Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/24

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wish to rake up old scandals, and I am not going to indulge in carping criticism of the authorities because they were not able to handle matters with absolute smoothness when, each week, they were getting very nearly a year's normal supply of recruits. Confusion and chaos were bound to be, and I think the men—on the whole—realised the difficulties, and made the best of a very trying situation. But they were Britons! My object is simply to show how serious was our peril through our unpreparedness. If our enemy, in that time of preparation, could have struck a blow directly at us, we must, inevitably, have gone under in utter ruin. Happily, our star was in the ascendant. The magnificent heroism of Belgium, the noble recovery of the French nation after their first disastrous surprise, the unexampled valour of our Army, and the silent pressure of the Navy, saved us from the peril that encompassed us. Once again we had "muddled through" perhaps the worst part of our task.

No one can yet say that we are safe. This war is very far indeed from being won, for there is yet much to do, and many grave perils still threaten us. It is, perhaps, small consolation to know that most of the perils we brought upon ourselves by our persistent and foolish refusal to face plain and obvious facts: by our toleration of so-called statesmen who, fascinated by the Kaiser's glib talk, came very near to betraying England by their refusal to tell the country the truth, or even, without telling the country, to make adequate preparations to meet a danger which had been foreseen by every Chancellory in Europe for years past. It can never be said that we were not warned, plainly and unmistakably. The report of the amazing speech