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Whek the great soldier who last November passed over to the Paying the majority told a mass Price. meeting of his fellowcitizens at. Manchester on October 22. 1912, that "war will take " place the instant the German forces by " land and sea are certain of victory, and " that Germany strikes when Germany's " hour has struck," ho was laughed to scorn. Nay, more, he was abused, belittled, and held up to odium by writers and politicians who were not. worthy to untie his shoestrings. We can recall the shameful campaign. The whole pack of anti-militarists were at his throat. The. 'Manchester Guardian,' the "Daily News,' tho Labor party, the Radicals, the Free Church leaders, the 'British Weekly,' the Ramsay Macdonalds and Robertson Nieolls and Arnold Bennetts—this purblind race of miserable men did not shrink from, but ' rather gloried in, hurling their Chinese .stinkpots at the man who, above all others, was the most qualified to speak and to warn his countrymen against, tho danger that he and others knew was as certain in its coming as the Day of Judgment. To-day it is these same voluble a.nd protesting blind leaders of the blind who are most shrill in their insistence that tho nation must do more than it has yet done. "Wo hate conscription," says the ' British Weekly,' which had nothing but words of pious horror for the Field-marshal's Manchester wickedness, " but we hate defeat, infinitely more." Of course it does. It has always and ever been the individuals and parlies who have declaimed against tho necessary measures to avoid defeat who most fear it. As a matter of history, however, it is as well to remember that Lord Roberts never at any time even suggested that Britain should establish anything in the nature of a Continental conscript army. He indignantly repudiated the charge, which, for obvious reasons, was the creation of the. enemies of every class of citizen army into which an element of compulsion has entered. Nor is it possible for the men who are now awakening from their long stupor of smug content to affirm that their critics are merely wise after the event. The existence and reality of the German Menace were known to thousands, and, happily for the United Kingdom, the Empire, and tho liberties of mankind, that knowledge, as far as the Navy was concerned, was utilised, if not to the full, at least beyond what would have been possible had the party of antimilitarism had their way. In the light of what all men now know of German policy and designs, we cannot contemplate without a shudder what would beyond peradventuve have happened had the Radical-Labor party in the Mother Land, by some dire mischance, been in power during the past five or ten years. At this hour the statesmen and people of England are looking back in thankfulness, though with blanched cheeks, on the nearness of the peril from which, in the merciful dispensation of Providence, they havo escaped. And with this consciousness there has come, as was inevitable, a. reaction. People and Press who *ix months since, spokes in arrogant scorn of Earl Roberts and his appeals for a citiwn army are now eager to £o even further than the- "still strong voice," of tho veteran Field Marshal asked. Tho men who were not ashamed to berate the Earl and publicly to charge Sir Edward Grey with having dragged England into war: who would have had Britain remain neutral, who would never, never have compulsion, and who relied upon the Navy, for which they never did a hand's turn, as all-sufficient—-these are tho men who are now discussing conscription as a probability. It is the Empire's good fortune to have sane men for its rulers in this the. crucial hour of ita existence—men who, while not discarding the possibility that they may .even yet havo to resort to force, are not likely to lose- their heads or to depart lightly from the course they have long since mapped out. They know tho nature- of their tremendous task, and we are fully conscious that they will carry it through to a victorious close. Compulsion will only come when the leaders of all the great parties in the State find that they can no longer rely on the spirit and s-elf-sacrificc of their fellow-countrymen. The nation blundered badly when it rejected Lord Roberts's seasoned wisdom; but it wonld blunder even more if, at this late hour, it compelled tho Government to depend upon tho forced rather than on the willing service of ite manhood in defence of the Empire's honor and integrity.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19150114.2.26

Bibliographic details

Evening Star, Evening Star, Issue 15700, 14 January 1915

Word Count
768

Evening Star Evening Star, Issue 15700, 14 January 1915

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