Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/85

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79
THE PERIL OF THE CENSORSHIP

cards with which our walls are so profusely adorned could achieve in a month!

Sir John French's despatch, as a military record, bears the hall-mark of military genius, but it is idle to pretend that it is a literary document calculated to stir the blood and fire the imagination of our countrymen. Admirable in its firm restraint from the military point of view, it takes no account of the civilian imagination. That is not Sir John French's business. He is a great soldier, and it is no reproach to him that his despatch is not exactly what is required by the urgency of the situation. Moreover, it came too late to exercise its full effect. Had the story of Ypres been given to the public promptly, and in the form in which it would have been cast by a graphic writer who understood the subject with which he was dealing and the public for whom he was writing, we should probably have been better off to-day by thousands and thousands of the much-needed recruits. The failure to take advantage of such a glorious opportunity for the stimulation of enthusiasm by purely legitimate means, convicts our censorship authorities of a total failure to appreciate the mentality of the public whose supposed interests they serve.

And as with successes, so with failures. It is the peculiar characteristic of the British people that either a great victory or a great disaster has the immediate result of nerving them to fuller efforts. We saw that in South Africa: it has been seen a hundred times in our long history. Let us turn for a moment to the affair at Givenchy on December 20th. Sir John French's despatch makes it clear that the repulse of the Indian Division on that occasion was a very serious matter, so serious, in fact, that it required the full effort of the entire First