In this country we are both shocked and stunned by the awful cataclysm which has engulfed civilized Europe. By only a few men was the possibility of such a wide-spread and hideous disaster even admitted. Most persons, even after it occurred, felt as if it was unbelievable. They felt that in what it pleased enthusiasts to speak of as "this age of enlightenment" it was impossible that primal passion, working hand in hand with the most modern scientific organization, should loose upon the world these forces of dread destruction.
In the last week in July the men and women of the populous civilized countries of Europe were leading their usual ordered lives, busy and yet soft, lives carried on with comfort and luxury, with appliances for ease and pleasure such as never before were known, lives led in a routine which to most people seemed part of the natural order of things, something which could not be disturbed by shocks such as the world knew of old. A fortnight later hell yawned under the feet of these hard-working or pleasure-seeking men and women, and woe smote them as it smote the peoples we read of in the Old Testament or in the histories of the Middle Ages. Through the rents in our smiling surface of civilization the volcanic fires beneath gleamed red in the gloom.