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Getting Together   By: (1876-1952)

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Author of "The First Hundred Thousand," "A Safety Match," etc.




Copyright, 1917, by IAN HAY BEITH

All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign languages, including the Scandinavian


For several months it has been the pleasant duty of the writer of the following deliverance to travel around the United States, lecturing upon sundry War topics to indulgent American audiences. No one least of all a parochial Briton can engage upon such an enterprise for long without beginning to realize and admire the average American's amazing instinct for public affairs, and the quickness and vitality with which he fastens on and investigates every topic of live interest.

Naturally, the overshadowing subject of discussion to day is the War, and all the appurtenances thereof. The opening question is always the same. It lies about your path by day in the form of a newspaper man, or about your bed by night in the form of telephone call, and is simply:

"When is the War going to end?"

(One is glad to note that no one ever asks how it is going to end: that seems to be settled.)

The simplest way of answering this question is to inform your inquisitor that so far as Great Britain is concerned the War has only just begun began, in fact, on the first of July, 1916; when the British Army, equipped at last, after stupendous exertions, for a grand and prolonged offensive, went over the parapet, shoulder to shoulder with the soldiers of France, and captured the hitherto impregnable chain of fortresses which crowned the ridge overlooking the Somme Valley, with results now set down in the pages of history.

Having weathered this conversational opening, the stranger from Britain finds himself, as the days of his sojourn increase in number, swept gently but irresistibly into an ocean of talk an ocean complicated by eddies, cross currents, and sudden shoals upon the subject of Anglo American relations over the War. Here is the substance of some of the questions which confront the perplexed wayfarer:

1. "Do your people at home appreciate the fact that we are thoroughly pro Ally over here?"

2. "How about that Blockade? What are you opening our mails for eh?"

3. "Would you welcome American intervention?"

4. "What do you propose to do about the submarine menace?"

5. "You don't really think we are too proud to fight, do you?"

6. "Are you in favour of National Training for Americans?"

7. "Do you expect to win outright, or are both sides going to fight themselves to a standstill?"


8. "Why can't you Britishers be a bit kinder in your attitude to us?"


Let us take this welter of interrogation categorically, and endeavour to frame such answers as would occur to the average Briton to day.

But first of all, let it be remembered that the average Briton of to day is not the average Briton of yesterday. Three years ago he was a prosperous, comfortable, thoroughly insular Philistine. He took a proprietary interest in the British Empire, and paid a munificent salary to the Army and Navy for looking after it. There his Imperial responsibilities ceased. As for other nations, he recognized their existence; but that was all. In their daily life, or national ideals, or habit of mind, he took not the slightest interest, and said so, especially to foreigners.

"I'm English," he would explain, with a certain proud humility. "That's good enough for yours truly!"

This sort of thing rather perplexed the American people, who take a keen and intelligent interest in the affairs of other nations.

But to day the average Briton would not speak like that. He will never speak like that again. He has been outside his own island: he has made a number of new acquaintances. He has been fighting alongside of the French, and has made the discovery that they do not subsist entirely upon frogs... Continue reading book >>

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