back and back until, on the banks of the Marne, it suddenly turned at bay and, by sheer matchless valour, hurled the legions of the Kaiser back to ruin and defeat. The retreat was stayed, the enemy was checked and driven back, but the margin by which disaster was averted and turned into triumph was so narrow that nothing but the most superb heroism on the part of our gallant lads could have saved the situation. We had neglected all warnings, and we narrowly escaped paying an appalling price in the destruction of the flower of the British Army. With insufficient forces, we had again "muddled through" by the dogged valour of the British private.
To-day we are engaged in "muddling through" on a scale unexampled in our history. The Government have taken power to raise the British Army to a total of three million men. In our leisurely way we have begun to make new armies in the face of an enemy who for fifty years has been training every man to arms, in the face of an enemy who for ten or fifteen years at least has been steadily, openly, and avowedly preparing for the Day when he could venture, with some prospect of success, to challenge the sea supremacy by which we live, and move, and have our being, and lay our great Empire in the dust.
We neglected all warnings; we calmly ignored our enemy's avowed intentions; we closed our eyes and jeered at all those who told the truth; we deliberately, and of choice, elected to wait until war was upon us to begin our usual process of "muddling through." Truly we are an amazing people! Yet we should remember that the days when one Englishman was better than ten foreigners have passed for ever.