Towards the Goal

Mrs Humphry Ward
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Towards the Goal

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Title: Towards The Goal
Author: Mrs. Humphry Ward
Release Date: November 16, 2003 [EBook #10099]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Ginny Brewer and PG Distributed Proofreaders


With an introduction by THE HON. THEODORE ROOSEVELT
To ANDRé CHEVRILLON True Son of France True Friend of England I dedicate this book.

England has in this war reached a height of achievement loftier than that which she attained in the struggle with Napoleon; and she has reached that height in a far shorter period. Her giant effort, crowned with a success as wonderful as the effort itself, is worthily described by the author of this book. Mrs. Ward writes nobly on a noble theme.
This war is the greatest the world has ever seen. The vast size of the armies, the tremendous slaughter, the loftiness of the heroism shown, and the hideous horror of the brutalities committed, the valour of the fighting men, and the extraordinary ingenuity of those who have designed and built the fighting machines, the burning patriotism of the people who defend their hearthstones, and the far-reaching complexity of the plans of the leaders--all are on a scale so huge that nothing in past history can be compared with them. The issues at stake are elemental. The free peoples of the world have banded together against tyrannous militarism and government by caste. It is not too much to say that the outcome will largely determine, for daring and liberty-loving souls, whether or not life is worth living. A Prussianised world would be as intolerable as a world ruled over by Attila or by Timur the Lame.
It is in this immense world-crisis that England has played her part; a part which has grown greater month by month. Mrs. Ward enables us to see the awakening of the national soul which rendered it possible to play this part; and she describes the works by which the faith of the soul justified itself.
What she writes is of peculiar interest to the United States. We have suffered, or are suffering, in exaggerated form, from most (not all) of the evils that were eating into the fibre of the British character three years ago--and in addition from some purely indigenous ills of our own. If we are to cure ourselves it must be by our own exertions; our destiny will certainly not be shaped for us, as was Germany's, by a few towering autocrats of genius, such as Bismarck and Moltke. Mrs. Ward shows us the people of England in the act of curing their own ills, of making good, by gigantic and self-sacrificing exertion in the present, the folly and selfishness and greed and soft slackness of the past. The fact that England, when on the brink of destruction, gathered her strength and strode resolutely back to safety, is a fact of happy omen for us in America, who are now just awaking to the folly and selfishness and greed and soft slackness that for some years we have been showing.
As in America, so in England, a surfeit of materialism had produced a lack of high spiritual purpose in the nation at large; there was much confusion of ideas and ideals; and also much triviality, which was especially offensive when it masqueraded under some high-sounding name. An unhealthy sentimentality--the antithesis of morality--has gone hand in hand with a peculiarly sordid and repulsive materialism. The result was a soil in which various noxious weeds flourished rankly; and of these the most noxious was professional pacificism. The professional pacificist has at times festered in the diseased tissue of almost every civilisation; but it is only within the last three-quarters of a century that he has been a serious menace to the peace of justice and righteousness. In consequence, decent citizens are only beginning to understand the base immorality of his preaching and practice; and he has been given entirely undeserved credit for good intentions. In England as in the United States, domestic pacificism has been the most potent ally of alien militarism. And in both countries the extreme type has shown itself profoundly unpatriotic. The damage it has done the nation has been limited only by its weakness and folly; those who have professed it have served the devil to the full extent which their limited powers permitted.
There were in England--just as
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