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By G. K. CHESTERTON.
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i OF THE GRE IN IRELAND ON VICTORY DAY: FIELD-MARSHAL LORD FRENCH TAKING THE SALUTE IN DUBLIN-COMRADES OF THE GREAT WAR MARCHING PAST. The Victory Day nmarch in Dublin was a ereat success. The reception of tie troops was very friendly, as was that of the six thousand or so demosbiised men of Irish reimernts. Lotr French took the salute at the Bank of ireland, in College Green. But for this, he would u:ve rbees in the procesuion m Londeron. His absenrrce rom it was regretted, but understood. –Piutograph by s’nespaper lilustralions ]
earned triumph I say that what I justify are cOIIetions and not creations but I msllllt begin with another dhstinction iilIch maya seemn to dis- sipate this one. I do. care quite enough for my convIctios to state theml ratther imore exactly and even aultiously than Mr. I .ind supposes. In the case of several remllarkls of whichl he complains, as if thle were wild exa ggerations, it is really only ilecessary to look again at thlie remarks themselves, to see that they state their own logical limitations. Thus I said that ” the case for despotism is democratic,” which is not at all the same thing, as he almost seems to fancy, as saying that a des- potism is always a democracy. It only means that men have trusted a strong central Government not for its own sake, but for the sake of certain good effects on the whole people; and when Mr. Lynd says that those good effects are ” not to be found among the facts of history,” I can only say that, with my own exceedingly lintited historical know- ledge, I believe I could bury him in examples. An even clearer example of what I mean can be found
Ini a phrase I ii’Id aLoit tie rise of Prussia : ‘he cnllllillil r theory of a (IlllllOillealth, that it can of its iinatire eat other conmionwealths, had entered (‘ihristelndom.” Il e passes, wi’t a graceful com- phlinnt, to the contradliction of this, referring to the agressiol is of anc. ent Greece, Romne, and Is-rel, and then of C(hristian Spain, Christian I niine, and Christian Engiilatnd.I No ii, honlest], -I had neler realised hor exact indli eI of ixaggeration mnis osiwn statecment Was, until I read Mr I,y d’s criticism of it. I discovered, nith considerable surprise, that what I had written \ a precise t to the verge of pedantry; certainly Ilchll ii iiIre precise, ill this particular case, than lIr. I .ylnd’s riting, or even Mr. Lynl’s readcing.
1 never dreamed of denying that Christian nations had commitifd injustices; that is why I said “the cannibal theory ” and not ” the cannibal practice.’ But I take it to be a solid fact of scholarship that in the Middle Ages, for instance, there was a thing accepted in theory by all Christian nations: it may be called ” legitimacy “; that various princes, bishops, and republics had a right to their terri- tory by a code common to Europe. The very exaggerations of it were the admissions of it; the later development of the divine right of kings, for instance. It is a fact that Prussia came from outside this fixed framework; and it is a fact that Prussia preached, in theory and not merely in practice, a vision of modern mutability and incessant struggle for life, which denied that there could exist for long any fixed framework. I say ” incessant “; and this is the point of another perfectly correct detail in my original description; that the thing is ” of its nature ” cannibal. Prussia was not, like the Christian States, tempted to do this or that injustice, and cover it with this or that sophistry. Prussia proclaimed a theory of
continuous growth, by which a State was decaying if it was not expanding at the expense of others; in other words, that a State must always live upon other States Finally, I have never denied that something more like this collision of tribes with- out houndaries may have occurred, though in a much healthier form, before there were any Christian States at all, or outside their influence-in Asia or Africa Itherefore, i wrote, again with almost priggish exactitude, ” had entered Christendom,” and not ” had entered the world.” Mr. Lynd pays a most generous tribute to the truth in many of my other statements; but I hope he will allow me also to thank him for having so flatteringly drawn nmy attention to the complete reliability of the remark which he denies.
If I differ from Mr. Lynd’s criticisms about the past, I differ still more from his criti- cisms about the pre- sent. Iie strikes me as having a very insuf- ficient sense of the modern malady of Eng- land; which is surely a regrettable piece of absence of mind, in a gentleman coming from Ireland. Thus, he as- serts, as something self evident, that I can only talk of a govern- ing class if I admit that it has contincally grown larger. I admit nothing of the sort; and I affirm the exact contrary. If he had said that the govern- ing class has grown looser, I might agree with him. In almost any de- partment of power, it can be shown that the limitation has largely remained stationary ; but where it has altered. has actuallv
narrowed. In land it has mostly remained sta- tionary; that is, England is still a country of great landlords. If anything it is a country of greater landlords-that is, of fewer landlords; anyhow, it is certainly not one of more freeholders. In com- merce, there was a time when England might be called a nation of shopkeepers, in the sense that many small shops made up the working force of the whole society. It is now a nation of a few big shops. In politics there was a time when con- siderable decision and discretion belonged to all the Commons in Parliament assembled; when it was worth while to persuade them personally with eloquence or privately with bribes. It was so down to the nineteenth-century Parhaments where the Governments of Palmerston or Gladstone could be overthrown by their own supporters. Power passed from the Parliament to the Government. It narrowed from the Government to the Cabinet It narrowed from the Cabinet to the War Caminet And he tells me, with the intellectual couiage it his race, that I shall at least agree that a govera ing class has grown larger and freer