The Spectator

Against armistice

We are not engaged in an 18th-century duel, but in a fight for the survival of civilisation

From ‘President Wilson and the Lessons of History’, 2 June 1916: Emphatically it is not a war of what we may call the old eighteenth-century pattern, where any one could step in and say, as if speaking to a couple of duellists: ‘You have had a good honest fight. Honour is satisfied. Now don’t you think the sensible and the humane plan would be to shake hands and try to forget all about your unfortunate quarrel?’ There is nothing whatever of that nature about the present struggle. The peoples of Europe are not arrayed upon what used to be called the field of honour, but engaged in a death-struggle in which one side is fighting for domination, and the other for security that peace, justice, and national independence shall continue on the earth.

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