ON THE WATCH TOWER
(By Aunt.] T have read of some Frenchmen returning from a long Arctic voyage in 1871 and learning in on© foil ©lap 'of tbundor wuat woes had befallen Franco. It made their brain reel, but perhaps it was better than the long-drawn agony of seeing France dav by dav writhing under the saw. I rather envv Sir Ernest Shackleton and his party. They, at least, will not die of multitudinous bre slines. In childhood we read of Kirn- Hcrla of the Britons. He •went to a fairy wedding under the hub dat -s ii seemed,, lie was dismissed t.i tfe» a»: . but was warned not to dismount .-.oni Ids horse. The party found the country curiously changed, and a eked a shepherd for news: What of the Queen. The shepherd understood with difficulty, but said he had hoard of such a queen in the long ago among the Britons, before the Faxons came. One of the parly dismounted, and immediatelv fell to dust, for two 'toilcries had passed in the fairy feast. Herla is vid’ng on still, fey he snr rived the shock, and had also nussed the long agony of the coming of the Saxon J wonder whether Tennyson Borrowed the thought of his ‘Day Dream’ from Inis story. . . . Were it not a pleasant thing To fall a deep with all one’s friends— To pass with ail our social ties To silence from the paths of men, And every hundred years to rise And learn the world. and_ sleep again; To sleep thro’ terms of mighty wars, And wake on science -vow n to move, . . ■ The van* Republics that may grow. The Federations and the Powers . . . The sentence is a long one, and the note of interrogation with which it ought to end has been forgotten—in my copy, at least. * -* -x- -x- * -X- * This fine passage seems to me to be an example of the prophet in the poet. After “mighty wars” science and philosophy always do “grow to more.” In Greece after the heroic Persian wars, in England after the Armada, in the Nineteenth Century after Napoleon we see the splendid harvest that follows the thorough harrowing of the human soul. It is the benefits of “ migbLv wars ” which we would miss if we could sleep through them. We are now in the very presence of the “ Federations and the Powers,’ for there is little doubt that some permanent bond will grow among the nations that are opposed to Germany. “ The vast Republics that may rise” is perhaps the real prophecy. The Kaiser is. to my mind, the great promoter of Republics. It is he and the system that he represents that make all men shudder at autocracy. But 1 must come back to my starting point; sleeping “ thro’ terms of mighty wars. However pleasant a thing it might be, 1 must repudiate it with all my might. Wo have done too much sleeping in peace, and are now having a rude awakening. Methinks I hear a voice cry: “Sleep no more! Wilhelm dot'll murder sleep, and therefore England shall sleep no more.” *******
There is a natural reluctance to believe that the Kaiser actually issued the proclamation reported from Warsaw: “ Remember you are tho chosen people. The >pirit of the Lord has descended upon me because 1 am the Emperor of the Germans, f am his sword and representative." I am, however, quite readv to believe it, for it is exactly what he believes. Did he not say concerning his son’s alleged victory: “ flow magnificently God supported him!” Quite a good second, as it were. 1 wonder that he did not send Him the Iron Cross—of the second class. Of course, the poetasters have been drawn by this piece of Imperial patronage: Led by Wilhelm, as you tell, God hail done extremely well; You, with patronising nod. Show that you approve of God. Kaiser, face a question new— This: Does God approve of you?
‘The Sword of Clod " was the title given by the Arabs to dialed, the conqueror of Syria, soon after the death of Mohammed. Like the Kaiser, he was a devastator who caused the scene of ancient civilisations to revert to the wilderness. Mohammed’s doctrine of the sword suits the modem dialed well. " The sword is the key of Heaven and of Hell. A drop of blood shed in tho cause of God. a night spout in arms, is uf more avail than two months spent in lasting and prayer. Whosoever falls in battle, his sms arc 'forgiven ; at the Day of Judgment his wounds shall be resplendent as vermilion and odoriferous as musk.” Respecting one of Chaled's battles Gibbon has a remark that would suit the Kaiser and his grandfather well. “ The death of 470 Moslems was compensated by their opinion that they had sent to Hell above 50,000 of the infidels.” # ******
Attila was railed “The Scourge of God - ’ by writers after his time. He knew nothing of such a distinction himself, though the modern Hungarians have added it to the titles of their founder. 1 do not find that Attila the Hun. or (Jem-eric the Vandal. or Alaric the (doth, or /fought-; the '.tartar, or Charles Martel, nr Charlemagne, or Constantine ever laid claim to any divine inspiration, or to being divine agents. Outside Hie Bible, Mohammed, Tamerlane, and the Kaiser are the only ones to make the claim. Perhaps Oom Paul might be added to the list, but I am not sure. According to Gibbon, however, Pepin, father of Charlemagne, might have claimed to be the sword of God with some authority. He had once rescued Borne from the Lombards, but no sootier had he returned to France than the barbarians returned to threaten the holy city. The Pope thought that no ordinary invitation would bring Pepin over the Alps again, so he wrote in the name of St. Peter himself. Peter “assures his sons, the King, clergy, and nobles of France that, dead in the flesh, he is still alive in the spirit; that they now hear and must obey the voice of the founder of the Homan Church; that the Virgin, the angels, the saints, the martyrs, and all the host of Heaven unanimously urge the request, and will acknowledge the obligation; that riches, victory, and Paradise will crown their pious enterprise ; and that eternal damnation will lie the penalty of their neglect if they suffer his tomb, his temple, and his jieople to fall into the hands of the perfidious Lombards.” Of course, Pepin obeyed the call, and the Lombards never quite recovered from his second visit; but he did not call himself the Sword of God. or even of Peter. The memory of dialed was then fresh, perhaps. *******
I must work off some correspondents who seem by their furious style to think that I am to blame for things in general. Tf 1 hold them over it will he another grievance, so here goes:
"Dear ‘Ariel,’ —We are a nation of jelly, not of iron. Talk about •hearts’ of oak,’ 'British Lion,’ ‘John Bull,’ and all that sort of thing! We have been living in the Paradise of Fools. While the Germans have talked iron and taught iron to their children from the cradle, and practised iron day and night, we have been talking pup and teaching pap. We have got into the way of apologising to a set of blatant fools for*flying our own flag. We have allowed this set to make us ashamed of strength, and of war, as if they were of the devil. I went to a great prayer meeting the other weefe, and not one of the prayers but apologised to God for the war. Did they ao ver hear that He is the ‘ Lord of Hosts ’ end the God of Battles, and that ‘fight or 4;e ’ » woven into the very texture cl His universe? Have we asserted our •mancipation since the war broke out by hanging any of the crowd of pap-suckers who have succeeded in cowing the nation with their cant? I tell you, sir, they are the murderers of thousands, and may be the destroyers of the finest institutions in the world. We think it’s noble to trust everybody. We trusted Germany when wo Jet her take South-west Africa, adjoining our own colony. Wo trusted the Boers after the war, and see where we are now. We prefer German employees and German goods, and let them start factories, and flqver imagine that they have laid gun foundations, set up wireless, and all that for our ruin. The world must be ruled by iron, sir, and not by pap and Sunday Hbool lessons in meekness. —Basnet.’
“Dear ‘Ariel,’— l am fairly sick of the indefinite nothings we are getting about the war. ‘The position ia stationary,’ ‘The results of the fighting are satisfactory,’ I We have lost no ground,’ ‘ The fierce attacks of the enemy failed.’ How much of this will it require to get to Berlin? How can it be stationary, or satisfactory either,when the enemy are taking city after city and occupying all the coast right along to Calais, almost within gunshot of the English coast? If the Germans get a submarine force on the Strait wo will not be able to keep a ship there. Already we have put out the lights of London, and are watching for the bombdropping airship. You say that our fleet is crippling Germany and is winning the war. I wish I could see some proof of it. I hold that the British belief that they who rule + he waves rule the land is pure nonsense. It was not true in Napoleon’s time; much less can it he true in these clays of torpedoes and mines. The land makes the fleet, and to be usefully strong on'the water you must.be strong on the land. As Mr Balfour said, in writing to a German paper: ‘lf we were 10 times master of the North Sea we could not threaten Germany, for lack of an army. But if Germany were once master of the sea England would be at her mercy.’ And yet fools and traitors say we don't need an arrav.—Axxiovs.”
“Dear ‘ Ariel,’—You seem to assume that in a year or two we will have brought the Teuton to his knees, but his history shows him to bo a good stayer. ‘His very name,’ says Carlyle, 1 Gnerre-man, the man that "wars” or "gars”’ tolls what he is. You have yourself told us how for 500 years he attacked the Roman Empire, and finally overthrew it. Let me remind you that the * Seven Years’ War ’ was fought between Prussia and Austria, and that the ‘Thirty Years’ War’ was fought in Germany between the Pope and the Protestants. After the unexampled overthrow of Jena and Auerstadt Napoleon thought ho had crippled Prussia for ever, but six years later she made a glorious resurrection, and was the chief means of his first downfall. Austria, too, has a noble place in history for her dogged resistance to Napoleon. He humbled her in 1/97 m Italy. She was at it again in 18C0, and was smashed at Hohenlinden and Marengo. She toed the mark again in 1805, and suffered the defeat of Austerlitz and Ulni. Yet she faced her tyrant again in 1809, and won the battle of Asperu, though she lost the more decisive fight of Wag ram. Four tremendous defeats in about 12 years seem more than any nation could survive. Yet in 1813 she brought 150X00 men to help in crushing Napoleon. There are few greater things recorded in history than these five wars with the greatest conqueror of modern times, all in 15 years. It is clear, then, that wc are up against two tough fighters, both of which have proved themselves mighty even in defeat. —Histohy.” * * „ * * * * * You are all three of you —“Basnet” and “Anxious” and “History”—a bit too pessimistic for me. We are not men of jelly, but men confident in strength, who despise the tricks and wiles that other nations resort to. Nor is the fact that Germany can make no advance except against little Belgium and along an undefended coast any great feather' in her cap. It is true that cur army is small, but Germany is playing the recruitin' 1, sergeant for ns to some purpose. We will soon have our million men when she p-ets to Calais. Let me point out to “ History” that some others have shown seme power of sticking to it besides the two bo names. In Gibbon you will find that the Russians first made an attack on Constantinoplo mare than a thousand years age. and they have been at it ever since. You may also have heard of the “ Hundred Years’ War,’’ which beats your “Thirty Years’ War” all to pieces. Well, that was fought by the French ill turning- us English out of their country. They suffered many tremendous overthrows, but they came on again, and finally got ns oul —much to our benefit. So you see that our two partners have got the quality of endurance in them pretty thick. As to ourselves—well, we too fought the Hundred Years’ War, and the Twenty Years’ War against Napoleon, and one way and another we have come, in four or five centuries, from being a negligible Power to be (he one nation that Germany considers is standing in her light. Let the winds of the world tell of our Tenacity of purpose. I honor the great achievements of our enemies, hut they ate now up against peoples with still move to their credit.
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ON THE WATCH TOWER, Evening Star, Issue 15629, 21 October 1914