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60 



SARATOGA SPRINGS CONFERENCE 



tions, hardships and losses necessary for 
success. 

The record, in truth, is modest enough, 
especially when contrasted with the serv- 
ice and sacrifice of those who hazard their 
all in the battle front. But no great war 
nowadays can be won in the field alone; 
the men in khaki, to win, must be backed 
by the whole civil population at home. 
Here lies the opportunity of the library. 
Through the public library system, the 
people can be reached as by no other 
agency save the press, and with an influ- 
ence in some ways different and more en- 



during. In aiding the production of muni- 
tions and food, in assisting all forms of 
community effort necessary to maintain 
the fighting forces, in making known and 
reenforeing the wishes of Governmental 
agencies and commissions, in stimulating 
informed and intelligent patriotism, and in 
sustaining the morale of the nation, the li- 
brary finds a work by no means to be de- 
spised. And library workers may take 
comfort in knowing that their effort in 
their home libraries forms a real and im- 
portant, if humble, part of the vast war 
machinery. 



THE SPIRIT OP THE WAR LITERATURE: PROSE 
Bt Geoboe P. Bowebman, Librarian, Public Library of the District of Columbia 



The student of the prose writings of this 
war is already confronted with an em- 
barrassment of riches perhaps unequaled 
in the history of literature. Incomplete 
bibliographies have recorded more than 
15,000 titles of books and pamphlets on the 
war. The purpose of this paper is to se- 
lect from this mass a very few of the most 
important and typical books for comment. 
I do not intend to be critical, but I shall 
attempt to show something of the spirit 
of the books selected for consideration. 

Although an interesting subject for 
study, the books generally considered to 
have had an influence in fathering the war, 
such as the writings of Treitschke, Bern- 
hardt and Nietzsche must be omitted, as 
must also the writings treating of the 
causes and political aspects of the war, 
even though they include the significant 
and eloquent utterances of President Wil- 
son, watched for the world over; the books 
by James M. Beck that did so much to 
bring to America conviction of the jus- 
tice of the cause of the Allies; Friedrich 
Naumann's "Central Europe," regarded as 
the oflicial statement of Germany's terri- 
torial ambitions in this war; the answer 
to Naumann by Andre Cheradame in his 
"Pangerman plot unmasked" and other 



writings, and the group of books by Ger- 
mans who have left Germany and are now 
opposing her, "J'accuse, by a German" and 
"The crime," by the same author, and "Be- 
cause I am a German" and "The coming 
democracy" by Hermann Fernau. Limita- 
tions of time compel me to represent this 
phase of my subject by two books only, 
treating of the psychology of the war in 
England and France, with mention of a 
third book on the psychology of German 
kultur. 

The spirit and temper of England can- 
not be better shown than by a brief ex- 
tract from a fascinating book by Profes- 
sor Gilbert Murray, entitled "Faith, war, 
and policy" (1917). From this gentle Ox- 
ford don and classicist we have the right- 
eous indignation that any right-minded man 
must feel at the present time. We must 
not hate, we are told (in August, 1914), 
but there is to be no softening of fiber — 
resolution rather "to face death and kill." 

"For there is that side of it too. We 
have now not only to strain every nerve to 
help our friend — we must strain every 
nerve also to injure our enemy. This Is 
horrible, but we must try to face the truth. 
For my own part, I find that I do desper- 
ately desire to hear of German dread- 
naughts sunk in the North Sea. Mines are 



BOWERMAN 



61 



treacherous engines of death; but I should 
be only too glad to help to lay one of them. 
When I see that 20,000 Germans have been 
killed in such-and-such an engagement, and 
next day that it was only 2,000, I am sor- 
ry. That is where we are. We are fight- 
ing for that which we love, whatever we 
call it. It is the Right, but it is something 
even more than the Right. For our lives, 
for England, for the liberty of western 
Europe, for the possibility of peace and 
friendship between nations; for something 
that we would rather die than lose. And 
lose it we shall unless we can beat the 
Germans." 

Something of the French spirit may be 
gathered from an unusual book by Gustave 
LeBon, "The psychology of the great war" 
(1916), which aims not to examine the 
historical events of the war but rather "to 
analyze the psychological phenomena which 
surround its genesis and evolution." His 
theme is the preponderance of what he 
calls the mystic over the rational bases of 
action in the present struggle. To quote a 
few extracts from his introduction: 

"The present war is a contest between 
psychological forces. Irreconcilable ideals 
are grappling with one another. Individual 
liberty is drawn up against collective 
servitude, personal initiative against the 
tyranny of state socialism, old habits of in- 
ternational integrity and respect for 
treaties against the supremacy of the can- 
non. The ideal of the absolutism of force, 
whose triumph Germany is now striving to 
secure, is nothing new, for in antiquity it 
reigned supreme. . . . Men were beginning 
to forget the dark ages in which the weak 
were pitilessly crushed, the useless bru- 
tally cast off, and the ideals of the nations 
were conquest, slaughter and pillage. But 
the belief that the progress of civilization 
had once and for all destroyed the barbar- 
ous customs of primitive periods was a 
dangerous illusion, for new hordes of sav- 
ages, whose ancestral ferocity the cen- 
turies have not mitigated, even now dream 
of enslaving the world that they may ex- 
ploit it." 

And from the concluding chapter: 

"Even though the German armies should 
win a hundred battles and lay a hundred 
cities waste, the world needs liberty so 
much and has so many means of defense 
that no Caesar may hope to subject it to 
his laws." 

And again: 

"All these disasters will have no result 



if our will to win persists, for the conquest 
of a nation's territory is not enough. To 
dominate a people its soul must be van- 
quished too Germany has not enfeebled 

the will of any nation which she has in- 
vaded. All of them would rather die than 

submit The future depends, beyond all 

else, upon the continuance of our will. 
CONQUER OR DIE, BUT NEVER YIELD! 
must be the brief watchword of the na- 
tions which Germany would enslave. 
Neither Nature, nor Man, nor Fate itself, 
can withstand a strong and steadfast will." 

Although published early in the war and 
then criticized by some as not sufficiently 
judicial, Dr. Thomas F. A. Smith's "The 
soul of Germany" is now, in the light of 
Germany's crimes, seen to be an acute and 
illuminating study of German character 
and ideals. The author, an Englishman, 
spent twelve years in Germany as a stu- 
dent and teacher and as a lecturer in the 
University of Erlangen and throughout the 
country. His book is especially important 
for its analysis of the German system of 
education, in which he characterizes the 
German schools as intellectual barracks 
and the universities as high schools of 
kultur and brutality. Defending his state- 
ments from German official statistics of 
vice and crime, the author makes an ap- 
palling but unanswerable indictment of the 
moral state of the German people that 
helps to explain their conduct of this war, 
without regard for honesty, honor, decency, 
pity, or chivalry. 

From the books of discussion and criti- 
cism let us turn to the literature of per- 
sonal experience. 

One of the most interesting and widely 
read contributions to the literature of the 
war is a book so unique as almost to defy 
classification. I refer to Sir Oliver Lodge's 
"Raymond, 6."" life and death," a memoir 
of the great scientist's youngest son who 
was killed in action. The exceptional 
character of the book lies in the fact that 
it not only pictures the son while alive 
and doing a man's work in the trenches, 
but also follows him beyond the grave and 
by means of what the father regards as 
authentic messages received through a 
trance medium represents him as a ttill 



62 



SARATOGA SPRING'S CONFERENCE 



living personality, exhibiting the same in- 
terest in and affection for his family that 
he felt in his life on earth. As is well 
known, Sir Oliver Lodge, a scientist of the 
first rank, has long been a believer in 
psychic communications between the living 
and those who are physically dead. From 
these communications the author argues a 
certainty of the continuity of life. He 
holds also that without such a belief all 
the great sacrifice of human lives that the 
war involves has no meaning. Dr. Conan 
Doyle says of this book: 

"It is a new revelation of God's dealing 
with man, and it will strengthen, not 
weaken, the central spirit of Christianity. 
It is one of the few books of which it can 
be said that no one can read it with care 
and understanding and be the same man 
or woman afterward. If you are a be- 
liever in such things already it will have 
left that belief wider and more definite. 
If you are not a believer you will find 
opened up to you a new world which you 
cannot lightly dismiss from your philos- 
ophy of life." 

The books that make the widest appeal 
to those who are taking only a distant and 
safe part in the war are those which re- 
late the experiences of combatants and 
noncombatants in camp, trench, hospital, 
and throughout the belligerent and invaded 
countries. 

From the large and growing list of books 
by fighting men it is possible to choose 
only five or six of the most vivid. 

"Over the top," by Sergeant Arthur Guy 
Empey, is deservedly the most popular 
war book by a soldier. Empey, or "Emp," 
as he calls himself when, on the public 
platform, he puts the punch of his vigor- 
ous personality into the interpretation of 
his thrilling story, has lived a great deal 
in his relatively few years. After sixteen 
years spent in knocking around the world, 
including service in the United States Reg- 
ular Army, he had settled to his engineer- 
ing profession when the European War 
broke out. The news of the sinking of the 
Lusitania caused him to write emergency 
telegrams to the members of his National 
Guard command ready to be sent as soon 



as the expected order should come from 
Washington to report for duty. One day 
after the messages had been covered with 
months of dust, a lucrative professional 
offer came over the 'phone and to his 
own surprise he found himself declining 
it because he was off for England. Arriv- 
ing there he enlisted in the British army, 
went to the front, always volunteered for 
extra hazardous duties, was wounded three 
or four times, once lying for thirty-six 
hours unconscious in a shell hole. His 
necessary surgery included a pretty opera- 
tion in facial restoration. A wound in the 
shoulder prevented further fighting, so 
that after eighteen months he was dis- 
charged as "physically unfit for further 
war service." Since his return to America 
he has written "Over the top," and other 
sketches first published serially and later 
issued in book form as "First call." 

"Over the top" is a perfectly direct ac- 
count of his experiences as a British Tom- 
my. One gets no heroics, but rather the 
hard work, the fatigue, the discomfort, the 
filth, the torture endured from cooties, the 
danger and suffering, and also the humor, 
the fun, and the practical jokes. Early in 
his book he speaks of some conversation 
as happening after he had learned to "un- 
derstand English," meaning of course the 
Cockney and other dialects of unlettered 
Englishmen. For his readers he has fur- 
nished a thirty-five page glossary entitled 
"Tommy's dictionary of the trenches." 
Some of these terms are "Blighty," mean- 
ing home; "No man's land"; "Carry on," 
keeping at it; "the best of luck," the Jonah 
phrase of the trenches, used whenever a 
man goes "over the top" or into extra 
hazardous duty; "gone west," to have been 
killed. 

From a book all so quotable it is diffi- 
cult to choose, so I will content myself 
with this bit from his hospital experi- 
ence: 

"Some kindly looking old lady will stop 
at your bed and in a sympathetic voice 
address you, 'You poor boy, wounded by 
those terrible Germans. You must be suf- 
fering frightful pain. A bullet, did you 
say? Well, tell me, I have always wanted 



BOWERMAN 



S3 



to know, did It hurt worse going in or 
coming out?' 

Tommy generally replies that he did not 
stop to figure it out when he was hit. 

One very nice looking, over-enthusiastic 
young thing stopped at my bed and asked, 
■What wounded you in the face?' 

In a polite but bored tone I answered, 
*A rifle bullet.' With a look of disdain she 
passed to the next bed, first ejaculating, 
'Oh! only a bullet? I thought it was a 
shell.' Why she should think a shell 
wound was more of a distinction beats 
me." 

Almost his closing words are: 

"War is not a pink tea, but in a worth 
while cause like ours, mud, rats, cooties, 
shells, wounds, or death itself are far out- 
weighed by the deep sense of satisfaction 
felt by the man who does his bit," 

I am informed that "A student in arms," 
by Donald Hankey, has become almost a 
second Bible with all Y. M. C. A. men en- 
gaged in war work. The author was an 
Oxford man, a student for the ministry. 
He was killed in October, 1916, leading his 
men. The two volumes published under 
this title are made up of short essays, and 
imaginary conversations, originally pub- 
lished chiefly in the Spectator. They are 
filled with lofty idealism and charged with 
religious spirit. They deal not so much 
with the actual incidents of the war as 
with soldiers' attitude toward life at the 
front, toward religion, the church, their 
officers and each other. 

The character of the books may be gath- 
ered from this brief extract from a chap- 
ter entitled, "Of some who were lost and 
afterward were found," meaning the black 
sheep in his command, the men who, he 
says, "would not fit Into any respectable 
niche in our social edifice," who "were in- 
curably disreputable, always in scrapes, 
always impecunious, always improvident," 
"drunken and loose in morals." But this 
is the way they acted in an engagement: 

"Then at last we 'got out.' We were 
confronted with dearth, danger and death. 
And then they came to their own. We 
could no longer compete with them. We 
stolid respectable folk were not in our ele- 
ment. We knew it. We felt it. We were 
determined to go through with it. We suc- 
ceeded; but it was not without much in- 



ternal wrestling, must self-conscious effort. 
Yet they, who had formerly been our de- 
spair, were now our glory. Their spirits 
effervesced. Their wit sparkled. Hunger 
and thirst could not depress them. Rain 
could not damp them. Cold could not chill 
them. Every hardship became a joke. 
They did not endure hardship, they derided 
it. And somehow it seemed at the moment 
as if derision was all that hardship existed 
for! Never was such a triumph of spirit 
over matter. As for death, it was, in a 
way, the greatest joke of all. In a way, 
for if it was another fellow who was hit it 
was an occasion for tenderness and grief. 
But if one of them was hit, O Death, where 
is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy vic- 
tory? Portentous, solemn Death, you 
looked a fool when you tackled one of 
them! Life? They did not value life! 
They had never been able to make much of 
a fist of it. But if they lived amiss, they 
died gloriously, with a smile for the pain 
and the dread of it. What else had they 
been born for? It was their chance. With 
a gay heart they gave their greatest gift, 
and with a smile to think that after all 
they had anything to give which was of 
value. One by one death challenged them. 
One by one they smiled in his grim visage 
and refused to be dismayed. They had 
been lost, but they had found the path that 
led them home; and when at last they laid 
their lives at the feet of the Good Shep- 
herd, what could they do but smile." 

John Masefield's "Gallipoli" deserves to 
be included in this study because, as one 
critic has said, it Is "literature so magni- 
ficent, so heroic, so heartbreaking, that it 
sends us back to the Greek epics for com- 
parison." Though he does not say so, 
Mr. Masefield was at Gallipoli and partici- 
pated in the events he records. The book 
is a clear and connected account of the 
Dardanelles campaign from the landing at 
Oape Relies to the final evacuation in Janu- 
ary, 1916. The author refers to the cam- 
paign as "a great human effort, which 
came, more than once, very near to 
triumph, achieved the Impossible many 
times, and failed in the end, as many great 
deeds of arms have failed, from something 
which had nothing to do with arms nor 
with the men who bore them..." "This 
failure," says Masefield, "is the second 
grand event of the war; the first was Bel- 
gium's answer to the German ultimatum." 



64 



SARATOGA SPRINGS CONFERENCE 



The strength of the book consists not in 
its arguments against the military blun- 
ders of the campaign, but in its recital of a 
pathetic and dramatic human story, a 
breathless story, filled with disaster and 
death. The quality of the story is shown 
by this passage, at the close of the book. 
Until the truth is known, he says, as to 
why the Peninsula was not won, let our 
enemies say this: 

"They did not win, but they came across 
three thousand miles of sea, a little army 
without reserves and short of munitions, a 
band of brothers, not half of them half 
trained, and nearly all of them new to 
war. They came to what we said was an 
impregnable fort on which our veterans of 
war and massacre had laboured for two 
months, and by sheer naked manhood they 
beat us, and drove us out of it. Then ral- 
lying, but without reserves, they beat us 
again and drove us further. Then rallying 
once more, but still without reserves, they 
beat us again, this time to our knees. Then, 
had they had reserves, they would have 
conquered, but by God's pity they had none. 
Then, after a lapse of time, when we were 
men again, they had reserves, and they 
hit us a staggering blow, which needed 
but a push to end us, but God again had 
pity. After that our God was indeed piti- 
ful, for England made no further thrust, 
and they went away." 

Mr. Masefield has since written a book 
on the war on the western front, "The old 
front line," and has recently been lectur- 
ing in this country. Those who heard him, 
as I suppose many of you did, will not 
soon forget his sad face and his melancholy 
voice as he told of the war. 

The little book by Lieutenant Coningsby 
Dawson, "Carry on," consists of a collec- 
tion of letters to his family characterized 
by vividness of impression, sympathetic 
insight, and a spirit of heroism. The au- 
thor on his graduation from Oxford came 
to America and spent a year in Union 
Theological Seminary. Giving up the min- 
istry he turned to writing and published 
two or three novels including the "Garden 
without walls" and "The slaves of free- 
dom," the latter early in 1916. Securing a 
commission in the Canadian field artillery 
he was soon in France. These letters, 
which are most intimate and personal, 



were written from dugouts on the Somme 
battle front in the intervals of artillery 
fire. They were published altogether with- 
out the knowledge of the author, with a 
biographical introduction and editorial 
notes by his father, the Reverend Dr. 
W. J. Dawson. For its size this book is 
quite the most abundant in quotable pass- 



"We have got to win," he writes, "so 
that men may never again be tortured by 
the ingenious inquisition of modern war- 
fare." 

"If unconscious heroism is the virtue 
most to be desired, and heroism spiced 
with a strong sense of humor at that, then 
pretty well every man I have met out here 
has the amazing guts to wear his crown of 
thorns as though it were a cap-and-bells. 
To do that for the sake of corporate stout- 
heartedness is, I think, the acme of what 
Aristotle meant by virtue." 

"All night the machine guns tap like 
riveting machines when a New York sky- 
scraper is in the building." 

"There's a picture in the Pantheon in 
Paris, I remember; I believe it's called 
'To glory.' One sees all the armies of the 
ages charging out of the middle distance 
with Death riding at their head. The only 
glory I have discovered in this war is in 
men's hearts — it's not external. Were one 
to paint the spirit of this war he would 
depict a mud landscape, blasted trees, an 
iron sky; wading through the slush and 
shell-holes would come a file of bowed fig- 
ures, more like outcasts from the Embank- 
ment than soldiers. They're loaded down 
like pack animals, their shoulders are 
rounded, they're wearied to death, but they 
go on and go on. There's no 'to glory' 
about what we're doing out here; there's 
no flash of swords or splendor of uniforms. 
There are only very tired men determined 
to carry on. The war will be won by tired 
men who could never again pass an in- 
surance test, a mob of broken counter- 
jumpers, ragged ex-plumbers and quite un- 
heroic persons. We're civilians in khaki, 
but because of the ideals for which we fight 
we've managed to acquire soldiers' hearts." 

Lieutenant Dawson has since published 
"The glory of the trenches," likewise filled 
with inspiring idealism, and has been sent 
by the British Government to France to 
make a study of the American army there. 
A book recording his observations is an- 
nounced with the title, "Out to win." 

Another recent lecturer is the author of 



BOWERMAN 



65 



two books on England's early experiences 
In the war, "The First Hundred Thousand" 
and "All in it— K (1) carries on," by Ian 
Hay, that is, by Captain, now Major John 
Hay Beith, also a novelist ol note. These 
sketches of "the personal adventures of a 
typical regiment of Kitchener's army" give 
a detailed, unofficial chronicle of a unit 
of "K (1)," a company of Scotch High- 
landers of which the author was a mem- 
ber. He says that the "characters are en- 
tirely fictitious but the incidents described 
all actually occurred." He shows how a 
green regiment is whipped into shape, how 
it behaved under fire, and how irrepressible 
humor, his own and his companions', could 
lighten any situation. As the reader fol- 
lows the unit through these two volumes 
he comes to know by name and character- 
istics and so much to love the individual 
officers and men that when each engage- 
ment is over he is eager to learn whether 
Bobby Little, Captain Wagstaffe, Corporal 
Mucklewaine, Privates Cosh and Tosh and 
all the other kilted Jocks and Jimmies, 
Sandies and Andies are still alive and safe. 
The first volume closes with the Battle of 
Loos; the second extends to "profitable 
participation" in the Battle of the Somme. 
The author announces that there will not 
be a third volume, for the First Hundred 
Thousand, as such, says he, are no 
more. As Sergeant Mucklewaine observed, 
"There's no that mony of us left now, ony- 
ways." 

These books also afford abundant mate- 
rial for quotation, of striking and humor- 
ous incident and dialogue; much of the 
latter, however, is in Scotch dialect that 
needs the tongue of a Scotsman for its 
proper rendition. 

In view of the criticisms formerly lev- 
eled at our own earlier official manage- 
ment of this war, there is pertinence in 
Major Beith's chapter on "Olympus" which 
is divided roughly, he says, into three de- 
partments: 

(1) Round game department (including 
dockets, indents, and all official correspond- 
ence) ; (2) Fairy godmother department; 
(3) Practical joke department. 

"The outstanding feature of the round 



game department is its craving for ir- 
relevant information and its passion for 

detail Listen, and we will explain the 

rules of the game. Think of something 
you want immediately — say the command 
of a brigade, or a couple of washers for 
the lock of a machine-gun — and apply to 
us. The application must be made in writ- 
ing, upon the army form provided for the 
purpose, and in triplicate. And — you must 
'put in all the details you can possibly 
think of.' " 

For instance in the case of the machine- 
gun washers — by the way in applying for 
them you must call them "gun, machine, 
light Vickers, washers for the lock of two." 
That is the way they talk at the ordnance 
office. An ordnance officer refers to his 
wife's mother as "Law, mother-In, one." 
You should state when the old washers 
were lost, and by whom; also why they 
were lost, and where they are now. Then 
write a short history of the machine-gun 
from which they were lost, giving date and 
place of birth, together with the exact 
number of rounds which it has fired — a 
machine-gun fires about BOO rounds a min- 
ute — adding the name and military record 
of the pack animal which usually carries 
it. When you have filled up the document 
you forward it to the proper quarter and 
await results. 

The game then proceeds on simple and 
automatic lines. If your application is 
referred back to you not more than five 
times, and if you get your washers within 
three months of the date of application, 
you are the winner. If you get something 
else — say an aeroplane, or a hundred wash 
hand basins — it is a draw. But the chances 
are that you lose." 

Of the books of personal experiences by 
noncombatants the most interesting to me, 
the most sprightly and entertaining, the 
most moving is Hugh Gibson's "Journal 
from our legation in Belgium." Written 
for the eye of his mother, it covers the pe- 
riod from July 4 to December 31, 1914. The 
author was first secretary of the American 
legation in Brussels. He begins by lament- 
ing that he had been sent to such a quiet 
post and expressing his resolution to ask 
for a transfer to some busier place. Then 
comes the end of July. From that time on 
the reader is constantly wondering how he 
found time to sleep, much less keep this 
journal. Indeed, there are days at a time 
when he was absent in Louvain, Antwerp, 



66 



SARATOGA SPRINGS CONFERENCE 



Havre and London, when he slept little, 
and wrote nothing. He was often in places 
of great danger, as for example in Louvain 
while street fighting was in progress; his 
official duties took him back and forth be- 
tween the German and Belgian lines dur- 
ing engagements. Through it all he was 
ever cheerful and helpful and was espe- 
cially active in carrying messages of good 
cheer between Belgian husbands and fath- 
ers and their beleaguered families in Brus- 
sels. His sympathies were at all times 
clearly with the Belgians and his book con- 
stitutes a strong, first hand indictment of 
German treachery. Anyone who doubted 
the stories of German atrocities has only 
to read this record of our own representa- 
tive in Belgium to find on almost every 
page unstudied testimonies to robbery, 
pillage and murder committed by the Ger- 
mans everywhere in the most deliberate 
and systematic fashion. 

Mr. Gibson was not in Louvain at first, 
but arrived in time to see much of the 
work of destruction. It is his conviction 
based on first-hand evidence that for six 
days the German army indulged in an orgy 
of bestiality and murder, and that "the 
whole affair was part of a cold blooded and 
calculated plan to terrorize the civilian 
population." At this time all of the de- 
tails cannot be published without endan- 
gering the lives of people remaining in 
Belgium, but later on "the true facts of the 
destruction of Louvain will startle the 
world — hardened to surprise at German 
crimes though it has become." When food 
was nearly exhausted someone remarked 
that the Germans must not let the Belgians 
starve. General von Lfittwitz replied with 
warmth that the Allies might feed them; 
if they did not, they were responsible for 
whatever might happen; that if there were 
riots, the whole civil population might be 
driven into some restricted area and fenced 
in and left to die. 

From pages crowded with tragic events 
the difficulty is in deciding what not to 
quote. There was the morning when the 
German army occupied Brussels, going 
through it! streets, haughty, contemptuous, 



in marvelous array and equipment. "It 
was a wonderful sight, and one which I 
never expect to see equaled as long as I 
live. They poured down the hill in a 
steady stream without a pause or a break; 
not an order was ehouted or a word ex- 
changed among the officers or men. All 
of the orders and signals were given by 
whistles and signs." 

At Louvain an officer declared to Mr. 
Gibson: 'We shall make this place a des- 
ert. We shall wipe it out so that it will 
be hard to find where Louvain used to 
stand. For generations people will come 
here to see what we have done, and it will 
teach them to respect Germany and to 
think twice before they resist her. Not 
one stone on another, I tell you — keln 
Stein auf dem andern!" 

Mr. Gibson reports that the Germans 
had trained the population to throw up 
their hands as soon as anyone came in 
sight. One of his most moving experiences 
at Louvain was when in going around a 
corner in the motor they came on a little 
girl of seven carrying a canary in a cage. 
As soon as she saw them she threw up her 
hands and cried out something that they 
did not understand. Thinking that she 
wanted to give them some warning they 
put on the brakes and drew up to the curb. 
"Then she burst out crying with fear and 
we saw that she was in terror of her life. 
We called out to reassure her, but she 
turned and ran like a hunted animal." 

Later when the German authorities be- 
gan to appreciate the loathing of the world 
at the crime of Louvain the order was is- 
sued to stop the work of destruction. Mr. 
Gibson says: "It was only when he learned 
how civilization regarded his crimes, that 
the Emperor's heart began to bleed." 

He tells of another case when a troop train 
passed over a railway crossing and there 
was an explosion like the report of a rifle. 
The train was promptly stopped, and the 
officer in command at once collected all of 
the men in the vicinity and had them 
stood up against a wall and shot. After 
they were all safely dead the German 
switch tender cot a chance to explain that 



BOWERMAN 



67 



he had placed an explosive cap on the 
track as a signal to stop the train before 
reaching the next station. 

But Mr. Gibson's book is by no means 
grim and gloomy. Every day's record is 
lightened by humor, especially by the au- 
thor's dry comments on the stupidity and 
asininity of German officialdom. 

Visitors to Belgium in peace time who 
remember the omnipresent dog drawing a 
milk cart will here find him hauling ma- 
chine guns and ammunition carts. 

Throughout the book one is impressed 
by the different attitudes of the Belgians 
and Germans toward the Americans. The 
Germans were usually polite, affable and 
correct in form, profuse in promises, but 
showed clearly their distrust and their 
underlying hostility, and seemed to as- 
sume that American sympathies were not 
with them. The Belgians, on the other 
hand, always took it for granted that the 
Americans were friendly to them. The 
American flag on the legation motor was 
always cheered. He relates that on his 
memorable trip to Louvain the citizens 
"were pathetic in their confidence that the 
United States was coming to save them. 
In some way word had travelled all over 
Belgium that we have entered the war on 
the side of Belgium and they all seem to 
believe it. Nearly every group we talked 
to asked... when our troops were com- 
ing A little boy of eight asked if we 

were English and when I told him what 
we were, he began jumping up and down, 
clapping his hands and shouting, 'The 
Americans have arrived.' " 

It is quite natural that Ambassador 
James W. Gerard's "My four years in Ger- 
many" should be eagerly read because of 
its first-hand, inside, authoritative informa- 
tion about America's relations with Ger- 
many. The book more than meets one's 
expectation of it. The value consists not 
only in its account of the diplomatic mat- 
ters which the author handled with so 
much credit to his country, but also for his 
pictures of German conditions, tempera- 
ment and psychology, for his rehearsals 



of his conversations with the Kaiser and 
German ministers of state, for his ac- 
counts of prison camps and of conditions 
among working men. 

In reading this book every American is 
thankful that we had at Berlin a man who 
could tell the German foreign office that 
if an insult to this country, hung by the 
League of Truth in a conspicuous place, 
was not removed he would go with a mov- 
ing picture operator and take it down him- 
self; who could tell the Chancellor that he 
would sit in the street in front of his of- 
fice until attention was paid to a proposal 
about the war prisoners; who could tell 
Zimmermann that there was a lamp post in 
America for every German here who would 
rise against this country; who could tell 
the foreign office that he would stay there 
"until hell freezes over" before he would 
sign the treaty demanded of him as a con- 
dition of the embassy's safe-conduct out 
of Germany — and carry his point in each 
case. 

This is a book that should be read entire 
by every American for its illuminating pic- 
ture of our enemy. Nearly every page 
has something worthy of quotation. Most 
noteworthy perhaps is Mr. Gerard's inter- 
view of over an hour with the Emperor in 
October, 1915 — an audience had been re- 
fused for more than six months — in which 
the Kaiser showed intense bitterness 
against the United States. Standing very 
close to Mr. Gerard, the Kaiser said re- 
peatedly: "America had better look out 
after the war"; and, "I shall stand no non- 
sense after this war." 

The ambassador gives it as his opinion 
that "the Germans believe that President 
Wilson had been elected with a mandate 
to keep out of war at any cost, and that 
America could be insulted, flouted and 
humiliated with impunity." He also says: 
"I believe that today all of the bitterness 
of the hate formerly concentrated on Eng- 
land has now been concentrated on the 
United States." He adds that German- 
Americans are hated worse than other 
Americans because they have neither as- 



68 



SARATOGA SPRING'S CONFERENCE 



sisted Germany nor kept America out of 
the war. 

In closing his book Mr. Gerard says of 
the causes and the outcome of the war: 

"It is because in the dark, cold, north- 
ern plains of Germany there exists an 
autocracy, deceiving a great people, poi- 
soning their minds from one generation 
to another, and preaching the virtue and 
necessity of war; and until that autocracy 
is either wiped out or made powerless 

there can be no peace on earth And 

there must be no German peace. The old 
regime, left in control of Germany, of 
Bulgaria, of Turkey, would only seek a 
favorable moment to renew the war, to 
strive again for the mastery of the world. 
Fortunately America bars the way." 

Mr. Gerard has since published "Face to 
face with Kaiserism," described by the au- 
thor as a continuation of his earlier book. 

Out of the large number of novels the 
war has brought forth, I can name only a 
few, grouping them under the countries 
that they in a sense represent. For Ger- 
many I shall mention Cholmondeley's 
"Christine"; for Russia, Walpole's "The 
dark forest"; for France, Benjamin's "Pri- 
vate Gaspard" and Barbusse's "Under 
fire," and for England, H. G. Wells' "Mr. 
Britling sees it through" and May Sin- 
clair's "The tree of heaven." 

In spite of the fact that it is slight and 
intrinsically not very important, I include 
"Christine," by the author who writes un- 
der the pseudonym of Alice Cholmondeley, 
because it has been widely read and be- 
cause it probably gives a better and a 
more accurate picture of Germany at the 
outbreak of the war than does any other 
novel. It is written in the form of letters, 
vivacious and readable, from a young Eng- 
lish girl to her mother. Christine is study- 
ing music in Germany and becomes en- 
gaged to a German officer. The story 
brings out with quaint humor the German 
servility toward the offlcier, and authority 
generally and the adoration of the Kaiser. 
When she was simply an English girl she 
was nothing, was crowded off the sidewalk; 
when she was betrothed to an officer she 
was petted and congratulated on the fact 
that she was going to be a "good German"; 



when Great Britain declared war her lover 
was practically commanded to give her up 
and she was humiliated and insulted- 

One of the best touches is that of the 
transformation of Kloster, her great mu- 
sic master, from a rebel who constantly 
denounces the authority of the military 
caste to a good yeoman in the Kaiser's 
service by his decoration with the Order of 
the Red Eagle, first class, with title of 
Wirklicher Geheimrath mit dem Pradikat 
Excellenz. On receipt of that honor he 
casts off his former confidante and most 
promising pupil (Christine) without a 
word of explanation. 

While war was brewing she was com- 
pelled to hear much of Germany, its his- 
tory, achievements and character. 

"By the time the servant came to take 
the tea things I had a distinct vision of 
Germany as the most lovable of little 
lambs with a blue ribbon round its neck, 
standing knee-deep in daisies and looking 
about the world with kind little eyes." 

After the Austrian note had been sent to 
Serbia she had this conversation with her 
hostess, who said: 

"'Russia and France will not interfere 
in so just a punishment.' 

'But is it just?' I asked. 

She gazed at me critically at this. It 
was not, she evidently considered, a suit- 
able remark for one whose business it was 
to turn into an excellent little German. 
'Dear child,' she said, Tou cannot suppose 
that our ally, the Kaiser's ally, would make 
demands that are not just.' 

'Do you think Friday's papers are still 
anywhere about?' was my answer. 'I'd like 
to read the Austrian note, and think it 
over for myself. I haven't yet.' 

The Grftfin smiled at this, and rang the 
bell. 'I expect the butler has them. . . But 
do not worry your little head this hot 
weather too much.' 

'It won't melt,' I said, resenting that my 
head should be regarded as so very small 
and also made of sugar. 

'There are people whose business it is to 
think these high matters out for us,' she 
said, *and in their hands we can safely 
leave them.' 

'As if they were God,' I remarked. 

'Precisely,' she said, 'Loyal subjects, true 
Christians, are alike in their unquestion- 
ing trust and obedience to authority.'" 

I am able to offer no opinion as to wheth- 



BOWERMAN 



69 



er the real author of "Christine" is or is 
not. the writer usually known In literature 
as the Countess von Arnlm, author of 
"Elizabeth and her German garden-" 

Some may think that to represent Rus- 
sia in war fiction I ought to include An- 
dreyev's "Confessions of a little man in 
great days," since it is by a prominent 
Russian novelist and is about the war. 
However, as I detest the whining, self- 
pitying tone of its soul analysis, I prefer 
to include a more robust book, "The dark 
forest" by the English novelist, Hugh Wal- 
pole, author of "Fortitude." In "The dark 
forest," the story is concerned with a Red 
Cross "Otriad" or surgical unit whose 
members follow the Russian armies on 
their advance and their great retreat in 
Galicia. Types of English and Russian 
character are contrasted and the Russian 
mystical temperament and belief in psychic 
phenomena play an important part in the 
development of the story. The atmosphere 
is that of war and of Russia. There are 
many vivid impressions of actual warfare. 
One has to do with the lack of ammuni- 
tion which caused the Russian breakdown. 
The following is an extract from Tran- 
chard's diary: 

"They say that the Austrians are strain- 
ing every nerve to break through to the 
river and cross. We are doing what we 
can to prevent them, but what can we do? 
There simply is not ammunition! The of- 
ficers here are almost crying with despair, 
and the men know it and go on, with their 
cheerfulness, their obedience, their mild 
kindliness — go into that green hill to be 
butchered, and come out of it again, if 
they are lucky, with their bodies mangled 
and twisted, and horror in their eyes. It's 
nobody's fault, I suppose, this business. 
How easy to write in the daily papers that 
the Germans prepared for this war and 
that we did not, and that after a month or 

two all will be well After a month or 

two! tell that to us, stuck here in the for- 
est and hear how we laugh!" 

To Rene Benjamin was awarded the Gon- 
court prize for 1916 for his "Private Gas- 
pard, a soldier of France." The slang of 
the original is almost untranslatable and 
though the book has been reproduced in 
good American slang, the spirit of France 



breathes in spite of the inadequacies of the 
translation. The hero is a Montmartre 
snail merchant, but he is also the tradi- 
tional gamin grown up; according to one 
critic he is the Gallic cock of legend. He 
is irrepressible, bubbling over with assur- 
ance, humor and sympathy. We find in 
Gaspard the spirit of France, gay and 
brave, despite the horrors of war, the 
Prance that so marvelously disappointed 
her enemies, the France that recreated her- 
self out of the war. The buoyancy, cour- 
age and vigor that pervade the story are a 
fitting symbol of the land that produced 
it. These extracts illustrate the quality 
of the book: 

"Gaspard inquired: 'What do you call 
this place?' 

The sergeant replied: "They tell me it's 
G— .' 

'G — ?' said Gaspard. 'Never heard of it.' 

He was obviously dissatisfied- No one 
ever heard of G — . What he wanted was 
the name of one of the great battles of 
history. To have been wounded at G— 
would mean nothing, however great an es- 
cape from death he might have had. He 
had seen so many fall and die! The only 
ones he hadn't seen were the Germans. 
He asked the others: 'Did you see the Ger- 
mans?' 

A wounded man replied: 'Much do I wor- 
ry about that! I don't want to see them.' 

'Well, you think like a fool. He doesn't 
care to see them!... Well, who does?... 
Only I sure didn't think that war was any- 
thing like this. And I'm not the only one 
at that. When I fight I'm not afraid to 
show myself; I don't go into hiding! But 
with these swine, they stay at home and 
fire at you all their rotten steel and iron. 
We were willing to go right to it; all we 
wanted was a hand to hand fight.' 

A voice from the shadows said: 'Unfor- 
tunately those are no more the conditions 
of modern warfare.' 

'Modern be damned!' said Gaspard. 'I 
don't know any big words like that but I 
know what I'm talking about. And if I'd 
known before I wouldn't have gone into 
the infantry.' 

'Where would you have gone?' said the 
same voice. 

'Where would I have gone? Why, in a 
flying corps! I would have applied for a 
job as an aviator. . . and that's the kind of 
a job I'd like, because I could spit on the 
Germans!' 

Gaspard was allowed to go home on 



70 



SARATOGA SPRING'S CONFERENCE 



three days' leave. He hurried to Paris, 
arriving at his home at midnight and 
waked up his mother, his mistress Marie, 
and his little son and told them all of his 
experiences at the front. 

During the night of his arrival, after 
drinking the coffee which she prepared 
for him, all the memories of the past 
months came hack to him; he was happy 
to find his home in such good condition 
and looked affectionately first at Marie and 
then at the boy. While thinking over the 
past he became suddenly aware of a deep 
feeling of gratitude toward this brave 
woman who had brought up his son and 
taken euch good care of him. He said: 

'I'll tell you what we'll do I just got 

an idea This is war, you know. . . and 

there is nothing like war to give you an 
Idea... not that there's anything new 

about it, but war changes everything 

Listen here, Bibiche, don't you think it 
would be better. . . if we went out. . . and 
got married?' 

This was entirely unexpected and she 
was so happy she could hardly reply. 

Gaspard, with all the frankness of his 
simple soul, went on: 

'I just came to think of it... and when 
you think of it you might as well do it. . . 
because, you know. . . later on we might 
forget all about it.' 
His mother began to worry. 
'You're not afraid that you're going to 
be killed when you go back, are you?' 

•Killed!' Gaspard cried, 'killed!' Well 
I don't think! Never... but this is the 
way; so long as we're doing a general 
cleanup we might as well settle up our 
own private affairs. Here's a little kid 
who doesn't know just what he is. That 
was all right before the war. But when 
it is all over everything will be straight- 
ened out and we don't want to be behind 
the others.' 

Married he was, though it took him five 
days and his leave was only three and 
this resulted in imprisonment when he 
reported back for duty, which seemed 
pretty hard when he had been to such 
pains to marry his wife and give his son 
a father." 

Although Henri Barbusse's "Le Feu" 
(English translation entitled "Tinder fire") 
received the Goncourt prize for 1916 and is 
by some French critics regarded as the 
book of the war most likely to hold a per- 
manent place in literature, I mention it 
not to commend it but to condemn its 
spirit and effect. Most French people de- 
plore the vogue it has gained in America 



and even charge its circulation here to 
German propaganda. They resent the book 
as a false picture of the poilu. With ex- 
treme naturalism the author dwells on the 
filth and the stench of trench life and on 
the animalism of the common soldiers who 
are for the most part pictured as without 
Ideals, without a spirit of patriotism, as 
simply dragging out a sordid existence in 
the trenches until they get to billets where 
they can be gluttons and become sodden 
with drink. A book that has been so gen- 
erally read and so violently discussed can- 
not be ignored. However, it comes so far 
short of doing justice to the sufferings, the 
heroism and the patriotism of the French, 
that in spite of its brilliancy, the general 
effect of this book by an avowed pacifist 
is unwholesome and its circulation is not 
designed to help win the war. 

I fancy that it is not necessary to make 
any extended comment on H. G. Wells' 
"Mr. Britling sees it through," probably 
the most widely read novel that the war 
has produced. Published before we went 
into the war, this novel of England in war 
time has peculiar interest for Americans, 
for it is through the eyes of an American 
visitor that Mr. Wells first shows us 
Matchlng's Easy, with its lighthearted, in- 
consequential life running with ordered 
smoothness. All through the story Mr. 
Dlreck remains as representative of Amer- 
ica, torn between two conflicting states of 
mind by the war, just as Herr Heinrich, 
the German tutor, simple, methodical to 
the point of absurdity, stands for the de- 
luded, docile German people. But in its 
essentials this is the story of Mr. Britling, 
and through the story of what the war is do- 
ing to England, taking from him, as from 
thousands of others, his best loved son, 
but also making him look beyond the 
personal love, 'beyond nationalism to find 
a meaning that will justify the sacrifice. 

Perhaps the most interesting thing about 
the book is that in it Mr. Wells through 
Mr. Britling gives an amazingly frank, 
transparent portrait of himself, his ideas, 
his sympathies, his character as a man of 
letters and finally that he sets forth what 



BOWERMAN 



71 



may be called his own conversion to reli- 
gion. The most quoted passage of the 
book Is the letter written by Mr. Brltllng, 
after the loss of his son Hugh, to Hein- 
rich's father, whose son has also been 
killed. After many futile attempts he con- 
cludes: 

"Religion Is the first thing and the last 
thing, and until a man has found God and 
has been found by God, he begins at no 
beginning, he works to no end. He may 
have his friendships, his political loyal- 
ties, his scraps of honor. But all these 
things fall into place and life falls into 
place only with God. Only with God. God, 
who fights through men against Blind 
Force and Night and Non-Existence; who 
is the end, who is the meaning. He is 
the only King. Of course, I must write 
about Him. I must tell all my world of 
Him. And before the coming of the true 
King, the inevitable King, the King who is 
present whenever just men foregather, 
this bloodstained rubbish of the ancient 
world, these puny kings and tawdry em- 
perors, these wily politicians and artful 
lawyers, these men who claim and grab 
and trick and compel, these war makers 
and oppressors, will presently shrivel and 
pass — like paper thrust into the flame. 
. . . Our sons who have shown us God." 

Mr. Wells has continued the explanation 
of his theory of religion with God as the 
militant king of a united world in his es- 
say, "God the invisible King," and in his 
recently published novel, "The soul of a 
bishop." 

A novel which is perhaps fully as signi- 
ficant as "Mr. Britling" in its portrayal of 
England's gradual progress from stunned 
incredulity regarding the war to intense 
and grim absorption in it, and a novel 
which is certainly far more artistic as 
literature than "Mr. Britling" is May Sin- 
clair's "The tree of heaven." The over- 
whelming effect of the war on one pros- 
perous and comfortably self-satisfied fam- 
ily Is made to seem typical. Miss Sinclair 
has intensified the impression she gives of 
the war as fate by devoting over half of 
her book to the life of the family before 
the war begins. "We see the four children 
growing up about their mother, who Is 
complacently contented with herself, her 
home, her husband, and above all her 



children whom she secretly holds dearer 
than her husband. She has a complacent 
feeling of pride too that England is her 
country, when she gives the matter a 
thought, but for the most part England 
means little to her but her own immedi- 
ate surroundings — her home with its 
charming garden in which stands the 
"tree of heaven." Anthony, her husband, 
is absorbed in his thriving business and 
in providing generously for the demands 
of his family. 

Then the war comes. At first their life 
goes on very much as usual; then they are 
all drawn gradually into its vortex, until 
finally the old placid personal life is a 
thing of the past — never to return. Trag- 
edy has come to the household through its 
children, but with tragedy has come the 
awakening of something in the souls of 
Anthony and his wife of which they had 
never before been really conscious — 
passionate devotion to England and its 
ideals of liberty. 

The presence in this novel of more than 
a suggestion of belief in spirit communica- 
tion with the living is very interesting be- 
cause it is one of many illustrations of the 
turning of English thought and belief in 
that direction since the outbreak of the 
war. i 

It should be observed that America has 
not produced any great war novel, perhaps 
for the reason that not yet has the iron 
really entered into her soul. 

The books I have commented upon form 
but a very small selection from the ellg- 
ibles. Though several of them were pub- 
lished somewhat early in the war, their 
value is attested by their continued popu- 
larity. Another paper of similar length 
might be devoted to an altogether differ- 
ent group of war books that taken to- 
gether would probably prove only a little 
less interesting than those I have treated. 

I have tried to communicate something 
of the spirit of the prose literature of the 
war by means of abstracts of and extracts 
from some of the most important and 
typical books produced by the war; that 
is, I have aimed to be as direct a means as 



72 



SARATOGA SPRINGS CONFERENCE 



possible of communication from the au- 
thors to my hearers, Instead of interpos- 
ing my own reactions between my audi- 
ence and the writers whose books I have 
chosen for comment and quotation. To 
summarize briefly some of the impres- 
sions I have gained from my reading, I may 
instance as most prominent these charac- 
teristics: 

Everywhere there is loathing for the 
Germans— the men as well as their mili- 
tary masters — for their treachery and de- 
ceit — they don't fight fairly or like good 
sportsmen — for their cruelty, for their 
dastardly attitude toward women and chil- 
dren and noncombatants. It is quite as 
evident to the fighting man as to the 
statesman that the Germans have carried 
the world back to a state of savagery from 
which it must be rescued. The fighting 
men among the Allies believe themselves 
to be engaged In a high crusade, not sim- 
ply to make the world safe for democracy, 
but something more elementary than that, 



to make it a place In which human beings 
may again live in safety. And the hope is 
everywhere present that this may prove 
the last and final war and that civilization 
may never again be put to the torture. 
Though the sense of danger, the apprehen- 
sion of death, the grumbling at the dis- 
comforts incident to life in camp and 
trench, the irritation at the injustice at 
being uprooted from habitual life and em- 
ployment and at being forced by the Kai- 
ser to clean things up are always present, 
in most of the books I have read, cheer- 
fulness, good spirits, take it as it comes, 
be a good sport, fun, practical jokes, com- 
radeship, goodfellowship, sympathy, help- 
fulness and tenderness are much more 
prevalent. Finally the will to victory, the 
spirit that has dominated France and 
made her the marvel of the world, is the 
spirit that pervades all of this literature, 
and will prove, I believe, the strongest 
factor in bringing the war to the only 
conclusion that America will tolerate. 



THE SPIRIT OF THE WAR LITERATURE: POETRY 
By Mat Massee, Editor, The Booklist 



The two great mysteries of this life are 
love and hate, and as war is such a mar- 
velous manifestation of both in their high- 
est and lowest expressions it intrigues the 
minds of men to find the answer, to under- 
stand, to explain, to glorify in all its won- 
der and to hideously expose In all its hor- 
ror. 

When men are moved to the point where 
they can interpret their own emotions, 
their speech becomes the speech of poets, 
the seers, and as never before have so many 
men been shaken to the depths, never be- 
fore have there been so many poems to 
voice the immediate feelings of a genera- 
tion. They express every shade of feeling 
from the lightest to the deepest, from 
poems which are inspired to those which 
are — not Inspired, until one who reads hun- 
dreds of these expressions is divided be- 



tween sincere admiration and half-ashamed 
appreciation of Mr. Dooley's Idea that the 
bombardment of defenseless citizens by 
"concealed batt'ries lv poets" adds a new 
terror to warfare. 

Most of the men are young, and glorious 
youth thrills through their poems — "The 
ungirt runners," "The soldier's game," 
"The river bathe" — numberless poems of the 
joy of living. It makes a sporting propo- 
sition of the first fighting, with dare-devil 
boys shouting "Over the top with the best 
of luck and give 'em hell!" You will find 
it in the trench ditties like the one which 
sprang from nowhere in the first year of 
the war when the regulars were waiting 
for Kitchener's army: 

"Who are the boys that fighting's for, 
Who are the boys to win the war? 
It's good old Kitchener's army.