Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/79

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their own people. I contend, with all my heart, that the British public should not have been fobbed off with the studiously—guarded French official report, with its meaningless—so far as the general public is concerned—daily recital of the capture or loss of a trench here and there, or with the chatty disquisitions of our amiable "Eye-Witness" at the British Headquarters, who manages to convey the minimum of real information in the maximum of words. It is highly interesting, I admit, to learn of that heroic soldier who brained four Germans "on his own" with a shovel; it is very interesting to read of the "nut" making his happy and elaborate war-time toilet in the open air; and we are glad to hear all about German prisoners lamenting the lack of food. But these things, and countless others of which "Eye-Witness" has told us, are not the root of the matter. We want the true story of the campaign, and the plain fact is that we do not get it, and no one pretends that we get it.

Cheerful confidence is an excellent thing in war, as well as in all other human undertakings. Blind optimism is a foolhardy absurdity; blank pessimism is about as dangerous a frame of mind as can be conceived. I am not quite sure, in my own mind, whether the methods of the censorship are best calculated to promote dangerous optimism, or the reverse, but I am perfectly certain that they are not calculated to evoke that calm courage and iron resolve, in the face of known perils, which is the best augury of victory in the long run. Probably they produce a result varying according to the temperament of the individual. One day you meet a man in the club who assures you that everything is going well and that we have the Germans "in our pocket." That is the foolishness of optimism,