BLTC Press Titles

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The Bhagavad Gita


The Characters of Theophrastus


Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett

The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

Defeat or victory?

by Arthur Mee


And yet there is not in these islands a man with mind so dead that he does not see what all the world can see. We stand confronted with all the powers of scientific deviltry. All Europe rocks and reels. From morning to night, from night till morning, the manhood of the nations is marching to its grave. Not for the first time in this island's story, afflicted Europe looks to her for a refuge and a strength in time of trouble. And Europe has not looked in vain, for this island has done wonders. She has done wonders that we little thought possible. But the things she has not done, the great and noble things that might have kept us company on our redeeming way—ah! what shall we say of these?

We must say of them that this country has deprived herself of mighty powers of victory; that while her young men have gone forth to wounds and death, we at home have done less than our part. For them there were the trenches and the German guns; for us there is Britain still—still the warm fireside, the well-furnished table, and all that most of us want. The sacrifice of war has yet to come for us at home. Out there men bear the burden and the agony; here we read of it and are stirred and thrilled, yet never are we thrilled to supreme sacrifice. There men are true till death for Britain's sake; but Britain is not true in life and ease.

It is/time, it is surely more than time, that it was said. It is time, surely, with the war far into its third year, that we took our part in it at home. The power of a nation is not in its materials. Behind its guns and shells, behind its wealth and visible powers, is the soul of the people, without which all is in vain. And the soul of our people, deeply stirred in that far-off autumn of 1914, has lost touch with those great heights it reached when the Prime Minister led us to believe that no sacrifice was too great with freedom and honor at stake.

We believed it then; our men went out believing it; they went to their graves believing it. But it is not true. We have lost our belief in sacrifice. We have believed we could pull through without it. What has happened is that the Government of this country, in the gravest crisis with which we were ever confronted, declared to our people that, whatever they might have said on our platforms, whatever glowing phrases they sent ringing round the,world from the Guildhall, the supreme act of sacrifice we called for abroad was not called for at home. It is pitifully true, and in it lies the secret of the lengthening war.

The war goes on, and will go on, because we have not paid the price of victory. We are shirkers yet.

Let us use plain words. There is a canker in the life of Britain. As a strong man throws off poisons, so do nations in their strength; but the time comes when poisons have their way. And so the time came to Europe. Britain, France, and Russia, when the war burst suddenly upon Europe, had each its great internal problem to be solved. Within a few days Russia made her choice. Within a few "weeks France had followed her. A little longer and Britain, too, was face to face with the peril her allies had put away from them.

The Prussian barbarians were pressing on, but the great British power moved slowly. We were short of guns and men, and we were short from a cause that was easily controllable. It was not that our ships could not bring in the raw materials across the sea; it was not that the gates of the world were closed against us; it was not that the war conditions made it difficult for our workshops to rise to the glorious part that fell to them in saving Europe: it was simply that an enemy within our gates, an ancient foe of ours, had its brake on Britain all the time'. It was nothing new, except that the brake' was pressing more and more upon our wheels; but those who sleep in peace wake up in war, and we found in this hour of our trial what our drink trade really means. We found that while the Prohibition workshops of America poured out shells and guns for us in quantities never known before, the workshops of this country, with an enervating stream of alcohol forever running through them, were doing less than usual.

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