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05 September 2014

September 4th, 1914

IT SEEMS that recruiting is going on briskly, especially in the last few days, but young men are not flocking to the colours with the speed that apparently Lord Kitchener would wish. We do not think, however, that this excuses either the newspapers or the people who call them "skulkers". That the heart of the nation, as a whole, is sound we are quite sure. The ones who have enlisted so far have been the men who have a spice of adventure in their nature and who want to go to the Front. The much larger non-adventurous class has not yet volunteered. These young men have no wish for active service; they do not feel that their training has in any way fitted them for it, but they would enlist for the war if they were convinced that the safety of England demanded it. Any day this conviction might come, but it will not come until a psychological wave of contagious enthusiasm passes over the country. For our own part we do not think that young men who cannot in the nature of things fully understand the peril of their country should be asked to make the decision themselves. They are not in many cases old enough to do so, nor strong enough to withstand the pressure from relations and others in the opposite direction. If the men are needed - and Lord Kitchener must be the judge of that - a short bill should be rapidly passed through Parliament to give the numbers desired. It is far better that there should be compulsion of that kind than that they should be bullied into going by their frightened elders. There are tens of thousands who are on the verge of volunteering, but those who know the young men of the labouring classes know also how very little initiative they possess. The history of trades unions might have taught us this.


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