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War_and_Hallucinations

70 THE SATURDAY EVENING POST February 13,1915 C) LETTER INSURANCE GOVERNMENT stamp on the outside of a letter is a fair guarantee for its safe delivery. The stamp costs two cents, or 40% of the total investment. The fact that a letter is written on Old Hampshire Bond is a fair guarantee that the letter will be read and respected. The crackle of quality and the clean, strong-fibred appearance of such stationery cannot be disregarded. This most effective insurance offered by ITARAmlittatilig The Standard Paper for Business Stationery will cost about 2%. In other words, an average typewritten letter on ordinary paper costs about 5 cents (for paper, postage and stenographer's time). On Old Hampshire Bond it will cost about 5 1/10 cents—surely not an extravagant price to pay, considering the results. Stationery should not be considered "in bulk "—but one sheet at a time—as it is used. We shall be glad to send you the Old Hampshire Bond Book of Specimens. A simple request written on your present letterhead will bring it. HAMPSHIRE PAPER COMPANY, South Hadley Falls, Mass. The only paper makers in the world making Bond Paper exclusively cir 3 4. cts( 4'114 e4)..n( 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 E Curtis Students Under No Expense /jOST of the prominent colleges have on • V I their rolls what are known as "Curtis Students." They are usually among the brightest in the college. They don't pay anything for their board and tuition, their bills being defrayed by THE CURTIS PUBLISHING COMPANY. You can attend any college, musical conservatory, business school or agricultural college in the United States under the same conditions. If you are interested, drop us a line and we will send you a mighty interesting booklet telling all about the plan and what this army of "Curtis Students" has done. Box 740, Educational Division THE CURTIS PUBLISHING COMPANY, PHILADELPHIA, PENNA. 1111111110111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111110111111111111111111111111111111111111111111113 itself is the greatest fabrication of all, because it belies all we have called truth. For example, can anyone in his senses conceive of millions of men belonging to nations which but yesterday protected society from the smallest trespass of the law, armed with every engine of death and destruction, killing one another. He may think he can, but he cannot. I heard this story of an engagement between the forces of the French and Germans in a certain forest: "We killed so many Prussians that they lay piled all along the battle line as high as a man's head," said the officer. "Then we set the woods afire and burned the bodies— twelve hundred in all !" Even allowing that so many were slain, one has only to compute how long a funeral pyre twelve hundred bodies heaped as "high as a man's head" would make in order to understand how far removed his story was from the facts. What had actually happened would have required the genius of Dante to describe. The common man has not got that, so he deals in fiction. And the explanation of all fiction is that we are not equal to the sterner business of portraying the drama of life. During the first fight for Calais we heard that the enemy lost ten thousand men a day for ten days, that the rivers were red with blood and dammed with the bodies of dead Germans. When those brave little Frenchmen, who a few weeks ago were peaceful citizens living simply in a routine which had lasted for two generations, peeped up over the trenches at night after the day's battle and saw ghastly figures lying thick upon the ground, the indescribable horror of it was beyond them to tell. It was as easy to believe what they could imagine as that which they actually saw. The tale of ten thousand Prussians slain every day was the sincere effort of literalminded men to convey some idea of the scene, not the facts. When seventy thousand Indian troops landed at Marseilles it was incredible. The sight fired the imagination, so we heard that a force of eight hundred thousand Japanese were already on their way to join the Allied Armies. Only eight hundred thousand ! You get the contagion for using big numbers from reading the papers and from listening to the average man talk. Figures, which in normal times are supposed not to lie, have become the medium of fiction in this war. The Inventions of the Simple You can exaggerate the sight of a long road filled with women, children, old men, cows, dogs and pigs, all flying before the advance of the enemy. But your way of exaggerating may not convey the faintest idea of this spectacle. They carry their household possessions in carts and barrows, in packs on their backs. They have no water, no food. The children are not screaming with terror; they are curious at the novelty of things—that is, until they are tired and hungry. Everybody is kicking someone else's dog, yelling at the straying cattle. Calves are bawling, pigs squealing, children wailing or laughing. Only the women are fussing and weeping. And at night there is no rest. When thousands fled from Lille they were not permitted to stop in the towns through which they passed. The Germans were at their heels. This flight continued for four days, between the German and British lines, with the shells from both sides flying over their heads. Yet because no man living can describe the anguish and terror of that journey, or of many other journeys even more awful, we hear tales of "atrocities." Crimes have been committed, but even where nothing of the kind happened they are fabricated by way of interpretation, and, I must say, with a lack of variation which is itself a proof of their origin—the same tale, simple, horrible, invented by a simple mind which is suddenly licensed by the times to do its most heinous in the way of primitive narrative. The actual facts are more impressive because they affect a greater number of victims. But in setting them forth the ulterior motive is not to tell the truth, but to horrify a listening world. So we miss the very details which carry conviction. Picture a hundred incidents like the following, varying infinitely in time, place and nationality, in outward appearance, but not at all inwardly, and you receive a better idea of what happens when a town is threatened by the enemy and the people fly as if pursued by devils: This young mother carried her pack for miles; she was accompanied by a child of four years. As the night approached the baby could go no farther, so the mother was obliged to stop by the roadside. Her companions went on. They dared not wait. What anguish, what terror, as she sat alone in the dark, deafened by the roar of cannon behind her, trembling at every nearer sound. She was a wife whose husband was fighting over there where the horizon:was red with the glow of flames. She was a mother whose child lay exhausted upon her knees. Even if she escaped every danger she had suffered them all in her mind. For if you would expose a woman to the most dreadful agony do not choose a certain danger, but leave her to keep company with her own catastrophic imagination. Nothing happened to this woman. "I was so tired," she told me, "that I fell asleep with the baby in my arms. And we were both still asleep when another party of refugees overtook us about midnight. I went on with them." The Miracle of Miracles It is the exception when anything hap., pens to these fleeing women. But every one of them suffers as much as if she had seen her child murdered and had her own body broken upon a wheel. That is the awful thing about war for the helpless when they are literally exposed to its dangers. It is what they fear, intensified by the horrible things they have heard. Courage is the fear-not of fear. It is impossible to be brave without the motif of fear, that sense of danger which stimulates furious resistance. We have had evidence enough of that in the battles of this war. Never have men fought so because never have men had such reason to fear so. But the hallucination of fear takes many forms. A civilian, unarmed and alone, who had never been under fire, found himself one day in a storm of bullets and shells. "I stood perfectly still," he told me. "All at once I knew that none of them would hit me." He saved himself by a hallucination. If he had permitted his mind to acknowledge the danger he would have been frantic with terror. This is what routs troops and sends them flying in retreat. They are shocked into a moment's sanity by the prevalence of death about them. And this is why war news is so rigidly censored and why bad news is kept so carefully from the people. One man afraid is not dangerous. But when fear seizes upon a city, there you have the most horrible form of madness and ferocity conceivable. So the government protects the people by encouraging the hallucination of safety, which is one of the easiest of all hallucinations to impose. To me it has been like looking behind curtains of fire where all things melt and change and are no more. Never again shall I be able to believe any history, especially of a war, because no one knows what has happened and those who fought know least of all. And while I retain even a stronger faith iin Almighty God, in the Divinity of Jesus Christ, who is indeed the Prince of Peace, not of war, and even in my own scared-to-death immortality, I do confess that my faith in miracles is more eclectic than ever it was before. The most miraculous thing going on in this world to-day is that nine million fairly decent citizens have broken loose and are killing one another like demons, with the approval of their respective governments. And that is the wrong kind of a miracle. I have always tried to live above the meanness of believing in damnation for any man, but somebody ought to be punished for this miracle. And somebody will be— the ones who are not responsible for it—the women and children. And history will mention them as a part of the burden the state had to bear. I believe in a trial by jury for all war lords, and in a jury composed of women who have lost their husbands in battle.


War_and_Hallucinations
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