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THE CALMEST NATION, Issue 15634, 27 October 1914
THE CALMEST NATION
AN AMERICAN IN LONDON. IMPRESSIONS AND A TRIBUTE. War! Seven nations simultaneously battling for existence; Europe trembling under the tramp of .12,000,000 toldiers; war by Dreadnought and submarine; war by Zeppelin and aeroplane; the combined armie* of Ghengis Khan, Timur, Xerxes, Hannibal, C»sar, Saladin, and Nf.poleon pigmytised by contrast with the hostile hosts; war at a cost of £12,000,000 per day; the proudest of centuries threatened by tho most appalling ruin that evar scarred the memory of man; the delicately-adjusted and exquisitely-organised machinery of production vandalised for 3,000,000 equaro miles; the commerce of the universe in chaos; art and science, agriculture and industry, baited by the bayonet; civilisation with a sword point at her heart; the Bank Act suspended; tho Stook fischanges of the world closed; tho calculations of the five races dislocated; bewilderment from Canton, U.S.A., to Canton, China; and this, ihe biggest piece of news that ever broke 6ince the Deluge, is calmly tucked away in the heart of the London morning papers, while page 1, as per wont, is devoted to die necessities of sundry anonymous ladies end gentlemen in quest of loans, lodgers, and lovers, the latest additions to Madame Tussaud's Exhibition, intelligence of steamships, and undertakers' advertisements! Magnificent! . One reads the temper of a people in the attitude of it* Press. What may humanity not expect from a land capable of such calm and poise in tue mest dreid hour of its history? The self-possession of London is incredible —and Britain is as London is. Let foemen beware of a ration whoso women do not wail, and whose men do not cheer at the call to arms. The Semitic, and therforo emotional Xerxes, failed to comprehend the significa-ice of Sparta's deliberate pimping at the approach of his swarms. The Laeedcemonian was never so formidable as wbtn perfumed and anointed to face ids gode in befitting elegance. , And beneath all this seeming disregard of potentialities, which deceives more than one alien observer, I sense a Spartan resignation on the part of London. To me sho is working to the last hour to order her affairs—availing horself of every opportunity to protect—so far as lies within the power'of her citizens—the welfare of the ncu-combataut population. And what may appeal to many as an imder-estimation of the struggle rpon which Britain has entered is rather the sober and far-sighted intent of the community to support King and country, as and when needed, with a patriotism too deep for surfaoe display. . , I stood in the throng before Buckingham Palace when the King's Frocamation was read to the peop'.e. I moved from point to point in the crowd, listened, watched. Only a witness of the scene could understand the British heart that night. There were mothers and wives and daughters and sisters in the press to whom the portentous words were sentences of desolation. Not a tear pearled ths cheek of a child or a gte-y----htad. Instantly there was born a thousand new soldiers, who there received summons to tho most desperate conflict upon which the Empire would ever embark. Their vision reft the veils of the horizon, and disclosed the ominous German mil.ions, and there «i at least, one £,un in those silent tanks for each of their hearts. And they must have remembered the women whom they were to marry, and tleir minds must have caressed the wives thev would leave behind, and thev must have thought of the families dependent upon their eemings and protection. But what they spoke to -ihdr souls only Goo heard. There were but few cheers. Even the boys and the occasional hooligan, feebly mafficking here and there, wire toon silent. Perhaps they could not interpret the reverent au;i solemn spirit of their elders, but somefhine. deeper than their Ken laid its spell upon their tongues and stilled them to respect of the unknown. When Their Majesties appeared all heao were uncovered. ' God Save the Kins ' sobhcti through the night as though cathedral erchcspread about us, and the notes were tho.. of an anthem. In little groups the people dispersed Save for an occasional low voice floatm,. back to the empty square, the masses alou' the Mall wero noiseless shadows in a ch picture. And when all were gone and r-..-scarlet-tunicked sentries alone remained b fore the Palace, a strangely white moo seemed to sail straip.t to tho centre of .- vast space, and its li;,ht fell ar- if an augis, upon the austere ht.id of the old Qu<.siting gua-.d over her loyal capital. As was London that night, so is Ln'id this morning. The aspect of the city is ai a'tered. Save for tho Prers bulleum, anthe cries of the paper-sellers, one meets wi; no siirn of perturbs ton or exebement. T<-:,' ments march through the streets attended i> no greater crowds than, one usually finds ii tne wake of parading soldiers. The unaltered price-li'-kcts in _the- ship windows proclaim the absence of nusiney. panic. The Strand maintains its accustomed appearance, and seeks to lend assurance to the moment by calmly proceeding with it scheduled repairs. Ii seems *o siy to th passer-by. "Steady, my friend. Why worn nced.ersly? Time alone controls affairs. Al things are episodes to my vast exponent For a thousand year.? I have Lor.'.e tnc ireao of regiments, and always the To-morrows i. London are greater than her Yesterdays. Tak »ample from me, and attend to your allot; c tasks, as I now proceed with mine."
The face 3 of tr-e recruits interest m;-. tve mendously. Youth predominatcr: in the ninhs but it is youth rapidly nut living with an appreciation of the; responsibility ahead. I am surprised at th- number of undi r. ; .iZ'-> voluntecro. and cannot but eoutrast t.he pet fonnel of the new levies with some of th<. Dutch and Belgian soldiers whom I steadier in the year. The French of the M:d Co.ps, too, average much better phvaica-lj But let it be rcmembertd that this is a struggle in which intelligence will play no small' part, and the I-lnglu-h boys are of a finer intellectual type—they are ciean-cut j.:u wholesome youngsters. Their clear complexions and coats of tan bespeak an out-of door training which will enable them (.- withstand far mo-e stress and fatigue tlvtn their Continental fellows, whoso looser habit, but too frequently cancel their capacity m endurance. Despite the spectaoulcr epbode at Liege. th».re will bo little of the picturesque and colorful in the approaching campa.jg;i*._ Per srnal heroism, the heroism o; individ'.:■■* biawn and bo.dnoK, wi'l obtain little opportrnitv. The vnnjc of the weapons anmodern tactics have set- the struggle \ n.-> ■a basis of mathematics. The handling ol millions of men will necessitate manage met; much akin to the lroad principles in p.-actic with huge industrial organisations. Nevsv before have the qualities which make for ;■ Gucce-saful business career meant so nun in producing valuable soldiers. System, ;■ contrasted with red tape, simplicity en.ethcd, clear-headed calculation, will con;; equally with ordnance. This is to be a war in which Death v. i keep tally on automatic adding machine:Past military experiences will furnish s.ki guidance. It demands new rules and ncv tools. The ability to hand.e titanic orgai isations with economy o5 action and eue:> wLI largely decide its outcome. The grav . of mistakes will be in geometric proportion to the number of combatants involved. Tk. calmest nation will prove the most competent. Deliberation and self-control will nag nify efficiency. Those least likely to lose their heads are best qualified to win their cause. I do not fear for Britain's future. A people possessed of such adamaut.in. patience or stubbornness —call it what yo will—that thev can afford to wait for their war news until the death notices and lega advertisements on the front pages have bee. carefully perused can hardly be expected t fail before any crisis.—Herbert Kaufman, n 'The Times.'
THE CALMEST NATION, Issue 15634, 27 October 1914
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