Elmer T Clark.

Social studies of the war online

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Copyright, IQIQ
George H. Doran Company

Printed in the United States of America


One is perhaps guilty of an unwarranted rashness
when he submits another contribution to the multitude
of discussions which have covered so many phases of
the great world war, especially since it comes after
hostilities have ceased, and I gather courage to risk it
only from the fact that the subjects with which these
essays deal have not been adequately interpreted to the
American people. Indeed they have scarcely been
touched at all, and yet they are of vital importance to
our thinking and to the settlement of the lines along
which our social effort is to proceed in the future.

When there are so many voices calling us to follow
them, and since so many of them are calling us in oppo-
site directions, one should present his credentials be-
fore he presumes to speak. During the time which I
spent on the western front with the American armies,
it fell to my unfortunate lot to be drafted many times
for the purpose of guiding sight-seers through the sec-
tor we occupied, and I became very familiar with the
tourist who came out to spend a day and see "the ter-
rible war." Many times they were veritable nuisances,
yet from them we secured a great deal of amusement.
These people, returning to America, have enlightened
the public so thoroughly on all the events and move-


ments of the war that one is sometimes inclined to think
that nothing more remains to be said on the subject.
The shorter the stay abroad the more authority does
one frequently throw into his utterances ; and so I am
persuaded that every person who writes should attach
to his writing a full statement of the experience which
qualifies him to put his pen to paper.

I remember one person who was quite frank in this
regard. The regularity with which I guided tourists
across No Man's Land had become a joke among the
officers of the regiment, and we would sometimes gather
in the evening to recount the experiences of these won-
dering visitors at the front. One night the chaplain
came into the assembly with a copy of a well-known
magazine which contained an article on some general
subject connected with the welfare of the American
soldier. The writer began by announcing that he
had the answer to all the questions the people had
been asking about the welfare of their boys in France,
and as proof of this he cited and numbered his
experiences. He had spent ten days with five hun-
dred ofiicers, presumably on the transport which car-
ried those oflScers to France. He had visited general
headquarters, which was a hundred miles behind the
lines, and had a conversation with Pershing. He had
talked with doctors, officers, and leading people. He
had lived four days in a Y. M. C. A. dug-out at the
front. These and similar facts were the basis on which
he rested his statement that he had the answers to all
the questions the people were asking. Naturally, there


was great glee among the officers when the chaplain
read to us the article in question. Nevertheless the
journalist established a good precedent, and one which
I shall here follow.

Since the entry of the United States into the war
I have made two extended trips through certain of
the European nations involved, and I was accredited
as a correspondent by the foreign offices of both Lon-
don and Paris. The first trip was undertaken for
the sole purpose of making intensive social investiga-
tions for the daily and religious press of America; on
the second I was commissioned to do some special jour-
nalistic work for the Young Men's Christian Associa-
tion, and also to continue the social studies I had pre-
viously made for the press. On these journeys I have
gone into all sections of England, Scotland, Ireland,
France, and Italy, visiting all of the great cities and a
multitude of smaller towns and villages. In more than
one hundred and fifty centers I have studied social
conditions in relation to the soldiers, the civilian pop-
ulation, and the various institutions of the world's
activities. I have gone into the churches, the schools,
the universities, the factories, and the homes of the
people; I have lived in the east end of London and
shared the life of the people down Whitechapel way;
in Rome, London, Dublin, Paris, and a hundred other
places, I have mixed freely with the common people
of the streets. Night after night and day after day
I have watched the evil machinations of the most sinis-
ter agencies working in European society, and for a


year I have delved into the facts and the causes of the
reign of immorality in the warring countries; I know
personally scores of persons involved, I have heard the
stories in courts of justice, I have seen the workings
of the devilish agencies with my own eyes. And in
the same degree I have studied as hest I could the other
social institutions and influences.

As regards the actual war itself, I have not heen
altogether lacking in opportunities for study. I have
been in scores of military centers of all kinds; I have
visited and personally inspected rest camps, base hos-
pitals, convalescent camps, training centers, munition
factories, ordnance plants, lumber camps, aerial train-
ing centers, naval aviation stations, construction camps,
mine bases, destroyer bases, submarine bases, army
headquarters, and ports of entry. I have lived for an
extended period with the fighting men of the American
armies, marching with them across France and mo\'ing
with them into the front lines. For months I have
lived with a division under the enemy's fire, sleeping
in the trenches and dug-outs, moving at will through
support lines, front trenches, and outposts in No Man's
Land, and in every way sharing the experiences of the
men. I have driven a truck for many successive nights
through the American sector, where nothing could
move in the light of day, along roads choked with traf-
fic and swept by the enemy's fire. I have messed and
lived in the wrecked and ruined villages of northern
France, and from the last observation post watched the
enemy in his own lines. I have been through forty air


raids and a dozen gas attacks. I have spoken to soldier
audiences in machine gun emplacements and dug-outs
while the shells burst about us ; I have associated with
enemy prisoners, and have seen our own men mangled,
bleeding, and dying. In the great hospitals I have
undressed them, have served as a stretcher bearer, and
have heard their stories as they lay pale and helpless
at the door of death. But why prolong an egoistic
recital! I have shared in the experiences of the sol-
diers and have lived their life, I have seen the terrors
of the war in all of its departments, and I have investi-
gated social conditions as thoroughly as possible all
over the allied nations which I visited. Out of this
experience I give these essays.

Two or three explanatory remarks should be made.
One is that I approach all questions from the stand-
point of the average man on the streets, and the con-
clusions set forth are from his point of view. I have
been criticized frequently, and my conclusions have
been disputed, by clergymen and others who have
looked at things through their own glasses. Especially
have I been berated for my revelations concerning im-
morality; some have denounced me because they
doubted the statements, others because they did not
think the situation should be revealed. I can only
reply that I have simply told what I absolutely know
to be the facts, and I think the truth should be told.
Two of my close friends took offense when my dis-
patches were first published in regard to the moral
breakdown; I later met both of them in London, and


both of them then apologized for the attitude they had
taken prior to seeing matters for themselves. One in
my position, after having been severely condemned
early in 1917 for the publication of dispatches reveal-
ing the deplorable situation in the cities of Europe, may
be pardoned for welcoming the verifications, like that
of Alfred Noyes in The Saturday Evening Post, which
have been openly admitted since the cessation of hos-

In these articles one will find certain repetitions
here and there, and there will appear differences in the
matter of tense, etc. It is sufficient to say that some
of the material has been published in another fonn, and
all of the articles were written independently and at
different times. The ^ew York Tribune and the St.
Louis Bepuhlic have kindly consented to the reworking
and republication of the material herein. I claim no un-
usual degree of insight or information over other peo-
ple who have visited the war zones ; I only seek to write
from a different standpoint and with absolute freedom.
If the essays throw any light on any phase of society
in these times, and especially if they will enable any
American organization to see how suffering Europe
may be helped, I shall be amply repaid for the writing.




I Immorality in Europe During the War





II What Does Ireland Intend? . . .

III The Root of the Irish Question

IV The Pope and the War ....
V The Religious Situation in the War

VI The Clergy and the People . . .

VII The Church and the War . . .

VIII Reconstruction in Religion after the War 171

IX The Challenge of the War to the Church 201

X The Germans and the Turks .... 226

XI Among the Toilers 240

XII A Heritage of Hate 252

XIII The Cities of Horrible Nights . . . .261



Dr. Elmer T. Clark in Trench Equipment Frontispiece


Proclamations of the Mansion House Con-
ference AND THE Roman Catholic Church
Urging the Irish to Resist Conscription . . 48

Corner of Sackeville Street in Dublin after
THE Sinn Fein Rebellion of 1916 .... 80

Wrecked Shop in Dublin after the Sinn Fein
Rebellion of 1916 80

Irish Anti-Conscription Pledge 96

American Lumbermen in the Scotch Highlands,
The First Contingent of the A. E. F. to Land
on European Soil 128

Y. M. C. A. Hut in the Woods Miles from Any
Town or Habitation 128

German Propaganda: "In the Trenches — 'Be-
hold I Am with You Always' " 232

German Propaganda: "At The Advance Posts —
*I am The Good Shepherd' " 232

"Le Vieux Dieu Allemand." The French Con-
ception OF the German God 256






We are accustomed to hearing that war acts as a
regenerator of the national life, bringing patriotism,
sacrifice, unselfishness, and devotion to principle for-
ward to such a degree as to produce a more virile and
devoted citizenship. It may be that such a contention
has a certain foundation in fact upon the one side, yet
the most casual observer of events in the great Euro-
pean war must be impressed with the fact that this
struggle is breeding enough immorality and vice to
overwhelmingly counter-balance any such spiritual
gains that may perchance accrue. The war has bred
viciousness in an amazing fashion, and there is a de-
mand, therefore, for some very plain speaking and a
frank recognition of a critical condition in order to
insure our social salvation.

To one interested in the problems of society the most
apparent fact in connection with the war is this great



increase in immorality. In every European city vice
is rampant. It stalks the streets openly, day and night,
and with brazen effrontery flaunts itself in the face of
the law, order, and all moral conceptions. So deplor-
able has the situation become that there is small danger
of exaggerating its seriousness. While there has been
a decrease in what we usually regard as the more fla-
grant forms of crime, burglary, highway robbery, mur-
der, and the like, owing to the fact that the men, who
usually commit such crimes, have been placed in the
armies, misbehavior of the more unmentionable type
has received the greatest impetus it has ever known.
And to-day the streets of London, Paris, Rome, and
other cities are veritable cesspools of iniquity. So
much so, indeed, that the sojourner in these places
feels as if they have abandoned all moral restraints and
thrown to the winds all desires and attempts to pre-
serve the purity and the health of their people.

In all of these cities the streets are thronged with
women of the underworld. There are thousands upon
thousands of them, moving here and there in the dark-
ened avenues and plying their trade with the utmost
abandon and boldness. So prolific are they that it is
nothing unusual to see four or five girls accost a man
simultaneously and fall to disputing among themselves
as to which has the prior claim upon his attentions;
and so bold are they that they frequent constantly the
lounges and the tea rooms of the best hotels with per-
fect freedom and confidence. The courtesans have an
especial predilection for the soldiers, and these men,


many of whom come from distant colonies overseas and
are without friends in the great centers of European
population^ fall easy prey to their machinations. So
alarming are the proportions which the vice problem
has assumed on account of the war that the casual
observer is almost constrained to believe that the whole
moral fabric of the nations has been destroyed.

The causes for such a state of affairs are very ap-
parent. In the first place the problem is aggravated by
the thousands of refugees who have been driven into
foreign cities. These refugees have furnished a large
per cent of the immoral women, hundreds of them
drifting to the street under the pressure of economic
and social needs. Then there are the wives and the
widows of the soldiers, who, in the absence of the
husbands, have become degenerate. It is a remarkable
fact that nearly all of these women claim to belong to
this class; I have spoken to a large number of them,
and almost without exception they have claimed that
their husbands are in the army or have fallen on the
fields. One may not judge whether the statements are
true or fvhether the women believe there is an especial
virtue in having a man with the colors, but it is well
known that the absence of the men is one of the largest
factors in the increase of crime. Here is a young
woman whose husband has cared for her in all things,
furnishing her the support, the companionship, and the
amusement which her nature has desired. The young
man is taken into the army, and at once the companion-
ship, the amusement, and most of the support is with-


drawn. The young woman becomes the victim of an
intense loneliness. She can no longer live in the man-
ner to which she has become accustomed, and unless
she is a strong character, or is willing to seek employ-
ment, both for its income and for the occupation itself,
she will have difficulty in adjusting herself to the new
condition. She seeks companionship and diversion,
finding both in the public house or saloon, which is a
social institution and which prevalent ideas permit her
to frequent without a compromise. Xaturally, the
friends she makes at the public house do not strengthen
her moral determinations, and the liquor she drinks
causes her to lose her sense of restraint. And from
this environment she drifts to the streets through a
gradual evolution, and in accordance with the funda-
mental cravings of her nature. This is the history of
thousands of women whose husbands serve with the
armies in the field.

Of the seriousness of this situation there can be no
doubt. Hundreds of soldiers have returned on leave to
their homes to find their wives gone, depraved, diseased,
or the mothers of illegitimate children. The law courts,
temperance societies, and all social agencies have been
forced to take cognizance of the deplorable situation.
Case after case has been brought to public notice until
the list runs into the thousands. A corporal, who was
declared by his officer to be the best type of soldier, came
home from the Somme to spend Christmas with his
family, and when he found the public house had caused
the ruin of his wife he committed murder ; and in pro


nouncing sentence the judge declared from the bench
that "such a man, with such a character, ought not to
be with criminals." "You should make trenches be-
tween our homes and the public house," exclaimed a
young soldier to a Member of Parliament who had
urged his enlistment under promise that his family
would be cared for. Another man, returning from the
trenches, found that his wife had committed suicide,
preferring death to facing her husband after her shame,
leaving three children, including one just born, to break
to their father the news of their mother's infidelity.
Such happenings are so common that they are now
scarcely exceptional; the tragic tales are told daily in
the press and before the courts. So common, indeed,
have they become that the British courts, for the first
time in history, have recognized what in America is
called "the unwritten law."

It must not, however, be supposed that the wrong is
confined exclusively to the women left at home, for the
men have done their share in bringing about the condi-
tion. I was told on good authority, by one who pro-
fessed to know and who had every opportunity of know-
ing, that there had been more than ten thousand proven
cases of bigamy among the overseas troops of the Brit-
ish Empire, and that the government was endeavoring
to solve the difficult problem thus presented. I was one
day approached by an officer in great distress of mind,
because, having been sunmaoned to testify regarding the
suicide of a^ lirother officer, he faced the necessity of
perjuring himself or bearing a witness which would dis-


grace the memory and family of liis friend. The truth
was that the man had married a second wife in France
and, ahout to be discharged from the army, committed,
suicide to avoid the revelations which would inevitably
follow his return to civil life. I have personal knowl-
edge, also, of a case in which an officer attempted to
marry a French girl; the girl, however, took the pre-
caution of writing the mayor of the man's home town,
and she received the intelligence that her suitor had a
wife and children back at home.

On another occasion I talked with a young woman
who had been placed in a difficult situation. Her hus-
band was an officer, the son of a wealthy English fam-
ily, and when he returned from the front on leave he
spent all of his time with another woman and openly
refused to have further relations with his young wife.
The result was that his family promised her a liberal
allowance if she would go to London vnth. one of the
children and give the other to the mother-in-law. With-
in a few months she was notified that the allowance
would be reduced to a point which made, it almost im-
possible for her to live, and her protest brought infor-
mation from a solicitor that the family were under no
obligations to her, that her husband had nothing in his
own right, and that she must either accept the reduc-
tion or get nothing. It was evident that this action was
preliminary to cutting her off entirely, and one could
but be apprehensive of the result when such action
should finally be taken.

I know another case personally, sadder than either of


these mentioned. The husband was in a venereal hos-
pital, from which he went to his home regularly on
visits. Because his wife refused to receive him inti-
mately on account of his condition he placed the small
child in a boarding school and withdrew all support
from his wife, leaving her in London with nothing save
the government allowance of one pound per week. In
this case the man had long been carrying on improper
relations with his wife's younger sister.

The condition of which these cases are spnptomatic
seems to ramify through all classes of society. I have
seen American officers and welfare workers with a largo
number of visiting cards bearing the names of women
respectable in society, judging from their addresses,
which had been given to them on trains, in the streets,
and in motor busses, always with the suggestion of fur-
ther acquaintanceship. I talked with the wife of a ma-
jor in the British army, expressing my surprise at such
a condition, and she said, in effect, ''We are under such
a strain that we have simply agreed to set aside our old
conceptions. My own friends are doing things openly
which would have caused their disgrace before the war.
While the war continues we are seeing nothing and
thinking nothing."

In England the condition was brought prominently
to the fore during the trial of Mr. Pemberton Billing,
Member of Parliament, for libel, a trial which was a
national scandal. Mr. Billing alleged that people of
high estate were guilty of the most unspeakable ex-
cesses, even mentioning in court the name of a former


Prime Minister. It was declared that the Germans
possessed a Black Book containing the names of 47,000
prominent English people thus guilty, and that this in-
formation was used by the enemy not only to further
the demoralization of the social life of England hut
also to prevent activity on- the part of the people thus
known. Over and over again Mr. Billing was de-
nounced by the judge who was trying the case, and he
in turn gave and offered testimony* showing that the
judge's own name was in the Black Book. At the con-
clusion of the disgraceful trial the jury quickly acquit-
ted the defendant, thus proving that they believed the
story of the Book, to the great joy of the hangers-on.

As an aftermath of this trial the journal John Bull,
a very popular and influential weekly which possesses,
however, little to commend it to the conservative or con-
structive forces of the Empire, made these remarks:
"For years past there have been persistent and never
to be stifled whispers and rumors of the prevalence of
these sexual vices — on the part of both sexes — amongst
all the higher ranks of society. Artists, authors, poli-
ticians, musicians, actors, actresses, the clergy — all have
contributed their quota to the volume of evil report. Go
into any West End club, into any theatrical group, into
any artistic coterie, or any political social gathering —
where men and women are free to speak — and you hear
the same names repeated. Go to any week-end party at
a country house, and you find the same scientific selec-
tion and grouping of guests. Before the war the Thing
was bad enough — to-day it is infinitely worse. So far


as women are concerned, the absence of their men at
the front has undoubtedly aggravated the evil. On the
other hand the nervous strain of the war and the idiotic
talk about modern culture and all the rest of it, have
had their effect upon the neurotic and erotic tempera-
ments of men blase with the ordinary attractions of
life — with the result that to-day sexual perversity is
more rife than ever it has been before. It is no part
of my intention recklessly to pillory the principal de-
votees of these devilish arts-^ — but I solemnly warn them
that unless they take the hint given by recent events
and disown and discard their abnormal practices, no
consideration of either fear or convention will restrain
me from publishing a Black Book of my own. I do not
say it will contain forty-seven thousand names, but
there are certainly forty-seven — ^known to every man
and woman about town — the publication of which would
shake the foundations of society. They include those
of peers and their sons and daughters, of politicians and
their wives, of actors and actresses, of authors and ar-
tists, of clerics and ministers — ^established' and non-
conformist — all famous in their respective spheres, and
all at present protected by that weird free-masonry

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Online LibraryElmer T ClarkSocial studies of the war → online text (page 1 of 18)