AFTER four-and-a-quarter years of the most terrific warfare which the world has ever experienced, hostilities have ceased under conditions which make it impossible that they can be renewed by the enemy on a scale which would prevent utter and total defeat within a very short period.

Although it is an armistice, and not peace which has been declared the terms in the present instance are synonymous, so long as a form of government exists in Germany with power to carry out the obligations into which those who have represented the country have entered.

It is in this spirit that the signing of the armistice has been accepted by the people in this country, and if their feelings have not been expressed with that boisterousness usually associated with the termination of a war their pleasure and thankfulness have not been less sincere nor less emphatic. “Let us thank God,” said Mr Lloyd George in a short speech yesterday, and “thank God it is all over” was a common expression among the crowds which thronged the streets when the decision became known.

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The Allied victory is complete – possibly greater than those who have been acquainted with the inner working of this great tragedy have at any time dared to hope for – but the nation does not forget, in the hour of its triumph, the terrible but unavoidable cost which has had to be paid in order that our righteous cause could emerge successfully through the ordeal which was forced upon us. Our thoughts go naturally to the thousands of homes where yesterday’s glorious news would revive those memories of husbands, fathers, sons or lovers who have made the supreme sacrifice.

But even to them peace day should bring the consolation that the dear ones had not died in vain, and that the victory for which they fought – not a victory over Germany, but the victory of Right over Wrong – had been secured worthy of their efforts and their sacrifices. The nation owes a debt to their memories, and to those who survive them, which it can never fully repay. It can, and should, make the fullest and most adequate arrangements for the future economic welfare of the widow and orphan, and the man who has returned physically incapable of supporting himself and those dependent upon him.

Mr Lloyd George, in his speech in London on Saturday, made an appeal for national unity. It is an appeal which will be immediately responded to, but there is an obligation upon those who make the request to do nothing that will make it difficult of attainment. It is not, for instance, making for national unity to attempt, as some politicians are evidently attempting, to exploit the national joy at the ending of the war to secure power for themselves, or for the classes they represent, by involving the country in a rushed election on the cry of “Vote for the man who won the war”.

We do not doubt the preliminary success which would attend such action, and for this reason the temptation is perhaps too great for the mere politician to resist. It is, however, for the statesman, and not the politician, to decide, and upon that decision will depend whether there shall be unity in the construction of the new world out of the ruins of the old, and in the difficult and dangerous task involved in the transference of millions of men and women from war to a peace footing.

We do not envy the lot of the statesman or party which would approach the task under a camouflage of unity and that would certainly be the situation if within the next week or two the country was plunged into an election with no clear issue before it, and under conditions which would practically disenfranchise great numbers of the men on land sea through whose efforts we are today rejoicing in victory and peace.