The Evening Star TUESDAY, DECEMBER 29, 1914.
*' I xihulk them.” This was the answer
of General Joffre " Je Les Crignette.” as with a t winkle in his cyo ho replied to a. friend’s query as to how things we re going-. “ I nibble them.” The nibbling o£ a mouse may not perhaps indicate at first sight tiie fierce, .strenuous work of the Allies, yet it is a striking and suggestive remark. To begin with, it indicates tho power of little, things. It is said that a bon cannot bear tho sight of a mouse, and .the same small creature will set an elephant wild. 1 hero is nothing more remarkable in the world's history than the part that little things have played in its development. Ihe earthworm is a very contemptible bit of life, yet Darwin has demonstrated to us its marvellous work, it is to this despised creature that wo owe. the fertility of the soil. Without it there would be- no grass or flowers or fruit or food for cattle, or milk for babes or meat for men and women. A grain of sand is not much, yet it is the multiplication of those that ties up the mighty ocean and makes life possible on tho earth. Half an inch to a nose seems a small matter, yet Pascal tolls us that if that organ on Cleopatra's face had been only that much longer the. destinies of tho world would have been changed. A gnat choked Pon»> Adrian, and his death altered the whole current of history. The skin < f a raisin is quite insignificant, but it killed A.uacrcon. one of the most illustrious of ancient poets. The coral insect is a very small affair, but it built up those great reefs that form breakwaters against tho mighty ocean. , Says Vivian in Tennyson's ‘ Idvli ' ;
Ah little rat that borest in tho dyko Thv hole bv night to let tho boundless deep
flown upon far-off cities, while they dance Or dream.
And with Imr rat-like slanderous tongue Vivian nibbles away the honor of Lancelot and the Queen, and wrecks great Arthur’s court- and kingdom, and opens the .sluicewavs for
Bed ruin, and the. breaking up of laws, Tiic craft of kindred, and the godless hosts Of heathen swarming o'er tho Northern
And that leads us to our next point. The power of little things depends on their co-operation with tho forces of Nature. .Man is n small thing compared with the world, but he is every day conquering this world—bringing its mighty forces into obedience to his will. He uses the sun to warm his house and drive his trains. Ho takes tho lightning and makes it write his letters and run with his messaged from continent to continent. When wo depend upon onr own personal resources we are weak and helpless.
With, our two hands wo can raise merely a trifle, but coercing into our service hydraulic power wo remove mountains. Trusting to onr feet we make painful progress; availing ourselves of steam and electricity wo fly as upon the wings of the wind. Wo
can do next to nothing except as we press into our service the cosmic forces ; but having succeeded in that, all things arc possible. Now, amid these cosmic forces, the mental, the moral, and the spiritual are supremo. Man has found out by experiment, slow and sorrowful, that these forces which ho calls conscience, righteousness, truth, honor, love, loyalty to his word, and suchlike, are. mighty. There is a power behind them that carries them to ultimate victory. Ho has discovered that just as Nature supplies him with forces to grow his corn and grind his meal and cleave his mountains, so in like manner there are forces in the moral sphere obedience to which will give him similar power there. And ho has further discovered that the process by which these moral forces proceed is just by the very process expressed in General JolTre's words “I nibble them." At this point wo may turn for an illustration to that great race that somehow got the furthest insight into the reality and method of their moral forces—the Jens. After they left Egypt they were told that their God would drive out the nations before them. But it would not bo done all at once. “By little and little 1 “will drive them out from before thee, “and I will set thy hounds from the Bed “Sea even unto tlie Sea of the Philistines “(i.c., the Mediterranean) and from the “desert unto the liver (i.e., from Arabia “to tho Euphrates)” There is the earlier form of Joffvc’s nibbling. “By little and little I will drive them out,” The premise was conditioned on their loyalty to the moral law and to Him who promulgated that law and whose power would make it effective. That >s tho great contribution which tho Jew has made to the world’s progress. Ho has given it the moral law, and he has put a living Person as tho executor of the law. But our point just now is that the method by which this law <<oce into operation is “hy little and little.” Stevenson writes from Paris : “ 1 am lonely and sick “of heart, but I still see the good in the “inch, and cling to it.” Tho good in tho inch. Let us cling to that. Little by little is the law of progress, and the higher the organisation the dower the advance. Little I by little the child grows to a man, the | mind develops, the spiritual qualities ma- j ture. Little by little come scholarship and I courage and fidelity and truthfulness and j conscience, and all those qualities that make up high character and create national i invincibilitv.
General JofTre's method. therefore, falls into lino with the law that covorns nil stable advance. It is just the opposite of the Germans’. They want to conquer with a rush, 'they mass their forces, and seek to carry everythin!; with a run. That is not the method by which permanent pro gross is won. The Gormans are thus tip against one of the fundamental laws of the universe—the jaw of little by little. But it is not on that ground merely that wo predict defeat for them. It is on the ground that behind the nibbling process of the -Mlies there is the moral dynamic. It is this moral element that in the end makes irresistible tho little thincs of the world. It makes them irresistible because behind them is that Supremo Being who has called the universe into existence, sustains it in existence, and runs it in the interest of righteousness and truth. Wo believe that tho Allies, with all their errors and evils, do yet stand in this conflict, for those great principles with, which the pious Jew was identified. li e believe, therefore, in their ultimate conquest. It may take some time; it may proceed little by little ; it may even he a long nibble before tho imposing and, massive machine shall be destroyed. But about tho ultimate issue there can bo no manner of doubt. It is not tho first time in the worlds history that everything seems leagued with evil, that the mightiest battalions of life and literature, of kings and armies, have been arrayed against right and truth. But. they have invariably gone down. Tho nibbling process has mysteriously destroyed them. "I will send the hornet before thee.” ran tho ancient promise, “ and will drive out your enemies.” It is passing strange how insignificant things wreck tho greatest powers. In tho hands of tho World’s Ruler frogs brought Pharaoh to his knees. Grasshoppers have destroyed empires. The hornets were too many for the Hivite and tho Hittitc. He smeared the splendor of Herod with worms, and hroko tho might of Xapolcon with snowflakes. He can make Governments and armies quiver with tho perils of microbos so Final! that millions ot thorn can hold u, council of war on tho point of a lancet. So wo will not think little of tho nibbling process. Wo will remind ourselves that by little and little is tho method of Him who rules the universe. This is His method, not because He desires it, but because wo need it. Men and nations are often not ready for sudden victories. For an individual or an empire to gain great wealth without tho character to rightly use it means ruin. Israel had to bo kept marching round Jericho not because Jericho’s cup of evil was not full, but because, Israel was not morally fit for triumph. .Belay is the condition necessary to achieve that. Little by little, if wo are loyal to the highest, that will he won, and when it is won then it will bo seen that The bruised seed is amply tough To pierce the shield of error through.
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The Evening Star TUESDAY, DECEMBER 29, 1914., Evening Star, Issue 15687, 29 December 1914