Patriotism in excelsis
[The following account of a meeting held somewhere in England has been submitted to us for publication. It is possible that there is some mistake, and that it was intended for the “Daily Mail,” but we have decided to publish the report in order to show that we are willing to hear all sides.]
Mr.———, the great patriotic campaigner, spoke at——— last evening to a crowded and
enthusiastic audience on the need for a more vigorous and business-like prosecution of the war. Many personal friends of the speaker were assembled on the platform, and their surprise, if not gratification, at the oratorical success of the speaker of the evening was, in confidence, freely expressed. Every reference to the noble fellows in the trenches was greeted by the attentive audience with thunders of applause, while, allusions to the might of the Empire, the heroic Sons Beyond the Seas, the British Navy, the glorious aims and efforts of the Allies, the Rights of Small Nations, Liberty, Honour, Civilisation, and His Gracious Majesty, roused a frenzy of emotion that brought a sob into the throat of many a strong man perilously near military age. The speaker frankly confessed that his freely tendered advice to the Government had been ignored since the beginning of the war, and attributed many of the country’s difficulties to that fact. He made a slashing attack upon the ineptitude of the Coalition, and firmly but modestly informed his audience what he would do were he Prime Minister, “Turn the lot out,” was his rapturously received slogan. “All ancient generals should be scrapped” ; “All shirkers should, be shot” ; “Every man of military age should be compelled to do his bit.” At this point a slight interruption occurred. “How old are you ?” shouted a member of the audience. The speaker immediately withered the interrupter with his scorn. “You are a pro-German,” he began, but his further remarks were drowned in the hubbub which arose. The interjected was the centre of a struggling group, those behind pushing the others into the struggle, and working the scrimmage as a whole in the diction of the the exit, upon reaching which a moment’s silence endued, to be shattered into fragments by the violent bang of the clashing door. The thrill of shuddering dread which followed was immediately dissipated as the speaker resumed his excellent theme. The liberties which Englishmen have won, he maintained, must at all costs be preserved. Neither Huns abroad nor traitors in our midst would be allowed to destroy the birthright of Englishmen. Despiie organised interruption Freedom of Speech (cheers) would be maintained. The Rights of Small Nations (cheers) were sacred, and if Greece and Roumama did not soon make up their minds on this point it would be made up for them. Bulgaria must be taught such a lesson that it will never dare to do it again. England and her great and glorious allies (cheers) had already rendered invaluable assistance to Belgium, Servia, and Montenegro and he could say without fear of contradiction that without that assistance the position of those small nations would not be what it is to day (cheers). The heroism shown by our countrymen against the cowardly and white-livered enemy was beyond all praise. (At this point there was further interruption with scrimmage as before, during which an excited individual was heard above the din shouting : “I have lost my son fighting the Germans, and it is an insult to our brave men to say the enemy are cowards.” His shouts being eventually drowned by cries of pro-German ! Turnimout ! Chuckimdahnstairs ! — which was apparently done.) The speaker, continuing, said that the enthusiasm of the people for the ruthless prosecution of the war to the bitter end (cheers) showed no signs ol diminution. He mixed with many men over military age, or otherwise regretfully prevented from shouldering the rifle, and all were unflingly resolved upon sacrificing the last man (cheers). Conscientious objectors were not fit to live, and should be shot (cheers). If absolutely every single man were not taken, need he remind his audience what the result would be ? They, men with responsibilities, would be called upon to fill the places left vacant. The Government, therefore, must be made to keep its experience agreed with, the statements published in a morning paper recently, that those hopelessly injured were, nevertheless, the very ones who were anxious to return to the front. That should be an example to us all. (Cheers.) pledge (loud cheers, shouts of “Which one ?” Disturbance). This matter of the single man, the speaker resumed, was a vital one to all present, it affected them as men and as taxpayers. The married soldiers’ wives and children were a burden to the State (commotion). He had talked with wounded soldiers and his […] The women, too, were splendid. Young and beautiful girls had cheerfully sacrificed their “best boys” on the altar of their country (cheers). What mattered the loss of a lover so long as the country was safe and the correct thing had been done ? Khaki was rightly the fashionable colour, and no self-respecting girl would be out of it. In munition works also the heroism of the women had put men to shame. They had saved the country and the country owed them a debt it could never repay (cheers, interrupted by shouts: of “Sweaters!” “Cartridges 2¼d. an hour !” “Ruining the women !” “Shut up !” “Turnimout !” Scrimmage and exit, as before.
The Government, continued the orator, was looked to prosecute the war to an early and successful conclusion. The country was absolutely united (cheers). The Government had the undivided support of the whole nation ; the whole of the people were behind it (cheers), but its failures, its incompetence, its falal hesitation and corruption made a change essential. He did not venture io say of what that change should consist He left that to those who know him. But all pledges must be kept (commotion). Young men slackers must be taken to the last man, or justice would not be done to the married [cheers). In the first place all the wide-spread treachery and slackness within our gates must be stamped out. Is the Government afraid ? (Cheers.) Secondly, Prussian militarism–and when I say Prussian I Prussian”–must be absolutely crushed and the birthright of every Englishman must be preserved to flourish and bear fruit, and be a shining light, a shield and a sword to generations yet unborn ; a birthright that shall strike terror into the heart of the Hun and show him by its traditions and majesty, by its determination, valour and strength, that Englishmen will recoil before no sacrifice, but will, if need be, force every man that can be spared into the trenches to die, if necessary. in the fight for honour and the freedom of the world Empire. We shall not sheathe the sword until the German menace to our prosperity and supremacy be swept away, until her trade be abolished and her power to trouble the peace and harmony of our world’s markets be for ever and ever ended. (Loud and prolonged cheers.)
Ai the conclusion the chairman made graceful reference to the fervid eloquence and unselfish patriotism of the speaker, and pointed out that one of the chief objects of the meeting was to secure further recruits for the prosecution of the war. An awkward silence ensued that was at length relieved by a member of the audience proposing the following resolution, which was carried unanimously.
“That this meeting pledges itself to support the uinflinching prosecution of the war to a victorious conclusion, and calls upon the Government also to do its share by fulfilling its pledge and thereby relieving the anxiety now felt by many men.”