The Spectator

The Spectator at war: A ‘psycho-political’ study of the English

‘The Magazines’, from The Spectator, 5 September 1914:

THE most interesting paper in the new Nineteenth Century is that by Sir Harry Johnston on “The German War and its Consequences.” Writing as one with many German friends, he sets forth the reasons why his love for Germany has changed to righteous anger. They are, briefly, that Germany, ruled by the Hohenzollerns and inflamed by Prussian Professors, though Great Britain and France had made all reasonable concessions to her colonial and commercial aspirations, has, on the pretext of the Austro-Servian quarrel, violated the neutrality of an unoffending country and conducted the war in Belgium and France with a barbarity hitherto associated with Oriental savages. Sir Harry Johnston maintains that it is the middle class throughout the United Kingdom that will suffer most from the terrible ambition that has maddened the German people, and caused them to force on us a war which we could not avoid without descending to the rank of a second-rate Power. Down to August 3rd Sir Harry Johnston was proud to be reckoned as a Pro-German, but the White Paper has convinced him that by standing out we should have made ourselves humble accomplices in the establishment of Teutonic supremacy, and bartered our nationhood for a position of precarious dependence on Germany’s goodwill.

The words of the Kaiser and his Ministers “threaten us with a Prussian dominion as intolerable as any of the noted tyrannies in history”; we have to fight Germany now as our forefathers fought Napoleon a hundred years ago, and the challenge she has thrown down must be driven back to her heart until she is deprived of the means of attacking Europe for at least half a century. Mr. Brailsford’s misgivings in the Contemporary as to the substitution of a Russian for a German hegemony are well answered :- “An alliance with Russia has been viewed with apprehension by many minds in England because it suggested the condonation of persecution and a reaction in freedom of thought and belief.

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