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by the strange guests who rose out of the sea to help them. What the witnesses of this earliest arrival dwell upon is, first of all, the tranquillity of the English. There was no wish to produce an effect, no display of vanity. They did not boast, but they very quietly assured their friends in the Pas de Calais that they were not going to leave off till their work was done. * Il faut aller jusqu'au bout.'
The works which we have quoted, and the majority of those which have appeared on this subject in Paris, confine themselves to a generous statement of the English effort, or illustrate it, as M. Philippe Millet does, by a variety of gratifying anecdotes. But there have been some which go deeper into the causes of the phenomenon, and endeavour to show not merely what has happened, but why it has happened. Among these are to be mentioned ' L'Angleterre et la Guerre,' by M. Cestre, a professor at the University of Bordeaux, and 'L'Empire Britannique
et la Guerre Européenne,'hy M. J. M. Crazannes, who is well acquainted with England and a careful student of the English press. These works are well informed, and they carry out their aim of illuminating the immense effort which has been made by the British nation. From each of these volumes the French reader who does not read English may obtain a more or less exact impression of the progress of events, and their utility is not to be questioned. We do not, however, recommend them to the English reader, because there is scarcely anything in them, except a cordial enthusiasm, which is not familiar to him already
Now that much is said about the propriety of bringing French and English literature more closely into mutual relation, it becomes necessary to distinguish between a mechanical transference of data and opinion from one language to another, and a philosophical treatment of those data in the light of a distinct national training. We see it in the treatment of belles lettres. A young Englishman haunts the boulevards, and contributes to an English journal views which literally reproduce two or three shades of opinion held by one particular group or newspaper. He may do this with agility and skill, but the result has no real critical value. It does not give the impression which a cultivated English mind ought to receive amongst exotic manifestations, but it simply transfers bodily to an English medium a local and unrelated
French prejudice. On the other hand, an examination of foreign poems, novels, or essays, which is introduced by a wide knowledge of English literature, and is the result of long thought on home lines, may be very valuable. It may positively enrich our general conception of the work of imagination under notice, by illuminating new facets of it, and exposing it to a different critical light.
Very peculiar gifts are needed for a sympathetic criticism of this kind, and among those who have written about the effort of England in this war there is perhaps but one man who has exhibited them to a really brilliant degree. Most of the volumes published during this struggle are doomed by their essential character to make the most of an ephemeral existence. But the volume by M. Chevrillon is an exception ; whatever is neglected by the impatience of future readers, his book must continue to be studied, for it is a work of permanent importance. M. Chevrillon is far better acquainted with the conditions of the British Empire than, we will not say most Frenchmen, but even most Englishmen. So long ago as 1891, his book on India revealed a remarkable knowledge of the East. He has written on the age of Sydney Smith; he is the author of a subtle monograph on the thought of Ruskin ; his 'Etudes Anglaises, followed by · Nouvelles 'Etudes Anglaises,' have proved him a past-master in all our national modes of thought. The great war has called his thoughts back from India ( Sanctuaires et Paysages d'Asie ') to a contemplation of the monstrous struggle in the West, and it is only natural that it is the part taken in it by Great Britain which rivets his attention.
He is ready to admit, in accordance with the general feeling of his countrymen at the time, that from a purely military point of view it may be regrettable that the army of Lord French did not arrive forty-eight hours sooner than it did. But the issue would probably have been in no wise different, the Germans having planned so long before, and with a disproportion of forces so enormous, their crushing stroke. And in our very hesitation M. Chevrillon finds evidence of the innocence and patience of our people, which could not persuade itself to believe in the treachery of the enemy. He dwells, with great ingenuity, on the part which the English conscience played in the crisis. Although Great Britain had not been
willing, from an honourable scruple, to arm herself sufficiently to fight, yet, when the necessity came, she scarcely hesitated in the performance of her duty, pausing only just long enough to become persuaded that the horrible act of treason had been committed, that the scrap of paper 'which she regarded as a sacred bond had been torn into shreds to serve a selfish ambition. And, following out this thought, M. Chevrillon has some reflections which are of great importance, and anticipate the view which history will take of the English action :
'Par une ironie des choses et à la stupeur des Allemands, c'est justement la conscience anglaise qui jette l'Angleterre, ignorante encore de la haine et de la convoitise qui la guettent, à la lutte que son seul tort est de n'avoir jamais préparée ; c'est elle qui, parlant à des millions de jeunes hommes, va susciter une armée volontaire et de l'ordre continental, rassembler le pays dans une volonté toujours accrue de résistance et de victoire, improviser l'impossible, et, réparant de plus en plus vite les fautes accumulées du passé, décupler pour les Alliés la valeur de l'appoint anglais. Et c'est ainsi cette conscience qui va sauver l'Angleterre.'
M. Chevrillon is a close and acute student of the English temperament, of that âme anglaise which has puzzled so many Continental observers by its apparent contradictions. We doubt whether any foreign writer has in recent times analysed with such brilliant success as he the elements which go to the formation of our political and intellectual conduct. He notes that the sentiment of danger is needed to rouse England into the frame of mind which induces her to shake off her ancient habits and her secular prejudices, and that this sentiment arises in us very slowly. It is difficult, to a degree highly puzzling to the more alert French mind, to disturb the conviction of security which laps the English nation round like a coverlet of down. The peoples of the Continent have something of the wary disquiet of wild animals, haunting a forest where other animals as wild as they prowl in the darkness. They all keep one another wide awake, but England, in the remoteness of her seas—' attentive et riche en bons calculs,' as M. Suarès says—thinks that as everything has always turned out for the best at last, so it is bound to do again, and yet again. She is like a domestic animal, grown a little somnolent by successive generations of safety.
Upon this M. Chevrillon has some observations which are well worthy of attention. He says that for England—and for
England alone among the belligerent nations—pessimism is patriotism. He records the stupefaction of France in learning that during the first six months of the war large sections of the daily press in England competed with one another in enumerating the strength, the organisation, the formidable effort of the Germans. He says, not without humour, that the ineffable Sven Hedin himself did not celebrate the resources, the confidence, and the energy of the Central Powers with so much unction as did certain London journals. What he does not say, but what was obvious to anyone examining French opinion a year ago, is that our friends in Paris were greatly disturbed and seriously troubled by the apparent attitude of the English newspapers. It was actually suggested that these constant wailings of journalistic pessimism could only be paid for by Germany; and so, in any other country but England, they must have been. In particular, a series of articles which appeared in the London press in July 1915, on the superior organisation of Germany, were read by such of our allies in France and Italy as chanced upon them, with stupefaction. The press censorship in those countries would not have lost a moment in suppressing them, and in inquiring into the antecedents of the writer. But, as M. Chevrillon shrewdly recognises, their appearance in the English press was perfectly consistent with the nature of our people, since, in England,“ le pessimisme 'est le patriotisme.'
The gradual awakening of the British Empire to the terrific nature of the struggle in which she and her Allies are involved was brought about, in M. Chevrillon's opinion, largely by the action of pessimistic criticism. He records his impression that methods which would have paralysed the force and alienated the sympathy of other countries were positively needed to rouse our national temper, and especially to break down our extraordinary tradition of ‘le système du petit 'bonheur,' muddling along because everything is sure to turn out right in the end. There was, to the foreign eye, an aspect of levity in English home methods which contrasted violently with the simple seriousness of our soldiers on the front. This is especially true of the first six months of 1915, when it was very difficult for our Allies to comprehend our attitude. It was a common thing then to hear French people complain of the English 'ils ne sont pas sérieux, and Paris was scandalised by anecdotes about football and afternoon tea in the trenches.
M. Chevrillon discusses with courage and perspicacity what has been called “the football phase of 1915. That close association of games with all the serious responsibilities of life, which is to foreigners a most bewildering phenomenon of the modern British character, did very much at the beginning of the war to breed suspicion between the French and ourselves. To the French, with their bitter passion for the soil, with their conviction that military glory is too serious a thing for humour, the sort of' playing fields of Eton 'tradition among our young officers was highly distasteful. Ils sem
blent considérer la guerre comme une partie de football,' the French soldiers murmured, and the passion of our men for this particular game gave an offence to the French which we were slow even to perceive. A ridiculous anecdote, invented by some London journalist, to the effect that the Highlanders went into the battle of Loos kicking a football in front of them, created quite a scandal of indignation in Paris, of which, by the way, our own people remained blissfully ignorant.
Into this question of the relation of sport to the British character M. Chevrillon has entered with great intelligence and penetration. He finds himself in the presence of a phenomenon unknown to the rest of Europe, and produced by certain phases of English individualism which require, and from him obtain, long and sympathetic examination. But he believes that the war will produce a very radical change in this order of our ideas. We began the war with the sentiment on our · lips and in our hearts that 'both sides must play the game.' It was from our national sports, to which he admits that he thinks we have been too rigorously and too superstitiously addicted, that we took the terms and symbols of our manner of fighting. Two rules of 'playing the game' were, to respect the adversary, and to bear with good-humour the chance of being beaten by him. It was in this spirit—too naïvely, perhaps, inspired by cricket and polo—that we started the action of the Expeditionary Force. Our first experiences of the Germans in Belgium, our disasters at Mons and Le Cateau, were insufficient to disturb the tradition. But gradually it was borne in upon these brave and simple-hearted men that war