Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/68

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

dependent upon the Government allowance of 17s. 6d. per week. Is it a matter for wonder that so many have hesitated to join? Can we praise too highly the patriotism of those who, even under such circumstances, have answered the call of duty?

The truth is that the whole system of separation allowances, framed to meet the necessity of recruits of the ordinary standard, is inelastic and unsuitable to a campaign which calls, or should call, the entire nation to arms. It is throwing a great strain on a man's loyalty to ask him to condemn his wife and family to what, in their circumstances, amounts to semi-starvation, in order that he may serve his country, particularly when he sees around him thousands of the young and healthy at theatres and picture palaces, free from any domestic ties, who persistently shut their eyes to their country's need, and whom nothing short of some measure of compulsion would bring into the ranks. I am not going to suggest that every man who joins the Army should be paid the salary he could earn in civil life, but I think we are not doing nearly enough for thousands of well-bred and gently nurtured women who have given up husbands and brothers in the sacred cause of freedom.

And now I come to perhaps the saddest feature of the war—the ease of the men who will return to England maimed and disabled in their country's cause. That, for them, is supreme glory, though many of them would have infinitely preferred giving their lives for their country. They will come back to us in thousands, the maimed, the halt, and the blind: pitiful wrecks of glorious manhood, with no hope before them but to drag out the rest of their years in comparative or absolute helplessness. Their health and their strength