Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 85.djvu/307
WAR AND MANHOOD 3°3
degeneration, it is something else to which these journalists refer. Their problem is that of the London slums, of sweat-shops and child- labor, of wasting overwork and of lack of nutrition, of premature old age and of sodden drunkenness — influences which bring about the degeneration of the individual, the inefficiency of the social group, but which for the most part leave no trace in heredity and are therefore no factor in the degeneration of the race. Such degradation is at once cause, effect and symptom — a sign of racial inadequacy, a cause of further enfeeblement and an effect of unjust and injurious social, polit- ical and industrial conditions in the past.
But the problem before us is not the problem of the slums. What mark has been left on England by her great struggles for freedom and by the thousand petty struggles to impose on the world the semblance of order called " Pax Britannica," the British peace ?
To one who travels widely through the counties of England some part of the cost is plain.
There's a widow in sleepy Chester
Who mourns for her only son; There's a grave by the Pabeng River —
A grave which the Burmans shun.
This is a condition repeated in every village of England, and its history is recorded on the walls of every parish church. Everywhere can be seen tablets in memory of young men — gentlemen's sons from Eton and Rugby and Winchester and Harrow, scholars from Oxford and Cambridge, who have given up their lives in some far-off petty war. Their bodies rest in Zululand, in Cambodia, in the Gold Coast, in the Transvaal. In England only they are remembered. In the parish churches these records are numbered by the score. In the cathedrals they are recorded by the thousand. Go from one cathedral town to another — Canterbury, Winchester, Chidester, Exeter, Salisbury, Wells, Ely, York, Lincoln, Durham, Litchfield, Chester (what a wonderful series of pictures this list of names calls up!), and you will find always the same story, the same sad array of memorials to young men. What would be the effect on England if all of these " unreturning brave " and all that should have been their descendants could be numbered among her sons to-day? Doubtless not all of these were young men of char- acter. Doubtless not all are worthy even of the scant glory of a memo- rial tablet. But most of them were worthy. Most of them were brave and true, and most of them looked out on life with "frank blue Briton eyes."
This too we may admit, that war is not the only destructive agency in modern society, and that in the struggle for existence the England of to-day has had many advantages which must hide or neutralize the waste of war.
It suggests the inevitable end of all empire, of all dominion of man