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Hail'd news on news, as field on field
was won, When Hope, long doubtful, soar'd at
length sublime, And And our glad eyes, awake as day begun, Watch'd Joy's broad banner rise:
watch'd Triumph's flashing gun.
ton's victory at Talavera as worse than a defeat; but his words are sufficiently grave:
Never since the commencement of the war had the affairs of this country, of Europe, and of the world worn so dark an aspect as at the entrance of the new year. The continental war, which had excited such high and at one time such reasonable hopes, had ended not more triumphantly for France than disgracefully for the ally of England and for England herself. ... Austria had thrown down her arms. In the Peninsula a campaign which had opened with the fairest auspices had terminated disastrously. ... In all parts of the world, even those which were secured by distance and the seas from the restless ambition of France, the prospect was little less gloomy. ... The dispute with the United States had been renewed with fresh violence at a moment when it seemed to be closed.... From India intelligence of a more painful nature had arrived; disputes had arisen between the civil and military powers, and though these disputes were now concluded, it was not until a part of the Madras army had broken out in actual rebellion. But of all calamities, foreign or domestic, none so deeply affected the people as the lamentable expedition to Walcheren; its origin, progress, and termination were alike intolerable to recollect; it began in folly, it was conducted by imbecility, and it ended in disgrace. A few more misfortunes had to followthe worst of them the American War of 1812. with its disastrous effects upon our shipping-before Scott's letters and his poems begin to tell how victory strikes a contemporary: The emotions of the spirit-rousing time, When breathless in the mart the cour
iers met, Early and late, at evening and at
prime; When the loud cannon and the merry
How will posterity think of the great German War, long after the struggles of the Allied Powers have ended in victory and when all our unquiet hearts are at rest? We cannot expect that our grandsons will have greater insight into the sickness of hope deferred than we used to have in the days when a world war was still a chapter of history. Our heart, too, knows its own bitterness; but they will have scant sympathy with the records of our complaints of bad weather and bad luck, of the failure of an ally to answer our reasonable expectations, of the unwillingness of commanders or statesmen to take occasion by the hand. It all came right in the end; what matter whether one year or the next? they will argue
-callously, as it seems to us; but they “never knew the sacred dead." It will be difficult for them to appreciate even our most reasonable anxieties, and they will laugh at any signs of panic that we may leave behind us. Written in large letters over the history of the war will be three names
-Marne, Ypres, and America. The danger, they will admit, was great, and it menaced every hope for the world's progress. But equally great, they will say, was the initial German failure. In the early months of the war the champions of the Right knew that Evil was not to be victorious; that though the obscene thing might possibly succeed, in avoiding utter disaster, it could not achieve that triumph which alone could enthrone it as lord of the world. And they will remember that, in the third year of the war, the long fierceness of
the struggle was relieved by the knowledge that the forces of Evil were indubitably doomed to utter destruction, and that only the date of the victory of Humanity remained an open question. They may allow that before the entry of the United States into the war there was some reason to fear, not, perhaps, the final issue, but the long years of exhaustion which might precede it. But they will regard any pessimism in the summer of 1917, as, at the best, a natural but far from courageous impatience. Russia—yes; but Russia meant a delay of a year, and a Free Russia was worth the suffering of these months of postponement. Of course, there were disappointments; war never was without them; but they will not believe that we, “expectant of the certain end,” can have found it really hard to leave the things that were behind and press on to the prize of our high calling. Submarines and air raids upon civilians did not give the Germans victory, and therefore, though they meant suffering in many forms, they were but episodes and incidents in a world's redemption.
It will not be sympathetic, nor even just, reasoning; but posterity will not know all and cannot understand all. We are fighting to save our children from the very things which alone could bring them, as they have brought us, understanding. No future generation can be just or fair in judging us unless it experiences such a conflict as we hope, in God's mercy, will never again bring ruin and death upon the Old World and the New. They will praise us because we endured to the end, they will applaud our triumph, and they will be grateful for our victorious struggle. “But none of the ransomed ever knew how deep were the waters crossed.” The words of the hymn are capable of an application beyond their own greater meaning. If one generation can save another,
the very act obliterates the possibility of the complete realization of the sacrifice. There is, indeed, one aspect of the struggle in which the sympathy of posterity may be greater than ours used to be with those who fought before our time and saved us from such things as have now come upon us. We have but scant records of the sorrows of our forefathers. The proportion of the population actually engaged in fighting in the great French War was infinitely smaller than today, and the newspapers were sternly impersonal. Letters preserved among family papers have brought tears to younger eyes, but the number of their readers is small. Tablets on the walls of our churches are frequently in words which seem pompous to the taste of a later generation and fail to evoke the sympathy they crave. Poetry and music touch us here and there; if the music of “The Flowers o' the Forest” was indeed composed after the Battle of Flodden, it has preserved forever the sorrow of a day long fled and has linked together the mourners of many generations. The widest appeal has come from fiction: when we think of the sorrow of Waterloo we think of Amelia at Brussels praying for George. An occasional recorded sentence makes a vivid impression, as the Duke of Wellington's saying that there is nothing so terrible as a battle lost except a battle won. But the sorrows of bygone wars can make small appeal to generations who do not know what war is, and on whose imagination its pomp and circumstance, and its vicissitudes of triumph and failure, leave a deeper impression than its bloodshed and its tears. The grief of today is neither more nor less cruel than the forgotten griefs of battles long ago; but it is much more widespread, and its records will survive in a much larger variety of written
SERDIL V izope to save us
mes sere, but we trust at
1907- T he faithfulness
SAIFT of those who
find out God?” asks an ancient sage. life is impossible at the present time We, too, might ask, “Canst thou by to any man in whom there is still searching find out the secret of the unquenched a single spark of serious world or of the living self?” But thought. Professor Gilbert Murray agnosticism is partial; its function is has recently said that “what would preliminary and negative; it helps to have been deemed, before the outclear the air, tainted with the vapors break of the world tragedy, romance of superstition, that the fires of faith and melodrama has become the commay burn more brightly.
monplace experience of multitudes And so, today, we are facing an of commonplace persons.” The Manimmensely significant spiritual situa- in-the-street has in a moment become tion. The fact is unquestionable conscious of deep promptings, of that men realize, as they never worlds not realized. To his eye the realized before, that without a God universe has suddenly unveiled itself of some kind life is intolerable, and the as something infinitely mysterious, world drama is no drama at all, but a enigmatic, and even menacing Out meaningless series of events which of this unwonted experience many only beguile us with an empty appear are asking today with poignant sinance of reason and purpose. The cerity-Do we need God? If so, names and characteristics ascribed to what kind of a God is it that we God are as various as the minds which need? conceive them. But beneath the But the man who asks this quesvariety there is unity. The demand is tion is making a great discovery about for a Power in alliance with which himself. He learns that he is greater man can realize himself and achieve than all his thinking, that his utmost his destiny. Here and there an in- powers of reason and understanding dividual may be found who rejects come out of a self in whose unconscious both the name and reality of God; depths there are needs, impulses, yet even such belated spirits maintain cravings, instincts that are the driving that the attitude of soul which belief forces of his life. It is because of these in a God implies must remain even needs that there wells up a yearning after the belief has vanished, if man is for satisfaction, which the world to attain his highest and live in con- denies us. We make a claim on life formity with his better self. Mr. which is contradicted by life as it is H. G. Wells, unable to find a God in actually lived. the calm of his own study, makes his We long for a good which we do not wonderful discovery in the blood- possess. But this contradiction canstained trenches of France and Bel- not be borne; the whole man cries gium. He is spokesman for thousands out against it and gropes in the dark of others whose scepticism has been for some Power able to bring about a profoundly shaken by the tragic reconciliation. So much is this the events of the time. Our day, to use case that Voltaire's oft-quoted saying the language of the New Testament, is that “If there were no God, it would one of the "days of the Son of Man”- be necessary to invent one,” contains, a day of reckoning, red with judgment in spite of its flippant cynicism, a and terror, a day which summons all profound truth. We begin thus not men to take counsel of their hearts, to with high abstract ideas, from which make account of their inner resources, we descend upon the concrete and to get face to face with the primary living world, but with human nature meanings of things. The unexamined as seen in ourselves and in others.
LIVING AGE, Vol. VIII, No. 411.
and printed words. Letters, newspapers, photographs, memorial volumes, will remain in great numbers to tell the cost of victory. We would not have later generations know the whole agony of our own unhappy day. They will read of brave and wonderful deeds on land, on sea, and in the air, and of the brave and wonderful suffering and endurance of soldiers and sailors and airmen; but not even the numerous records of this generation will preserve the complete picture of that courage and endurance, or of the brave and noble spirit with which stricken wives and mothers, worthy
An earlier age was very much concerned with high speculative arguments and proofs of the existence of a Deity. Today, these reasonings fail to interest us. We feel that even if they could establish all they set out to do, we still would be left with our vital needs unsatisfied. Granted that you could prove the existence of a Cause adequate to account for the universe of matter and of mind, or could show that the sum of things exhibits “a dramatic tendency, a clearly marked progress of events towards a mighty goal,” to be explained only by the working of a master dramatist, of what avail would such achievements be to meet the demands of life or satisfy the ineradicable cravings of heart and soul? Our deepest desire is for comradeship, warmth, and blessedness, a sense of harmony with ourselves and with the universe. And the bloodless categories of philosophic thought can never give us these things. Moreover, our ambitious attempts to compass
burden not the less hard because it is common. We hope to save posterity from the terrible knowledge of what such sufferings are; but we trust that some of the simple and natural expressions of our sorrow which will go down to them will help them to understand something of the price at which their and our freedom is being purchased. We, who know, hope that what will strike a happy and unknowing posterity is not the glory of the coming victory, but the faithfulness unto death which is creating it, and the awful responsibility of those who bring upon the world such things as are happening today.
the unbounded are doomed to failure. The agnosticism of a generation ago has not passed without teaching us a much needed lesson. It has shown us how great the word “God” is. For now we know that either God is everything to us, or He is nothing. He is either the supreme basic Reality, into which all other realities run down, and in which they find a meaning, or else He is the empty figment of our imagination. Hence, we must treat with tenderness and comprehension those who, because of the very greatness of the assertion, have not the courage to say that they believe in God. Further, it has made all dogmatisms, whether in science or religion, henceforth impossible. Around and beneath us are fathomless abysses. The laws of nature are simply convenient symbols which we use to express a small portion of an inexpressible whole. Our scientific certainties are being constantly threatened with dissolution by some fresh discovery or some newer insight into the facts. “Canst thou by searching