Scolds the Pacifists; Women Are Indignant, October 17, 1915



John Cowper Powys, Speaking in Little [Theatre], Says Many Harsh Things.


Speaking in the Little [Theatre] last night on "The Great War" John Cowper Powys, the British author, referred to pacifists as being "cowards, fools and knaves."

His remarks were addressed to an audience composed largely of women, many of them active workers in the cause of peace. His rhetorical bombshells, exploded among them suddenly and without warning, caused many of them to leave the theater in a high state of indignation following the conclusion of his lecture.

"In private life and in peaceful times the pacifist is the man who seeks the last cent he believes is due him by fair means or foul," said Mr. Powys. "He crushes all business competition. He is rancorous and he uses gall and wormwood. But in time of war he is a coward and a knave by making other people cowards."


"The political and cultured classes are pacifists, and I most cordially agree with Lord Northcliffe in his attack on the British government.

"We abhor the war, but the lesson we learn from it is greater than anything we have heard or seen in centuries. The passions and emotions of all the nations show that they are inhabited by virile men, who are willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause which they believe to be right."

Mr. Powys also astounded his hearers later in his lecture by saying:

"Russia has more personal liberty than any other nation, although it has the most tyrannical political government. A Russian man of letters would not find it comfortable to live in this country, as exemplified by the experience of Maxim Gorky."


Comparing the ideals of the British and German soldiers, Mr. Powys said that the former are fighting for personal freedom, while the latter are fighting for the state.

Following the lecture, Maurice Browne, a director of the Little [Theatre] and an active peace worker, challenged Powys to a debate. As both are on a program at a luncheon to be given at the Chicago Woman's Club today, it is possible the debate will be held there.