Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/20

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smitten, sorely checked, but roused by reverses to further and greater efforts.

The bulldog tenacity that has ever been our salvation has been aroused in time, and we have passed successfully through ordeals which might have broken the spirit and crushed the resistance of nations whose mental and physical fibre was less high and less enduring.

We have "muddled through" in the past: shall we "muddle through" again? It is the merest truism—patent to all the world—that when Germany declared war, we were quite unready for a contest. For years the nation had turned a deaf ear to all warnings. The noble efforts of the late Lord Roberts, who gave the last years of his illustrious life—despite disappointments, and the rebuffs of people in high places who ought to have known—nay, who did know—that his words were literally true, passed unheeded.

Lord Roberts, the greatest soldier of the Victorian era, a man wise in war, and of the most transcendent sincerity, was snubbed and almost insulted, inside and outside the House of Commons, by a parcel of upstarts who, in knowledge and experience of the world and of the subject, were not fit to black his boots. "An alarmist and scaremonger" was perhaps the least offensive name that these worthies could find for him: and it was plainly hinted that he was an old man in his dotage. Lulled into an unshakable complacency by the smooth assurances of placeholders in comfortable jobs, the nation remained serenely asleep, and never was a country less ready for the storm that burst upon us last August. I had, in my writings—"The Invasion of England" and other works—also endeavoured to awaken the public; but if they would not listen to