Audiobook: Woman and the War

Woman and the War cover

Woman and the War

1 - Preface


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It is not without serious reflection that I have collected these thoughts in war time to offer in book form to those who may care to read and ponder them. They were written for the most part on the spur of vital moments, when some of the tendencies of the evil times through which we are living seemed to call for immediate protest. I have felt more strongly than ever in the past two years that we are in danger of accepting as something outside the pale of criticism the judgments of those who lead, and sometimes mislead us. The support or hostility of the newspaper press—in some aspects the greatest distorting medium in the world—is still ruled by party considerations. Loyalty or ill-will to the men in office colours all the views of those who praise or blame, and it happens often that a good measure is damned for what is best or lauded for what is worst in it. Again, I have felt that while much of the fighting spirit of the country is subject to army discipline, the tendency of government has been to make helpless puppets of the citizens who remain behind the forces in the field. In the near future, if we would save what is left of our heritage of freedom, and would even extend the comparatively narrow boundaries that existed before the autumn of 1914, we must relieve the press of the self-conferred duty of thinking for us. We must not give our rulers a blank cheque; their best efforts tend more to rouse our suspicions than to compel our confidence. Judging all the matters dealt with in these pages as fairly and honestly as I can, I have found myself repeatedly in opposition to the authorities. The legislation from which we have suffered since war began, the efforts to relieve difficult situations and prepare for obvious emergencies have savoured largely of panic and can boast no more than a small element of statesmanship. So I have protested and the protests have grown even beyond the limit of these book covers, while an ever-swelling letter-bag has told me that I have interpreted, however feebly, the thoughts, wishes, and aspirations of many thinking men and women. We are on the eve of events that will demand of evolution that it mend its paces or become revolution without more ado. The international crisis and the national makeshifts must have proved to the dullest that the world is out of joint. I make no claim to traverse the whole ground, modesty forbids, and Mr. Zangwill has accomplished the task in his "War for the World," the most brilliant work that has seen the light since August, 1914. I have sought to point out where and why and how we are moving backwards. I can command no eloquence to gild my words, I cannot pretend to have more to say than will have occurred to every man and woman of advanced views and normal intelligence, but it does not suffice to think; one must make thought the prelude of action. Strong in this belief I have not hesitated to attempt something more than mere criticism. I cannot wave flags, abuse enemies, or extol popular idols; and consequently those who read will please accept these and other limitations. FRANCES EVELYN WARWICK. - Summary by The preface

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