G. Stanley (Granville Stanley) Hall.

Morale, the supreme standard of life and conduct online

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of soldiers that become well acquainted there are in-
dividuals, sometimes officers and sometimes privates,
to whom in danger their comrades turn instinctively
for their cue.

3. Some temperaments are able to establish their
morale against fear by working themselves up before-
hand to a full realization of their peril and of the
chance of a wound or even death, and accepting the
situation once and for all. We have the best instance
of this that I know of in the records of a number of
French youths. They thoroughly realized that they



had entered upon a course which might have a fatal
termination, and devoted themselves at the outset, as
martyrs if need be, to a cause which was far greater
than their own life. Having made this great decision,
they found it gave them strength and poise in critical
moments. Not very many, however, save intellectuals,
and by no means all of them, are capable of this type
of conscious self-immolation.

4. Far more acquire a kind of fatalism. Some
optimists come to believe that the bullet they are to
stop has not been cast, while more find relief in the
sense that the lot has already been cast in the lap of
Fate and that they are to live or die more or less
irrespectively of anything that they can do. This is
akin to the Stoic fatalism, the Mohammedan kismet,
or the Puritan will of God.

5. Some, probably by no means as many as church-
men expected, find genuine nervous poise in a relig-
ious belief in life after death. This is probably no-
where near so effective in modern armies as it was
among the old Teutons, who believed in Walhalla; or
among the Moslems, who held that the dead warrior
passes to the lap of the houris in Paradise ; or in
Cromwell's Puritan "Ironsides." The sentiment
lingers on, but more in the realm of poetic fancy and
dim, vague feeling than in conscious conviction. The
sense that death will bring honor to friends, or be a
sacrifice which the country or the cause needs, in-
volves a higher type of idealism than most soldiers
can make into a very potent assuager of fear. Des-



pile all that is said of the glories of dying for one's
country or for liberty, the analyses that have been
made of patriotism show it to be a complex of many
elements but not yet of prime significance to this end.

6. Probably the chief and most practical factor in
the conquest of fear is familiarity. Long before he
actually smells powder, the soldier's fancy irresistibly
dwells much upon his possible wounds or death, while
as soon as he iiears the front he sees the victims of
battle all about him and even sees his friends and com-
rades fall. He serves his turn on the burial squad and
has to bring back the dead and wounded to the rear.
This gives a certain immunizing callousness to it all,
and he becomes very familiar with the thought that
he may be the next victim and so accepts the fact
with growing equanimity. The seasoned fighter learns
to fight on even though his mates are falling on all
sides in death or agony. Human nature can get used
to anything, and wont raises the threshold of temi-
bility higher than anything else.

II. Morale and death. In peace death and every-
thing connected with it has always been the most
solemn of all themes. The sick- and the death-bed,
the last tender services, the final breath, the closing
of the eyes, pallor, coldness, the preparation of the
body, the shroud, coffin, funeral, entombment, and
mourning, with all its depression and its trappings,
all these things make a supreme appeal to the human
heart and mind. The transition from warm and ac-
tive life to a putrefying corpse has always shocked



the human soul as nothing else lias had the power to
do. Every known savage tribe sooner or later puts
its dead away because the mind and the senses of man
cannot endure the phenomena of decomposition.
Hence interment, cremation, burial in water, desicca-
tion in air, towers of silence, are all to disguise or di-
vert the soul from this supreme horror. Sepulchers,
monuments, cairns, pyramids, and epitaphs, are also
disguises (Deckphenomene) , just as our customs in
dress from the primitive fig-leaf, and also personal
adornments and toilet and marriage ceremonials,
have as one of their motives the diversion of attention
from the organs and functions of sex to other parts of
the body or to secondary sex qualities. Many tell us
that the prime motive for a belief that there is such a
thing as a soul, that it survives the body, and that its
fate may be more or less followed through the vicissi-
tudes of a future life, was to distract attention from
rotting carrion to a more beautiful set of images, and
to relieve the shock of the primitive fear that death
had ended all. All funeral rites serve two contrasted
ends. On the one hand, they either help us to realize
that our friends, whose death perhaps we have not per-
sonally seen, are really dead, which is so hard for us
to conceive, and that they will return to us at least in
the form of dreams unless the ghosts are thus laid ; or
else they are to turn away our thoughts from the
physical phenomena of the decay of the flesh to mem-
ories and hopes, and to mitigate the shock by a com-
pensatory belief that some part of the dead yet lives.


War brings not only the community but especially
the soldier to a radically different view of death. He
is not only liable to see his comrades mutilated in
every conceivable way and pass in a moment from the
most intense life to the most agonizing death, but he
must often himself gather the mangled fragments of
the bodies of his comrades, and sometimes, in excava-
tions or by the disentombments caused by shells, en-
visage every stage of decomposition of those previ-
ously interred in ways that Barbusse 2 has so grue-
somely described but which even pictorial artists for
bear to portray. Thus to the soldier every kind ol
camouflage of death is rudely torn away, and he meets
it in all its ghastliness at first hand. Not only this,
but while in peace murder is the worst of all crimes,
it now becomes the chief of all duties, for to kill is
the goal of all his training and preparation. He must
inflict death with all its horrible sequels upon as many
of the foe as possible. Worst of all, in some sense, is
the fact that whereas in civil life death usually comes
to the old, the weak, or the sick, and occurs only at
rare intervals to those we know and love, now it sud-
denly sweeps off masses of the strongest and best in
the very prime of life. This brings death home to the
soldier and the community in a far closer way. The
soldier must harden himself to all this at short notice
as best he can and to such a degree that his efficiency
be not abated, his courage fail, or his spirits droop.
This is the acme of all the strains put upon his morale.

'Under Fire.. Tr., Lend., Dent, 1917.



The responses, both conscious and unconscious, to
this situation are manifold, and psychology is not yet
able to evaluate or even tabulate them all.

1. A few, as we have seen, react by bravado. They;
affect to laugh death in the face, and make ghastly,
jests about the most agonizing of all these experi-
ences. With some temperaments this initial affecta-
tion of callousness is so instinctive and often effective
a method of hardening a soul to travel this viaticum
of woe that we must not condemn it without some of
the insight that sympathy with the dire need of this
emergency can bring.

2. Others develop the impressions and convictions
of their early religious teaching and are more or
less steadied by a belief, or at least a hope, that if
their bodies die there is an immortal part that will
not only survive but meet a reward in some "boat-
house on the Styx/' This inveterate instinct undoubt-
edly acts unconsciously and buoys up many a heart
without any very conscious conviction and without
any form of outer expression, for the soldier thinks it
cowardly to revert suddenly to a faith which he has
neglected through all his post-adolescent years. Only
poets and spiritualists or pronounced religionists are
able to formulate these anticipations of personal im-
mortality, or even to conceive that the souls of those
who die continue to strive above, as in Kaulbach's fa-
mous cartoon, or that they go either to Walhalla or
to the houris. The latter view is so in line with the
deep instinct to find in love compensation for the



hardships of war that it makes this creed perhaps the
ideal one for the soldier. No doubt the experiences of
war tend to develop at least secretly every such pro-
clivity where it exists, and this has been best and most
sublimely expressed in the often very confessional
memoirs and letters of French soldiers.

3. Many, however, if not most soldiers to-day, re-
fuse consciously to come to very definite terms with
the problem of their own death but only feel, as
Winifred Kirkland* well puts it, that somehow their
immolation, if the worst comes, will not be in vain
and that their influence will be some kind of a perva-
sive power for good, even if it works impersonally and
sub specie aeternitalis. Their life is so intense and
their effort so strenuous that the merit of it all cannot
be entirely lost. They are on the path to glory and it
cannot all end in nothingness, even if oblivion close
over their personality. Somewhere, somehow in the
cosmic order their life and death will not have been
in vain.

4. It is the very fact of the soldier's super-vitality-
and-activity, which means the farthest possible re-
move from death, that makes so many soldiers opti-
mistic fatalists and causes them to feel if notthatthey
have a charmed life that they will somehow escape.
The glow and tingle, and perhaps especially the ere-
thism of war, often make the healthy soldier feel that
he has too strong a hold upon life for death to be able
to stop him.

'The New Death, Boston, 1918.



There are more than three hundred distinct grave-
yards definitely set apart for the dead in the three
hundred miles that vStretch from Flanders to Switzer-
land, which is thus itself to-day the world's greatest
cemetery. More and more friends at home feel as
Harry Lauder did about his son that he ought al-
ways to rest in this vast field of glory, and many
writers have expressed the belief that these "God's
acres" should henceforth and forever be too hallowed
for any armies to fight over and ought to be more de-
fensive than fortifications. In the early stages of the
war many who were buried here, often uncoffined, in
trenches near where they fell, and perhaps sewed in a
brown army blanket with a Union Jack laid over
them, 4 will never be identified. Not a few of these
earlier cemeteries had their crosses or inverted bottles,
containing the names of the soldiers, torn away, while
very many bodies were disinterred by the shell fire of
later engagements, and many trenches had to be run
through them without involving reburials. But since
then every effort has been made by special organiza-
tions in of the allied countries to preserve the
identity of every fallen soldier no matter how mauso-
lized his body was. In England a Graves Registra-
tion Commission under General Fabian Ware was
appointed, which sought to trace everyone from the
last time he was seen to his final resting place, and to
send information and souvenirs to his relatives. Iden-

4 The Care of the Dead, London, 1916. See also Lord Northcliffe :
At the War, in the chapter "Search for the Missing," and Alfred Ney :
Le Droit des Morts (1918), with 70 photographs of graves.



tification was later stamped on an aluminum tape,
and the exact site of each grave entered in a register.
There are various kinds of wooden and iron markers,
with separate lots for Orientals. These registration
units have done much to bind France and England.
When the English came the French said, "We leave
you our trenches and our dead," and have given the
English permanent cemeteries. The desire by the
friends for assurance that their dead have found a
grave, that it is being tended, and that they "lie com-
fortable" all this is now very effectively taken care of
by voluntary means, and here the Red Cross has done
some of its best work, verifying records and affixes
with dates, collecting everything found on the body
and sending it to relatives, and answering every in-
quiry possible.

Major Pierce was given complete charge of our
Graves Registration Bureau, which marks and erects
crosses, uses a symbolic medallion, and photographs
graves collectively and individually for the next of
kin. It is more and more felt to be a blessed service to
rescue from obscurity those who have fallen. Larger
monuments are to be erected by the different coun-
tries, and an international federation has been estab-
lished to develop military sculptures for them. Land
was permanently given by the French to the Ameri-
can Expeditionary Force, and several of the larger
plots have been fenced and posted while smaller ones
were arranged near the front, with a unit of two of-
ficers and fifty men provided for each divisional ceme-



tery, the size of these units to be increased when nec

Provision is made in all countries to separate if
possible the dead of the enemy from those of the home
army. In Germany great attention is given to this
subject, and competitions have also been instituted
for the best tombs for individuals and for public
group monuments. 5 Some of these plans are most
striking and seem to us in shocking taste. Some are
high mounds like those of the Vikings for burying
men in mass on the battle-field. Some are solemn mau-
soleums, others circular enclosures; some suggest
cairns, pyramids, towers; one is a solid block-house;
many have swords, spears, and helmets, while the iron
cross is very common. From one a dozen tall parallel
spears emerge. Metal insignia often half cover the
stone work. One vast tree-shaped monument is cov-
ered with individual placques. The characters are
often runic. One shows two rows of hands, twelve in
all, each bearing an upright sword.

As to mourning, President Wilson approved the
recommendations of the Woman's Committee of The
Council of National Defense that three-inch black
bands be worn whereon a gilt star might be placed for
each member of the family who lost his life in the
service. England was the first to advocate simpler
mourning and the restrictions of crpe. Even in the
Boer War, Queen Victoria suggested that the morale
of the people might be improved by less black. Franca

* Soldatengraler und Kriegsdenkmale. Wien, 1915.



followed to some extent this movement in England,
and leaders of fashion there did much to simplify
mourning and to make the hat, the veil, shoes, and
dress less ultra-fashionable. This movement, while it
has impressed itself somewhat upon ultra-fashion-
ables, has had a far more beneficent effect on the
women of the middle and lower classes who desire to
show in their habiliments the sorrow they so pro-
foundly feel but lack means or are engaged in occu-
pations which make ceremonial mourning difficult.

Cora Harris has written a mystical story of Lee and
Grant and other great fighters of our Civil War going
to Prance in spiritual shape, hovering above the regi-
ments and guiding the brain and nerving the heart of
the novice. She might have gone farther and imag-
ined Washington, Jackson, Paul Jones, Lafayette,
and also very many of the heroes of defeat (see W. J.
Armstrong's The Heroes of Defeat, Cincinnati, 1905)
thus aiding our troops. It is well to remember here
that many believe that the gods themselves were orig-
inally worshiped as ancestors, and that in the code of
the Japanese bushido the dead were a tremendous
power in her war with Russia. We should do far more
than we do now "lest we forget." The best memorial
to the dead is to carry on their work, and there are
many who believe that this country in its past has
gone farther than any other toward ignoring what it
owes to those who have given their lives that we may
be free and prosperous. Most that we are able to do
we owe to ancient benefactors, the memory of far too



many of whom has perished from among men. While,
therefore, we may be less certain of personal survival
and reward in another world for those who die in a
great cause, we can do very much to give them a com-
pensatory mundane immortality that must make a
powerful appeal to every soul capable of loyalty and
devotion to a cause greater than himself. From all
this we see that the morale of those who go out never
to return, and whose last words, whatever they were,
we shall tend to cherish as a kind of morituri saluta-
mus, as well as that of their survivors in the field and
at home, has no more fitting index than the way in
which those who have met the great defeat are en-
shrined in our memory.

The only meaning of the new death is how it affects
life. To the philosopher who sees and knows that
there is nothing beyond the grave, fictions about the
soul's future have a very high and a very diverse but
a solely pragmatic value. We know nothing whatever
about it and probably never can. Death is simply the
great tabula rasa on which the imagination of every
race, creed, and even individual paints, and to the
very few who can think unselfishly about it the holo-
caust of war only intensifies the consciousness of
nescience. It is the great void in which the intellect
discerns nothing but total blackness but which feel-
ing, wishes, fear, and fancy always people with their
creations; and these creations do profoundly affect
our lives and also the way in which we meet the
thought or the reality of our own death. It is these



creations that war stimulates and makes very real. 6
The soldier's attitude toward death is often very
fluctuating; it varies inversely with the love of life.
Sometimes when in great depression he exposes him-
self, hoping that a bullet will bring surcease from all
his troubles and feeling that death would be a most
welcome relief. The scholarly soldier asks what is
the use of all his study if he is to be cut off. If there
is a future life it must be a rather drab platonic com-
munion with ideas which is more suggestive of death
than life, as Plato defined philosophy as the love and
cult of death. Again, the young man feels that he has
done too little to justify his survival and perhaps finds
comfort in the face of death in the conviction that he
never will. Again, he revolts at the prospect of his

The best collection of data illustrating this is found in Maurice
Barres* The Faith of France (Chapter X) where he prints the sys-
tematically collected letters of many young French soldiers who
wrote down their own thoughts and feelings about death and later
suffered it, to each of which he adds his own comments. See also
Lettres d'un Soldat (Paris, 1916, 164p.) by an anonymous painter, a
solitary and obscure genius who, like Olivier in Holland's Jean
Christophe, every day made in mind the supreme sacrifice. Even in
the trench and under fire he brooded on the beauty of the starry
night, dawn, etc. The macabre of battle could not keep his spirits
down. His intellect found little stimulus in war but his spontaneous
emotions filled his- soul to overflowing. Thus the soul tends to heal
its own wounds like a skillful surgeon, often even while the critical
faculties looking coldly on know that these are only consolations.
See also P. Bourget's Le Sens de la Mort, wherein the skeptical sur-
geon, Dr. Ortigue, dying of cancer and knowing death to be extinc-
tion, operates in his hospital at the front till the end. His words
and example bring his far younger wife to share his belief and to vow
to commit suicide with him in the end. She is saved, however, from
this after he dies by the example of a wounded young soldier who
dies like a true Christian extending the crucifix over her. The faith
of this hero overcame the skepticism of the scientist and the young
wife promises to live. A still more sublimated and ecstatic faith is
found in Borsi's A Soldier's Confidences with God; A Spiritual
Colloquy (1918). Other books on this subject are L. de Grandmaison's
Impressions de Guerre de Pretres Soldats (1916), and L. Bloy's
Meditation's d'un Solitaire (1916).



nappy youth so tragically and suddenly closed. On
the other hand, if he has been good, he rejoices that he
may be cut off before age with its temptations can
spoil him, feeling perhaps that he is better now than
he will ever be again. He has accomplished little in
the world and perhaps his whole existence is to be
futile and vacant. Then he alternates to a kind of
animal hatred of death. Later he may avow atheism
and think that those w*ho share that belief and the
mystics are more truly religious than the Christians.
Thus the soldier in his secret soul is prone under the
stimulus of impending death to develop the germinal
attitudes of about every philosophy and creed, one
after another, flitting from positive to negative views
according to his mood or the changing circumstances
of war. Scattered through the confessional books of
soldiers we can already find abundant examples of
this, and it would be easy, if there were space, to col-
lect an anthology to illustrate it, although it more
often takes place, especially in more uneducated and
inarticulate souls, rather below than above the thresh-
old of consciousness. But it is certain that the war
has stimulated active souls to repeat in the often un-
plummeted depths of their feeling about all the efforts
that man has made to come to terms with the King
of Terrors. 7

As I write (February, 1920), Sir Oliver Lodge, a
notable British physicist best known for his studies

'Arthur Graeme West: The Diary of a Dead Officer. This sol-
dier in his letters and poems illustrates more of these moods than
any other I have found, but it is most common in French memoirs.

55 *


of the ether, bereaved by the loss of his son in the war,
is making a very popular and lucrative tour of this
country, propagating a kind of spiritism which Sir
Edward Clodd says "drags into the mire whatever
lofty conceptions of a spiritual world have been
framed by mortals." He tells us that spirits have
bodies of the same size and form as ours and that in
their world, which for most of them is neither Heaven
nor Hell, there are "animals, trees, and flowers'* and
also other things which cannot be told of in the vo-
cabulary of earth, because speech is more or less of
a nonconductor in these interworld conversations.
We all have two bodies, according to Sir Oliver, and
the spiritual, post mortem body at first finds the next
world very like ours; but as evolution rules in the
world of spirits as well as in ours, there are no
breaks, and as time passes, most spirits grow ab-
sorbed in their own environment and lose touch with
ours unless they visit us on missionary tours. His
lectures and prestige have caused an extraordinary
revival of cults of the occult, and demands for even
the ouija board, which he has made a fad, have sud-
denly far outrun the supply, while the sanctums of
mediums and fortune-tellers are crowded as never
before, especially by those who have lost dear ones in
the war. Long ago the Catholic, and lately the Eng-
lish church protested against this strange recrudes-
cence of the quintessence of all the superstitions of the
past, of which ghost cults are the very core and of
which, strange to say, nearly all the modern scientific



victims are physicists, who have failed to heed the
good old precept, "Physics beware of metaphysics."
It is a consolation for mourners to feel that their dear
ones are still near, and it is a cheap and easy method
to encourage this belief as a sort of pragmatic first-
aid to scab or bind up the wounds of death. Why not
let survivors cherish so fond a wish and believe it
true if it have real therapeutic value- The dead do
live on in memory and in the influence of their deeds
and words, and we may hope that they love us beyond
the bourn. But the true comforter teaches survivors
to live without them, to close up ranks and "'carry
on" till we, too, cross the "great divide." To bring
them back is regressive and degenerative for both

Online LibraryG. Stanley (Granville Stanley) HallMorale, the supreme standard of life and conduct → online text (page 4 of 25)