Maurice G. (Maurice Garland) Fulton.

National ideals and problems; essays for college English online

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Made captive, yet deserving freedom more
Than those their conquerors, who leave behind
Nothing but ruin wheresoe'er they rove
And all the flourishing works of peace destroy."*

And Milton expresses an ideal of the Allies for the period follow-
ing the war: "If after being released from the toils of war, you
neglect the arts of peace ... if you think it is a more grand,
or a more beneficial, or a more wise policy, to invent subtle
expedients for increasing the revenue, to multiply our naval
and military force, to rival in craft the ambassadors of foreign
states, to form skillful treaties and alliances, than to administer
unpolluted justice to the people, to redress the injured, to suc-
cor the distressed, and speedily to restore to every one his own,
you are involved in a cloud of error, and too late you will per-
ceive, when the illusion of those mighty benefits has vanished,

*Quoted by E. de SSlincourt in Enilish Poets and the National Ideal. [Shermt n's


that in neglecting these, you have only been precipitating your
own ruin and despair."

The literature of France, especially since the French Revolu-
tion, is full of the ideals of the Allies. For France I will quote a
few lines from the essay by Victor Giraud on French civiliza-
tion, recently published in this country by the Department of
Romance Languages of the University of Michigan:

"France has never been able to believe that force alone, the
force of pride and brute strength, could be the last word hi the
affairs of this world. She has never admitted that science could
have for its ultimate purpose to multiply the means of destruc-
tion and oppression, and it was one of her old writers, Rabelais,
who pronounced these memorable words: 'Science without con-
science is the ruin of the soul.' She has not been able to con-
ceive that an ethnic group, a particular type of mind, should
have the right to suppress others: instead of a rigid and mechani-
cal uniformity of thought and life, the ideal to which she aspires
is that of the free play, spontaneous development, and the living
harmony of the nations of the world."

In the response of the South American states to the appeal of
the cause of the Allies, deep has called unto deep. No novel
circumstance, no momentary impulse, no revelation of yesterday
has revealed to the Latin-American peoples their essential com-
munity of interest with France, with England, with the United
States of the North. Through all temporary misunderstandings
and estrangements, they have remembered that they are kindred
offspring of one great emancipative idea, inheritors of a common
political purpose, pilgrims to a common goal. Through the con-
fusions of desperate wars Simon Bolivar, the Washington of their
revolutions, led them a hundred years ago to the threshold of
the new world of national independence, civic equality, liberty,
popular sovereignty and justice. He, man of strife though he
had to be, cherished lifelong his fond dream of a parliament of
man, and in the evening of his life summoned on the Isthmus
of Panama a congress of nations, which he intended should
present a united front to imperial aggression, become the per-
petual source and guarantor of public law, and establish concord


among all peace-loving peoples. From that day to this the
statesmen of South America have been with increasing earnest-
ness and effectiveness the friends of arbitral justice and the
architects of international peace.

What shah 1 1 say of America but that the ideals for which the
Allies are now every day more consciously fighting presided over
her birth as a nation and have been her guiding stars in all the
high moments of her history? I mean that the American nation,
established at an epoch of intellectual expansion, was to a re-
markable degree founded upon international principles by men
of international outlook and sympathies. Our founders in
general claimed nothing for Americans but what they were will-
ing and anxious to concede to all men; so that it has ever been a
splendid tradition of the American Government, when about to
take a momentous step, frankly to state its case, and openly to
invite the considerate judgment not of Americans but of
mankind, thus checking the expansive principle of nationalism
by the contractive principle of a supernational allegiance.

America, furthermore, has never established the worship of a
tribal or national deity. The God invoked by the framers of
our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, our Con-
gress, our Courts, and by our great presidents, has quite obvi-
ously, I think, been approached as the Father of Mankind.
The eighteenth century deists men like Paine, Franklin, and
Jefferson had indeed thoroughly repudiated the idea of a
warlike tribal Jehovah; the qualities which they habitually
attributed to the deity were justice and benevolence; and these
characteristics have remained, I believe, the leading ones in
what we may call our national conceptions of divinity. And
how has our national faith in a Father of all Mankind been re-
flected in our political conceptions? Well, Benjamin Franklin
said in the midst of a great war: "Justice is as strictly due
between neighbour Nations as between neighbour citizens
. . . and a Nation which makes an unjust war is only a great
Gang." And our Declaration of Independence holds that the
God of nature has made it self-evident that all men are created
equal and endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and


the pursuit of happiness. Washington, in his "Farewell Address,"
expresses his faith that Providence has connected the permanent
felicity of a nation with its virtue; accordingly he urges his
countrymen to forego temporary national advantages, and to
try the novel experiment of always acting nationally on princi-
ples of "exalted justice and benevolence." Jefferson, in his first
inaugural, felicitates his countrymen on the fact that religion
in America, under all its various forms, inculcates "honesty,
truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man." Liberty,
equality, justice, benevolence, truth these are not tribal ideals.

All these ideals which our national fathers derived from the
Father of all Nations, Lincoln received and cherished as a sacred
heritage, and he added something precious to them. He took
them into his great heart and quickened them with his own warm
sense of human brotherhood, with his instinctive gentleness and
compassion for all the children of men. "With malice towards
none; with charity for all; with firmness for the right, as God
gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we
are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall
have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan to
do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace
among ourselves, and with all nations." Why do these words,
uttered near the bitter end of a long war, touch us so deeply,
and thrill us year after year? Because in them the finest mor-
ality of the individual American is identified at last with the
morality of the nation. The words consecrate the loftiest of all
American ideals, namely, that the conduct of the nation shall
be inspired by a humanity so pure and exalted that the humanest
citizen may realize his highest ideals in devotion to it.

That ideal still animates the American people. We are not
sending out our young men today to fight for a state which
acknowledges no duty but the extension of its own merciless
power. We are sending them out to fight for a state which
finds its highest duty in the defense and extension of justice and
mercy. Our national purpose has been solemnly rededicated to
the objects of the canonized Father and the Preserver of the
Republic. We are not to break with our great traditional aspira-


tion towards the expression in the state of the civility, morality,
and responsibility of the humanest citizens. In the noble words
of Mr. Wilson's recent address: "The hand of God is laid upon
the nations. He will show them favor, I devoutly believe, only
if they rise to the clear heights of his own justice and mercy."
So believe all just men.

Here then let us close our appeal to those who have drawn
apart from this our war and have sought for their emotions a
neutral place of refuge above the conflict. The cause of America
and the Allies is the defense of the common culture of the family
of civilized nations. It is the cause of the commor wealth of
man. The ideals and principles which we wish to take hold of
character and govern conduct are the best principles and ideals
that men have. We need not fear the perils that beset the
propagandist if we have once a clear vision of the object of our
propaganda. We need not fear lest we become wily liars, for
our very object is that central human truth which is the object
of all knowledge. We need not fear lest we become venomous
haters, for our very object is the inculcation of the sense of
human brotherhood and human compassion. We need not fear
lest we become besotted nationalists, for our very object is the
inculcation of a sense for those common things which should be
precious to all men, everywhere, at all times. We have drawn
the sword to defend what Cicero beautifully called, "the country
of all intelligent beings."



[Gilbert Murray (1866 ) is regius professor of Greek, Oxford Uni-
versity. He was born in Sydney, New South Wales. After being graduated
from St. John's College, Oxford, he was for a year Fellow of New College,
Oxford, and then became professor of Greek in Glasgow University (1889-
1899). While in his present position he has several times visited the United
States to lecture on Greek literature. Since the beginning of the war, he has
spoken and written hi a very thoughtful way upon the problems of the war.
Some of these have been brought together in book form under the title,
Faith, War, and Policy. This selection was originally delivered as an address
to the Congress of Free Churches, England, in October, 1915, and represents
the reaction toward the war on the part of a representative Englishman.]

Curiously enough I remember speaking in this hall, I suppose
about fifteen years ago, against the policy of the war in South
Africa. I little imagined then that I should live to speak hi
favor of the policy of a much greater and more disastrous war,
but that is what, on the whole, I shall do. But I want to begin
by facing certain facts. Don't let us attempt to bind ourselves
or be blinded by phrases into thinking that the war is anything
but a disaster, and an appalling disaster. Don't let us be led
away by views which have some gleam of truth in them into
believing that this war will put an end to war that it will
convert Germany, and certainly convert Russia to liberal opin-
ions, that it will establish natural frontiers throughout Europe
or that it will work a moral regeneration in nations which were
somehow sapped by too many years of easy living in peace.
There is some truth, and very valuable truth, in all those con-
siderations, but they do not alter the fact that the war is, as I
said, an appalling disaster. We knew when we entered upon it
that it was a disaster we knew that we should suffer, and that
all Europe would suffer.

Now let us run over very briefly the ways in which it is doing
evil. Let us face the evil first. There is, first, the mere suffering,
the leagues and leagues of human suff ering, that is now spreading

1 From The War of Democracy: the Allies' Statement, edited by James Bryce. (Copy-
right, 1917, Doubleday, Page & Company.) Reprinted by permission.


across Europe, the suffering of the soldiers, the actual wounded
combatants, and, behind them, the suffering of non-combatants,
the suffering of people dispossessed, of refugees, of people turned
suddenly homeless into a world without pity. Behind that you
have the sufferings of dumb animals. We are not likely to forget
that. There is another side which we are even less likely to for-
get, and that is our own personal losses. There are very few
people in this room who have not suffered hi that direct, personal
way; there will be still fewer by the end of the war. I don't want
to dwell upon that question; the tears are very close behind our
eyes when we begin to think of that aspect of things, and it is
not for me to bring them forward. Think, again, of the state's
loss, the loss of all those chosen men, not mere men taken
haphazard, but young, strong men, largely men of the most
generous and self -sacrificing impulses who responded most
swiftly to the call for their loyalty and their lives. Some of
them are dead, some will come back injured, maimed, invalided,
in various ways broken. There is an old Greek proverb which
exactly expresses the experience that we shall be forced to go
through, "The spring is taken out of your year." For a good time
ahead the years of England, of most of Europe, will be without
a spring. In that consideration I think it is only fair, and I am
certain that an audience like this will agree with me, to add all
the nations together. It is not only we and our allies who are
suffering the loss there; it is a loss to humanity. According to
the Russian proverb, "They are all sons of mothers," the wildest
Senegalese, the most angry Prussian. And that is the state that
we are in. We rejoice, of course we rejoice, to hear of great
German losses; we face the fact. We do rejoice; yet it is terrible
that we should have to; for the loss of these young Germans is
also a great and a terrible loss to humanity. It seems almost
trivial after these considerations of life and death, but think,
too, of our monetary losses; of the fact that we have spent 1,595
millions and that we are throwing away money at the rate of
nearly five millions a day. Yet just think what it means, that
precious surplus with which we meant to make England finer
in every way that surplus is gone.


From a rich, generous, sanguine nation putting her hopes in
the future, we shall emerge a rather poverty-stricken nation,
bound to consider every penny of increased expenditure; a
harassed nation, only fortunate if we are still free. Just think
of all our schemes of reform and how they are blown to the four
winds schemes of social improvement, of industrial improve-
ment; a scheme like Lord Haldane's great education scheme
which was fo begin by caring for the health of the small child,
and then lead him up by a great ladder from the primary school
to the university! How some of us who were specially inter-
ested in education revelled in the thought of that great idea; but
it was going to cost such a lot of money. It would cost nearly as
much as half a week of the war ! Think what riches we had then,
and, on the whole, although we are perhaps the most generous
nation hi Europe, what little use we made of them. We speak of
spiritual regeneration as one of the results of war, but here, too,
there is the spiritual evil to be faced. I do not speak merely of
the danger of reaction. There will be a grave danger of political
reaction and of religious reaction, and you will all have your
work cut out for you in that matter. The political reaction, I
believe, will not take the form of a mere wave of extreme Con-
servatism; the real danger will be a reaction against anything
that can be called mellow and wise in politics; the real danger
will be a struggle between crude militarist reaction and violent
unthinking democracy. As for religion, you are probably all
anxious as to what is going to happen there. Every narrow form
of religion is lifting up its horns again; rank superstition is begin-
ning to flourish. I am told that fortune-tellers and crystal-
gazers are really having now the time of their lives. It will be
for bodies like yourselves to be careful about all that. But
besides that there is another more direct spiritual clanger. We
cannot go on living an abnormal lif e without getting fundament-
ally disorganized. We have seen that, especially in Germany;
with them it seems to be a much stronger tendency, much worse
than it is with us; but clearly you cannot permanently concen-
trate your mind on injuring your fellow creatures without habitu-
ating yourself to evil thoughts. In Germany, of course, there is a


deliberate cult of hatred. There is a process, which I won't
stop to analyze, a process utterly amazing, by which a highly
civilized and ordinarily humane nation has gone on from what
I can only call atrocity to atrocity. How these people have ever
induced themselves to commit the crimes in Belgium which are
attested by Lord Bryce's Commission, even to organizing the
flood of calculated mendacity that they pour out day by day,
and, last of all, to stand by passive and apparently approving,
while deeds like the new Armenian massacres are going on under
their egis, and in the very presence of their consuls, all this
passes one's imagination. Now we do not act like that; there is
something or other in the English nature which will not allow it.
We shall show anger and passion, but we are probably not cap-
able of that organized cruelty, and I hope we never shall be. Yet
the same forces are at work. I do not want to dwell upon this
subject too long, but when people talk of national regeneration
or the reverse, there is one very obvious and plain test which one
looks at first and that is the drink bill. We have made a great
effort to restrain our drinking; large numbers of people have
given up consuming wine and spirits altogether, following the
King's example. We have made a great effort and what is the
result? The drink bill is up seven millions as compared with the
last year of peace! That seven millions is partly due to the
increased price; but at the old prices, it would still be up rather
over two millions. And ahead, at the end of all this, what pros-
pect is there? There is sure to be poverty and unemployment,
great and long continued, just as there was after 1815. I trust
we shall be better able to face it; we shall have thought out the
difficulties more; we who are left with any reasonable margin of
subsistence will, I hope, be more generous and more clear-sighted
than our ancestors a century earlier. But in any case there is
coming a time of great social distress and very little money
indeed to meet it with. We shall achieve, no doubt, peace in
Europe; we shall have, probably, some better arrangement of
frontiers, but underneath the place there will be terrific hatred.
And in the'heart of Europe, instead of a treacherous and grasping
neighbor, we shall be left with a deadly enemy, living for revenge.


Now, ladies and gentlemen, I do not think that I have shirked
the indictment of this war. It is a terrible indictment; and you
will ask me, perhaps, after that description, if I still believe that
our policy in declaring war was right. Yes; I do. Have I any
doubt in any corner of my mind that the war was right? I
have none. We took the path of duty and the only path we could
take. Some people speak now as if going on with the war was a
kind of indulgence of our evil passions. The war is not an
indulgence of our evil passions; the war is a martyrdom.

Now, let us not exaggerate here. It is not a martyrdom for
Christianity. I saw a phrase the other day that we were fight-
ing for the nailed hand of One crucified, against the "mailed
fist." That description is an ideal a man may carry in his own
heart, but, of course, it is an exaggeration to apply to our national
position, to the position of any nation in international politics.
We are not saints; we are not a nation of early Christians. Yet
we are fighting for a great cause. How shall I express it? We
are a country of ripe political experience, of ancient freedom; we
are, with all our faults, I think, a country of kindly record and
generous ideals, and we stand for the established tradition of
good behavior between the nations. We stand for the observ-
ance of treaties and the recognition of mutual rights, for the
tradition of common honesty and common kindliness between
nation and nation; we stand for the old decencies, the old human-
ities, "the old ordinance," as the King's letter put it, "the old
ordinance that has bound civilized Europe together." And
against us there is a power which, as the King says, has changed
that ordinance. Europe is no longer held together by the old
decencies as it was. The enemy has substituted for it some rule
which we cannot yet fathom to its full depth. You can call it
militarism or Realpolitik if you like; it seems to involve the
domination of force and fraud; it seems to involve organized
ruthlessness, organized terrorism, organized mendacity. The
phrase that comes back to my mind when I think of it is Mr.
Gladstone's description of another evil rule it is the negation
of God erected into a system of government. The sort of thing
for which we are fighting, the old ordinance, the old kindliness,


and the old humanities is it too much to say that, if there is
God in man, it is in these things, after all, that God in man

The old ordinance is illogical. Of course it is illogical. It
means that civilized human beings in the midst of their greatest
passions, in the midst of their angers and rages, feel that there is
something deeper, something more important than war or
victory that at the bottom of all strife there are some remnants
of human brotherhood. Now, I do not want to go into a long
list of German atrocities; much less do I want to denounce
the enemy. As Mr. Balfour put it in his whimsical way: "We
take our enemy as we find him." But it has been the method
throughout this war the method the enemy has followed to
go at each step outside the old conventions. We have sometimes
followed. Sometimes we have had to follow. But the whole
history of the war is a history of that process. The peoples
fought according to certain rules, but one people got outside the
rules right from the beginning. The broken treaty; the calculated
ferocity in Belgium and northern France; the killing of women
and non-combatants by sea and land and air; the shelling of
hospitals; the treatment of wounded prisoners in ways they had
never expected; all the doctoring of weapons with a view to
cruelty; explosive bullets: the projectile doctored with substances
which would produce a gangrenous wound; the poisoned gases;
the infected wells. It is the same method throughout. The old
conventions of humanity, the old arrangements which admitted
that beneath our cruelties, beneath our hatreds there was some
common humanity and friendliness between us, these have been
systematically broken one after another. Now observe: these
things were done, not recklessly, but to gain a specific advantage;
they were done, as Mr. Secretary Zimmermann put it hi the
case of Miss Cavell, "to inspire fear." And observe that in many
places they have been successful. They have inspired fear. Only
look at what has recently happened and what is happening now
in the Balkans. Every one of these Balkan states has looked at
Belgium. The German agents have told them to look at Belgium.
They have looked at Belgium and their courage has failed


them. Is that the way in which we wish the government of the
world to be conducted in future? It is the way it will be unless
we and our Allies stand firm to the end.

All these points, terrible as they are, seem to me to be merely
consequences from what happened at the very beginning of the
war. There are probably some people here who differ from what
I am saying, and I am grateful to them for the patient way in
which they are listening to me. To all these I would earnestly
say: "Do not despise the diplomatic documents." Remember
carefully that the diplomacy of July and August, 1914, is a
central fact. Remember that it is the one part of the history
antecedent to this war which is absolutely clear as daylight.
Read the documents and read the serious studies of them. I
would recommend specially the book by Mr. William Archer,
called "Thirteen Days." There is also Mr. Headlam's admirable
book, "The History of Twelve Days," and the equally admir-
able book by the American jurist, Mr. Stowell. There the issue

Online LibraryMaurice G. (Maurice Garland) FultonNational ideals and problems; essays for college English → online text (page 34 of 39)