Permanent link to this item
ON THE WATCH TOWER, Issue 15688, 30 December 1914
ON THE WATCH TOWER
[By AaiiL-1 ABtVic monaveVis. "the Great ' have been warriors. Is the warrior, then the greatest of men? Certainly not. It was the most influential and far-reaching of human actions'! Again, certainly not. We must, of course, allow a very great influence to the conquests of Lome I hey determined the language anrt the laws of a large part of mankind • nut they were not a "war,' but centuries of policy and of civilisation. No one war, no generation of wars did it; though the wars of Rome were the foundation on which she built. The wars of the Creeks igainst the Persians were doubtless influential in the world of literature and art. War also spread Mohammedanism, and brought the Balkan peoples and the Turke jnd the Hungarians into Europe and the Saxons into Britain. War, too, secured the independence of America, built our Empire in Indi?, and gave Japan her place among the nations. All theso were no doubt important factors in the liistorv of the race. But for the main part the peoples of the world remain where they were 2,000 years ago. War changes little but the superficial government, and that only to a small extent. Things that change currents of thought and alter all the surroundings and methods of life lire, in my opinion, vastly more influential than -war. *******
What warrior in all history <-; m compare with Columbus! as tn influence in the world? Greater still, perhaps, are the discoverers of the great laws of Nature—Kepler, Newton, Darwin, Adam Smith, Mendel, and a host of others—who have revolutionised the thinking of the whole world. Above these again are the praetieal men. the chemists, the physicists, and the engineers, who have fdhd the world with new products, taught us to harness steam and water, and to apply r>!eetn>ity to its myriad uses. I am not sure that even these are at tlv top of world influence. There are the inventors, a noble army, though the greatest of them are nameless and forgotten. Who first domesticated fire? Where would most o! :he later le-iders of men be without him? What sort of a world would it hj" without Ihe wheel? Yet somebody invented that. The domestication of animals was a great ■r-hievement. The discovery of the art of tilling the soil was another. Spinning and weaving and the smelting of metals were anciently looked upon as direct gifts from the gods. Greatest of all is the inventor of the alphabet, and next to him comes the inwntor of the printing press. Paltry, indeed, beside these real leaders of mankind are your Alexanders. I'.-rsars. and Napoleons. There is not a thing that we do. or wear, <->r taste, or '■nioy. and si areely a thought that we :hink. that is not influenced bv some of ;h"se private and unknown persons. But u-e would have to nso a microscope to discover how any of the great warriors influence us. Believe me, there are men to-day walking this planet in shabby tweed who will have i> vastly '-venter infltienne on its future than the Kaiser ind all his hosts. * ****-* * " War is the malady of kings." and irrhaps the malady of nation*. It comes round, li%e th" '• flu.'' in epidemics. What years are to men and women centuries are ti» nations*. If there has been 50 years of peace there are lots of simple folk who imagine thai war is dyin;g out. They thought so- before tht» Crimean War. which followed 40 wars of peace. Insular people thought- tso jn Britain six months ago. '-.lust let us keep the jingo* from training an army for a few years longer, and war will be tlead and buried," they were tilling therafvlves : and they narrowly escaped but vin g us all and our Empire, too. under their colossal folly. You must not suppose that iieople are getting over the habit of keeping Christmas or New Year b"cause they have gone 1] months or so without one. Wait till the time comes, and you will then Re*- that instead of (gathering powers of resistance to ancestral customs they have boen saving up their powers of abandon an el jollity. An examination •if history would show that every century ■).'• so the word Jvis an orgy of war. jii«t is n periodic hrpVr _has hi* outbursts. In 1415 there wv.iv the ware of Henry V.. culminating in Agincourt. In 15?0 Luther was the storm centre. fn 1620 the
■■Thjtty .Years' War" was hc;;iuiiihg. From 1702 to 1713 there were the war* in which the name of .Marlborough and hat of Prince F.cniene are mi f.anion.":. From .1795 to 1815 the French Revolution irenched Europe in blood. 1 (Id not »ngiest. however, that ;■ nation ran go a ■critury without war— :i.< a general thing, that is: about 40 years is more like the limit <>t' endur.in.v. The German* have laMed that long, and have obviously boon ripe tor a. blncd-lotting for some time past, i could rive a score of .such periods iff hand, and hundreds by referring to book?. Tt is the effm't- of snrcessive i;cncratioiw—but this note is lone enough.
1914 wilt soon be gathered U> tiie majority, but not to !n? forgotten. It. will doubtless bo one of the corner-post dates in history. Pos.iibly the meat eras of the French. Revolution and the Reformation will be eclipsed in the- alteration of view points, for German philosophy, modern humanitarianism. the spirit of chivalry, the basis of morals, and most other things that rount are now in the cauldron—the wi-ches' cauldron —and the Lord only knows what -will romo out. As I cannot -prophesy, permit me to glance at the past, for history, they say, is prophecy : 1114 : The French defeated Austrian ■tmbitioos in Italy at Bouvincs : the German ruler then "became- a, Crusader, and went to meet the Saracens. 1314 : There, were two rival German emperors, of whom the one -who was favored i»v France won. In this year. too. the English suffered the overthrow of Rannockburn—a blessing: in disguise, for it saved Scotland from becoming an Ireland. 1514 : The Turks conquer the Greek islands. 1614 : The German Empire, or. rather, the Emperor, was trying to suppress the Reformation, like Mrs Partington with her mop trying to keep back the tide. 1714 : The great wars in which Marl!m.rough Retired drew to a close. ' 1814 : The last chapter but cue of Napoleon's meteoric, career was concluded. The Congress of Vienna met to redistribute Europe. Ferdinand VII.. whom Britain had hacked in the Peninsular War, went back to his Throne. Cape Colony was finally ceded to Britain, as was the right, to occupy Xew Zealand whenever she liked. Her noble missionary. Marsden, did occupy it. Pas«in«g from centenaries to jubilees, it is now 50 yean* since, in 1864, Britain and France 'compelled Japan to lespecfc treaties made with -Europeans. #**■»*** But our eyes are turned to 1815 rather than to its predecessor. The veil hangs heavily over it. and we speculate hopefully on what its hours may bring forth. What are the omens? "What does history prophesy for us? Well, her token.", are not ill favorable, but she by no means forbids us to hope. In 215 v.r. Hannibal's invasion of Italy was finally defeated, and the cry " Delttnda est Carthago" arose. In a.n. 1015 the Danes were conquering England, and in the next year, partly <iwing to the ravages of war, a dreadful famine prevailed in Europe. In .1315 nnother fa-mine fell upon England. But as we draw nearer to our times the omens are better. On October 15, 1415, Henry V. won Agincourt, not far from the present seat of war. In that same year Portugal sent an army to Africa, and" the founder of the Hohenzollerns purchase'! the Margraviate of Brandenburg, and laid the foundation of the absolute monarchy of Prussia. In the New Year the Kaiser will celebrate the semi-millennium of his House if he is in sufficient spirits. In 1515 nn invasion of England failed at Flodden. In that year France fought the Emperor of Germany, Charles V., in Italy. The Turks also toolf Syria at that datp: so it is time for them to lose it. In 1615 England sent her first Ambassador to the Great Mogul of India. That is an important tercentenary. In 1715 another invasion of England "was accounted for by the defeat of the Jacobites at Preston. That fight was also a rude knock to the divine right of kings. In that same year Russia gained the provinces of Esthonia.
Livonia, and part of Finland, all on the Baltic. Then, too, the Turks made their Inst advance by the retaking of Morea, and thereafter they declined in power. 1815 is ever memorable as the year of Waterloo, the site of which will probably be retrodden in tbe centenary year. It was preceded by a heavy defeat of the Prussians at Ligne two days earlier. That great year also set up a Kingdom of Poland" under the Tsar, which, owing to rebellions, fell_. through. It also established a Geimanic Confederation with no definite head. For England it opened such a world of trade as had never before been known. It also began the century of peace with America. Perhaps, out of compliment to the brave Gurkhas, I ought to mention that we won their respect in 1815 by a war which they forced on us. On the whole I think the omens are good, and if history would only repeat itself in seme particulars which I could nominate, I would be well satisfied with 1915. ♦ #»***# It is perhaps not as generally known and acknowledged as it should be that .Alsace, I Lothringcu (Lorraine), and Belgium are all ancient parts of the German Empire, i The two French provinces were acquired by Louis XIV. only two centuries ago. But the people were no doubt veiy glad t.> become a part of a stable monarchy, instead of being the private estates of the Emperor, and liable to be given as mar riago portions to his daughters. In 1871 they were as French as Paris itself, and as "patriotic, but then - former connection with Germany lVfl.i the pretext for annexing them as part of the fruits of victory. Belgium was also for ages a fief of the empire. In the 15th century it passed to the House of Austria as an hereditary possession. Thereafter, owing to conquest, or marriage portion and inheritance, it belonged .sometimes to France, sometimes to Spain, sometimes to Austria, and sometimes to Holland: but (ierniany always felt an interest in the " Netherlands " or " Low Countries" as nn ancient and natural possession, for the Flemish are as German a« the Dutch, though the French language is winning the premier place. Napoleon had, of course, made Belgium part of France, but the settlement that follow >d his fall considered the ambition of princes rather than the interests of peoples. The Congress would not let France keep it, and could not agree to give it to any other strong competitor, so they annexed it to Holland. Differences in religion, tastes, and pursuits made the union unstable; and in 1831 the Belgians proclaimed their independence. The Powers would not let the Dutch suppress the rebellion, but recr.gni.-ed Belgium's independence and guaranteed her neutrality. Germany is now fighting with the clear purpose of retaining Belgium as a province of her empire, and if she. has any scruples left she can allnv them with ancient liistorv.
It is interest :n< to note that the n'-'piiromont of Al-aco liy France was keenly felt by the Prussians at tho tiinp. and 1111 r» hi tho popular songs among the soldiers had this prophetic refrain:- • The French haw stolen one money ; Tho Prussians, will bring it hack : Patience, patience, patience. It is ju-t this deadly, persistent patience that makes the Prussians so formidable. They have h"!d on to a policy of extendir.g their borders at every favorable opportunity for centuries. They can wait and prepare and watch and plot without end. The whole question now i< whether we can outdo them in patience and in endurance of suffering. It is largely a question of nerves. It is reported that there are 3.000 Oerniau orhx'ers with shattered nerves. 'That is a hopeful item. The (iermans study to play upon the nerves of their opponents. The men are drilled to niter a. terrifying " Hoch I" at tins moment vi closing in a. charge. 'I hey aie scut at it again and again to practise this shout, so as to utter it at the exact moment when the maximum etl'e-1 may he produced. One is reminded of the" old Chines*' drill: ''Prepare to look tierce! Look fierce: Charge'" The other day we had an a. count of a, (iceman officer's opinion nf the Highlanders. "We throw gtenades. and made the greatest possible confusion and noise; but they clambered out of their trenches, and actually made a counter eluirge |" ****** It It is neive that wins balth-s. especially when the men come to ha.nd-10-h.and work. Frederick the Croat htui trained his infantry so perfectly that they were, marvels i.f steadiness." In his first battle, at Mollwitz. the Austrian cavalry was so superior that he gave up all for lost, and lelt the field, (t was not till the ne\t day that he heard that his infantry had in in a complete 1 victory! lie remarked: " Voting warriors should not give up so soon!" Indeed, perfectly steady troops cannot he beaten except by very superior force and .superior strategy. At Kvlau. in 1806. when 50,000 a side had fallen, neither French nor Russians had gained an inch. A wild winter night stillVd the. conflict. The nerves of the men had .stood the day's ordeal; it was then a question of the nerve..; of the commanders. N-ipolenn was preparing to retreat, when he learned that the Russians were moving oil. A little more nerve, and it would have been a Russian victory. It was the British infantry that won 'Waterloo with tlrtdr steadiness. At Inkrrman they displayed the same quality in that fearful night attack. Caught ail unawares, without proper formation, and unable in the darkness and confusion to receive helpful commands, they simply stood back to back find fought obstinately till tho enemy were hurled back to Sebastopol in headlong defeat. That was one of the finest displays of nerve ever made. Just a little panic would have led to the destruction of the I'.ritish Army. "It is hard pounding, gentlemen," said the Duke, at Waterloo: "we must see who can pound longest." The dictum of Prince. Frederick Charles, one of the Prussian commanders in 1870. was this: "The conqueror will ba the army that is longest determined to conquer." That also applies to the nation. The Oermans are trying ail they know to shake the nerves of the British people. Their sea raids, their air raids, and their talk about submarines that can stay out a fortnight and circumnavigate Britain, are all directed at the nerves of the nation. The motto for 1915. then, is : " Keep cool, and he sure, whon you are feeling done, that the enemy are even moro done."
ON THE WATCH TOWER, Issue 15688, 30 December 1914
Allied Press Ltd is the copyright owner for the Evening Star. You can reproduce in-copyright material from this newspaper for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons New Zealand BY-NC-SA licence. This newspaper is not available for commercial use without the consent of Allied Press Ltd. For advice on reproduction of out-of-copyright material from this newspaper, please refer to the Copyright guide.
Papers Past now contains more than just newspapers. Use these links to navigate to other kinds of materials.
These links will always show you how deep you are in the collection. Click them to get a broader view of the items you're currently viewing.
Enter names, places, or other keywords that you're curious about here. We'll look for them in the fulltext of millions of articles.
Browsed to an interesting page? Click here to search within the item you're currently viewing, or start a new search.
Use these buttons to limit your searches to particular dates, titles, and more.
Switch between images of the original document and text transcriptions and outlines you can cut and paste.
Print, save, zoom in and more.
If you'd rather just browse through documents, click here to find titles and issues from particular dates and geographic regions.
The "Help" link will show you different tips for each page on the site, so click here often as you explore the site.