Elsie Clews Parsons: Inventing Modern Life

By Desley Deacon | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TEN
Saving Herself

HERBERT Parsons left for active duty in France on 25 January 1918. "My dear Children," he wrote in a long farewell letter in which he carefully enumerated his reasons for going. "I gladly give myself to combat the might-makes-right policy of Germany. . . . Germany drove our country into the war by her persistent and insolent violations of our international rights. . . . in the interest of the world's peace and right of self-government a stop had to be put to her aggrandisation." "England is the great liberalizing power," he continued. "Her application . . . of the principle that colonies have the right to govern themselves . . . has been the finest application the world has seen of enlightened government." "The world is going to be better after the war in many ways, if we win," he concluded. "For there will be a keener sense of justice. I hate war. I would not chose a military life except in such an emergency as the present [and] I hope that the Allies will form a league to enforce peace which by its international army/navy will compel nations to adjudicate disputes & abide by the judicial decisions of them. . . . may the spirit of Christ master you. Au revoir, Your father."

To sixteen-year-old Lissa he added, "Goodbye. I did not tell you when I was going lest it upset your plans. Enclosed is a rather solemn document which I wish you would send to John after reading it your self. Please ask him to return it to you and keep it to show to the little boys when they are old enough to understand, if in this horrible war anything happens to me. Probably nothing will. Have a good time. Your loving Father."1

"Father is off," Elsie wrote to John at school, "first to England then to France. May it seem rewarding to him! But why should one be so anxious to see imperialist France occupying Syria, or imperialist England, Bagdad, or imperialist Italy, Dalmatia? . . . Saturday I am off to the Southwest for a few weeks, say a month. Address, c/o Mrs. Eckerman, Laguna Station, New Mexico." She spent the

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