Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/67

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
61
THE PERIL OF NOT DOING ENOUGH

entrance into the struggle, on the side of the Allies, of Italy and the wavering Balkan States. In hard cash, the war is costing us nearly a million and a half a day. We have to pay it, sooner or later. The loss of life is more serious than the loss of wealth, and there is no doubt that both must be curtailed by any successful operation against the Turks.

The Army has, beyond question, lost thousands of recruits of the very best class owing to the parsimony displayed in the matter of making provision for the dependents of men who join the fighting forces. The scale originally proposed, it will be remembered, produced an outburst of indignation, and it was very soon amended in the right direction, but when all is said and done it operates with amazing injustice. One of the most striking features of the war has been the splendid patriotism shown by men who, in social rank, are decidedly above the average standard of recruits.

Many comparatively rich men have joined the Army as privates, and the roll descends in the social scale until we come down to the day labourer. We draw no distinction between the loyalty and devotion of any of our new soldiers, but it cannot be denied that the working of the system of separate allowances is exceedingly unfair to the men of the middle classes.

Financially, the family of the working-man is frequently better off through the absence of the husband and father at the front than it has ever been before—sometimes very much better off indeed. I am not complaining of that. But when we ascend a little in the scale we find a glaring inequality. The man earning, say, £250 a year, and having a wife and one child, finds, too often, that the price he has to pay for patriotism is to leave his family