Page 3680

3680 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

seriously disturb the German confidence

in the airships, but further destruction

produced a discouraging disillusionment.

A correspondent who visited Germany

in 1916 says that the "destruction of

Zeppelins had almost as much to do with

the desire for peace, in the popular mind,

as the discomforting illness caused by

food shortage and the perpetual hammerings by the French and British armies in

the west."

Each day that passed added to the

stupendous total of men killed or maimed

in the terrible conflict. By the opening

of the spring campaigns of 1917, Germany

alone had lost over a million men killed

and about three million more had been

wounded or captured. Russia, Austria Hungary, and France had also suffered

enormous losses, while those of Great

Britain were swiftly mounting. Rapidly

the flower of European manhood was

perishing on the battlefield. Tragic as

was the fate of these men, it yet had a

brighter side. By no one perhaps has

this brighter side been better pictured

than by Lieutenant Eric L. Townsend,

a London youth of twenty years, who was

'killed in the Battle of the Somme while

leading the first "wave" against a German

position. Before the engagement he had

written a manly letter designed to comfort

his father and mother in case he should

fall, and in that letter occurred the following philosophic passage:

"But for this war I and all the others

would have passed into oblivion like the

countless myriads before us. We should

have gone about our trifling business,

eating, drinking, sleeping, hoping, marrying, giving in marriage, and finally dying

with no more achieved than when we were

born, with the world no different for our

lives. Even the cattle in the field fare

no worse than this. They, too, eat, drink,

sleep, bring forth young, and die, leaving

the world no different from what they

found it.

"But we shall live forever in the results

of our efforts. We shall live as those

who by their sacrifice won the great war.

Our spirits and our memories shall endure

in the proud position Britain shall hold

in the future. The measure of life is not

the use made of it. I did not make much

use of my life before the war, but I think

I have done so now. . ..

"To me has been given the easier task;

to you is given the more difficult-that of

living in sorrow. Be of good courage

that at the end you may give a good

account.

"Kiss Donald for me.

"Adieu, best of parents. Your loving

son.-Eric."

Not to those killed in the conflict but

to those maimed for life, to bereaved

parents, the widowed, and the fatherless

should our chief sympathy go out.

Furthermore, it can safely be said

that the economic results of the Great

War will ultimately have a more deplorable

effect upon humanity than the price in

blood. By May 1, 1917, the six main

European belligerents had borrowed upwards of fifty billion dollars as a result of

the war, and it was estimated that if the

war should last a full three years, the total

cost would be upwards of seventy billions.

Henceforth each one of these nations

must stagger under a debt so enormous

that merely to meet the interest charge

would strain all their resources. Taxation

would not only hamper industry, but

there could be little money expended for

education, for poor relief, for the care of

those who had suffered from the war.

Civilization seemed at the breaking point,

and generations would pass before humanity could again attain the high point

reached in the summer of 1914 when

the Teutonic War Lords made the fateful

decision that plunged the world into

bloody chaos.

Suffering in the belligerent countries

was vastly increased by lack of food.

Partial failure of the crops throughout a

large part of the world had united with

the submarine menace to render the food

situation even in the Entente countries a

troublesome one; while in the Central

Powers it was far more acute. In Germany

the potato crop had been very poor,

while the chemical preparation of