A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 138

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FRANCE IN WARTIME


feeling of sympathy that made possible the Anglo-French rapprochement and increased the popularity of the entente cordiale. Once more French confidence in Britain's word was justified, and that under circumstances when the existence of two nations was at stake as well as the future of humanity in opposition to a people which was destroying the very foundations of that social contract without which civilization is impossible. "England is with us!" It seemed as if henceforward all was safe. Britain and France united, with their Allies present and to come, were defenders of right and justice, champions of a cause which could not fail.

Perhaps French public opinion did not thoroughly grasp the part which Britain was to take in the conflict. Everybody in France knew that the British fleet was far superior to all the fleets in the world, and that it would very soon annihilate the German squadrons if the latter should risk an encounter. But the German ships prudently returned to the Kiel Canal as soon as the British appeared in the neighbourhood of Heligoland. So complete was their retirement that the British fleet, having cleared the seas of a few raiders which professed to annoy it, was compelled to limit its role to a silent surveillance of the North Sea and to remain on guard at the mouth of the lair where the German men-of-war were hidden. Soon certain difficulties and internal controversies in England found an echo across the Channel, and French opinion asked if the efforts made by Britain were proportionate to the risk she ran and to the sacrifices to which France had heroically consented from the beginning–frightful losses, the complete paralysis of her entire commercial activity, and the concentration of every effort and every energy on one sole end—the repulsion and the defeat of the aggressor. This uneasiness was purely temporary. It was not difficult to convince French opinion that the British nation had realized the gravity of the danger and the importance of the interests at stake.

In speeches, in the press, in books, there were constant allusions to "true, faithful Britain," and the Englishman replied to this recognition of an essential quality in his character by paying homage to French heroism. On both sides a sincere effort was made towards a better mutual understanding and a closer mutual appreciation, which effort was facilitated by reciprocal esteem that sprang from brotherhood in arms. If the French showed recognition of the prodigious task accomplished by the British

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