Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/175

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169
THE PERIL OF STIFLING THE TRUTH

going to be a long and troublesome business. We are assured that the Allies can stand the financial strain better than Germany. Possibly; but the point is that no one knows just how much strain Germany can stand before she breaks, and in war it is only common prudence to prepare for the worst that can befall. This is precisely what we, most emphatically, are not doing to-day. Thanks to the reasons I have given—the chief of which is the unwarrantable official secrecy and the wholly unjustifiable "cooking" of the news—the British public is not yet fully aroused to the deadly peril in which the nation and the Empire stand.

The British people are, as they ever have been, slow of thought and slower of action. They need much rousing. And in the present war it is most emphatically true that the right way of rousing them has not been used. Smooth stories never yet fired British blood. Let an Englishman think things are going even tolerably well, and he is loth to disturb himself to make them go still better. But tell him a story of disaster, show him how his comrades fall and die in great fights against great odds: bring it home to his slow-working mind that he really has his back to the wall, and you fan at once into bright flame the smouldering pride of race and caste that has done, and will yet do, some of the greatest deeds that have rung in history. Is there, we may well ask, another race in the world that would have wrested such glory from the disaster at Mons? And the lads who fought the Germans to a standstill in the great retreat did so because the very deadliness of the peril that confronted them called out all that is greatest and noblest and most enduring in our national character.

Is there no lesson our authorities at home can