‘The old lie …?’
in 'At duty’s call'
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In the air of 1914, there was an ardent romanticism which had long been building up, distilled from many elements in Victorian life and culture. It carried with it an invincible belief in the superiority of all things British; hostility, tinged with fear, towards Germany seen as the great rival, upstart, efficient and unscrupulous; and an innocent vision of war as a great and gallant knightly adventure. In 1914 opposition, concentrated in Ulster, to the Liberal Government's home rule bill, seemed to be bringing civil war very close indeed. But for the outbreak of war with Germany many officers of the British army might have been refusing to support the British government or even fighting against it. Members of the ruling class of Victorian England were guilty of much that, since their time, has come to be considered reprehensible.

'At duty’s call'

A study in obsolete patriotism

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