'National Efficiency' and the 'Lessons' of the War

Title'National Efficiency' and the 'Lessons' of the War
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsSearle, Geoffrey
EditorOmissi, David, and Andrew Thompson
Book TitleThe Impact of the South African War

"Let us admit it fairly, as a business people should, We have had no end of a lesson: it will do us no end of good..." So wrote Rudyard Kipling in his poem, ‘The Lesson’, published soon after the conclusion of the South African War. Recent military defeats and revelations of administrative bungling had given the country a nasty fright, but many contemporaries preferred to interpret what had happened as a salutary warning. In December 1901, even the Royal Family, in the person of the Duke of York, felt it incumbent to abjure England to ‘Wake Up!’. But what, exactly, was the country being called to wake up from, and what were these ‘lessons’ which patriotic supporters of the war, dismayed by the military upsets, hoped that the British people and government would learn? [Author]

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