by Wingfield, Rebecca
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During late 1915 and early 1916, the events of the First World War continued to dominate the pages of The New Age. Despite staggering losses, both sides remained reluctant to acknowledge the stalemate on the Western Front. Military offensives like the one at Ypres often lasted for months, but failed to make significant breaches in the opposing lines. Many British commanders and politicians believed that only new offensives undertaken with overwhelming numbers of men and munitions could break the deadlock. In February 1916, Germany launched a new major offensive at Verdun in France, while the Allies began preparations for their own summer offensive along the Somme River. On the Eastern Front, the German army continued to advance against the Russians, taking Warsaw in August 1915. Political chaos at home compounded Russia's defeats in the field, as government corruption and the frequent shuffling of key military and political leaders hampered the war effort. Despite the huge expenditure of men and munitions on the main European fronts, the war continued to spread beyond Europe in late 1915 and early 1916. Having failed to make headway in their botched assault on Gallipoli in the Turkish Dardanelles, Allied forces began their evacuation of the main beaches. Meanwhile, in Mesopotamia, British forces landed to defend Persian oil fields and began to march toward Baghdad. In Africa, South African, British, Belgian, and Portuguese troops under the command of Jan Smoots invaded German East Africa.Maps of the major fronts may be found at: http://www.firstworldwar.com/maps/index.htm.
In Britain, the challenge of fighting a war of attrition on multiple, far-flung fronts required increased production at home and enormous numbers of men. While volunteers signed up by the tens of thousands through the first year of the war, the number of volunteers began to level off in mid-1915. In the eyes of many military commanders and politicians, compulsory conscription of men into the British army seemed like the only solution. During the period covered in Volume 18 of The New Age, contributors grappled with the problem of conscription, seeing it not only as a military issue but a social and economic one as well. These lively debates over conscription construed it as much more than an expedient way to beef up Britain's fighting forces. In many contributors' eyes, conscription also threatened to exacerbate the plight of the working classes and curtail industrial production on the home front. Most of all, however, conscription stood to leave an indelible mark on the British political landscape by introducing what the author of “Notes of the Week” called the “shrine of an invidious compulsion” into a democratic political system founded on the idea of personal liberty (18.11:242).
In the course of these debates, conscription emerged as another instance of the British government's increasing regulation of the daily lives of its citizens. The passage of the Defense of the Realm Act in the first months of the war had already enabled the government to intervene in private industry and the lives of its citizens in unprecedented ways, from regulating key industries and censoring the press to shortening pub hours. Conscription appeared to further this process of greater government incursion into the private sphere, by proposing to compel individuals to serve in the armed forces. Ironically, the Liberal Party, a party traditionally beholden to doctrines of free trade and personal liberty, led the push for many of these wartime interventions into the private sphere. During the period covered in this volume of The New Age, the pressures began to mount on Prime Minister Asquith, who found himself increasingly torn between traditional Liberal tenets and new policies such as conscription and regulation of key wartime industries. As Asquith's Government begins to fracture, two new figures rise to challenge his leadership: Minister of Munitions Lloyd George, a member of Asquith's Liberal Party, and Henry Carson, the Unionist leader and staunch opponent of Irish Home Rule.
Although debates about the war dominate much of Volume 18 of The New Age, they do so in ways that continually connect the war to broader cultural and social issues. The pressures of conscription and the increasing regulation of life on the home front prompted Orage and many of his contributors to inaugurate a search for a "coherent set of values" from which to engage with the difficult challenges posed by the war (Wallace 195). And it was here, in this search for values, that culture and the arts had a significant role to play in relation to the war. Exhorting his readers to “sustain the labour of culture”, Orage stressed the importance of culture as an arbiter of truth in a complicated world:
Names to Know While Using This Volume
- Herbert Henry Asquith (1852-1928)
- Prime Minister of Liberal government of Britain 1908-1915; Prime Minister of Coalition government during the war, 1915-1916. Leader of the Liberal Party until 1926. Secretary for war March- August 1914. Created Earl of Oxford and Asquith in 1925. David Lloyd George (1863-1945)
- Chancellor of the Exchequer at the outset of the war, Lloyd George was made Minister of Munitions, a new cabinet post, in 1915. In 1916, he will become leader of a new Coalition Government. An advocate of conscription, Lloyd George also sedulously pursued increased production as Minister of Munitions, an effort that led to a growing rift with labor leaders. Edward Stanley, Earl of Derby (1865-1948)
- Conservative MP from Lancashire; Secretary for war, 1916-18; 1922-24. Drafted the compromise “Derby Scheme” for guaranteeing army recruits (see below). Edward Henry Carson (1954-1935)
- Barrister famous for delivering a tough cross-examination of Oscar Wilde during his libel trial in 1895. Conservative MP 1892-1921. A staunch opponent of Irish Home Rule and leader of the Irish Unionist bloc of the Conservative Party 1910-21. Carson was made Attorney General in Asquith's Coalition government of 1915 and First Lord of the Admiralty in 1916 under Lloyd George's Coalition government. Alfred Charles William Harmsworth, Lord Northcliffe (1865-1922)
- The most influential of Britain's press barons. Owner of several British papers, including the Daily Mail, which enjoyed the largest circulation, and the Times, often viewed as the voice of the British establishment. Northcliffe was made Director of Propaganda in Lloyd George's Coalition government in 1918. Lord Kitchener (1850-1916)
- Secretary of War 1914-1916. Kitchener oversaw the rapid expansion of the army in the first years of the war. His visage figured prominently on popular recruiting posters that clamored “Your country needs you!” Kitchener was killed when his ship the H.M.S. Hampshire struck a German mine on June 5, 1916. Prior to World War I, Kitchener served as commander in chief in South Africa (1900-1902), India (1902-9), and Egypt (1911-14). Reginald McKenna (1863-1943)
- Chancellor of the Exchequer; Home Secretary 1911-1915. A staunch advocate of “free trade” policies in the Liberal Party. Defense of the Realm Act (DORA)
- Immediately following the outbreak of the war, Asquith's Government passed a series of measures designed to bolster the war effort. Collectively known as the Defense of the Realm Act, the acts facilitated greater governmental regulation of both private industry and the lives of British citizens. The acts granted the government control over key military industries like munitions, tightened press censorship, and provided for propaganda. In addition, the acts organized the distribution of food, fuel, shipping and other necessities. The acts also marked a striking degree of government intervention in the lives of its citizens, shortening pub hours and prohibiting the custom of “buying a round” of drinks in order to curb drinking in areas crucial to war-related industries. The Military Service Acts
- Enacted in two separate pieces of legislation, the Military Service Acs instituted compulsory military service for men aged 18-41 years old. Military Service Act (No. 1), hotly debated in the pages of this volume of The New Age, instituted the conscription of all single men aged 18-41. Also known as the “Bachelor's Bill,” the Act passed the House of Commons on January 24, 1916, and became effective on February 9, 1916. Military Service Act (No. 2), passed on May 13, 1916, extended conscription to married men, making all able-bodied men aged 18-41 eligible for call up to the British armed forces. The Derby Scheme
- Facing pressure to win the war and mounting calls for conscription, Asquith asked Lord Derby to investigate the problem. Lord Derby developed a plan in which men of service age could attest to their willingness to serve when and if they were called upon to do so. Highly controversial, the “Derby scheme” was presented to Liberals as a means of salvaging the volunteer system, to Unionists as a prelude to conscription. Gallipoli and the Dardanelles Campaign
- Looking for a way to bypass the deadlock on the Western Front and make effective use of the mighty British Navy, the war council decided to attempt a Naval landing at the Gallipoli Peninsula in the Dardanelles in 1915. The plan, advocated by First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, proved to be a disaster. In a first attempt to invade the peninsula, on February 14, 1915, the British fleet entered the straits, bombarding Turkish forts and beginning the work of clearing mines in the waters. While attempting to maneuver up the straits, several British ships hit mines, forcing a retreat. Admiral de Robeck, the commanding officer, asked for the assistance of the British Army. Willing to give the operation one last try under the command of Sir Ian Hamilton, the war council ordered British troops withdraw to Alexandria, Egypt, where they began preparations for an amphibious landing at Gallipoli. During the month the British Army was stationed in Egypt, the Turkish army fortified its positions at Gallipoli. On April 25, 1915, Allied forces, consisting of a French division, divisions from the British Army and Navy, and the Anzacs (the Australian-New Zealand Corps.) renewed their offensive at Gallipoli. Attacks continued through May and June, but with little result. In an effort to break the stalemate, a new offensive was begun on August 8, at Sulva Bay, just north of the beaches at Cape Helles and Anzac Cove. This new offensive also quickly stalled in the face of Turkish opposition. In December 1915, the British army began its evacuation of the peninsula. Union of Democratic Control
- Formed in September 1914 by Charles Trevelyan, Ramsay MacDonald, E. D. Morel, Arthur Ponsonby, and Norman Angell. The UDC opposed British entry into the war, demanded ending the war through negotiations, and advocated a foreign policy determined by Parliament rather than “secret diplomacy.” Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
- One of Britain's leading intellectuals, Russell served as leader of the anti-war movement in Britain and member of the Union of Democratic Control. His anti-war sentiments cost him his Lectureship in logic and the philosophy of math at Cambridge. Russell was also active in tariff reform and women's suffrage. In 1907, he was elected to the Royal Society. No-Conscription Fellowship (1914-1919)
- Founded in 1914 by a group of Socialists and pacifists, including Fenner Brockway and Clifford Allen, it offered a forum for the anti-war sentiments of men of military age. The organization led the fight against the campaign for conscription.
Events by Month
- An Austrian submarine sinks the Italian passenger liner Ancona, killing 272, including 27 Americans. 11
- British troops, under the command of General Townshend, begin their advance toward Baghdad. The War Cabinet reforms, consisting of Asquith, Bonar Law, Balfour, Lloyd George, and Reginald McKenna. Churchill resigns from the Cabinet. 18
- Churchill joins the Grenadier Guards unit as a major in the B.E.F. on the Western Front in Flanders. 19
- The Battle of the "Field of Blackbirds" begins in Serbia. General Radomir Putnik commands the Allied forces. 23
- The Germans defeat Putnik's troops at Pristina and Mitrovica and the Bulgarians win the "Field of Blackbirds." Serbian forces begin their retreat into Albania. 22-24
- In Mesopotamia, British troops advance on Turkish troops at Ctesiphon, coming within 24 miles of Baghdad. 25
- Unable to break through the Turkish defenses, General Townshend and his army retreat toward Kut al-Amara.
- Outraged by submarine attacks on merchant and passenger ships, the US asks Germany to withdraw its military and naval attaches from its embassy in Washington. 3
- Townsend's troops reach Kut in Mesopotamia. British troops will remain under siege in Kut until their surrender on April 29, 1916. Several attempts to break the siege fail. 3
- General Joseph Joffre named Commander-in-Chief of the French Army. 4-6
- Allied War Conference in Chantilly, France. Commanders and government officials from the Allied countries agree on a coordinated offensive in the summer of 1916 on the Western front, the Russian front, and the Italian front. 7
- Putnik, commander of Allied troops in Serbia, resigns his command due to illness. 8-20
- Allied troops evacuate Sulva Bay and Anzac Cove at Gallipoli. Removing troops in small boats under the cover of night, the British evacuate their positions without loss of life. 15
- Retreating Serbian troops seek refuge in Albanian towns, including Skadar. Their losses are staggering: 94,000 casualties, 120,000 captured by German and Austrian forces and another 50,000 captured by Bulgarian troops. 16
- Sir John French resigns. General Douglas Haig is named commander of British forces on the Western Front. 19
- The German army uses phosgene gas, ten times as toxic as chlorine gas, for the first time in a battle north of Ypres. 21
- General Sir William Robertson becomes chief of the Imperial General Staff, following General Sir Archibald Murray's resignation. 22
- Murray is named commander of British troops in Egypt, replacing Lt. General Sir John Maxwell. 25
- Lloyd George, Minister of Munitions, attempts to addresses shop stewards on the Clydeside in Glasgow, but the shop stewards shout down his speech. 28
- The British Cabinet decides to institute compulsory conscription.
- British troops from Nigeria capture Yaounda in the Cameroons. 7
- Responding to US diplomatic pressure, Germany notifies the US Department of State that it will abide by the international rules of maritime warfare. 7-9
- The evacuation of Cape Helles beaches at Gallipoli ends the British campaign in the Dardanelles. During the campaign, British and French forces suffer 252,000 casualties, the Turkish 251,000. British sustain 215,000 casualties. 8
- The Austrian army, backed by naval artillery, attacks Montenegrin defenses at Cattaro. 10
- Montenegrin forces abandon Kouk and retreat to Cetinje. 10
- In Mexico, members of Pancho Villa's army kidnap 17 American mining engineers from a train in retaliation for President Wilson's recognition of the Carranza government. They execute the engineers. Members of the U.S. Congress call for sending troops to Mexico. 10
- The Russian army begins an offensive in Armenia. 11
- Austrian forces capture Cetinje. Montenegrin forces retreat to Pec. 17
- Montenegrin troops surrender. 24
- Military Service Bill (No. 1) is read in the House of Commons. 27
- Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht form the Spartacus League in Berlin. 27
- The British Labour Party votes against conscription during their party conference. 29
- The Germans launch a second zeppelin raid on Paris. 31
- German zeppelins raid industrial targets in the British midlands, resulting in 138 casualties.
- Boris Sturmer, a German ally and favorite of Rasputin, becomes Prime Minister of Russia, replacing Ivan Goremykin who resigns. 9
- Military Service Bill (No. 1) goes into effect. 11
- Germany and Austria inform the US that they will sink any armed merchant ships beginning in March. The US firmly rejects this right. 15-6
- Russian forces under Yudenich capture Erzerum in Turkey. 16
- German ambassador to the US announces that Germany will pay an indemnity for Americans killed on the Lusitania. 18
- German troops in the Cameroons surrender their last bastion at Mora. 21
- The German army begins an offensive at Verdun. Both sides suffer staggering losses, as the fighting continues until December 18, 1916. 22
- Colonel House, an American emissary, meets with British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey. They draft the House-Grey Memorandum, which states that, if the British accept an American proposal for a peace conference and the Germans reject it, the US will enter the war on the side of the Allies. 28
- Henry James dies.
- In the Kilimanjaro region of German East Africa, Jan Smuts leads an Allied offensive of British, South African, Portuguese, and Belgian troops. 9
- Germany declares war on Portugal, after the latter seizes German ships in Lisbon harbor. 9
- Pancho Villa's troops raid a U.S. Cavalry garrison in Columbus, New Mexico, killing several Americans. Responding to public outrage, President Wilson orders an expedition to capture Pancho Villa "dead or alive". 17
- Strikes break out in munitions factories and shipyards on the Clydeside. The British government quells the strike by deporting leaders of the Clyde Workers' Committee. 15
- General John J. Pershing enters Mexico with 6000 troops to capture Pancho Villa. They pursue him until February 1917, but are unable to capture him. 24
- German submarines torpedo the French Channel packet Sussex, killing 50 people, including Americans.
- Responding to the sinking of the Sussex, United States Secretary of State Lansing declares that the US may break diplomatic relations with Germany if it continues to engage in unrestricted submarine warfare. 21
- Roger Casement lands in Ireland from a German U-boat. Having failed to ferry German guns through the British naval blockade, Casement arrives intending to call off the revolt planned for Easter week. British authorities arrest him immediately. 24-May 1
- Members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, led by Patrick Pearse and James Connolly, revolt in an event known as the “Easter Rising”. The rebels seize major city buildings and establish a headquarters in the General Post Office. 26
- Mark Sykes of Great Britain and Georges Picot of France reach a secret, preliminary agreement for the partition of Turkey. Known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement, it gives Syria to France and Mesopotamia to Britain. (The agreement hinged on the later approval of Russia, which was achieved in March 1916 by granting Turkish Armenia to Russia.) 29
- British troops at Kut surrender. 23,000 casualties are sustained in the effort to rescue Townshend's 12,500 men. Trying to relieve the siege, the British send a mission, including T. E. Lawrence serving with British intelligence in Cairo, to bribe the Turks into allowing a British escape. The Turkish general boasts that English gold could not win back what English arms had lost. May 1
- Connolly and Pearse surrender in Dublin.
A quick glance at the pages of Volume 18 reveals that the war and its profound effect on daily life in Britain continued to fascinate the writers at The New Age. Under Orage's tutelage, contributors to The New Age assumed a balanced, but critical stance on many of the political, military, and ethical issues raised by the war, including compulsory conscription, the conduct of military operations, and the war's deleterious effects on the working class. Although contributors often preoccupied themselves with political and military issues, they also tackled the cultural and social ramifications of the Great War. The challenges of the war years reinforced Orage's belief that the purpose of criticism was to
- The increasingly frequent translations of poetical and dramatic works, which Orage hoped would serve as worthy literary models for contemporary British writers. This search for literary models in other eras and literatures may be glimpsed in Triboulet's translations of Renaissance Spanish sonnets of Lope de Vega (18.01:043), J. Isaac's translations of works by French poet Charles d'Orléans (18.01:43), and C.E. Bechhofer's translation of Chekhov's “Jubilee” (18.09:207).
- The revival of the 18th century literary forms of the hortatory epistle, satire, and the periodical essay exemplified in the writings of Joseph Addison, Richard Steele, and Jonathan Swift. This revival of traditional forms aimed to develop a “catholic criticism” whose “civilized rationality” might provide a sense of reason and balance in an increasingly chaotic age (Wallace 196-7). Examples of these may be found in Anthony Farley's “Letters to My Nephew” (beginning in No. 13 ) and W. de Veer's “Letters from Holland” (beginning in No. 7), and the anonymous “occasional diary” of social graces in “Man and Manners” (beginning in No. 10). On the model of Swift's “A Modest Proposal,” W. Mears offers a satire of the demand for compulsory conscription and the concerns over women in industry in “All Industry for Women” (18.15:356).
In “A Notebook,” T. E. Hulme makes the search for values explicit, when he calls for a new emphasis on objectivity in art, philosophy, and ethics. Hulme's “Notebook”, which begins in No. 5, marks one of the first and most influential calls for a new classicism in art, an emphasis that would have a profound influence on T. S. Eliot and post-war Modernism. This search for values, however, wasn't limited to the world of art and culture. As Wallace Martin suggests in his history of the journal, the war years impressed on Orage the need to develop a “unified theory of value” capable of encompassing the seemingly disparate fields of economics, politics, philosophy, and art (Wallace 197). This deeply traditional theory of value, as something objective, may be glimpsed in both the neo-classical turn of the journal's literary criticism and the development of Guild Socialism. Guild Socialism, with its emphasis on the organic structure of the social community and the individual's relationship to it, offers a critique of both the materialist individualism indicative of Liberalism and the collectivist bent of most forms of socialism. In “The State and the Guilds,” beginning in No. 1, W. N. Ewer presents a history of the guilds' opposition to the collectivism associated with the modern nation state. For Ewer, the guilds offer a “spontaneous” system of “organic diversity” capable of mediating between individuals and the social whole (18.01:008, 18.21:491). For more on Guild Socialism, see Wallace Martin's book The New Age Under Orage and the entry on Guild Socialism on the MJP website.
During this period, the price of the journal remains the same, selling for 6 pence. “Press Cuttings” continues to appear on the last page of the journal, except issues 18 and 21, which feature illustrations by Augustus John (18.18:432) and Will Dyson (18.21:50).
Continuing Series in Volume 18
In addition to standard columns like “Readers and Writers” and “Notes of the Week”, several shorter series appear in this volume. Many of these series continue from Volume 17, including:
- “Letters from Russia” by Charles Bechhöfer. (18.01:011)
- “More Letters to My Nephew” by Anthony Farley. (18.13:297)
- “Impressions of Paris” by Alice Morning (Beatrice Hastings: pseudonyms). (18.02:037)
- Paul V. Cohn's translation of Stendhal's “Of Love.” (18.01:016)
New Series of Interest in Volume 18
In addition to these continuing series, several additional new series, addressing a wide range of topics, make their appearance. (I have listed the first issue in which the series appears.)
- “War Notes,” written by T.E. Hulme under the pseudonym "North Staffs," takes issue with both the conduct of the war and pacifists' opposition to it. (18.02:29)
- “Men at War” provides an account of the daily suffering of soldiers at the front. (18.12:276)
- In “A Pathological View of the Hyphenated/ United States,” E.A.B explores the particular difficulties the war poses for the United States given its large immigrant populations (18.19:439).
- Ramiro de Maestzu's four-part series on “The German Heresy” explores Germany's elevation of "the State as the good" (18.12:273).
- The anonymous “Unedited Opinions” grapples with a range of controversial war issues, including the veracity of the case against Germany and the demanding conditions for peace proposed by Asquith (18.19:438).
- Alice Morning's “Feminine Fables” begins in No. 10. (18.10:233). (See also, the entry on Morning under “Special Contributors” in this introduction.)
- “A Notebook” by T.E.H. begins in No. 5. (18.05:112) (See also, the entry on T.E. Hulme under "Special Contributors" in this introduction.)
Politics and the War
During the time period spanning Volume 18 of The New Age, conscription debates dominated headlines and the public's attention. While Unionists quickly lent their support to conscription, most traditional Liberals, Prime Minister Asquith included, found the idea of conscription an appalling violation of liberal principles. In “Notes of the Week” in Volume 18 of The New Age, the author continually criticized the push for conscription, arguing repeatedly that there should be no conscription of men without an accompanying conscription of capital (18.03:051). In both this volume and Volume 17, writers for The New Age continually expressed concern that the rapacious greed of wealthy war profiteers, combined with the rising prices and stalled wages, unfairly and unequally burdened the working classes. Many writers argued that the conscription of men without an accompanying conscription of capital (of those industrial and financial resources necessary to the war effort) would only exacerbate the difficult economic conditions facing wartime Britain.
Of particular interest in the conscription debates, are the “Notes of the Week” in Nos. 10 and 11, which respond directly to the first reading of the Military Service Bill in the House of Commons (18.10:217, 18.11:241). Despite the continual criticisms of conscription laid out in “Notes of the Week,” the pages of The New Age present a wide range of positions and an even wider range of arguments too complex to summarize here. "North Staffs" advances arguments for conscription in “War Notes” (18.12:269), and J.M. Kennedy chimes in with his own critique of the anti-conscriptionist position in Vol. 9 (18.09:203). The “Letters to the Editor” during this period reveal British opinion to be similarly divided over the issue of conscription: while some readers like A. Stratton in No. 12 (18.12:284) advance arguments for conscription, many others, like Joseph Dalby, reject it as a spurious form of "Prussianism" (18.07:165). In the later issues of Volume 18, Unionist demands to expand conscription to include married men come under attack. S. Verdad warns that Henry Carson's insistence on expanding conscription risks decreasing production in key wartime industries at home (18.23:532).
Other war-related topics include:
- Pacifism and Conscientious Objectors
- While the conscription of men without a the conscription of capital comes under consistent attack in the pages of The New Age, pacifism and the plight of conscientious objectors also come under scrutiny. In “War Notes” for Issues 13 through 15, "North Staffs" sets his own pro-conscription arguments against a critique of the pacifist philosophy propounded by Bertrand Russell (18.13:293, 18.14:317, 18.15:341) and levels a scathing rebuke at Clive Bell's pacifism in No. 11 (18.11:246). Bell, a prominent art critic, was the husband of Vanessa Bell, Virginia Woolf's sister. Charles Brookfarmer (Carl Bechhöfer: pseudonyms) also takes aim at Russell's pacifism, offering a satirical report on one of his lectures (18.13:297). Ramiro de Maeztu presents his critique of the philosophy of pacifism and the "graver sin" of German militarism in his two-part series “On Right and Might” in Nos. 8 and 10 (18.08:178, 18.10:224). The Military Conduct of the War
- The critical stance adopted by many contributors toward the government's handling of conscription extends to the conduct of the war itself. In both “Notes of the Week” and “War Notes,” military commanders and politicians come under continual assault for their flawed strategic planning and poor management of the military campaign. The author of “Notes of the Week” condemns the lack of a contingency plan for the Dardanelles campaign (18.02:025) and the egregiously poor planning behind the "blunder" of Townshend's Baghdad expedition (18.07:145). In his “Foreign Affairs” column, S. Verdad criticizes the British army's failure to cooperate with Italy over maps of the Dardanelles, leading British troops to arrive with insufficient maps (18.05:100). Similarly, "North Staffs" denounces the General Staff's shocking lack of planning (18.05:101), excoriates the inability of an aging British command to adapt to the new conditions of warfare (18.07:145), and demands that the general responsible for the botched landing at Sulva Bay at Gallipoli be relieved of his command (18.10:222). Labour Relations and The Munitions Act
- In “Notes of the Week”, the Coalition government comes under attack for deftly exploiting clauses in the Munitions Act to keep a lid on wages despite the rising cost of living (18.04:74). The author of “Notes” continually chides the Government, particularly Minister of Munitions Lloyd George, for attempting to fix wages but not the price of other commodities (18.06:121, 18.09:193). The author also takes issue with the Trade Unions' failure to propose a series of countermeasures to these policies, and he advocates a greater role for labor in the managerial process. Financing the War
- By 1915, the prohibitive cost of the war began to take its toll on Britain. In September 1915, Chancellor of the Exchequor McKenna introduced a new system of taxation. Despite this influx of new revenue, the government also relied on enormous war loans. The “Notes of the Week” for No. 17 condemns the Government's decision to finance the war through loans from wealthy businessmen and new taxes that unfairly burden the working class (18.17:385). Instead of increasing taxes on a working class already burdened by shrinking wages and a rising cost of living, the author of “Notes” contends that the cost of the war should be defrayed by the wealthy (18.24:553). The answer to this financial crisis, the author contends, lies in the conscription of capital and the nationalization of key wartime industries. Habeas Corpus and Rex v. Halliday
- In “Notes of the Week” for No. 18, the High Court decision Rex v. Halliday is denounced as a new "Terror" that enables the government to jail private citizens without recourse to a lawyer and without press coverage. (18.18:409) In “Habeas Corpus: Yes or No?”, J.M. Kennedy argues that the protection of individual rights, such as those secured by Habeas Corpus, distinguishes Britain from the statist tyranny of Germany (18.15:344). A.E.R. devotes the “Views and Reviews” of No. 13 to discussion of the abrogation of Habeas Corpus under provisions in DORA (18.13:304). "Prussianism"
- While contributors to The New Age refrain from much of the scurrilous German-bashing to be found in the tabloid press in Britain, many writers do engage in a more subtle stereotyping of Germany and its tendency toward militarism and a strong state. In a series of four articles on “The German Heresy,” Ramiro de Maeztu accuses the Germans of inventing "the State as the good" and, in so doing, offering a form of authoritarian collectivism (18.12:275). W. de Veer's letters to his friend in Rotterdam also continually depict Prussianism as a form of statist collectivism thoroughly opposed to both the individualism of British liberalism and the organic structure of the guilds.
Literature and the Arts
Although the war dominates many of the debates in the pages of Volume 18, literature and the arts also get their fair due. Most useful for students of literature and the arts are the following columns (I've listed the first appearance of the column in this volume):
- “Readers and Writers” by R.H.C. (18.01:13)
- “Drama” by John Francis Hope. (18.01:12)
- “Views and Reviews” by A.E. Randall. (18.02:42)
- “Reviews” evaluates of current works of fiction and nonfiction. (18.01:19)
- “Pastiche” contains original poetry, satire, and translations. (18.01:20)
In his literary criticism, found in the biweekly “Readers and Writers” column, Orage consistently judged works of literature in relation to objective standards that looked beyond the stylistic vogues of the early 20th century. Orage consistently stressed that literature constituted "a source of knowledge" at the same time it served a significant "didactic function" (Wallace 237). The result was a literary criticism that evaluated works not merely on the basis of a series of technical accomplishments, but also through the lens of traditional values that attempted to locate the work's moral standard and its engagement with the culture at large (Wallace 237, 244). “Readers and Writers” begins by exhorting readers to "sustain the labour of culture" despite the continual distractions of the war, because, "The greatest events are still those that take place in our own soul" (18.13:300).
Also of note are:
- Edwin Muir, writing under the pseudonym Edward Moore, delivers a series of amusing satirical “Epigrams” that take on literary figures from Arnold Bennett to W.B. Yeats (begins 18.21:496).
- “Readers and Writers” in No. 12 contains a short review of Kipling's “The Fringes of the Fleet.” R.H.C. denounces Kipling's ability to "make such a lark of serious things, or skim over the depths with so little reflection in them" (18.12: 277).
- Also in No. 12, R.H.C. takes Havelock Ellis to task for reissuing his “Affirmations,” noting that "He is still an eclectic individualist, with no standards, but only personal preferences" (18.12:277). Any affirmations, R.H.C. contends, "must be at once personal and universal" (18.12:277).
- In “Readers and Writers” in No. 5, R.H.C. responds briefly to the police suppression of D.H. Lawrence's The Rainbow. R.H.C. bemoans the fact that the police rather than critics have been charged with being the "gamekeeper" of literature (18.05:109).
- P. Selver's translation of two letters by Nietzsche (18.08:181).
- In his “Drama” column in No. 20, John Francis Hope critiques the unabashed patriotism and anti-German sentiment behind many contemporary war plays like Rudolf Besier's "Kultur at Home." Hope remarks: "So readily do some of my countrymen lay the flattering unction to their souls that anything English is superior to everything German that I find it difficult to believe that a popular patriotic play is not intended to be a subtle satire on popular patriotism." (18.20:492)
- “Stay-Laces,” Katherine Mansfield's short piece depicting Mrs. Busk's trip to buy a corset, offers a satirical portrait of middle-class indifference to the war (18.01:14).
A frequent contributor to The New Age prior to the war, Hulme joined the Honourable Artillery Company in August 1914. While recovering from wounds received at the front, he penned the series “War Notes” under the pseudonym "North Staffs." Hulme's “War Notes,” which run from No. 2 to No. 18, offer scathing critiques of the way the military campaign has been conducted at the same time they take aim at the philosophical underpinnings of pacifism.
Hulme's most lasting and famous contribution to this volume, however, remains “A Note-Book,” published in seven installments beginning in issue No. 5 (18.05:112). In “A Notebook,” Hulme calls for a new emphasis on absolute, objective values in art, philosophy, and ethics. This turn towards the absolute and objective marks a striking departure from Hulme's earlier contributions, many of which introduced the ideas of French philosopher Henri Bergson to the British public. (See for instance, Hulme's “The New Philosophy” in Volume 5 (05.10:198) and the series "Notes on Bergson" in Volume 9 (09.25: )). In “A Notebook,” Hulme criticizes the "Humanist attitude" that locates value and meaning in human life and intimates humans are capable of perfection. In contrast to the perfectibility of humanity lauded by the Humanist attitude, the "Religious attitude" recognizes the inherently flawed, sinful nature of human beings. The art of the Renaissance exemplifies the perfectibility of humanity indicative of the Humanist attitude. In contrast, the more abstract, geometrical forms of Byzantine art capture an objectivity and awareness of the absolute that define the Religious attitude: "Man is subordinate to certain absolute values: there is no delight in the human form... it is always distorted to fit into the more abstract forms which convey an intense religious emotion" (18.13:306). Hulme's suspicion that the humanist tradition was beginning to crumble and that a new emphasis on absolute, objective form was on the rise marks him as one of the first proponents of the neo-classical revival in English letters. Hulme's “Note-Book” was later edited by Herbert Read and published in an altered form under the title “Humanism and the Religious Attitude” in Speculations(1924). For any student of British modernism, this original version of Hulme's essay is not to be missed.
Writing under the name "Alice Morning" among other pseudonyms, Hastings made numerous contributions to this volume of The New Age. Her “Impressions of Paris,” which continue from Volume 17, capture the war's impact on daily life in their own idiosyncratic and often quite funny way. In No. 2, Hastings engages Alice Smith on the controversial issue of women in industry (18.02:37), while in issue 3, she attacks Shaw's appropriation of the figure of Edith Cavell as a pretext for women's suffrage: "A few more Shaws, urging us to rally upon untenable bridges and we women shall never get anything we want, necessary things like the right to be at large because we do not spy" (18.03:59).
In addition to three new installments of “Impressions of Paris,” Hastings series “Feminine Fables” makes its first appearance in No. 10 (18.10:23). I recommend beginning with “The Style of the Peri” in No. 11 (18.11:257), since Hastings's tales were published out of order, with the second installment published in No. 10 and the first in No. 11. Hastings's tales chronicle the adventures of a beautiful young Peri, who, after a night of pestering humans, returns home late only to find herself locked out of the lower realm of paradise by her masters, the Fallen Angels. Finding herself bored with paradise and still smarting under the punishment of being locked out, the Peri resolves to head back to earth for a little mischief making. In No. 12, Hastings defends her series from detractors who complain they lack a clear moral. Hastings contends that the tales were "intended to amuse" and "there is no moral; and if there is an immoral in depicting a companion of the Fallen Angels becoming bored with an existence between heaven and Hell and running away to play Donna Juanna on this charming planet of ours—so be it!" (18.12:287). The mysterious, mischievous Peri's peregrinations take her to a British dreadnought (18.15:352), Constantinople (18.16:374), Damascus (18.18:424), and a country priest in a parish near the warfront in northern France (18.22:520). These puzzling, fantastical tales, with their whimsical stories of a beautiful young Peri who slips into and out of the mundane environment of modern life, offer a striking contrast to the hard-nosed criticisms of the pressing realities of the war that dominate other contributions to The New Age.
Of Further Note...
- No. 1 and No. 2 of this volume contain the final chapters of Paul V. Cohn's translation of “On Love” by Stendhal (18.01:16, 18.02:40).
- “International Tittle-Tattle” by Max Nordau. Translated from Pester Lloyd by P. Selver. (18.16:369)
- Brooker, Jewel Spears. “T.E. Hulme.”The Dictionary of Literary Biography. Volume 19. Donald E. Stanford.Detroit:Gale Research Co., 1983 . 227–236.
- Burg, David F.World War I Almanac.Lexington, KY:University Press of Kentucky, 1998.
- Ferrell, Robert, Gen. Ed.The 20th Century: An Almanac.London:Harrap, 1986.
- Gray, Randal and Christopher Argyle.Chronicle of the First World War: Volume I: 1914-1916. New York and Oxford:Facts on File, 1990.
- Havinghurst, Alfred F. 20th Century Britain. 2nd edition.New York:Harper and Row, 1962.
- Leventhal, Fred M. 20th Century Britain: An Encyclopedia. Rev. Ed. New York and Washington: Peter Lang, 2002.
- Martin, Wallace.The New Age Under Orage.New York:Barnes and Noble, 1967.
- Taylor, A. J. P. English History 1914-1945.New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1965.