By ALL the normal customs of warfare observed by the regular armies and the traditional statesmen of Europe, the defeats suffered by the
French armies between 30th November and 5th December should have made the Government of National Defence sue for peace; and it was assumed by the Germans and by Europe that they would do so. Opinion in the provinces, as members of the Delegation privately confessed, was now strongly in favour of ending the war. The generals who led the French armies, excepting only a tiny minority, either threw in their hands in disgust or continued to fulfil from a dogged sense of duty a task which they knew to be hopeless. In military logic there now seemed no prospect of defeating the Germans, nor was there any reason to suppose that a prolongation of the war would secure a more favourable peace. The struggle was kept alive only by the will and the energy of a few men at the centre of power, who inflexibly refused to admit defeat.