Document 17: Alice Hamilton, "At the War Capitals," in Women at The Hague: The International Congress of Women and Its Results, Jane Addams, Emily G. Balch , and Alice Hamilton, eds. (New York: MacMillan, 1916), pp. 22-54.
Jane Addams, Emily Greene Balch, and Alice Hamilton wrote about their experiences as peace envoys in a 1916 book, Women at The Hague. In this excerpt from Alice Hamilton's portion of the book she described her trip with Addams. Among the surprises they encountered was a prominent socialist member of the Reichstag in military uniform, illustrating the fateful decision of the Social Democratic Party to support the war. The origins of the war in competition for colonial possessions were evident in her discussion with a "learned professor" who seemed "neither wise nor just." Hamilton also referred to their heartwarming meetings with pacifists. On more than one occasion she underlined the pivotal role the United States could play as a neutral nation seeking peace.
AT THE WAR CAPITALS
The delegation to the war capitals consisted of the president and vice-president of the Congress, Miss Addams of Chicago and Dr. Jacobs of Amsterdam. Frau Wollften Palthe of The Hague and myself, who accompanied them, were not official members of the delegation and usually took no part in the formal interviews with ministers of the foreign affairs or chancellors; so that my account of our wanderings must be confined to the unofficial parts, to the people we met informally and the impressions we gained as we passed through the countries and stopped in the capitals and saw the life there.
There were absolutely no hardships encountered anywhere, not even real discomforts. Inconveniences there were in the shape of tiresome waiting in consular offices for passports-- a formality which had to be repeated between each two countries; but aside from that, travel was easy and comfortable. The first Government visited by the delegation was the Dutch, since the Congress was held at The Hague, and after that came Great Britain, where the delegation saw the minister of foreign affairs and other officials. During that week I was in Belgium, so that the experiences in London given later in this chapter were crowded into the week we spent there while waiting for our return steamer to America.
The beginning of our joint pilgrimage was on May 19, when with the two Dutch women we left Amsterdam for the day's journey to Berlin. Germany looked far more natural than we had been led to expect; indeed, the only unusual feature to my eyes was the absence of young and middle-aged men in the fields, where the work was being carried on almost entirely by women, children, and old men.
We reached Berlin at night and the next morning as we drank out coffee a card was brought up of a prominent Socialist, a member of the Reichstag and an authority on city planning, who visited this country some two years ago and spoke in many of our large cities. We went down to meet him, but seeing no one in the room except a few officers, thought there was some mistake; when, to our surprise, a tall, blond soldier came up and saluted and we recognized that this was he. We had never supposed that he would actually be in the army, though we knew that he was one of the military Socialists, --indeed, one of those selected by the Kaiser to go on a mission to Italy and try to persuade the Italian Socialists that Italy should remain loyal to the Triple Alliance.
We talked together and he told us of Italy's probable entrance into the war, insisting that it would be a matter of no military importance, but an act of unforgivable treachery. He had been up all the night before at the foreign office and his eyes had that dull hunted look that goes with sleeplessness and intense emotion. He was the first one to attack us on the subject of America's sale of munitions of war to the allies, an attack to which we became wearily accustomed before we left Germany and Austria. He was just back from nine days at the front and claimed that every shell which had fallen in that part of the line while he was there was an American shell. Nevertheless, he was most friendly and readily promised to do what he could to secure an interview for the delegation with the foreign office.
After he left, I went out on a few errands and got my first impression of Berlin. The city, of course, was in perfect order, yet the war met me on all sides. The walls were placarded and the windows full of appeals for money for all sorts of objects; for blinded soldiers, for the relief of the widows of the heroes of a certain battle, for a woman's fund to be made up of pennies and presented to the Kaiser, and -- much the most terrible of all -- long lists of the latest casualties. But there were no wounded soldiers to be seen and no evidence of poverty and suffering, the relief work is apparently well done. Later on, when we were taken around by one of the leading philanthropists of Berlin we saw how work has been provided for those who need it, for the women especially. I had a curious sensation on that expedition of having seen and heard it all before; and then I remembered that just a little while ago in Brussels I had seen gentle Belgian ladies organizing work for the Belgian poor in exactly the same way as these gentle German ladies were doing it for the German poor. Both in Paris and in London it was the same.
We had been told before we went to Germany that the people were absolutely united in a determination to fight until Germany was victorious, that there were not a dozen men the length and breadth of the land who were even thinking, much less talking, of peace.
Of course, such unanimity is inconceivable in a nation of sixty-five million thinking people, and it was easy enough for us to convince ourselves that it did not exist. From the first we met men and women who were pacifists. The one who stands out most prominently in my mind is the clergyman, who has gathered around him a group of people free from bitterness and from ultrapatriotism, fair-minded, and deeply sorrowful over the war. Many of them belong also to a group that calls itself Der Bund Neues Vaterland, which stands for very much the same things as the Union of Democratic Control in England, -- that is, for a peace without injustice or humiliating terms to any people, no matter who is victor.
Of course, we also met people who held the point of view which we in America have been led to think universal in Germany. The Lusitania was still in every one's mind and the first note from America had just been received. I talked to many people who accepted the sinking of the vessel without questioning. She was carrying ammunition, she was armed, the passengers had been warned and had no more reason to complain than if they had deliberately entered a city that was being besieged. For instance at a tea one afternoon a lady of much sweetness and intelligence described how her three little girls had each adopted a convalescent soldier, and how they saved their pennies to buy tobacco for their proteges and gave them one of their three daily slices of bread. Then the lady continued in exactly the same tone: "And the day the news came of the sinking of the Lusitania we all took a holiday. There were no lessons, and we sent for our soldiers, and we all went off for a picnic in the country." These people were absolutely sure that Germany was fighting in self-defence, and toward the invasion of Belgium most of them held the belief that it had been a military necessity, but that there must be no permanent occupation. No one believed in the tales of atrocities. "If you knew our good German soldiers, you would see how impossible all that is."
As for out selling munitions of war to the allies, the resentment it arouses is almost incredible. Many of them seem to suppose that all the ammunition used by the allies comes from America. The American wife of a German nobleman told us that a widowed friend had come to see her with a bit of shell which some soldier had sent her from the front, saying it was the shell that had killed her husband. And the woman had shown her the ghastly thing, and said, "Look at it and tell me if it is an American shell."
We stood up stoutly for our country, arguing that it was Germany which had prevented both Hague Congresses from pronouncing against this very practice, that Germany had herself invariably taken every opportunity to sell munitions to warring countries, that for us to change international law and custom in the middle of the present war in favor of Germany and to the detriment of the allies would be an unneutral act, but it was mostly useless. I think we convinced, perhaps, two or three men. Most of them did not even listen to our explanation.
There was no difficulty in securing an interview for the delegation with the minister of foreign affairs. During the interview with the chancellor I waited in a spacious room in the chancellery on the Wilhelm Strasse, looking out on a great shady garden right in the heart of Berlin. From there we went to pay some calls on men who we thought might throw some light on the question of the possibility of neutral nations acting as negotiators between the warring countries. It was very easy to secure the introductions we wanted, partly through German friends and partly through some American newspaper men.
We called first on a learned professor who did not seem to me either wise or just, and his idea of the sort of intervention which would be of value in this crisis was so utterly un-American that we thought it hardly worth listening to. Briefly, he advised that President Wilson should use threats to the two chief belligerents and thus bring them to terms. "Let him," he said, "tell England that he will place an embargo on munitions of war, unless she will accept reasonable terms for ending the war, and let him tell Germany that this embargo will be lifted unless Germany does the same."
Miss Addams told him that such a move would be impossible, even if it were of any value: that for the President to use threats would be to lose his moral force, and that he would not have the country behind him. But the professor waved aside as absurd both these objections. "Moral influence is nothing," he said. "What is needed is armed mediation. Your president has the right under your constitution to do this; he need not consult the country."
He went on to say much that he had already said in print; that Germany desires no new territory in Europe, but what she requires is colonies, and that he would be in favor of her evacuating Belgium on condition of her being given concessions in the Belgian Congo. He was one of the Germans who could see no argument in defence of our sale of munitions and who considered the sinking of the Lusitania absolutely justified. As we rose to go he said suddenly, "We learned yesterday, my wife and I, of the fourteenth of our near relatives who have died in this war." He sighed heavily -- "There are others of course who are wounded and ill."
We found the most famous journalist of Germany very interesting. He is a little man with a big head, almost all of it forehead and hair, his eyes tired and burnt-out and his general aspect full of weary depression. People had warned us against him, calling him a fire-eater, one of the men who had done most to encourage the war. To us he seemed quite the contrary; he seemed to regard it as a terrible tragedy. He was very fair to our country, saying that Germany had no right to criticise our sale of ammunition to the allies. He said he had always told the Germans that since they had a great advantage in their enormous factories at Essen, England naturally must strive to offset it by an equal advantage, and this she had in her navy, which enabled her to buy the supplies she could not manufacture. He said it was poor sportsmanship for Germany to protest. As for help from the neutral nations in this crisis, he seemed to think it the only hope, and yet not an immediate hope.
The most moving and impressive interviews I recall in Germany were first one with a young German soldier full of a sick horror of war, the other with a former Government official in Berlin, whom we went to see just after our conversation with the journalist. This man had known and loved England and he had believed that the two countries had come to understand each other much better during the last few years and that he had helped to bring this about. Then came those terrible days in July and he had struggled against the men who were making the war, but he had gone down to defeat seeing all he had worked for vanish in a week when his beloved country determined on a course which to him could seem only a hideous blunder. He was so wretched that as he talked to us he would every now and then drop his head in his hands and fall into silence, then suddenly look up and say: "You know I am no longer in the Government, I am discredited, suspected, an outcast," or, "They may say what they will, I know England was not plotting war." Of the Lusitania he said, "A terrible mistake." He listened eagerly to Miss Addams as she explained what the Peace Congress was urging, but at the end he shook his head; he could see no hope anywhere. And so we left him in his great, sombre library, a hopeless figure in deep mourning, stooping as he walked, torn continually with a racking cough, his cheeks and temples hollow, and his eyes sunken. We felt that he was in very truth a victim of the war, though he had never been in the trenches.
I can remember but two Germans who spoke to me with the sort of bitterness that I have heard from German-Americans over here, even though the war is so very close to them. I suspect that that is the real reason: that the tragedy is too great for rancor and uncharitableness. One woman said me, when I quoted something from this side of the water: "I am far past that now. At first I was bitter, but that is gone now. At first I was bitter, but that is gone now. I have almost forgotten it." One must always remember that most Germans read nothing and hear nothing from the outside. I talked with an old friend, the wife of a professor under whom I worked years ago when I was studying bacteriology in Germany. She and her husbanc are people with cosmopolitan connections, they read three languages besides their own, and have always been as far removed as possible from narrow provincialism, but since last July they have known nothing except what their Government has decided that they shall know. I did not argue with my friend, but, of course, we talked much together and after she had been with us for three days she told me that she had never known before that there were people in England who did not wish to crush Germany, who wished for a just settlement, and even some who were opposed to the war.
Then she said: "I want you to believe this. We Germans think that the Fatherland was attacked without provocation, that our war is one of self-defence only. That is what we have been told. I begin to think it may not be true, but you must believe that we were sincere in our conviction."
In Berlin we had bread cards and we ate war bread. At each meal the waiter asked for our cards and snipped off one of the three coupons, then he brought us one and a half Brodchen, quite enough for breakfast and more thanb enough for the other meals. It was good bread --- something like a cross between rye and white bread. They told us that this excessive economy was not really necessary, for as a matter of fact, Germany gets all the wheat she needs across the Russian border by bribing officials, but that the German Government wished to train the people in habits of saving. It has certainly been successful. I could not imagine being wasteful of bread in Berlin.
In Vienna, however, the bread cards seemed a real necessity, for the allowance of bread was very small, and as in Berlin, if one did not eat the three portions on a Monday, one could not save the coupon and get four on Tuesday. The slice given us three times a day was only two and a half inches long, two inches wide, and three-quarters of an inch thick, a pitifully small allowance for working people, to whom bread is the chief article of diet. It was a heavy, unappetizing bread, made of a mixture of potato flour, corn-meal, rye, and a very little wheat. The Viennese spoke with bitterness of the scarcity of wheat in Austria, saying that the Hungarians had plenty, but they were selling it to Prussia instead of to Austria.
In every country that we visited, people would ask us with pathetic eagerness if we did not find everything just the same as usual, if the city was not as gay as ever, life going on just the same, no sign of war anywhere. It would be a superficial person who could say that even of Berlin, and no one could say it to Vienna. We did not think that the people in Vienna had enough to eat; they looked, many of them, starved, more so than any people I have ever seen, -- except, of course, in East London, where starvation seems endemic in normal times. I went one morning into the great Stephanskirche. No service was going on, but the church was full of people kneeling at every altar, one group of two hundred gathered together and chanting a litany quite withour any leader, just by themselves. They were tragic-looking people, many of them the poorest of the poor. Among them were young recruits and wounded soldiers -- the saddest congregation I have ever seen. Everywhere there are convalescent soldiers hobbling along the street, or wheeled in chairs, for the hospitals are scattered all over Vienna. The horses were so thin that one could count their ribs; we did not see one horse in decent condition while we were there. To add to the general impression of poverty, the walls and windows were covered with urgent appeals to the people to do their duty and subscribe to the second war loan.
We reached Vienna on the evening of Whitsunday. Italy had just declared war. That evening there was an attempt at a demonstration on the street under our balcony but it was not very warlike, just a crowd of young boys and girls singing the Austrian national hymn. The next day we passed a great troop of soldiers starting for the frontier. They were young fellows, almost all of them, some mere lads. They were very gay and proud and confident, and had bunches of flowers stuck in their belts and in their caps and even in the muzzles of their guns. That is really the most tragic thing one sees -- the young men setting off gaily and confidently for the war. The wounded soldiers are bad enough, but at least they would have come through alive.
In addition to seeing the minister of foreign affairs, and the prime minister of Austria -- which was the real object of the visit to Vienna of course, we had also, as in Berlin, informal interviews with pacifists and others who were eager to hear what the committee had done and hoped to do. I remember meeting a very lovely woman who had gone to the Hague Congress simply because she felt that if in any country women were getting together to talk of peace, she must go and meet them. She was not a member of any woman's club and she had never spoken in public before, but she made one of the moving speeches of the Congress. When I met her in Vienna, she told me that she had, since the first been closely connected with the American Red Cross Hospital in Vienna, and that she had never heard a soldier speak with hatred or contempt of the men on the other side. That, she said, belonged to the non-fighters at home.
It was in Vienna that we heard the strongest protests against the censorship of the press. The meeting held there for the delegation was small and rather timid, yet it was a comfort to know that there was a group of women who had courage and broadmindedness enough to come together and ask to be told about the Peace Congress. Among our visitors was an old friend who is connected with shipping interests in Trieste and who was very indignat over the entrance of Italy into the war. He spoke of the unfounded claims of the Irredentists, saying that though Trieste is predominantly Italian, the hinterland which it serves is Slavic, and the Dalmatian coast has only a small minority of Italians.
There had been a question of our going to Budapest. Hungary has, of course, no separate minister of foreign affairs, nor can she declare war or peace independently of Austria. But Hungarians do not consider themselves Austrians, and their present prime minister is generally said to be the most influential man at present in the Empire Kingdom. Moreover, the suffrage party in Budapest had endorsed the Peace Congress and the women were eager to have a large public meeting there. Finally it was decided that the two Dutch ladies should go on to Berne to attend a peace meeting there and that the two American s should go to Budapest.
Our short time there was crowded to overflowing. From the outset it seemed to me quite different from either Berlin or Vienna and curiously like our own country, in spite of the Magyar which one heard everywhere. Our first breakfast seemed like home, because there was plenty of bread and no bother about bread cards and before it was over a group of journalists had arrived who were not only as eager for news as American journalists would be, but apparently as independent in their use of it. We were quickly taken in charge by a group of very able women who arranged for an interview with the prime minister and for a large public meeting. Miss Addams' speech was repeated in Magyar but I think fully two-thirds of the audience understood English and were most responsive and sympathetic. When it was over, there was a dinner for about sixty at the Ritz Hotel and it seemed characteristic of the spirit of the country that a dignitary of the Roman Catholic Church, a pacifist and also an outspoken feminist, should preside. There were members of parliament and Government officials present, but the discussion at the table was apparently as free and unconstrained as it would be in America. The man who sat on my left was a privy councillor, who told me frankly that he was a pacifist, that he had no use for Prussia, that he considered that Hungary had no quarrel with Servia, certainly no desire to hurt Belgium, and that she was being forced to fight Prussia's war. The woman on my right told me that she and her husband have put up convalescent homes for some twelve hundred soldiers on their estate; but she herself stays in Budapest and is chief cook, as she called it, for a hospital with five hundred men. She has charge of all the supplies and must plan the dietary so that she comes within the allowance made by the Government, yet she must give her soldiers enough nourishing food. If there is a deficit, it comes out of her pocket.
She told me that the English were generally liked in Hungary and that the people of Budapest are very proud of the fact that when the war broke out they had over five hundred English people in the city, and they have interned only about a dozen; the rest are all at liberty. We found also a very kindly feeling toward the Russians with whom, of course, the Hungarians have come in especially close contact. They say that fighting them is like fighting children, for the Russian peasant is averse to war and often has to be absolutely forced into it.
They told us the story of two Hungarians who had captured ten Russians, and one of the latter said, "Wait a minute and I will bring you some more." They let him go on the chance, thinking that anyway they had nine prisoners left, and presently he returned bringing with him thirty other Russians who willingly laid down their arms. They said, "We never wished to fight but now it is spring it is the season to till the soil; we will not fight any more; we wish to till the soil as we always do." So they have been put to work in the fields and are quite content.
In Budapest I was much impressed by my first experience of an official palace with many antechambers and men, who, I felt sure, must be what historical novels call "lackeys." The prime minister looks curiously like pictures of General Grant, only that he is very tall and broad-shouldered. Like many Hungarians, he is a Presbyterian. He impresses one as a rather sombre, stern man with great resolution, but not as the fire-eater, the fierce war-lord, that the Austrians had described to us; certainly to us he said nothing of the glories or gains of war, only of its senseless horrors.
On our journey from Berne to Rome we stopped at Milan and at once were brought face to face with Italy in war paint, for the streets were decked with the flags of the five allies and placarded with posters reading "Vogliamo Salandra." In the great arcade some of the shops had been wrecked by the mob. They told us that the city was at the time under martial law. The Duomo had been protected against possible Zeppelin raids by covering all the gilded portions of the roof with scaffolding and sandbags. It would never be difficult in Milan to stir up old animosity against the Austrians, but among the devices used to extend this to the Germans we saw conspicuously displayed in the shop windows large photographs of a Belgian child with one hand cut off. This indubitable evidence of German atrocity was held only to the fiery speeches of D'Annuncio as an aid in securing the proper war spirit among the Italians. It was evident from the photograph itself that the little hand had been carefully amputated, but such trifling evidence was of course not considered --and the old war story of mutilated children, utilized for hundreds of years in various countries, once more did its work.
Rome was at its loveliest, for the rains had kept a vivid spring green everywhere, but it was deserted as far as foreigners were concerned. Our hotel could serve us only our breakfast coffee and rolls, for cooks and waiters had been mobilized. Outwardly, the city was very gay. Constitution Day was celebrated while we were there, and the streets were filled with enormous crowds of holiday people and of soldiers in fresh uniforms, and flags were flying everywhere. The feeling seemed to be that the war could not possibly last long; now that Italy was in, it would soon be decided. Coming as we had from the sight of what nine months of war means to even so wonderfully organized a country as Germany, it filled us with dread to think what Rome would be like after a few months were over and she too had her cripples and her blinded men and widows and orphans and starving refugees.
It seemed little more than a formality to present the resolutions of the Peace Congress to ministers who had just triumphantly led Italy into war, but of course this was done. Afterwards we presented our letter from the Primate of Hungary to Cardinal Gasparri, secretary of state to the Pope, and through him secured an audience with the Pope himself. It was a real audience, for we sat for half an hour and discussed with him the war and the possibility of some action on the part of neutral nations to initiate negotiations between the warring countries. He was in favor of this, and said more than once that it was for the United States, the greatest of neutral countries, to make a move in which he would gladly cooperate if it seemed best.
We had had warning about the opposition the delegation would meet with in all of these countries, but especially had we been warned about France. It was true that though we found pacifists even in Paris, still the feeling there was on the whole more grimly determined, more immovable, than anywhere else. One can understand why this is so. France has been invaded, the richest part of her country is still in the hands of the conqueror, and her feeling is one of bitter resentment. It seemed to me also that we in America had never realized how universal has been the dread of just this disaster in the French mind. Over and over again I heard people say: "It does not matter what we have to endure if only we can at last free France from the nightmare of a German invasion."
No French woman had come to the Congress at The Hague, and a group of leading women had sent a protest against the holding of such a Congress. We had rather dreaded meeting in Paris even those women whom we knew, yet when we did meet a group of them, the delegation was able to make them see how the women at the Congress had felt and they on their side made us see that their bitterness was understandable, even if we could not share it. The war is terribly close to these women. Every one I met that afternoon had at least one near and dear relative in danger at the front or already lost. They were all engaged in relief work of some kind, most of them spending their whole day at it, for that is the only thing that makes life bearable.
There is however a little band of pacifist women, most of them young, which had fromed recently and is increasing all the time. There are also men in France who are willing to speak very frankly against prolonging the war to the bitter end. One of the members of the Chamber of Deputies introduced us to other like-minded members of the chamber, a goodly company. The news of Mr. Bryan's resignation had just come, and since the second note to Germany had not yet been published, every one was feeling a bit apprehensive as to America's probably course of action. The deputies who talked to us all hoped that we would keep out of the war, for they said that the world needed a great neutral nation, not only to take charge of the embassies of the warring countries, to look after the welfare of prisoners of war, and to feed Belgium, but especially to help in the final settlement of the terms of peace.
In Paris, I had the impression even more strongly than elsewhere that the most extravagantly bitter statements are made, not by the Europeans themselves, but by the American sojourners in Europe. There is something very distasteful in this. It seems to me that no one has the right to urge extreme sacrifices unless he is also sacrificing himself, that nobody should talk of war to the bitter end who is not himself fighting. I remember how irritated I was by an American author, who lounged comfortably in the court of the hotel, smoking innumerable cigarettes, and nobly declaring his readiness to sacrifice the last Frenchmen in the trenches before he would yield an inch to Germany! Nor can I forget an American nurse who displayed with pride a ghoulish collection she had made of German and Austrian helmets, knapsacks, fragments of uniforms, bayonet ends, trophies of French battlefields, which she had bought from returned soldiers.
Of the ministers whom the delegation interviewed in Paris, the minister of foreign affairs, a life-long militarist, was less approachable than most of the ministers whom the delegations met, although the president of the Conseil who performs the offices of a prime minister was much more moderate than he.
The informal interviews were sometimes depressing, sometimes quite inspiring. Perhaps the most depressing were those with former pacifists, who in bitter disillusionment over the failure of their hopes and in mortification over the ridicule they had received, had become almost more militaristic than the military.
Poor little Belgium has had to accept the hospitality of France and her Government is housed in hotels and villas on the seashore near Havre. The Belgian minister for foreign affairs was a sad, gentle person, who took the mission of the delegation very seriously and spoke with real feeling of Belgium's longing for peace, although, as he said, she was in the hands of her allies and must leave such things to them.
With this visit the work of the delegation was over until the resolutions could be presented to Washington. As, however, we were to sail from Liverpool, we had a week to spend in London, and put it to very good use. London seemed to me more changed by the war than any city except Vienna, partly because the sight of soldiers in London is unusual, and because what seemed natural in Berlin was unnatural there. Then, too, there are posters covering every available space and appealing to all possible motives which might induce men to join the army.
It was a relief to reach a country where speech is free and where critics of the Government can make themselves heard in Hyde Park, or in pamphlets such as those issued by the Union for Democratic Control. Our days were filled with meetings, formal and informal, interviews arranged by the very capable British committee. We met in England a large number of men and women who recognized England's responsibility in the remoter causes of the war and who are determined to do their utmost to bring about a permanent peace on the basis of justice and human needs rather than on that of political ambitions. To many of these even the invasion of Belgium did not justify a return to the outworn ways of violence. Some of these, as one would expect, were Quakers who seemed to us to be playing a very fine part just now in England. They have remained surprisingly faithful to their principles and while serving their country in ways which expose them to great danger, they will do only those things that tend to preserve life not to destroy it. We dined with a Quaker family the three children of which had gone to the war. The eldest son is doing ambulance work in Flanders, carrying a wounded from the battlefield to the base hospital, than which not work is more perilous; the second son is engaged in sweeping mines in the North Sea; and his sister nurses in a hospital in Dunkirk, which has repeatedly been shelled.
Oxford was very sad, but we were told that during term time the contrast with the Oxford one used to know was even greater. As we walked through the colleges, our hosts would point out the new kind of honor list hanging on the wall of chapel or cloister, the list of students who have already fallen in the war, and they would tell us of this one or that, of his great promise or his charming qualities, so that the names took on a reality even to us. As I remember it, St. John's has been converted into a school for refugee Belgian boys, Balliol was filled with the officers of the training camps, other colleges with young recruits. Then there are the big hospitals under Sir William Osler, one of them devoted entirely to men who have breathed the poisonous gases and yet survived.
In England, more than in any country, we heard of doubts and questionings on the part of the young men, especially those from the universities, who cannot reconcile the thought of killing other men with what they have always held as their ideal of conduct, and yet who cannot refuse to respond to their country's call.
It is hard to sum up general impressions from this journey, there are so many of them. One, however, I should like to speak of, for it is borne in upon me so strongly now that I am home again. That is, that there is in the countries actually at war no such universal desire to fight on to the bitter end as we suppose over here. We judge largely by the newspapers which come to us from that side and which are of course strictly censored.
I find that people here are often indignant, if not actually resentful, at the mere suggestion that negotiations be substituted for force at the earliest possible moment. They seem to be much impressed with the things that must be gained by war before war can be allowed to stop, but I believe this means that they do not realize what war has already cost the countries engaged in it and what more it will cost if it is to continue. The men at the head of affairs over there are not blind and they do realize it, and so do many thinking people in every country, and would Americans if they could see for themselves and were not obliged to form their judgment simply on what the warring Governments allow the newspapers to say. Those nations are committing race suicide and impoverishing their children and grandchildren, and they know it, yet they seem to be unable to find any way to end it.
They do not need us to encourage them to keep on, but it may be that they need us to help them find a way out.