Page:Annie Besant - The Story of Afghanistan.pdf/16

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16

ENGLAND AND AFGHANISTAN.

to use Lord Lytton's words, "our high duties to God and man as the greatest civilizing Power:" in this way do Bishops in our House of Lords vote for the spreading of the Gospel of Christ.

General Roberts may well lay claim to the succession of the title of "Butcher," borne by the Duke of Cumberland of Scotch renown, and when he returns to his welcome at Windsor, her Imperial Majesty might bestow on him, with his other decorations, a new coat of arms, emblazoned with a drumhead and halter, crest a scull, supporters a frozen woman clasping a child, and a strangled Mahommedan mollah.

Well may General Roberts silence all independent correspondence. Well may Lord Lytton gag the Indian Press, and manipulate Indian telegrams. Yet even in the few facts that creep out from time to time England is learning how her name is being soiled, her honor tarnished by bloodthirsty cruelty, by stony-hearted recklessness of human pain. From out the darkness that veils Afghanistan moans of suffering reach us, and we shrink in horror from the work which is being done in our name. These frozen women cry aloud against us. These starved babes wail out our condemnation. These stiffened corpses, these fire-blackened districts, these snow-covered, bloodstained plains, appeal to Humanity to curse us. Englishmen, with wives nestled warm in your bosoms, remember these Afghan husbands, maddened by their wrongs. Englishwomen, with babes smiling on your breasts, think of these sister-women, bereft of their little ones. The Afghan loves wife and child as ye do. He also is husband and father. He also has his love, his pain, and his despair. To him also the home is happy, the hearth is sacred. To you he cries from his desolated fireside, from his ravaged land. In your hands is his cause. You only can deliver him. And his deliverance can come only through the ballot-box Peace can return only when the "wicked earl" has fallen. The message that carries the news of the defeat of the Tory Government will carry peace, liberty, and hope to South Africa, to India, and to Afghanistan. Will England be loyal to her love of truth and her hatred of oppression, or has she began to tread the path of disregard of all duty, of contempt for all morality, the path that inevitably leads to national decay?