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ON THE WATCH TOWER

{By Aribl.]

Tho friction with America is the most unfortunate item in the war news.; yet it was inevitable. No country will long su.jinit to have its trade seriously interfered with by the action of another Rower. Me were very angry ourselves a few years ago whan the Russians seized one or two of our ships for alleged,trading with Japan. As a matter of fact, 'we considered the wishes of Russia very little, and wenon trading with the, Japs._ During the t ivil War in America. President Lincoln proclaimed the Southern States iu a state of hkekade. This was a terrible blow to Britain, and brought on the Lancashire cotton famine, which caused more* suffering in Britain than the present war is doing. But the United States was fightiur for its existence, and had to take strenuous measures. It was within its rights, hut feeling van very high iu England. Of course, a blockade need nor he recognised if it is not. effective. ar» we took full advantage of that. Many of our ships were cantured, but many others caped and brought home cargoes that* were at a very high premium. As the blockade became more effective our merchants went- into the business of blockaderunning with all imaginable zest. In Murray's Library you v. ill find Taylor's book on hia experiences in “ miming the blockade. ’ {special steamers were built for theWradc, and a great depot was formed at Nassau, in the "island of New providence in the Bahamas. Certain lines of goods were at an enormous premium in the Southern States, and cotton was at a great premium in England A successful trip was theiefero a splendid prize, and hundreds of successful trips were made. The Americans felt- that we were deliberately prolonging the war and costing them rivers of blood and treasure; but we went on quite gleefully. We now interfere with their tiade with Italy, Holland. Norway, ami we must pardon them if they again feed annoyed. Doubtless they are very lax and are injuring ns by sending war material to our enemies through neutral States. But we must remember what we did iu the past, and shove every possible consideration. rather than renew the old feeling of animosity that has been dying out of late, ******* No surrender is evidently the naval policy of the Germans. During our Heligoland raid a. German officer sas reported to have shot men who showed_ signs viekling. The armed liner Kaiser M ilEelm, when brought, to book, refused to surrender, and had to be sunk. A damaged submarine with her crew all nn dock was caught iu the Noith Sea. They drew lots for one who "was to go below and dt.-i.rov the vessel, while the others wore rescued hy the English. The Scharnhorsttook no notice of the merciful summons

to surrender, and wen! down with colors Hying. The Nurnbeig also refused to .-urrender, and as British chivalry stopped f" save the crew the Dresden escaped. All this indicates a set policy and strict orders from headquarters. What ran 1)8 the meaning of it? Is it an effort to cieate naval traditions «ftor the pattern of'the French legend of the sinking of the Tcugeur with colors flying and tne crew shouting "Vive Ja Rcpublique ”! If so, the mam tradition created will be that the navy means certain death. I think “No surrender ” means that there is some secret which they do not wish us to discover, or else they wish to make every naval man feel that- the sole purpose of his existence is to defeat Britain, and that if he cannot do that he must die. Anyway, whatever the policy may he. it calk for a suitable stem rejoinder from us. It is an effort, among other tilings, to exploit our chivalry. to ilelav ns in gathering the fruits of Victory, and, oven to bring us into danger of mines while trying to save drowning men. The policy of "No surrender” must be answered by a policy of “No quarter.” In other words, those who determine that their ship must sink must be left to sink with it. ******* On the eve of the Austro-T’rnssian war there was a danger of France siding with Austria to reduce the pretensions of Prussia. That would hare spoiled much deep scheming, so Bismarcs went to Biarritz to meet the Emperor Napoleon, whom he twisted round his finger and persuaded to remain neutral. On his journey home he went through Paris. Here Bismarck said to the Italian Ambassador: *■ War with Austria is now inevitable.” That meant that he had lulled the French to sleep and could proceed without danger. He added playfully: "If Italy did not exist it would now be necessary to invent her.” That was his little way of telling her to be ready to attack Austria in order to drive her out of Italy. Bismarck, while he was lulling the French Emperor to sleep, really had it in his heart to destroy him at a more convenient season. “I can smile and smile, and murder while I smile." a< the hunchback Richard remarked. Five years after the affectionate meeting at‘'Biarritz, Bismarck suddenly sprang upon France and rent her limb from limb. The one chance of the French was to chip in with Austria, but they missed it and waited the convenience of the enemy, who knew no remorse. In the present war it was Britain that was intended to be cajoled into waiting till her enemies were ready. Happily she had too much sense. *******

All personal observers of the places occupied by the enemy agree in describing the filthy condition in v.-fiich they are left. This applies especially to the Austrians. We had an account of a crowded hospital which they had left in Servia, which “ was like a dunghill.” being littered with filth which it was nobody's business to remove. After the recapture of Belgrade we were told of the “ filthy condition in which the Austrians had left the city. Tins want of appreciation of the sanitary ideas of modern times may easily be a very deadly enemy to them indeed. Genera! Dirt is at least as terrible to an army as General .January and General February. The sanitation of armies, especially when they nr*’ of gigantic proportions, is always one of the greatest problems of the administration, especially as under the best arrangements there is the inevitable intermixture of men with the habits of swine. During Napoleon's occupation of Moscow great efforts were made to keep the city clean, but they were of no avail. 'Hie troops even discharged the offices of nature in view of the Imperial windows! But much lias been learned since then, and there are fev.belter tests of civilisation than the cult of Jn-np. Filthiness of person and of abode is tne clay uS the pit out of which we were digged. It is the mark of the primeval man, and the An.-triam have probablymoved away from it as little as any of the combatants. Lot ns hope that our "Russian Allies Tuk,ve improved on the picture of them given by Macaulay in his account of Peter the Great ; “ Round the person of the sovereign there was n blaze of gold and jewels; but even- in his must splendid palaces were to be found the filth and misery- of an Irish cabin. . . . The grandees who surrounded lire Ambassador were so gorgeous that all London crowded to stare at them, and bo filthy that no one dared to touch them. They came to court balls dropping pearls anti vermin. . . . The Tsar liimsdf lived in Ids palace like a hog in his sty; and when he was entertained by other Sovereigns lie never failed to leave on their tapestried walls and velvet State beds unequivocal proof that a savage had been there.” ■»***»*#

“ Who now reads Cowley?” asks Pope. “His pointed wit" has ceased to please, “ but still 1 love the language of his heart." adds the critic. We may say the same of Waller. Nobody reads him now, and yet his heart- beat in accord with our own. Here are some lines of his more than 250 years old; yet they might- have appeared in a magazine during the last few months, with very little alteration, and have passed far as hot out of the oven :

When Britain, looking with a just disdain Upon the gailded majesty of Spain, And knowing well that empire must decline Whose chief support and sinews are of coin, Our gaiioa'l ,&o«d yirtuq did, ©Egos*

To the rich, troubler of the -world's repose. And now some months, encamping- on the

mam. Our naval army has besieged Spain i They that the whole world’s monarchy designed Are to their ports by our bold fleet con-

fined. From whence our red cross they trium-

phant. see, Riding without a rival on the sea. Others inav use the ocean as their road, Only the p.hglish nialie it their abode, Whose ready sails- with every wind can fly. And make a- covenant with the unconstnnt

.sky : Our oaks, secure as if they there took

root. We tread on billows with a steady foot. “ Our Red Cross,” mentioned in the 11th line, is, of course, the cross of St. George, the broad cross of the present flag, for these lines were ancient before the Union Jack was designed. 1 am obliged to the correspondent who called my attention to "Waller’s lines. ■»**«*** An Australian correspondent of mine who lives iu a. -district where there are many Germans, "dear, old, kind-hearted people, but loyal to the Fatherland, docile and obedient," cannot help gossiping about them. A member of Parliament for the State, who is of German extraction, was openly accused of being a traitor and informing the enemy of the time of departure of the troops. Of coarse, he denied everything; but he resigned at once, having too much private- business to attend to. A German piano tuner, while following his calling, explained to the master of his house, who is of German parentage, that Belgium had agreed to let the German armies pass, but- on the prompting of Britain and the promise of support she altered her mind at the last moment and attacked Iter guests. To this the colonial-born German replied : “ Oh, that’s all rot! Germany could have prevented the war; but- as she didn’t, L hope all nations will club together to give her a good thrashing.” " That man has Breathed the British atmosphere of freedom and fair play too long to be hoaxed. Another incident relates to a Dane who was impoverished by the war with Prussia in 1864. Ho was of Schleswig, and spoke German. He came to Australia to seek his fortune, and started grubbing ma-llee till his hands got raw. While his hands were healing his neighbors discovered that he could read and write, and begged him to start a school. He did so, but one day a German parent called him out and said he was a deputation from the district. “You have been teaching our children that the earth goes round the sun, which is contrary to common sense. We can all see that the sun goes round the earth. Please, therefore, correct this part of your teaching.” The Dane began to draw diagrams and to argue, but he- was up against the Mi cl die Ages, and the discussion grew hotter and hotter, till at last the dominie exclaimed; “Teach your children yourselves; I'd rather teach your pigs.’’ Ho has been glad ever since that the astronomical incident arose, and is fond of telling it, for he soon got into a much more profitable calling than teaching in that community. German culture had not then reached its height. ******* There are Germans and Austrians in the Commonwealth of Australia, and at least twice as many of German parentage born in the colonies. That iu 100,000. of whom more than half will be strongly pro-German in their sympathies. About a third of these foreigners are in the capital cities, and it is absurd to suppose that they would not be an element of danger if there was any probability of a German attack, which all Germans six months ago believed there was. One of ray correspondents describes a banquet at a country town. The waiters had been brought from the city, and were, all “ such uew-chum Germans that they could neither speak nor understand English. They, no doubt, had come here to be ready for ‘The Day.'” The same correspondent says that it is commonly reported, though it is kept out of the papers, that in a township with a German name and a majority of German inhabitants “ there had been a fight with firearms between the English and the Germans. The Germans were required to give up their arms, and one poor fellow, who had a piano case full, committed suicide.” My friend mentions another rumor, which at least shows that what Carlyle calls “ preternatural suspicion ” is rife. There is in Central Australia a German mission to the aborigines. The missionaries are said to have been drilling the blacks! ,1 don’t believe all these things, though they are no worse than the concrete foundations and the fortress quarries that we have read aba.it. I do believe, however, that the Germans expected Britain to go to pieces at the first shock of war, and that they would enter into possession of her Empire. *******

A distinguished and well-informed Italian, who has just returned from Vienna, says: “As soon as the Austrians heard the Tsar’s decree forbidding the sale spirits they realised they ' were beaten.” Some time ago a first-rank war correspondent wrote of the Turcos : “ What can men poisoned with meat and alcohol do against these fellows who live on dates and water?” Whatever virtues there may be in liquor, it is certain that they do not come out in tough fighting, in _ Arctic exploring, and in other enterprises that require the best that is -n a man. No general values Dutch courage, nor wishes his men to be pot valiant. Kitchener’s advice to the army as it left for France had a pointed reference to alcohol. When the Imperial troops were sent to visit us after the Boer War Lord Roberts sent a special request before tlnm begging ns not to give them liquor.

’E’s a little down on drink, Chaplin Bobs; But ’e keeps ns out o’ chink. Don’t yer, Bobs ? Keeping them out of chink is, however, the least of the results that ho aimed at. It was more important to keep thorn out of the hospital and out of the hands of the enemy, and to keep them. fit. All experiments that have been tried in this matter back up the dry canteen and the dry navy. There is little doubt that an army of a million abstainers would, at the end of a strenuous year’s war. show more effectiveness than an army of a million and a-half of non-abstainers with access to liquor would at the end of a similar year. I have heard many short-winded, rod-nosed patriots, bilged at the Equator, talking in the trains of the pour showing that teetotallers would make at the front. Faugh, gentlemen, faugh 1 The other day the cable gave ns the yyords of a doctor : “ The war has revealed the essential weakness of the German nation and their tendency to get oat of condition at a relatively early age.” The euphemism is good; the Germans spell it “bier.”

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19150106.2.11

Bibliographic details

ON THE WATCH TOWER, Issue 15693, 6 January 1915

Word Count
2,591

ON THE WATCH TOWER Issue 15693, 6 January 1915

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