any talk of peace before our enemies are beaten, or even half beaten, and while their ambition, their hatred, and, if you will, their folly are at full blaze, could only tend to prolong the war. What we and our allies have got to let the world know just now is that, in General Grant's words, altered to suit the season, we pro- pose to " fight it out on these lines all winter "—yes, and all spring and all summer and all autumn, too, if necessary. For abstract talk about the joys of perpetual peace, about men growing saner and wiser and nobler, and about our ban- ning the horrors and wickedness of war in the age to come, an epoch when the Powers will go to some Peace Tribunal as the good citizen to the County Court, we are even less inclined. Perpetual peace is no doubt obtainable at a price, but, to speak quite plainly, that price as set forth in any of the schemes we have ever seen is too high to pay even for that blessing, great as we willingly admit it is. The price is the abandonment of true liberty by the nations and the establishment of a vast tyranny, even if it be a beneficent tyranny, controlled conceivably by a Committee instead of a despot. And even that price, heavy as it must be, might not suffice. We might pay the purchase money and then find that some insignificant or semi•bar- barons Power, that had stood out and kept its powder dry and its steel sharp, was able to keep the whole civilized world on the run. While we were beating our swords and rifles into protocols and conventions, some fanatical adventurer in the Arabian desert or some prophet like the Chief of the &nussi in the centre of Africa's wilderness, would be pre- paring to play the part of a new Attila or a fiercer Tamerlane. But though we have little hope, and, indeed, little wish, for a peace which would enthrone the tyrant, and leave him free to threaten : " How dare you grumble ! How dare you interfere with the sacred status quo of Europe!" there are one or two practical things which we should like to say about peace, even though they are somewhat grim and terrible things to utter at such a season as this. And yet we venture to say in all humility that they are not con- trary to, but conceived in, the essential spirit of Him who said that it is the Truth that makes men free. He who speaks sincerely that which he believes is never far from the spirit of Christ, for did not the Saviour of mankind proclaim at the very beginning of His mission : " Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God " ? The man who is pure in heart is the man who makes no compromises -with the truth, allows no admixtures, no impurities to reach the fountain of the heart. That is why the simple soldier whose one idea is duty and self-sacrifice, and whose creed is to risk his life, not to save it, is often, though his hands are red with blood, a far better Christian than the preacher and the moralist. Though we can make no claim to that purity and simplicity of thought and of action which we have described, we can at any rate clear our minds of some of the current cant about peace.

The first thing which we wish to note is how very poignantly the present war confirms the old maxim that the only way to preserve peace is to prepare for war. If we and the French had prepared for war in the way the Germans prepared for it, there would have been no war. The war came in the last resort because, as we have said perhaps a hundred times in these pages, the Germans heard the maddening call of " Now or never ! We are ready ; they are not. Therefore the hour has struck for us and we must attack them. Servia- anything—will give us the excuse we need for the preventive war. Only strike, strike, strike while the hour is fortunate." If, however, we had been able last August to put into the field the three million men whom we shall be able to put under arms by the middle or end of March, the military calculators of Berlin would have told the Kaiser that it was not worth his while to run the risk of attacking Britain or any Power with which Britain was allied—in a word, that the hour was not fortunate. In the present case, however, we were worse than merely unprepared in the material sense. We wore unprepared on the spiritual side. In the opinion of the Germans we not only had not enough men or muni- tions of war, but we were unwilling to fight at all. They verily believed that the dreamy talk of the pacifists had hypnotized a sufficient number of Englishmen to make it impossible for Britain to go to war, no matter how vital the interests and how imminent the duties involved. In fact, the spread of pacifist feeling here, and the way in which many well-meaning and moderate-minded men talked about the blessings of peace and the horrors of war, of no Englishman being willing to engage in such barbarities, and of the cowardice of the bellicose, made the ruling Germans really think that they could count upon these men holding down the nation while Germany worked her will on France, Russia, and Belgium. Thus the pacifists, by doing their best to make us unprepared from the spiritual as well as from the material side,directly contributed to the outbreak of war. The well-meaning people who went to Berlin on peace missions and so forth told the Germans with every sort of emphasis that England would never, as they put it, make war on Germany. These assurances were repeated in the public Press and on public platforms here, and were sent back by the German Ambassador in his despatches. Therefore, as we have said, the Germans felt perfectly certain that we should let them first cut the throats of the French and the Russians, and then allow them to put to us the question: " Will you have your throats cut next, or will you come quietly to heel and be the rich, comfortable vassal State of Germany ? "

We shall be charged, however, if we Write any more like this, with crying over spilt milk and not letting bygones be bygones while the guns are firing. It is more profitable to turn to the question : " What are we to do in the future? Is the matter hopeless ? Is there nothing that we can do to prevent war and to maintain peace ? " We believe there is, though, as we have said, the remedy is a very grim one. If we and the nations who really desire peace, for so unquestionably we do, will only make due preparation—and by that we mean the most complete preparation that is in their power—war, if not banished altogether, will become much more distant and much less frequent. Though we acquiesce in the decision that anything in the way of compulsory service must if possible be postponed till the war is over, or only resorted to after all voluntary efforts to raise men have failed, we hold it essential that after the war we should at once establish a. system of universal military training. Every youth who is not physically unfit must receive a military education just as he receives a literary educa- tion, and, further, must be under an obligation to put his military knowledge at the service of the State for four years with the colours, and in a First and then a Second Reserve till he has reached the age of fifty. Such training and such service, though only compulsory for home defence, would make us infinitely more capable of keeping the peace, and infinitely less likely to tempt other Powers to attack us, than if we muddled on after the manner of the last twenty or thirty years. But hand in hand with this preparation for national defence will, we most sincerely trust, go the abandonment of their foolish and sophistical talk by those who, uncon- sciously of course and contrary to their own truest wishes, have helped to plunge the world into war. If we can only persuade them to have a change of words—we do not want a, change of heart, for their hearts were sound enough, as they have shown us since the war began—we shall, indeed, have done a real service to peace. If, however, as soon as the war is over they begin to preach again that we are wedded to peace and will never fight, Britain will once more play the game of blind man's buff with the world and bring about in her neighbours a natural and perfectly sincere misunderstanding. One of the reasons why the Germans hate us so bitterly just now, and, therefore, why the war has assumed so horrible a complexion, is that our opponents were fully persuaded that the pacifists would pre- vent England fighting. They now see these pacifists among the sternest of their foes. Is it to be wondered at that they are savagely angry and regard us as a nation of fiendish hypocrites—men who cant about peace, but who, when they are asked to put their theories into operation, reply by flying to arms ? Peace must be girt with the sword, and must know how to be stern as well as gentle, if she is to bring a blessing and not a curse upon mankind.