This European One
There are those who say it will be Armageddon. The prospect of that is sufficiently alarming for even the steadiest of nerves, for it is said that greatest of all wars or battles will be led up to by “the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth to the kings of the earth to gather them to the battle of that great day.”
In his great speech to the Commons’ House of Parliament, and not to them only, but to the nation, to Europe, and to the world, that sanest and calmest of statesmen, Sir Edward Grey to wit, neither disguised nor belittled the magnitude of the quarrel as it presented itself. He made no attempt to conceal the delicate contingencies which might any moment involve several other countries, our own included, in addition to the two powers between which the quarrel began, Austria and Servia, namely, and their allies, Russia and Germany, took sides at once, and a European conflagration was lighted.
How quickly national emotions move and act in this twentieth century! It is barely five weeks since the Archduke, heir to the dual throne of Austria-Hungary, and his wife, the Archduchess, were murdered at Sarajevo, a town in Bosnia, but in Austria it was felt and believed that the murders had been planned in Servia; and the Austrian Government demanded to have representatives on the enquiry into the conspiracy and the punishment of the guilty. Servia, as small as she is among the great countries of Europe, stood upon its dignity, and though she did not refuse the demand, protested that to accede to it would derogate from her position as an independent State. From that moment the question was no longer one merely between Austria and her former ‘protege’ Servia, but became a racial one. Russia, as a great Slav power, could not hold aloof and see Servia crushed, and Germany was bound to put on her whole armour for Austria, her ally.
Whether the end of it all will be Armageddon or not, the decisive battle in the war which this week has seen begun will be bloody enough and disastrous enough, not only for the defeated, but as much, if not more so, for the victors. Above all, it will mean ruin, starvation, and death for thousands upon thousands of the working classes throughout Europe and the British Kingdom.
Democracy And War
It is much to be regretted that when an opportunity occurs the democracy, the working classes, do not enter a strong protest against war and its concurrent and consequent iniquities. They have to do the fighting, they and their families suffer the greatest deprivations and losses, both during its progress and after it is all over; but the glory and the spoils are never for them.
Tommy Atkins is never ‘mentioned in dispatches’ unless at the imminent peril of his own he saves the life of an officer. Wars are the greatest curses that can befall a people, and until the people arise in the might of their numbers and intelligence, there is no hope of them being prevented.
The autocrats who sit enthroned on high above the toiling multitudes will never in the long run work for peace; nor will the aristocrats next the thrones, and still less the plutocrats whose chief aim and desire are to get created peers. With those who earn their bread by the sweat of their brow, and those who toil and spin, lies the sole hope of progress in enreading an abhorrence of all wars.
• This feature to commemorate the First World War brings you the news as it happened in 1914 as reported by the Morpeth Herald. It is published with kind permission of the Mackay family. We thank them for their support and generosity in allowing us access to their archive.