ON THE WATCH TOWER
[By Abies,.] Th* real cause of the war is being discussed with vigor still, not that there is any doubt, but that stupid topsy-turvy aocmnts of it- are constantly being put kf*?& by the enemy .- and the mail pours upon us the absurdities published a month or two ago. There is. as I say, no kind of doubt, yet there is a kind of mystery about the. German attitude. They are not fools or ignoramuses: still, they appear to be unanimous in maintaining the contention that we caused the war with a superSatanic ingenuity. How ran an intelligent nation agree on so patent an absurdity? What is it that prevents the German mind from acting in the usual way in respond to obvious truth? There is dearly something in the works that ought not to be there. Indeed, tho whole case la a, psychological study. There positively is such a thing as the wish, being father to the thought, and tho judgment being bo obscured and over-ridden by passion that it abdicates its functions altogether. In cool blood it is hard to realise that there is such a thing as a man '" convinced against his will," who continues to be of the same opinion, still. We- are reluctant to believe that j>eop!e are not- deliberately lying when they make statements o» matters in which their pockets ami their feelings aro deeply involved—statements deviating widely from our own, whose interests and feelings are on the other *ide>. It is a fact, however, that as the eir refracts of bends the .<■• tin's li-ght - c o that we see him before he rises and after hj? sets, so self-interest and natural afi'ect;irti bend the rays of truth and render the interested person unreliable, even when he is not intentkmallv dishonest. i
******* Many a man who is really insolvent s-ac-ily persuades himself that in- can pull through, and so he works himself deeper into the slough. Many a man who is taking his employer'* money do?? really believe that he will pay it back before long. He does not believe that he is a thief. It- never entered his head that he i.s in exactly lb.;? Sams class as those who V.ave "been ionvul out avA ce-.wvActed. l\v«w they of the broad arrow have a private
opinion that they hm\ beastly bad luck in being caught. When we set out to (Study Germany's delusions we must takethis human peculiarity with us. and we must note that the belief of absurdities in history does not stand alone. There j.a furious hate, and an effort to translate it. into contempt. Germany accuses us of being cowards, hypocrites, and the incarrtitkm of treachery. What is the basis if all these charges? Why. merely hot b'eod and blind wrath. I'.v everv mean?
at thf command >jt Germany the people heve been taught to regard England as the enemy, the one Power that stood in the path* of the Futherkuvd. This has '. to be belifed much more passionately than we FngW-h ever believed that Rusfi.i wa«. cm enemy. Germans were also taught to regard ti- as a. wholly decadent people, who in it would be ea.-y to rob. i'hey. in fact, came to feci themselves as de jure in possession of cur estate, and regarded our continued o U itpatkm with itching impatience. Their statesmen a ho believed that v-e were too indolent to light, and that we would wait in blind security till they were itady to take possession of the said rotate. Xow the hate is the fueling summoned to jestify the erirne- they proposed to perpetrate. The rcntempt is largely due to the silly laxity with which we allowed those who hat'-rj u., to come and go. and see and trade among u>. The < owardice means that we were reluctant r ■ right, and had ~:Vm propc-ed to dis;<:ni._ Tho treachery implies that after ranging hack arid pleading fen- pene to the last moment we' ,uiddcnly struck out from the shoulder and landed one on the ? ueering " kotik " of the nation that was determined to fight. Tins was highly improper, and quite unexpected. It is the tierman custom to rattle the sabre', to flourish the mailed fi.-t, and to strut in flnning armor. -,, that when the Teuton g"<e.-. to war no one k-;<:\ be .-surprised. But <-■!!!• way is to gu quietly about our business, and interfering wit.ii nobody till nune bully makes' himself unbearable! when we --tiddenly sr*sfen up and hue. k him down. That is what the Germans mean by n each-try. Some good people are troubling themselves about the future. How -ad it will he to h.avc the Germans bating and desii'sin,' r< after the war is over! Well, the I'tire for that is to give them a sound iirashing. it is a thing that many Eng- , i.-.h people just now are reluctant' to adnit, but it i.-s a fact all the sain;', that ■ve catmot but respect the strong. Might, may not be exactly synonymous with right, but might and honor and mightand respect will usually be found keeping step. Evert bate will not long dog the conqueror if be has not abused his strength. It is clear that the Germans are modifying their opinion of our solAt . first they thought: '■Hello! Here's something funny front England !" But after a few attempts to chase Tommy out of his trenches a distinct feeling of respect arose in the breast of the immediate antagonist. In the first week of rcnifliiit the fraternising that has recently been indulged in would have been ir.iposdble. Tho sauer-krauters would have scorned any recognition of the creature they had been taught to despise. Fighting soon knocks our silly contempt and '-oneeit out of u?. We ourselves respect the Maori?, because they fought us well. The Australians despise the hbrks, for they never fought anything worth mentioning. An Australian who was travel ting with me, oneo was. surprised to see .-!, Maori get into the train, and to observe that men spoke to him as an equal. i-L> mentioned the inferior position of the black, and asked me what this recognition of the Maori meant. I said : '• It just means that the Maori put up a decent fight, while your blacks let ymi walk over them." On tho same principle we respect the. Boers. They asserted their manhood in the one way that all the world reoognises. We re'spect the daps for the same reason. If we were now to pat<h up a peace -with, tho Germans the old hatred would r.till go on. and much of the old contempt. But if we. give them a sound basting they will respect us for ever, and respect is the best basis for friendship. * * * * * a # How long the war is to last is the cr°at question just now. I fear it must V'o either a long and exhausting bout now, or else, a series of wars with an uncertain peaee between them. There was an attempt at. peace with Napoleon in 1802, but it lasted only a few mouths. It, was not possible to maintain peace with him without giving away all that there was to fight for. We liad agreed to give up Malta, but as Napoleon interfered with Switzerland immediately alter the peace was patched up Britain refused to evacuate the island. She said : " You have gone on extending your power just as if you were engaged in successful war, while you expect us to give up our conquest?. That is not even-handed justice between nation and nation." It was over this question that Napoleon bullied our Ambassador before all the others as if he were a pickpocket. " So you are determined to go to war! We have fought for 15 years. I suppose you want to fight for 15 years more. The English wish for war; but if they are the first to draw the sword I will be the last to put it in Its seabbnrd. They have no respect for treaties. Henceforth they must be riirouded in black crape." etc. This harangue was delivered with such violence r«f tone and gesture that Lord Whitworth w*fl debating in his mind whether be s4-eWd draw his sword if Napoleon struck him. Having finished his tirade he withdraw, and left the Ambassadors to despatch their couriers all over Europe announcing that war -was about to be resumed, " Tha brief peace was highly disadvantageous to Britain, for she had disbanded her forces. We must have no such peace in this case. * * # * ■ # * # ■ln recent cables there ar*> two or three hints as, to the ■end of the war. Sir John French eaid: " This is my Jaet visit to Kngland till tho end of the war." That may be taken to imply that he dees not expect the strife to go on for a. long term vi vear». The Eituwan a£ Austria Is als;>.
reported to have referred tn peace several times in a recent address, oait that may have been only to encourage the. nation, or it may look in the direction of a separate peace for Austria-, which is not entirely improbable should the. Russians bo able to keep up their career of victory in the south-east, at;d should Rumania, keep in her present state of mind, which seems to bo threatening to Austria. We are. however not to take seriously the statement that she will begin her campaign in the middle of Fcbrua>y. It is very improbable that she would give Mich notice. The must striking indication of peace is, however, ibe curious proclamation from 'Berlin that "Germany wishes the enemy to know that she can pay no indemnity, for she means to spend the last farthing in fighting." That is intended as bluff to discourage- us. But in the background of it tlicit l is the realisation that the Allies may be in a position to talk about a- war indemnity before long. A few months ago Utrmans could not have conceived such a. tiling possible In tho early stages of tho war the indemnities to ho paid by us were snokon of as tw-eurity for war loans. Xow the hoot is sliding on to the l other leg, and this tactless piece of bounce shows that Germans begin t, > know it. That is the first step toward* giving in, though I believe that she will yet make a. desperate and tremendous eft'jTt to rehabilitate! herself. The Kaiser is. however, coming into touch with the mothers by ordering out the levies of youth in advance, and by requiring hoys to leave school and go into training, it was in doing that sort of thing that Napoleon began to find himself at the -end of his tether. The mothers' were against him, and at last the recruits secured were far fewer thnp the forces sent to round them up.
******* ! " Nation shall rise against, nation and kingdom aginst kingdom, and great earthquakes shall he in divers places, and famines and pestilences, and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from Heaven." S,, one of my prophetic correspondents informs me. Ho comments also that " the wars and rumors of wars are already with us. ami are admitted to be on a. scale never before known. The great earthquake has happened in Italy, j the Lome wi. ibe l'ayvao;. You way say that the fearful sight* and great signs from Heaven are ln-cking to till up tile picture. But even it' the prodigy of Tlalky's comet be not admitted, which it ought'to be, as fulfilling that part of the prophecy, another comet may Hash upon the. astonished world at any moment." Just so; Halley's comet has d .mo duty eu a greatmany occasions timing the past 2.000 years. It preceded the fall of Jerusalem, accompanied various pestilences of the Dark Ages, and fright mod the souls of the English just before the battle of Hastings, and is still swinging on in its pendulumlike career, ready to visit the earth in company with other earthquakes run I other wars that are in the womb of (lie future. The truth oi the matter is that there is. almost always a- war going on somewhere, that not a year parses without great earthquakes, and that the heavens avr rarely without a coiner visible to astronomers. ar_h.-a.--r. Hence the conjunction of ih.'.-e things do not impress m:> at- ail as marking out any particu!a>- lime for the end of the world, especially as the prophecy quoted was fulljllcd tinr- than lei centuries ag'j. They say you can't, have your cake ar.d eat it. too: hut the pi-opheev-monget- has nevn done with his prophecy, Like the brook, it goes on for evei-.
The Germans may be a scientific people, but. like ordinary mortals, they are .slow to idee up their prepossessions." They are hard drinkers from of ~ld. I.nther "himself is credited with the authorship of a drinkimr song, which mav lie translated thus: W ho loves not wine. iv..man, ami song. Remains a fool all hi-, life long. The. Germans live up to that doctrine of the' little monk, if to no other, and. of course have a. philosophy which justifies their fa.-tes. The belief among drinker* that there is sump special virtue in liquor fortifying man for arduous tasks is in veteiate. .Hence, the cable, of the other day- •'lf is an" established fact that the German, officers induced the temperate Osmanlis to drink cognac before the attack. .Many of the Turks fed from dizziness before reaching the liussian bayonets." All modern investigation has gone in thejJiro, tion of disproving the claims made for alcohol as a help in great emergencies and as a. lortiiieatinn against severe cold. Vet Germans go on believing h\ these exploded theories; not onlv for themselves, but for their uniiuired Turkish a.!hes. Xo true Mohammedan would have drunk "wine." for that is expressiv forbidden by the Prophet, lint .spirits were not invented in his day, so he did not phi, e ;niy taboo on them. Hence, with a very common and very human reliance on the letter, Turks do not wholly object to the product of the still. Thev will probably know better next time. On the night of the battle of Inkerman the Russians made the mistake of priming their men well with vodka before thev set out to attaek the British. The results are in history. This time the Russians were sober, and have, no doubt thanked God that their enemies had the benefit of the cognac. * * * * * * * What's in a. name'.' A general by any other name would right as well. Still, ft is a pleasant and friendly coincidence that our commander's name is " French." It is also curious that the. names of the two commanders on the western front can exchange heads and tails without detriment, thus: .1 I) F F H F F R F X G 11 You will tind the Frenchman on the left and the Briton on the. right. You can read them straight through, and also rely on them from top to bottom, l" don't know what this curious fact betokens iu the realm of portents, but lest too much importance should oe attached to the omen L may point out that there are other cases, more or 'less connected with the war. in which a. similar curiosity may bo discovered. Write "Kultnr" above "Turkey." and you will see a hint of the fate of the Ottomans. Write " Kaiser" above
'■ Servia." also "Kaiser' 1 below "Turkey," and though the spelling is a little antique, the meaning is clear. The relation of Pots-dam to Damascus, and the like, you can trace out for yourself. These things are just as important as some of the prophetic, interpretations that 1 have shot at my door every week. With a little juggling almost any name can be made to pass for the number of the l beast, for Antichrist, or fin- anything else that vou hate.
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ON THE WATCH TOWER, Evening Star, Issue 15705, 20 January 1915
ON THE WATCH TOWER Evening Star, Issue 15705, 20 January 1915
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