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with Germany was not 'une partie de football,' and the English soldier became unwillingly convinced that his adversary had not the slightest intention of 'playing the game.' And then an immense change came over the English, a change which automatically brought them into moral line with the French. They experienced, what the Greek poet describes, the
'anger which, far sweeter than trickling drops of honey, Rises in the bosom of a man like smoke.
The geographical causes which affect the intelligence of different nations were discussed long ago by Diderot, in his curious observations on L'Homme' of Helvetius. Diderot observed that if a witty man can be made perfectly stupid by a cold in his head, or if a dull man talks brilliantly in the delirium of fever, those who study mentality ought to take into consideration such matters as differences of temperature and division of light and darkness, in their effect upon the intellectual habits of a race. He says that if climate and food affect the body we have every reason to expect to find them affecting the brain. We do not know whether M. Chevrillon had Diderot's argument in his mind when he wrote his extremely ingenious and spirited pages on the strange reluctance of the English to accept any form of intellectual discipline. It was not easy for a foreigner to address himself to this rather painful subject without seeming disagreeable, but the good faith of M. Chevrillon and his complete enthusiasm for the character of the British nation are so patent that it would be foolish to take offence. First of all, he defines what we may all agree to discover amongst our neighbours :
'Rien de comparable à ce grand public intellectuel de Paris qui, sans dépasser un certain niveau, puisqu'il n'est, en somme, formé ni d'artistes créateurs, ni de penseurs véritables, puisqu'il n'est qu'une moyenne, peut parler de tout, juge, discute, critique chaque production de l'art et de pensée, et, justement, parce que son opinion compte pour beaucoup, tend à les astreindre à ses propres goûts et habitudes, fait obstacle, souvent, à ce qui pourrait dépasser ses normes et critères.'
Then he observes, with amazement, that while other Continental capitals, in a less degree than Paris, but with a certain ambition in the same direction, possess each its
intellectual public, London not only possesses none, but in consequence of a racial dislike of ideas, and a persistent preference for physical over cerebral activity, positively discourages thought. He finds it the most extraordinary feature of our country that it deliberately-for, as he puts it, ‘il ne 's'agit pas ici d'une incapacité, mais d'un parti pris social-that it deliberately sets material things above pure intelligence and above knowledge. He gives a series of instances of this which have come within his experience. At Sandhurst a youth remarked to him, with complete complacency, “I'm
not good at exams. !'—a remark which to a French student would be like smilingly admitting ‘I never clean my teeth!' At Cambridge a distinguished Hellenist (let the ' distinguished ‘Hellenists' of Cambridge blush !) assured M. Chevrillon, as though it were a thing to be proud of, that he never read a book. This attitude towards mental application, which has been recently defined by one of our poets :
'Lo, everywhere the unplenished brain !
The leanness of the unnourished mind' has always been characteristic of us, but had been growing before the outbreak of the war to a dangerous degree. M. Chevrillon may like to add to his anthology the following flower. A popular Cabinet Minister, approached on the subject of a modified Higher Education, stupefied his audience by suddenly replying "Well, I'm a business man, and I can 'tell you I've found those the best workmen who can neither 'read nor write !' But the intellectual quality has never been part of the English ideal.
Nevertheless and this is the paradox for those who are inclined to sacrifice everything to the pursuit of pure knowledge—this England of ours, which has such a contempt for 'intensive cultivation of the mind, and which looks with suspicion upon all the intellectual organisation of the rest of Europe as mechanical and useless, has not ceased for five centuries to produce thinkers of a high order, great inventors, matchless poets, and persons of all species of talent, so that by the force of these individuals England has kept as high as France herself in the range of civilisation. But our benevolent and admiring French critic has to admit that we are, by our popular and general indifference to and want of curiosity about ideas, placed at a great disadvantage in dealing with the German macrocosm, where each man is trained to occupy his exact place in a huge mental machine, which he and all his fellows alike regard with a fanatical satisfaction. The German cerebral effort is really an enormous enterprise in which, with a complete disregard of individual considerations, every citizen is proud to take his part. Naturally, this presents an opposition of the most formidable character to the individualism of England, always so loath to adapt itself to any kind of organisation.
But it must not be supposed that in recording, for wonder more than for blame, 'la parfaite indifférence anglaise aux
symétries logiques, M. Chevrillon despairs of our success or depreciates the immense value of our alliance. His admiration of our new army knows no bounds, and his tribute to its character is not the less welcome because the wording of it is so completely unlike what we are in the habit of listening to from our own panegyrists. This is how it struck our critic at the beginning of 1916 :
Cette armée sans précédent a réussi à se rattacher à toute la vieille tradition militaire du pays, et à participer de son prestige. Elle est, cette armée, la plus pure émanation qui soit jamais sortie du profond de l'Angleterre. Tout l'essentiel de ce peuple s'y laisse reconnaître : habitudes et formes d'esprit, religion, éthique, idéal, consignes et conventions, préjugés sociaux, énergies et vertus. Avec le sentiment d'une opération toute spirituelle et presque mystérieuse, je regardais s'accomplir, à Londres, près du Guildhall ou de Westminster, l’incessant et profond travail qui, depuis quinze mois, se poursuit par toute l'Angleterre, et, de la foule, matière vague, amorphe de la nation, distille cette pure et claire quintessence.'
In May 1915 Frenchmen visiting this country were astonished that London felt no pressing sense of peril. In one form or another this surprise is expressed by all those guests who have published their records of that time. They were conscious of a strange fulness and accumulation of life and wealth; they compared these things with the solemn silences of Paris, from which the mobilisation had pumped away, to use M. Chevrillon's striking image, all the streams of vital energy. London seemed to them a world apart, divided from the rest of Europe, actuated by ancient forms of elementary life which were quite independent of outside influences and untouched by the great crisis. In face of the danger, in face of the tremendous sacrifice already made by France, Belgium, and Russia, England appeared radically undisturbed; everywhere the orderly arrangements of civic behaviour were continued. It is curious to note that this isolation, which many of us in England were already beginning to regard with rapidly increasing alarm, was on the whole pleasing to our visitors. Perhaps they looked deeper than our domestic critics did, and on the unperturbed activity of London they founded a confidence in the latent energy of the British Empire which calmed and reassured them. They admired, with generous effusion, the English tenacity, the English application to duty, the proud respect for recognised moral authority, the loyalty to ancient institutions; and they believed that these elements, developing slowly to a certain aim, would culminate in a collective force which would be at last irresistible.
It is manifest, from the testimony of all the friendly volumes before us, that it took some time for the general public in France to appreciate the harsh and silent rôle of the British navy in
M. Suarès has some generous strophes in praise of our fighting admirals; and he admits that English statesmen, and still more French ones, have not always understood the value and the quality of our sailors. He celebrates their virtues in glowing numbers, if, as we have ventured to whisper, in somewhat Cubist style. He gives us ' Jellicoë avec son profil en taille-vent' and 'Beatty au visage de goëland,' and he celebrates, as through a trumpet, the Battle of Jutland. This is how the panegyric of M. Suarès closes :
Sois donc louée, Angleterre, en tes marins et tes soldats, en tes garçons rieurs et brusques, qui rougissent de mentir, et dans tes filles plus fraîches que ta rosée sur l'herbe de Windsor. 'Sois louée dans ta bataille et ta victoire, guerrière de la mer.
Sois louée de ne nous avoir point déçus. Sois louée de nous aimer en fin, et d'avoir mérité que la France, plus belle dans son sang d'homme qu'en toutes les roses de sa gloire, t'aimât comme une saur fidèle et te serrât sur son sein.'
It is no little thing to be thankful for that in the midst of these dreadful days France can speak to England in these ardent and vibrating accents.
It was in a very different mood that the writer of the 'Satyr
' against France' of 1690, composed when Trouville had just beaten the English navy off Beachy Head, asked in sarcasm the question :
'When did we ever find in France a friend ?' The former Governor-General of Indo-China, and Minister of Marine in the Waldeck-Rousseau Cabinet, who has had unrivalled opportunities of comparing the influence of England with the intrigues of Germany in the East, sets about to answer this challenge gravely and in the affirmative. M. de Lanessan traces the relations of France and England from the fifteenth century down to the present day. He faces with courage and capacity the many delicate situations which such a survey presents to him, and it is with no accent of hesitation that he declares there do not exist, on the face of the globe, two nations better adapted, by geographical situation, by conditions of climate, or by national character, to live in harmony and sympathy than the French and the English. M. de Lanessan has the happy tact which enables him to touch the most sensitive scars without making his interlocutor wince. If he mentions Fashoda, it is only to compliment King Edward VII. and President Félix Faure on the adroitness of their diplomacy. He regards the naval war that closed in 1748 with the shattering of the French navy as a just chastisement for France, which had feebly encouraged Prussia and, by permitting the annexation of Silesia, had taken the first step towards creating the noxious and nefarious empire of Germany. We can never wish to find an advocate more indulgent to British policy than M. de Lanessan, who is even 'to our faults a little blind.'
The arguments by which M. de Lanessan meets the scepticism of those who, in England as well as in France, venture to doubt whether the warmth of the Entente will survive the proclamation of peace, are worthy of close attention. He holds that there is no doubt of its durability, because the populations of both countries comprehend at last that they are in sympathy with and require the support of one another. They complete, in their unison, a political corporation which, for the rest of time, must be the most liberal and the most enlightened, and also the most powerful in the world, and they have only to become convinced of their mutual dependence to accept, without reserve or suspicion, the theory of a close