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I " Merthyr Express " Diary.

Notice to Subscribers.



THE SCARE FEVER. I ARE the English people a decaying nation ? The question would have been flouted by the generation living fifty years ago, within touch of the memories of the great struggles which commenced with the French Revolution, and the consequences of which were felt long after Napoleon had met his fate at Waterloo. But after the scare fever of last week one may well feel inclined to question seriously whether we are really the self-same virile race that colonised, with infinitely inferior resources, the waste places of the earth to its remotest bounds, and built up an empire upon which the sun never sets. Sixty years of prosperity, with wealth abounding beyond the dreams of avarice for certain classes, and a vast general improvement in the social condition of all, has not been without certain deteriorating influences upon the native sturdiness of the national character, and we have in some manner apparently contracted something of the neurotic frenzy of the Mediterranean races. How otherwise should it be possible for a reputedly sensible people to be wrought upon daily for a whole I week, with increasing tensity of nervous debauch, r by a succession of the most manifestly pre- posterous canards ever invented ? It used to be the proudest trait in the character of an Englishman that no matter what adversities threatened or overtook him he remained stolidly sober and undaunted but if we are to accept a certain section of the newspaper press as true and faithful exponents of his idiosyncrasi es to-day, then he is a changed man—and changed infinitely for the worse, notwithstanding all his advantages over his forefathers. THAT there has been a change in the national temperament, we believe, but that it goes down deeply into the national character we can hardly credit. We prefer to regard it as superficial. We have certainly become more excitable and more susceptible to victimisation by sensational allegations, uttered with due dramatic effect. Whether this peculiar weakness has resulted from the altered conditions of life, or whether it is due to the culture of American methods in some portions of our newspaper press, we cannot say; but the tendency in this direction has unquestionably been fostered, perhaps unintentionally, but none the less effectually, by these very enterprising journals. The con- ductors have long since found out that the modem British public takes kindly to the American idea of setting forth news in brief form, with scaring, staggering headlines that contain all that can be found in the news below, and much more besides in the shape of uncon- scionable flamboyant innuendo. The reader gets it served up hot and strong with a spicy flavour that tickles his palate, and he swallows it without giving ct moment's thought to the nature of the that i§ swaUQwite. A jew miautes'i1 sober reflection would suffice to blow the thing into tatters, but that brief period of examination he does not give, and is content and pleased te be scared until the game becomes so amazingly ridiculous that, for very shame sake, it has to be stopped. The manufactured air-ship scare was a discredit to British intelligence and British manhood. No sober-minded Englishman could have read the daily progress of this scare without being ashamed of his countrymen, for a more incongruous series of absurdities were never constructed. When a ghost-story is launched, with a slender basis of truth, the whole thing is drowned with ridicule; but here were a succession of air-ships, as phantom and fleeting as ghosts from the other world, and day after day asseverated as solid truths, whilst the i»tei?eal structure of the reports corffcajped the conviction of their own falsity. THE most serious aspect of this scare-mongering by sensational journalism consists in its inter- national connections, and the probable excite- ment of bitter feelings of hostility against this country amongst the people at whom the scare- mongers were girding. The Eight Dread- noughts having become stale and insipid, as a, nucleus for a matutinal dose, Germany's enterprise in airships was turned to account, and made the basis of another campaign of terror at our imminent invasion by the most recent form of aggressive machinery. These air-ships were to spy out our nakedness—as if our comprehensive ordnance maps were not available to Germany or any other nation—and the extraordinary feature of their spying was that they lay dormant somewhere by day— when sunlight would disclose everything—and went abroad at night, when they could see nothing, but had to reveal their own presence by two dazzling head-lights. They were ubiquitous —here, there, and everywhere, without the faintest respect for time and distances and the limitations of aerial navigation by motor power. Then was thrown in the story of 60,000 German reservists in London, with a depot of rifles and ammunition in some secret cellar, and members of Parliament were so carried away by these silly announcements as to gravely ask the Minister of War if he was cognisant of them, and how he intended to act in such an emergency! Finally, to crown all, some hare-brained lunatic was reported to have heard Germans boring a tunnel under the North Sea! Could rampant folly go farther ? Can we be surprised if the Germans regard us as a decadent nation," shrinking with fright from the prospect of a German conquest of our political as well as our commercial supremacy ? Can we be surprised that that section of the German nation which does not treat this scarc-mongery as a mere attack of neurasthenic panic looks upon it as the evidence of a deep-rooted antagpnism to German expansion, bound to culminate in war between the two countries ? Newspapers which indulge in such follies may truly be reckoned amongst those friends from whom the country should pray to be saved.



.Theatre Royal, Merthyr.


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