A Book of Words – XXII

“Waking from Dreams”

by Rudyard Kipling

I FIND it difficult to thank you for the welcome that you have given me here, or for the kindness with which you have spoken of the very little that I have been fortunate enough to accomplish towards the ends which we have at heart.We here all know that the ends of France and of England are in essence the same; even as our physical and intellectual frontiers against our enemies should be the same, not only for a term of years but as far as human prevision can extend. Our differences, serious as they may appear in our newspapers, are political and passing. Our necessities are immutable and identical; and on our unity henceforward depends the individual future of each country. And that, believe me, is being realised in England to-day. Wherever one looks or listens one feels this.

During the years that have passed since the war, we in England have dreamed many dreams—some good—some bad—many stupid. And a large part of the world has dreamed with us. Now we are waking. It may be that in England we sleep more heavily than you in France. Perhaps that is the effect of the climate; but in England also we are waking, and we find, after three years, that the mass of our people desires what the mass of the people has always desired—Security.

That is natural, because after one has dreamed one returns to the life of this world. With us it is even more natural because we have found out what this lack of security has already cost us in every relation of our national, imperial, and individual life. And this knowledge has been forced upon us by the instinctive logic of a multitude of simple people who frankly do not understand the fantasies which are offered to them in lieu of that security which they were promised as the just wage of their efforts during the war.

So it may be that we are arriving at a new orientation of men’s minds—none the less potent that it is, for the moment, inarticulate—as inarticulate as was the grief of these simple people for the loss of their sons who lie beside yours in French soil. But this new orientation, this awakening from dreams, is exerting and will, in the future, more and more exert, pressure on the side of reason and sanity, which as men know through all ages, make for security. And in that pressure, direct, human, elementary, towards a recognition of the facts of this life, I, a loyal lover of France, beg you always to believe and to trust.