10 Jan 1917
My dear Father
Your letter of the 3rd came through in normal time; which shows that the mails have pretty well returned to normal. Though Christmas parcels posted after the 16th still arrive now and then. I think that all the parcels posted after the allotted date were simply stored and ignored until the rush was over. Consequently a day later at the one end has frequently meant more than a fortnight later at this end.
I shall be very interested to hear how May’s school scheme progresses. Development of any kind unconnected with the War is a rare thing now. Luckily education goes on in War or in Peace: although some geniuses are inclined to shake their heads and suggest ‘rationing’ in order to cut down expense. I suppose they would prohibit languages as a luxury, cut down the consumption of literature and institute a mathematic-less day.
What lies behind the recent talk of State purchase of the liquor trade? Is it an attempt to promote Government action or is the Government throwing out feelers? I think it would be a good thing if state purchase came about. The conflicting attempts of the past century or so to raise income and exert control by the same means have involved things so horribly that every act now displeases everybody. It would simplify the future of the liquor problem if the triangle State, Trade, Consumer could be reduced by one to a more direct issue between State and Consumer.
I should think that from your own point of view the thing would not be unwelcome, even if the terms were not too generous. The uncertainty of the whole situation for a good many years must have been very harassing to those interested in the trade; especially those like you whose all is dependent on it.
I wonder when, if ever, the German advance through Romania will be stopped. And how do the casualties on each side compare with each other? If the Germans have kept their losses below those of the Russians – and it has been proved that with sufficient artillery the attackers can do so – it may rather knock the edge off the projected Russian offensives for this year. Still, the trained Russian reserves must be a huge body now. I expect we shall see every single power engaged endeavour to forestall the opposition by early offensives. I fear this will cause two or three months of very bloody but not very conclusive campaigning. That will be the fight to retain or obtain (as the case may be) the initiative. Then if we hold the initiative on the Eastern and Western fronts when the ground gets hard we ought really to get going. I doubt whether it is very vital what happens in the Balkans; probably our army there will be able to hold its own anyway, Greek army or no Greek army. At the worst, if we got shoved right off the edge there, the Germans have got practically no time to establish formidable naval bases there; and that would be the main, I think the only grave danger in that quarter. But the reduction of the Salonica Army in favour of the Western Front can hardly be desirable yet; although many critics seem to favour it. I should say there was plenty of time to settle Tino’s horde of bandits, hold up Mackensen until he is forced to divert his attentions to Brussiloff, and then bring divisions from there all present and correct to take part in the later stages of the Western Campaign. It is very satisfactory to see the position of Egypt so strengthened by our advanced hold on Sinai. Looks as though Turkish troops are not so plentiful as they used to be.
What do you think of the solidarity of the Central Powers? Looks strongly as if they are tasting some of the dissentions that they have so often tried to raise among the Allies.
Any more news of Cyril lately? I hope he will see “Bagdad’s shrines of fretted gold” before long. Though I am blessed if I know what we are going to do with it if we get there. But it will be very hard luck if his third campaign ends like the others in a wash out.
I think you have had more cold than we have. But I’ll bet we have had more wet. As for fog! London isn’t the only city. I could show you one here that puts up as dense a fog as you would see anywhere. It is easy to ride into a house without knowing it – inside I mean!
Love from George