Imputations of Cowardice – September 1914

On the whole, after the first few days of panic, we have accepted with great calm the situation of a nation at war. There must, nevertheless, be many hysterical minds responsible for the several tactless methods of inducing young men to offer themselves as recruits. The first we heard of was a band of young women at a seaside resort walking the promenade, and presenting a white feather to each young man they met. It was said that this method of recruiting was suggested by a retired admiral.

The walls of certain English towns have been placarded with the following appeal: “Wanted, petticoats for all able-bodied youths who have not yet joined the Army!” This is insulting both to the youths and to women. What purpose could it serve but to enrage the very class it was desired to interest and attract?

The women in a body should have protested against the offensive use of the word “petticoats” as a symbol of cowardice…… …… It has been suggested that those who lose relatives in the war should not adopt black attire, but wear a white arm band on the arm to notify their loss. A few notable people may do this but the instinct for the traditional badge of death will be too strong for the multitude…. …. this winter we shall see half of the population in black.

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