Page:The War and the Future (Masefield, 1918).djvu/72

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The War and the Future

must be predisposed to nurture the poison; it must be a little overstrained, restless, tired, bored, cross, or out of sorts. The natural guards of the body must be unable to help. Then the poison germs take hold and the normal life of the man ceases. He becomes a raging incoherent maniac terrible to himself and a danger to all about him, till the poison is at its height and has worked itself out in death or recovery.

Well, you will agree with me perhaps that war comes into the world, in much such a way. The body of a nation does not want it, though it may think about it often and much, the body of a nation is normally busy with its own life. Then, in times of overstrain, of restlessness, or of excitement, or even of busy and pleasant well-being, the poison is introduced, wilfully, by kings and their ministers, and the nation sickens.

The symptoms are always the same. The infected nation becomes, first of all, arrogant. It gets what we call swelled-head. It thinks itself, possibly with reason, the finest nation in the world. As the poison takes hold and the germs multiply, this arrogance leads to a spiritual blindness to whatever may be good or