Weekly, now, the troops are coming home, and one wonders how they will settle down to the tame life here after all they have seen, and felt, and done in South Africa. Not the least regrettable influence of war is that it is such a bad preparation for peace. Even with young officers, the same thing applies. One has to remember that the very natures which do best for war - wild, reckless, gallant fellows - whose parents were glad and proud that they should volunteer to go out, are the very ones to be a considerable puzzle, both to themselves and to their parents, on their return. The world has grown so wise and practical lately, one is apt to forget that the old-fashioned parents still exist who glory in imperialism, blood and thunder, &c, and who may be singularly blind with regard to the consequences of war as an effect on character. I can quite imagine a young gentleman, who joined the Volunteers or Yeomanry to go to South Africa, being a sore trial, on his return, to the said type of father who would probably scold and stop supplies. If, by misfortune, the mother were of another old-fashioned type, who with tears in her eyes would pelt him with texts, both parents might easily send him flying down-hill via music-halls, racecourses, and pawnshops.
The ethics of war trouble the hearts of so many mothers that I must speak of a great book which hasonly just come to my knowledge, and which remains unknown to many people of the West in spite of the fact that it is one of the bibles of the world. It can hardly be without interest to a fighting nation that one of the most enlightening and inspiring books of the world's literature should have been given to a soldier as he stood irresolute on the battlefield, palsied in heart by feeling, ' Better in this world to eat even the beggar's bread, without slaying . . . than by slaughtering ... to enjoy on this earth alone blood-stained pleasures, lusted after by those desiring possessions.'
To him the Teacher says : 'Thy business is with the action only, never with its fruits; so let not the fruit of action be thy motive, nor be thou to inaction attached. . . . Surrendering all actions to Me, with thy thoughts (resting) on the Supreme Self, from hope and egoism freed, and of mental fever cured, engage in battle. . . .
Taking as equal pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat, gird thee for the battle; thus thou shalt not incur sin. . . . Therefore, without attachment, constantly perform action which is duty, for, performing action without attachment, man verily reacheth the supreme.'
There are two excellent translations of the 'Bhagavad Gita,' one by Annie Besant, to be had for 6d. in paper covers, one by Mohini Chatterji, a large volume full of most helpful notes, at 10s. 6d.
After the publication of my second book, I received kind letters and even presents from unknown American and Canadian readers. One was an especially pretty little drawing of Anemone thalictroides, and some books and poems gave me great pleasure. I tried to answer and send thanks for everything as it came, but my personal sorrow and the black shadow of the war may have prevented me at the time from remembering allIf there was any omission, I feel sure that in the circumstances it will have been forgiven, and not have been put down to ingratitude. If I could write verses, I should like to have written these which appeared some time ago in the 'Westminster Gazette,' for they express what I so often feel - that however far we are from our friends' ideal of us, the higher they think of us the more they help us to become something better than we are:-