Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/58

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not, by any possibility, instantly fling huge forces into the field. The less well informed, influenced by the German propaganda, began to think we were too slow. This feeling began to gather strength, and it was not until M. Millerand, the French Minister for War, whom I have known for years, had actually visited England and seen the preparations that were in progress, that French opinion, fully informed by a series of capable articles in the French Press, settled down to the conviction that England was really in earnest. Unquestionably, M. Millerand rendered a most valuable service to the cause of the Allies by his outspoken declarations, and he was fully supported by the responsible leaders of French thought and opinion. The cleverly laid German plot failed, and our Allies to-day realise that we have unsheathed our sword in the deadliest earnest.

In spite of this, however, the thoughtful section of the public have been asking themselves whether, in fact, our military action is not slower than it should have been. Germany, we must remember, started this war with all the tremendous advantage secured by years of steady and patient preparation for a contest she was fully resolved to precipitate as soon as she judged the moment opportune. She lost the first trick in the game, thanks to the splendid heroism of Belgium, the unexpected rapidity of the French and Russian mobilisation, and lastly, the wholly surprising power with which Britain intervened in the fray—the pebble in the cogwheels of the German machinery.

The end of the first stage, represented, roughly, by the driving of the Germans from the Marne to the Aisne, temporarily exhausted all the combatants, and there followed a long period of comparative