Page:The War and the Future (Masefield, 1918).djvu/16

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The War and the Future

men turning to it in time of trouble and calamity are helped and guarded by it, and brought out of the land of Egypt by it into their pleasant heritage.

Yet nations, like men, sometimes turn away from their true selves to follow false selves, and to serve false gods. All the old Bible is full of stories of a little nation sometimes true, sometimes false to its soul, and falling into calamity, and then being quickened and helped, and returning to the truth and coming to marvellous things, to the green pastures, where goodness and loving kindness follow men all the days of their life.

Understanding is the only thing worth while in this life. Art is nothing but complete understanding of something. All writers long to understand the spirit of their race.

Let me say now, that 25 years ago, it would have been difficult for an Englishman to speak here, about the spirit of England, and to claim that it is something of the spirit of St. George, a manly and beautiful spirit, ready to help some one weaker, and something of the spirit of Shakespeare, a just and tender spirit, fond of fun and kindness and of the rough and busy life of men. That delicate, shy, gentle,