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The Audacious War By Clarence W. Barron Characters: 10548

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05

Copyright, 1914 and 1915, by the Boston News Bureau Company

Copyright, 1915, by Clarence W. Barron

All Rights Reserved

Published February 1915



Suppose 't were done!

The lanyard pulled on every shotted gun;

Into the wheeling death-clutch sent

Each millioned armament,

To grapple there

On land, on sea and under, and in air!

Suppose at last 't were come-

Now, while each bourse and shop and mill is dumb

And arsenals and dockyards hum,-

Now all complete, supreme,

That vast, Satanic dream!-

Each field were trampled, soaked,

Each stream dyed, choked,

Each leaguered city and blockaded port

Made famine's sport;

The empty wave

Made reeling dreadnought's grave;

Cathedral, castle, gallery, smoking fell

'Neath bomb and shell;

In deathlike trance

Lay industry, finance;

Two thousand years'

Bequest, achievement, saving, disappears

In blood and tears,

In widowed woe

That slum and palace equal know,

In civilization's suicide,-

What served thereby, what satisfied?

For justice, freedom, right, what wrought?


Save, after the great cataclysm, perhap

On the world's shaken map

New lines, more near or far,

Binding to king or czar

In festering hate

Some newly vassaled state;

And passion, lust and pride made satiate;

And just a trace

Of lingering smile on Satan's face!

-Boston News Bureau Poet.

This poem has been called the great poem of the war. It was written just preceding the war, and published August 1 by the "Boston News Bureau." Of it, and its author, Bartholomew P. Griffin, the following was written by Rev. Francis G. Peabody: "The English poets, Bridges, Kipling, Austin, and Noyes, have all tried to meet the need and all have lamentably failed. I am proud not only that an American, but that a Harvard man, should have risen to the occasion."


The Scotch have this proverb: "War brings poverty. Poverty brings peace. Peace brings prosperity. Prosperity brings pride. And pride brings war again." Shall the world settle down to the faith that there is no redemption from an everlasting round of pride, war, poverty, peace, prosperity, pride, and war again?

But it was not primarily to settle, or even study this problem that I crossed the ocean and the English Channel in winter. As a journalist publishing the Wall Street Journal, the Boston News Bureau, and the Philadelphia News Bureau, and directing news-gathering for the banking and financial communities, I deemed it my duty to ascertain at close hand the financial factors in this war, and the financial results therefrom.

I found myself on the other side, not only in the domain of the finance encircling this war, but unexpectedly in close touch with diplomatic and government circles. The whole of the war, its commercial causes, its financial and military forces, its tremendous human sacrifices, the conflicting principles of government, and the world-wide issues involved, all lay out in clear facts and figures after I had gathered by day and night from what appeared at first to be a tangled web.

I learned who made this war, and why at this time and for what purposes, present and prospective; and from facts that could not be set down categorically in papers of state. No papers, "white," "gray," or "yellow," could present a picture of the war in its inception and the reasons therefor.

There is no powerful organization over nations to keep the peace of Europe or of the world, as nations are in organization over states, and states over cities, to insure peace and justice, without strife or human sacrifice.

The immediate causes of this war, and I believe they have not before been presented on this side of the ocean, are connected with commercial treaties, protective tariffs, and financial progress.

It may be wondered that in our country, which is the home of the protective tariff system and boasts its great prosperity therefrom, there has been as yet no presentation of the business causes beneath this war. Our great journalists are trained to find interesting, picturesque, and saleable news features from big events. Details of war's atrocities and destructions are to most people of the greatest human interest, and rightly so. As a country we have no international policy, and European politics and policies have never interested us.

Germany is buttressed by tariffs and commercial treaties on every side. Years ago I was told in Europe that the commercial treaties wrested from France in 1871 were of more value to Germany than the billion dollars of indemnity she took as her price to quit Paris. But I did not realize until I was abroad this winter how European countries had warred by tariffs, and that Germany and Russia were preparing for a great clash at arms over the renewal of commercial and tariff treaties which expire within two years, and which had been forced by Germany upon Russia during the Japanese War.

German "Kultur" means German progress, commercially and financially. German progress is by tariffs and commercial treaties. Her armies, her arms, and her armaments, are to support this "Kultur" and this progress.

I believe I have told the story as it h

as never been told before. But the facts cannot be drawn forth and properly set in review without some presentation of the spirit of the peoples of the European nations.

If all the nations of Europe were of one language, the spirit, the soul of each in its distinctive characteristics might stand out even more prominently than to-day.

Then we could see even more clearly the spirit of brotherhood and nationality that stands out resplendent as the soul of France. We should see the spirit of empire and of trade, interknit with administrative justice, as the soul of Great Britain. We should see Germany an uncouth giant in the center of Europe, viewing all about him with suspicion, and demanding to know why, as the youngest, sturdiest, best organized, and hardest working European nation, he is not entitled to overseas or world empire.

But few persons on this side have comprehended the relation of this great war to the greatest commercial prizes in the world; the shores of the Mediterranean, Asia Minor, with its Bagdad Railroad headed for the Persian Gulf, Mesopotamia with its great oil-fields, undeveloped and a source of power for the recreation of Palestine and all the lands between the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, and Asia.

The greatest study for Americans to-day is the spirit of nations as shown in this war, and great lessons for the United States may be found in the finance, business, patriotism, and justice that stand forth in the British Empire as never before. She is rolling up a tremendous war-power within her empire and throughout Europe, encircling the German war-power. But she is likewise looking to her own people and her own workers, filling her own factories and every laboring hand to the full that she may keep her business and profits at home, and with her business and profits and accumulated capital and income prosecute the greatest war of history.

She is not unmindful in any respect of what the war may send her way. In the breaking-away and the breaking-up of Turkey, she sees a clear field for Egypt, the realization of the dream of Cecil Rhodes of the development of the whole of Africa by a Cape to Cairo Railroad, and she sees her own empire and peoples belting the world in power, usefulness, and justice, and with a sweep and scope for enterprise and development beyond all the previous dreams of this generation.

The United States, with hundreds of millions of banking reserves released and giving base for a business expansion double any we have had before, seems suddenly paralyzed in its business activities and, comprehending only that the loaf of bread is a cent higher and a pound of cotton a few cents lower, it is wondering on which side of its bread the butter is to fall.

Meanwhile, it talks politics, asks if prosperity here is to come during or after the war; and having little comprehension of the meaning of the national throbs that on the other side of the globe are pulsating the world into a new era of light, liberty, and expansion by individual labor, it refuses to take up its daily home-task and go forward.

In the hope that these pages may be useful to my fellow countrymen in giving them the facts of this war, its commercial causes, its financial progress, its sacrifice in humanity,-sacrifice that could not be demanded but for a greater future,-these papers are taken, as completed in my financial publications in this month of February, and placed before the reading community in book form, as requested in hundreds of personal letters.

They were never conceived or written with any idea of their permanent preservation. They were prepared for the banking community, which demands news-facts and figures discriminatingly presented. The banker wants the truth; he will make his own argument and reach his own conclusions.

The reader will readily see that these chapters are day-to-day issues aiming to present that news from the standpoint of finance. But under all sound finance must be primarily the truth of humanity. They do not claim to be from beginning to end a harmonious book-presentation of the war, but it is believed that they contain the essential fundamental war-facts; and the aim was to present them in most condensed expression.

They cover the first six months of this most Audacious War. Whether it is to continue for another six months or another sixteen months is not so material as the character of the peace and what is to follow.

No greater problem can be placed before the world than that of how the peace of nations may be maintained. Having cleared my own mind upon this subject, I submit it in the final chapter, which naturally follows after that treating of the lessons for the United States from this war.

Only in an international organization, with power to make decrees of peace and enforce them, and with insurance of powers above those of all dissenters, can we find the peace of nations as we have found the peace of cities. This Audacious War has forced such an alliance as can yield this power. Its transfer to the support of an International tribunal can make and keep the peace of Europe and eventually of the world.

Then may the earth cease to be, in history, that steady round of

Prosperity, Pride, and War.

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