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Bacilli And Bullets
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The Murder Of Captain Fryatt
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The Destruction Of Louvain
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The Case Of Serbia
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She is a wall of brass; You shall not pass! You sh...

The Case Of Serbia

But Belgium is not the only little nation that has been attacked in
this war, and I make no excuse for referring to the case of the other
little nation--the case of Serbia. The history of Serbia is not
unblotted. What history in the list of nations is unblotted? The first
nation that is without sin, let her cast a stone at Serbia--a nation
trained in a horrible school. But she won her freedom with her
tenacious valor, and she has maintained it by the same courage. If any
Serbians were mixed up in the assassination of the Grand Duke, they
ought to be punished. Serbia admits that. The Serbian Government had
nothing to do with it. Not even Austria claimed that. The Serbian Prime
Minister is one of the most capable and honored men in Europe. Serbia
was willing to punish any one of her subjects who had been proved to
have any complicity in that assassination. What more could you expect?

What were the Austrian demands? Serbia sympathized with her
fellow-countrymen in Bosnia. That was one of her crimes. She must do so
no more. Her newspapers were saying nasty things about Austria. They
must do so no longer. That is the Austrian spirit. How dare you
criticize a Prussian official? And if you laugh, it is a capital
offense. Serbian newspapers must not criticize Austria. I wonder what
would have happened had we taken up the same line about German
newspapers. Serbia said: "Very well, we will give orders to the
newspapers that they must not criticize Austria in future, neither
Austria, nor Hungary, nor anything that is theirs." She promised not to
sympathize with Bosnia; promised to write no critical articles about
Austria. She would hold no public meetings at which anything unkind was
said about Austria. That was not enough. She must dismiss from her army
officers whom Austria should subsequently name. But these officers had
just emerged from a war where they were adding luster to the Serbian
arms--gallant, brave, efficient. I wonder whether it was their guilt or
their efficiency that prompted Austria's action. Serbia was to
undertake in advance to dismiss them from the army--the names to be
sent in subsequently. Can you name a country in the world that would
have stood that? Supposing Austria or Germany had issued an ultimatum
of that kind to this country. "You must dismiss from your army and from
your navy all those officers whom we shall subsequently name." Well, I
think I could name them now. Lord Kitchener would go. Sir John French
would be sent about his business. General Smith-Dorrien would be no
more, and I am sure that Sir John Jellicoe would go. And there is
another gallant old warrior who would go--Lord Roberts.

It was a difficult situation for a small country. Here was a demand
made upon her by a great military power who could put five or six men
in the field for every one she could; and that power supported by the
greatest military power in the world. How did Serbia behave? It is not
what happens to you in life that matters; it is the way in which you
face it. And Serbia faced the situation with dignity. She said to
Austria: "If any officers of mine have been guilty and are proved to be
guilty, I will dismiss them." Austria said, "That is not good enough
for me." It was not guilt she was after, but capacity.

Then came Russia's turn. Russia has a special regard for Serbia. She
has a special interest in Serbia. Russians have shed their blood for
Serbian independence many a time. Serbia is a member of her family, and
she cannot see Serbia maltreated. Austria knew that. Germany knew that,
and Germany turned around to Russia and said: "I insist that you shall
stand by with your arms folded whilst Austria is strangling your little
brother to death." What answer did the Russian Slav give? He gave the
only answer that becomes a man. He turned to Austria and said: "You lay
hands on that little fellow and I will tear your ramshackle empire limb
from limb."


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