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Over the Front in an Aeroplane and Scenes Inside t

A retired naval captain and a little dressmaker


Finally,

Russia had been so manhandled that in the opinion of British and French military authorities with whom I talked it would take her from one to two years to reorganize her armies into condition for an effective offensive.

Yet, in spite of all these admitted disadvantages, I did not meet a single Frenchman, Englishman or Belgian who was not sincerely confident of ultimate victory. But only an ultimate peace could, in their conviction, be victorious. An immediate peace, or a peace in the near future, no matter what the German concessions, would for the Allies be the peace of defeat.

From Germany must come, not concessions, but abandonments, or the war, with all its hideous sacrifices unredeemed, would be a failure. Such an artificially fabricated peace, such a compromise between irreconcilable principles, would be but the prelude, more or less dragged out, to a fresh conflict.

I have talked to men and women of many classes, of many degrees of education and of many grades of intelligence. I found their views unanimous and their reasons for these views so constantly the same as finally to seem almost hackneyed.

I am aware of the existence in England of such a body of peace propagandists as the Union of Democratic Control, and in Holland of some French pacifists, and scattered here and there of Internationalists. But of all the men and women with

whom I casually talked there was not one who shared these gentlemen's views.

Of all the French statements of reasons why the war must go on, which were iterated and reiterated to me, the best came from a prince, a retired naval captain and a little dressmaker. Unfortunately, they may not be quoted by name.

The prince said: "After this taste of blood the world can never remain long at peace while any powerful nation dedicates itself to the ideals and instincts of militarism. Germany, under the guidance of Prussia, is to-day such a nation. These aims and instincts have been so thoroughly absorbed by her people that, even if they sincerely wished to, these people could not eliminate them inside of two or three generations. It is ludicrous to imagine that these characteristics, which have become nearly if not quite hereditary, could be negotiated out of them. They must be subjugated out of the German people."

The naval captain said: "It is a mere matter of arithmetic. It can be easily demonstrated that at the end of this war, with its cost on her shoulders, if France does not immediately reduce her armaments to a minimum she is absolutely bound to go bankrupt. Now, as we cannot conceivably trust any mere promises of disarmament which Germany might make, it is obvious that we must go on with this war until we have reduced her to such a condition that we can enforce disarmament upon her, and thus safely enjoy its benefits ourselves."

The little dressmaker said: "My husband has been fighting at the front for months. It would be natural for me to wish the war to end to-morrow, no matter on what terms, if I could get my husband back before he is killed. But I want the war to go on until the 'Boches' are crushed; otherwise in another ten years or so there will be a new war, and then they will come and take away not only my husband, but my son as well."

In England the same line of reasoning prevailed. And the fact cannot be too strongly emphasized that this reasoning did not take the shape of stock arguments devised by politicians to bolster up some expedient course and drilled into the people for parrot-like repetition. The arguments were the spontaneous expression of the heartfelt convictions of all these people.


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