Pale Ebenezer thought it wrong to fight
But Battling Bill (who slew him) thought it right.
HILAIRE BELLOC penned this sardonic couplet in those halcyon days before 1914 when, in Europe and North America, "the Peace Movement" was reaching its height. The rest of the twentieth century, with its unprecedented bloodshed and catastrophic results, might seem to justify the views of Ebenezer. Is the world any better, we may ask, as a result of all those wars? Should people not have listened to him rather than to Battling Bill and, like him, refused to fight? Today Ebenezer's successors continue gallantly to urge their cause; and even if they have failed to persuade us that to fight is "wrong," at least we now expect our governments to think a great deal harder before they put their soldiers (as the rather-charming American euphemism has it) "in harm's way": that is, order them to kill people and run a distinct risk of getting killed themselves.