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The French way of war

19 November 2015

3:00 PM

19 November 2015

3:00 PM

From ‘The Example of France’, The Spectator, 20 November 1915: France is an example to the world and to posterity of how a nation can bend itself to the work in hand, and labour with its whole body, its whole mind, and its whole soul. The more we know of the splendid details of this devotion the better. We think that we Englishmen know a good deal more of the ways of devotion than we are generally credited with, and we are learning daily in a geometrical progression. But even so, we cannot fail to help ourselves by watching and admiring the wonderful performance of a people whose circumstances brought them more quickly and more really into contact with war than we ourselves were brought…

Beyond the rampart which we defend lie the barbarians yearning to advance. Every Frenchman and every Frenchwoman sees the horrible thing at a near view. That is why they all slave to rescue themselves and the world. As we have said, we are coming to see it, too, as though it were at as close a range to ourselves. Let it not be thought that we are careless because we continually depreciate ourselves. Other nations have not this curious habit. But those who understand us best know that our posture of self-disparagement is not to be regarded too gravely. Not that we have not an infinitude of things yet to learn. But we are learning much because we have the will to learn; we shall certainly learn everything that France has to teach us by her most noble example.


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