Eric Gill Talks of War Bestiality: Priest on Peace Platform
By a C.H. Reporter While on Monday night the Socialists at their giant meeting at Earls Court were urging war (they called it " firm resistance to wrong and oppression ") pacifists in Friends' Meeting House, Euston Road, were praying. At the end of a crowded assembly which filled both halls in the Meeting House, and at which Eric Gill and George Lansbury were among the speakers, the people were asked to give a few minutes of silent prayer.
Eric Gill spoke of the folly of war with unexcited bitterness.
" The question for us is whether wars of today are really struggles for justice. Can they, under any circumstance, be justified? . . .
" Formerly wars were fought by mercenary armies—small groups of men who, as it were, died for their living. Today all the men, women and children of a nation are dragged into war, and made to fight for causes they do not understand. • .
" The Sniper Has Become Eccentric " " It is essential to remember that we arc
persons. War now is not a personal thing ... the machines of war destroy indiscrim inately. The sniper has become eccentric."
Eric Gill pointed to the parallel between the stifling of personality of the worker and the soldier, and showed that war must inevitably come when there is no peace between workers and owners, when the business man sets the tune of life, when everything is subjected to the god of profit.
A brass moulder, aged 43, married and with four children, spoke after Gill. He denounced the present war talk of the Communist and the hatred for the Germans which was gradually being instilled in English people. George Lansbury spoke while the newsboys could be heard in the street shouting " Late edition. Hitler's speech." Lansbury told of the press boycott of pacifist meetings, and of the inevitable triumph of pacifism. He • was the last speaker of a meeting at which support for Chamberlain in the present crisis was emphasised all through. Eric Gill was the only Catholic speaker at this meeting: but at the Congress of Christian Pacifists, held at the end of last week, also in Friends' Meeting House, a Catholic priest, Rev. Bernard Salt, of Oscott College, Birmingham, read a paper.
It was the first time in this country that a Catholic priest had spoken at such a congress, and he did so mainly through the influence of Pax, the pacifist society largely directed by Catholics.
Fr. Salt explained the Christian testimony to the state from the Catholic point of view.
" Christianity," he said, " recognises the State's authority and mission and its claim on the obedience of the citizen; but there is a limit to the State's competence,
" It is subject to the moral law and must uphold the dignity of the human person and foster brotherhood, . . Personality must stand first. The martyrs indicated the limit of political power, but the modern neopagan would chase the Christian from his State.
" Christian philosophy insists also on the duties of States to one another for the erection of an international order."