The Spectator at war

The Spectator at war: Talk of the village

17 August 2014

‘War and the village wives’, from The Spectator, 15 August 1914:

The men and women of the village are talking unceasingly about the war. The whole aspect of the place is changed. The English silence is broken. Even on Sunday no one lolls and smokes in speechless reflection. All the men read the newspapers; none read less than the whole of one paper every day. The women, however, do not read them, and though they talk as much, they know far less than their husbands. Indeed, if one may judge by a good many chance conversations, they may be said to know nothing at all. It is the question of alliances which has confused these goodwives. A war should be between two countries, they think. Many more than two are, they know, engaged in this war, and they are not altogether sure who is against whom. One fact stands out as a certainty – Germany our enemy, and Germany is to blame. Of this salient point they have all taken hold. After all, it is the most important point at the moment. Belgium the present writer has heard variously alluded to as “those who will give us the most trouble”, and “a little country that can’t defend itself, through which the Germans are working round to get at England”. Oddly enough, France seems to play little part in the drama. “No doubt the German Emperor would like the throne of France,” the present writer heard admitted, “but what he really wants is England. I have felt afraid of him,” the speaker went on, “ever since Queen Victoria died, for I heard it said then that he though he should have had the English Throne, being the eldest son of her eldest daughter.” The present wave of feminism is felt even in back-waters! The abrogation of the Salic law does not, we believe, make part of the suffragists’ programme, but one never knows what they may want next. One woman in the village has burned a large coloured portrait of the German Emperor which till this week adorned her parlour walls. The Empress has been turned face to the wall, but not destroyed. “I thought I might keep the lady back,” said the rather wistful owner of the pair of pictures, adding sadly: “He is very handsome, though my son-in-law (a soldier) tells me he is very bloodthirsty.” She feels she has done right to make the sacrifice, but it is a grief to her that the picture-frame has left a mark. After all, small matters still affect our minds, however serious the condition of the country. She is a very shrewd woman, this, though she has not the faintest conception of the map of Europe.  “It’s funny how willing for it all the men are, though prices are so much gone up,” she says thoughtfully, adding after a pause: “It’s funny what a lot of money there still is for drink, with food so high!”

Claim your gift

The loyalty to the Crown of the women of the village can only be called religious in its enthusiasm. It expresses itself according to the character of the speaker; but, whether expressed in plain or sentimental language, it is enthusiastic. “If ever there lived nice people, it is them,” said one woman, alluding to their Majesties. “I feel I could go on my knees to them,” was a more florid expression of the same sentiment spoken in the same room. “There is very little that any one can do for the Queen,” said another enthusiast.  “I named my last baby after her. I’m glad I did that.” There is a certain naïveté in this mingled, or, rather, confused, feeling of loyalty and maternal pride which is pleasing. A curious allusion to the Constitutional nature of the British Throne was made in the hearing of the present writer. A woman who was heaping up truisms to the effect that Royalty felt towards their children exactly as ordinary people did towards theirs stuck is as a parenthesis: “And our Royalty are not like foreign Royalty: they cannot do everything that they like.” This as an extra bond of sympathy, a touch of nature, as it were.

Poor people are very brave.  The rich people in the village have grumbled about the financial situation far more than the poor. One would think, to hear them, that they were going to starve instead of to dismiss the second gardener. The only thing that seems to rouse any feeling of apprehension or anger among the poor is the rise in the price of sugar. The village we are writing of is not a model one. It bears a name for roughness in the villages round about, and it has not yet sent as many men to join the colours as most of its wellwishers hoped it might. The mothers of the young men who have enlisted talk about them in a very matter-of-fact way. “You see, I feel that even if he is in danger we must have some defence,” said one mother of five boys, only one of whom has enlisted. “The foreigners handle the sword from the cradle, as you may say. I wish our boys were taught the same, for, even if the foreigners were to win this time, we may be quite sure they will never sit down satisfied.” One woman who has one son a Territorial and another who has enlisted in the Regulars described at length the different feelings of the two. The second boy, she said, was “simply wild to go.” For such as he, for “them that really like it, the Regulars is the best place.” The other son had said very little, she explained. He had “undertaken to do it, so he is going to do it,” she concluded. One wonders which will make the better soldier. The second point of view, if not romantic, is not un-English in its cheerful acceptance of necessity and duty.

It is considered a little unpatriotic and a little “cold-watery” nowadays in the village not to believe the latest war rumours. Tales of tremendous victories which are without confirmation should, of course, be tenderly received by loyal persons, but it is hard to be regarded as a little wanting in right feeling because one discredits a story that the Germans have poisoned the Epsom wells. A laughing rejoinder that such news does indeed lend a new terror to Epsom salts was not well received. The appetite for atrocities is keen at the moment. Perhaps it is not wonderful. We can by rejoice in the justice of our cause, and these tales are only an expression of that rejoicing, and have no malignant meaning. Also it is human nature to become drunk upon news, to become more and more thirsty for it when it is plentiful, and to make it up when it fails.

A rather curious light is thrown upon the relations of village husbands and wives by the undoubted fact that the women know nothing about public affairs. “I don’t study the newspaper,” is what they all say. One devout person assured the present writer that she believed that “all about this war” was written “in the Book of Revelation, if any one had the time to find it.” Plainly their husbands do not discuss public matters with them. They discuss them over their work or at the public house. There is at present far more camaraderie among the educated than the uneducated. Would it be possible or wort while for some educated women in English villages to call meetings of their less educated sisters and make an attempt to explain the present situation in regard to the war? Would they come? They would if they were given tea and the meetings were made attractive. It seems a pity that a part of the community which is called upon to give and to forgo so much should have so little definite notion of the state of things which necessitates the sacrifice. Could the European crisis be simply explained? The sight of a large map of Europe might clear their ideas. On the other hand, maps are not easily understood by those not accustomed to them. A comparison might be drawn by a clever lecturer between the known and the unknown. Europe might be likened to a village consisting of large houses and small’ of friends and enemies; of allied friends and allied enemies; of friendships strengthened by blood and religious opinion, by common interests and natural affinities; of enmities dating back to the far past. It would need something like genius to make the situation plain, and only a few would listen. Village women do not care about instruction. Considering how little they like it, it is almost miraculous that their intuitions are as trustworthy as they appear to be.

Give the perfect gift this Christmas. Buy a subscription for a friend for just £75 and you’ll receive a free gift too. Buy now.

Show comments
  • Dean Jackson

    In one of the many senseless campaigns fought on the Western Front, the Cambrai campaign (20 November 1917 – 7 December 1917) witnessed more than 44,000 casualties, including 7,000 servicemen of the United Kingdom and South Africa dying for zero ground claimed. That 44,000 casualty figure should have been used instead for the more critical campaign against the Bolsheviks in Petrograd, resulting in the re-entry of Russia into the war, thereby sparing the exhausted Allies the prospect of facing (1) thirty German divisions previously deployed against Russia on the Eastern Front; (2) Austro-Hungarian divisions freed from the Russian Western Front; and (3) Ottoman divisions freed from the Caucasus Campaign. In fact, a 60,000 strong Allied military unit was already in Russia (the Ukraine) at the time–the Czechoslovak Legion–and could have been used to overthrow the Bolsheviks if the Allied powers so wished. Instead, the Czechoslovak Legion was sent on a 6,000 mile odyssey across Russia, its destination Vladivostok on the Pacific coast for passage back to Europe and the war, instead of sending the legion 700 miles due north to Petrograd and collapse the Bolshevik coup. The politicians of the West were doing all they could to (1) protect the fledgling Bolshevik regime in Petrograd; while (2) sabotaging every opportunity to immediately get Russia back into the war before the Bolshevik position had strengthened throughout Russia. Only when the position of the Bolsheviks was relatively secure would the Allied powers mount campaigns to supposedly overthrow the Bolsheviks (North Russia Intervention and Siberian Intervention), campaigns that were sure to fail due to the lackluster number of soldiers assigned to both missions (though the Japanese contingent of 70,000 soldiers deployed to the the Siberian Intervention is a minimum number one would expect from the combined American, British and French contingent, whose actual total complement registered an anemic 10,250 soldiers up against 600,000 Bolsheviks) and the remote locations for the soldiers’ landings–Archangel (British, French, Italian and American), Murmansk (British, French, Italian and American) and Vladivostok (American, British, French, Canadian, Italian, Polish, Chinese and Japanese)–far from the Bolshevik’s Command and Control center located in Petrograd (Saint Petersburg), where too the Bolshevik’s leadership (Central Committee) is located.

    The following is a discovery I made in May regarding the fake collapse of the USSR, and what that fraudulent collapse proves about the institutions of the West…

    When Soviet citizens were liberated from up to 74 years of horrific Marxist oppression on December 26, 1991 there were ZERO celebrations throughout the USSR, proving (1) the ‘collapse’ of the USSR was a strategic ruse; and (2) the political parties of the West were already co-opted by Marxists,* otherwise the USSR (and East Bloc nations) couldn’t have gotten away with the ruse.

    ZERO celebrations, as the The Atlantic article inadvertently informs us…

    For more on this discovery see my blog…


    The West will form new political parties where candidates are vetted for Marxist ideology, the use of the polygraph to be an important tool for such vetting. Then the West can finally liberate the globe of vanguard Communism.


    * The failed socialist inspired and controlled pan-European revolutions that swept the continent in 1848(1) thought Marxists and socialists a powerful lesson, that lesson being they couldn’t win overtly,(2) so they adopted the tactic of infiltration of the West’s political parties/institutions. In the case of the United States…(continue reading at DNotice)…

    Now you know why not one political party in the West requested verification of the collapse of the USSR, and the media failed to alert your attention to this fact, including the “alternative” media. When determining whether the “former” USSR is complying with arms control treaties, what does the United States do to confirm compliance? Right, the United States sends into the “former” USSR investigative teams to VERIFY compliance, yet when it’s the fate of the West that’s at stake should the collapse of the USSR be a ruse, what does the United States do to confirm the collapse? Nothing!

    The fraudulent ‘collapse’ of the USSR (and East Bloc) couldn’t have been pulled off until both political parties in the United States (and political parties elsewhere in the West) were co-opted by Marxists, which explains why verification of the ‘collapse’ was never undertaken by the West, such verification being (1) a natural administrative procedure (since the USSR wasn’t occupied by Western military forces); and (2) necessary for the survival of the West. Recall President Reagan’s favorite phrase, “Trust, but verify”.

    It gets worse–the “freed” Soviets and West also never (1) de-Communized the Soviet Armed Forces of its Communist Party officer corps, which was 90% officered by Communist Party members; and (2) arrested/de-mobilized the 6-million vigilantes that assisted the Soviet Union’s Ministry of the Interior and police control the populations of the larger cities during the period of “Perestroika” (1986-1991)!

    There can be no collapse of the USSR (or East Bloc nations) without…

    Verification, De-Communization and De-mobilization.

    The West never verified the collapse of the USSR because no collapse occurred, since if a real collapse had occurred the West would have verified it, since the survival of the West depends on verification. Conversely, this proves that the political parties of the West were co-opted by Marxists long before the fraudulent collapse of the USSR, since the survival of the West depends on verification.

    The above means that the so-called “War on Terror” is an operation being carried out by the Marxist co-opted governments of the West in alliance with the USSR and other Communist nations, the purpose being to (1) destroy the prominence of the West in the eyes of the world, where the West is seen (i) invading nations without cause; (ii) causing chaos around the globe; and (iii) killing over one-million civilians and boasting of torture; (2) close off non-Russian supplies of oil for export, thereby increasing the price of oil, the higher price allowing oil exporting Russia to maintain economic stability while she modernizes and increases her military forces; (3) destroy the United States Armed Forces via the never-ending “War on Terror”; the ultimate purpose of the aforementioned to (4) bring about the demise of the United States in the world, opening up a political void to be filled by a new pan-national entity composed of Europe and Russia (replacing the European Union), a union “From the Atlantic to Vladivostok”; which will (5) see the end of NATO.

    Now you know how Bolshevik Russia survived in 1917; how the West “lost” China to the Communists in 1949; why the Eisenhower administration turned a deaf ear to the anti-Communist Hungarian uprising in 1956; why the Eisenhower administration in 1959 was indifferent to the Castro brothers’ Communist fidelity, actually used the CIA to overthrow the Batista government; why the Nixon administration abandoned Taiwan for Communist China, and signed treaties/provided economic aid to the USSR; why the Nixon administration refused to tell the American People that over 50% of North Vietnamese NVA regiments were actually Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers (attired in NVA uniforms, and proving that the Sino/Soviet Split was a ruse, as KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn told the West back in 1962), thereby (1) ensuring the Vietnam War would be lost; (2) destroying the prominence of the United States abroad and at home; (3) breeding distrust between the American people and their government; and (4) securing Communist victories in Southeast Asia. Working in the background within the political parties of the United States and Great Britain were Marxist agents doing their best to (1) ensure the survival of Communist nations when they popped up; and (2) sabotage any policies that would bring down a Communist nation. That’s why after the fake collapses of the East Bloc nations and USSR there was no mandatory Western verification process to ensure the Communists weren’t still in control.

Can't find your Web ID? Click here