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Title: A scrap of paper : The inner history of German diplomacy and her scheme of world-wide conquest
Author: Dillon, Emile Joseph
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A scrap of paper : The inner history of German diplomacy and her scheme of world-wide conquest" ***

Transcriber’s Notes: Italics are enclosed in _underscores_. Additional
notes will be found near the end of this ebook.

This book did not have a Table of Contents. The one below has been


  INTRODUCTORY                                             v


  THE CAREFULLY LAID SCHEME                                1




  THE PLAN AND ITS EXECUTION                              27


  FORCING THE QUARREL                                     40


  GERMANY’S PROGRAMME                                     69


  THE POSITION OF ITALY                                   78


  THE TWELFTH HOUR                                        98


  THE EARTHQUAKE                                         127




  THE INFAMOUS OFFER                                     154


  JUST FOR “A SCRAP OF PAPER”                            177


  DIPLOMACY AND THE WAR                                  205


                                                _Photo: Elliott & Fry_


                           A SCRAP _of_ PAPER

                          THE INNER HISTORY OF
                            GERMAN DIPLOMACY
                           AND HER SCHEME OF
                          WORLD-WIDE CONQUEST


                            DR. E. J. DILLON

                             THIRD EDITION.

                          HODDER AND STOUGHTON
                   LONDON      NEW YORK      TORONTO



“Just for a word--neutrality, a word which in war-time had so often
been disregarded--just for a scrap of paper Great Britain was going to
make war.” Such was the significant comment of the German Chancellor on
Great Britain’s determination to uphold the neutrality of Belgium. A
scrap of paper! This phrase, applied to a binding treaty, is destined
to stick like a Nessus’ shirt to the memory of its author, his imperial
inspirer, and their country until such time as the militarism which
originated it has been consumed without residue. It is a Satanic sneer
hurled with fell purpose into a world of civilized human beings. No
such powerful dissolvent of organized society has been devised since
men first began to aggregate. The primal source of the inner cohesive
force which holds the elements of society together is faith in the
plighted word. Destroy that and you have withdrawn the cement from
the structure, which will forthwith crumble away. But this prospect
does not dismay the Prussian. He is ready to face and adjust it to
his needs. He would substitute for this inner cohesion the outer
pressure of militarism, which, like the hoops of a barrel, press
together the staves. Brutal force, in the form of jackboot tyranny,
then, is the amended formula of social life which is to be forced upon
Europe and the world. Such, in brief, is the new social gospel of the
Hohenzollerns, the last word of Teutonic culture.

This revolutionary doctrine, applied thus simply and undisguisedly
to what normal peoples deem the sacredness of treaties, has awakened
dormant British emotion to self-consciousness and let loose a storm
of indignation here. It startled the quietism of the masses and their
self-complacent leaders, whose comforting practice was to refuse to
think evil of the Germans, however overwhelming the evidence. The windy
folly of these _advocati diaboli_, from whom the bulk of the British
nation derived their misconceptions of the German Empire, worked evils
of which we have as yet witnessed only the beginning. Those who, like
myself, know the country, its institutions, its language, literature,
social life, and national strivings, and who continually warned their
countrymen of what was coming, were put out of court as croaking
prophets of the evil which we ourselves were charged with stirring up.

It is now clear to the dullest apprehension that the most dismal of
those forecasts, the most sinister of those predictions, were terribly
real, while the comforting assurances of the ever-ready publicists
and politicians, who knew Germany only from books of travel, holiday
excursions, or the after-dinner eloquence of members of Anglo-German
Leagues, were but dangerous mirages which lulled the nation’s
misgivings to slumber. And now the masses have been ungently awakened.
The simple declaration of a German statesman of repute, and a man, too,
of the highest honesty as this term is understood in his own country,
that the most solemn treaty, ratified and relied upon as stronger than
fortresses bristling with cannon, is but a scrap of paper, unworthy
the notice of an enterprising nation, suddenly drew into the light of
Western civilization the new and subversive body of doctrine which the
Teutons of Europe had for a generation been conspiring to establish,
and would have succeeded in establishing were it not for a single
hitch in the execution of their programme. If the combined efforts of
peace-loving France, Russia, Great Britain, and Italy had moved the
Tsar’s Government to stay its hand and allow Servia to be mutilated,
and the Bucharest Treaty to be flung aside as a worthless scrap of
paper, or if Austria had been permitted to listen to M. Sazonoff’s
request and reduce her demands within the compass of the possible, the
realization of the Teutonic plot against non-German Europe would have
been begun later on, under much more favourable auspices, and probably
worked out to a successful issue. That plot belongs to a category of
crimes against the human race which can hardly be more effectively
attacked than by plainly stating its objects and the means relied upon
to attain them.

The objects of Prussia’s ambition--an ambition shared by every
anæmic, bespectacled clerk and able-bodied tram-conductor in the
Fatherland--are “cultural,” and the means of achieving them are
heavy guns, quick-firers, and millions of ruthless warriors. Real
German culture in all its manifestations--scientific, artistic,
philosophical, musical, commercial, and military--accepts and
champions the new principle and the fresh ideas which are to
regenerate the effete social organisms of to-day. According to the
theory underlying this grandiose national enterprise, the forces
of Christianity are spent. New ichor for the dry veins of decrepit
Europe is stored up in German philosophy and poetry. Mediæval art has
exhausted the traditional forms, but Teutonism is ready to furnish it
with new ones. Music is almost a creation of German genius. Commerce
was stagnating in the ruts of old-world use and wont until German
enterprise created new markets for it, and infused a new spirit into
its trading community. Applied science owes more to German research
and ingenuity than to the efforts of all the world besides. And
the race thus highly gifted is deserving of a field worthy of its
world-regenerating labours. At present it is cooped up in Central
Europe with an absurdly small coast-line. Its surplus population has,
for lack of colonies, to be dumped down on foreign shores, where it is
lost for ever to the Fatherland. For this degrading position, which
can no longer be tolerated, there is but one remedy: expansion. But
to be effectual it must be expansion combined with Germanization. And
the only means of accomplishing this end is for Germany to hack her
way through the decrepit ethnic masses that obstruct her path and to
impose her higher civilization on the natives. Poland was the first
vile body on which this experiment was tried, and it has been found,
and authoritatively announced, that the Slavs are but ethnic manure,
useful to fertilize the seed-fields of Teutonic culture, but good for
little else. The Latin races, too, are degenerates who live on memories
and thrive on tolerance. Beef-eating Britons are the incarnation of
base hypocrisy and crass self-indulgence, and their Empire, like a
hollow tree, still stands only because no storm has yet assailed it.
To set youthful, healthy, idealistic Germany in the high places now
occupied by those inert masses that once were progressive nations is
but to adjust obsolete conditions to the pressing requirements of the
present time--to execute the wise decrees of a just God. And in order
to bring this task to a satisfactory issue, militarism must reign as
the paramount power before culture can ascend the throne. Militarism is
a necessity, and unreasoning obedience the condition of its success.

It is easy to think scorn of these arrogant pretensions and to turn
away from them to what may seem more urgent and more profitable
occupations. And hitherto this has been the attitude towards them of
the advanced wing of British progressists, who imitated the Germans
in this--that they judged of others’ motives by their own. But the
danger cannot be exorcized by contempt or indifference. The forces
at the command of the Teuton are stupendous. His army is a numerous,
homogeneous, and self-sacrificing nation. His weapons are the most
deadly that applied science could invent and the most practised
skill could fashion. And these weapons are handled not by amateur
or unwilling soldiers, but by fanatics as frenzied as the Moslems,
who behold paradise and its houris athwart the grey smoke of the
battlefield. For Teutonism is not merely a political system, it is also
a religious cult, and its symbol of faith is Deutschland über Alles.
Germany above everything, including human and divine laws.

One of the dogmas of this cult resembles that of the invisible Church,
and lays it down that the members of this chosen race are far more
numerous in the present, as indeed they also were in the past, than
the untutored mind is apt to imagine. The greatest artists of mediæval
Italy, whom an ignorant world regards as Italian, nay Christ himself,
were Germans whose nationality has only just been discovered. That the
Dutch, the Swiss, the Belgians, the Swedes and Norwegians, and the
recalcitrant British are all sheep strayed from the Teutonic flock,
and destined to be brought back by the collies of militarism, is a
self-evident axiom. This process of recovery had already begun and was
making visible progress. Antwerp was already practically Germanized,
and Professor Delbrück, in his reply to one of my articles on German
expansion, described it as practically a German port. The elections
to the municipality in that flourishing Belgian town were run by the
German wealthy residents there. The lace manufactories of Belgium were
wholly in German hands. So, too, was the trade in furs. A few years
more of peaceful interpenetration would have seen Holland and Belgium
linked by a postal and, perhaps, a Customs union with the German Empire.

In this new faith ethics play no part. The furtherance of the German
cause takes precedence of every law, divine and human. It is the one
rule of right living. Whatever is done for Germany or for the German
army abroad or at home, be it a misdemeanour or a crime in the eyes of
other peoples, is well done and meritorious. A young midshipman, going
home at night in a state of semi-intoxication, slays a civilian because
he imagines--and, as it turns out, mistakenly imagines--that he has
been slighted, and feels bound in duty to vindicate the honour of the
Kaiser’s navy. He is applauded, not punished. Soldiers sabre laughing
civilians in the street for the honour of the Kaiser’s uniform, and in
lieu of chastisement they receive public approbation. Abroad, Germans
of position--German residents in Antwerp offered a recent example--worm
themselves into the confidence of the authorities, learn their secrets,
offer them “friendly” advice, and secretly communicate everything
of military importance which they discover to their Government,
which secretly subsidizes them, and betray the trusting people whose
hospitality and friendship they have so long enjoyed. Their conduct is
patriotic. The press deliberately concocts news, spreads it throughout
the world, systematically poisoning the wells of truth, and then
vilifies the base hypocrisy of the British, who contradict it. That
is part of the work of furthering the good cause of civilization.
Tampering with State documents and forging State papers are recognized
expedients which are wholly justified by the German “necessity which
knows no law.” We have had enlightening examples of them since the war
broke out. Prince Bismarck availed himself of this cultural privilege
when he altered the Kaiser’s despatch in order to precipitate a
collision with France. And the verdict of the nation was “Well done,
thou good and faithful servant, who hast made such patriotic use of the
maxim that the end, when it is Germany’s cause, justifies the means
and hallows the act.” Since his day the practice has been reduced to a

With such principles illustrated by such examples, how could the
present Imperial Chancellor regard a mere parchment treaty that lay
across the road of his country’s army other than as a mere scrap of

That was a logical corollary of the root-principle of Pan-Germanism.
Germany’s necessity, of which her own Kaiser, statesmen, diplomatists,
and generals are the best judges, knows no law. Every treaty,
every obligation, every duty has to vanish before it: the Treaty
of Bucharest, establishing equilibrium in the Balkans, as well as
the Treaty of 1839, safeguarding the neutrality of Belgium. Hence
nobody conversant with the nature, growth, and spread of this new
militant race-worship was in the least surprised at the Chancellor’s
contempt for the scrap of paper and for the simple-minded statesmen
who proclaimed its binding force. I certainly was not. Experience had
familiarized me with these German doctrines and practices; and although
my experience was more constant and striking than that of our public
men who had spent most of their lives in Great Britain, they, too, had
had tokens enough of the new ethics which Prussia had imported into
her international policy to put them on their guard against what was
coming. But nobody is so blind as he who will not see.

Pan-Germanism, then, is become a racial religion, and to historical
and other sciences has been confided the task of demonstrating its
truth. But if curiosity prompts us to inquire to what race its
military apostles, the Prussians, belong, and to interrogate history
and philology on the subject, we find that they are not Germans at
all. This fact appears to have escaped notice here. The Prussians are
members of a race which in the ethnic groups of European Aryans occupy
a place midway between the Slavs and the Teutons. Their next-of-kin
are the Lithuanians and the Letts. The characteristic traits of the
old Prussians, the surviving fragments of whose language I was once
obliged to study, are brutal arrogance towards those under them, and
cringing servility towards their superiors. One has but to turn to
the political history of the race to gather abundant illustrations of
these distinctive marks. To the submissiveness of the masses is to be
attributed the ease with which the leaders of the nation drilled it
into a vast fighting machine, whose members often and suddenly changed
sides without murmur or criticism at the bidding of their chief. And
it was with this redoubtable weapon that the Hohenzollern dynasty,
which itself is German, won for the State over which it presided
territory and renown. This done, and done thoroughly, it was Prussia
who experimented upon all Germany in the way in which the Hohenzollerns
had experimented on Prussia; and being supported by the literary,
artistic, and scientific elements of the German people, succeeded thus
far, and might have ended by realizing their ambitious dream, had it
not been for the interposition of circumstance which misled them in
their choice of opportunity.

Thus latter-day Germany furnishes a remarkable instance of the
remoulding of a whole nation by a dynasty. For the people has, in
truth, in some essential respects been born anew. The centre of its
ethico-spiritual system has been shifted, and if it had a chance
of gaining the upper hand Europe would be confronted with the most
appalling danger that ever yet threatened. Morality, once cultivated
by Germans with religious fervour, has become the handmaid of
politics, truth is subservient to expediency, honour the menial of the
regiment. Between the present and the past yawns an abyss. The country
of Leibnitz, of Kant, of Herder, and of Goethe was marked off by
fundamental differences from the Germany of to-day. The nation’s ideas
have undergone since then an amazing transformation, which is only now
unfolding itself in some of its concrete manifestations to the gaze of
the easy-going politicians of this country. So, too, have the ethical
principles by which the means of pursuing the ideals were formerly
sifted and chosen. The place once occupied by a spiritual force, by
the conscience of the nation and the individual, is now usurped by a
tyrannical system devised by a military caste for a countless army.
And this system has been idealized and popularized by visionaries and
poets, professors, and even ministers of religion whose spiritual
nature has been warped from childhood. To-day there is no counter-force
in the land. Jesuitism, as the most virulent Calvinists depict it at
its worst, was a salutary influence when compared with this monstrous
product of savagery, attired in military uniform and the wrappages of
civilization, and enlisted in the service of rank immorality.

What could afford our normally constituted people a clearer insight
into the warped moral sense of the Prussianized German people than
the remarkable appeal recently made by the “salt of the Fatherland,”
German theologians and clergymen, to “Evangelical Christians abroad,”
setting forth the true causes of the present iniquitous war?[1] These
men of God preface their fervent appeal by announcing to Evangelical
Christians the lamentable fact that “a systematic network of lies,
controlling the international telegraph service, is endeavouring in
other lands to cast upon our people and its Government the guilt for
the outbreak of this war, and has dared to dispute the inner right of
us and our Emperor _to invoke the assistance of God_.... Her ideal
was peaceful work. She has contributed a worthy share to the cultural
wealth of the modern world. She has not dreamed of depriving others of
light and air. She desired to thrust no one from his place. In friendly
competition with other peoples she has developed the gifts which God
had given her. Her industry brought her rich fruit. She won also a
modest share in the task of colonization in the primitive world, and
was exerting herself to offer her contribution to the remoulding of
Eastern Asia. She has left no one, who is willing to see the truth, in
doubt as to her peaceful disposition. _Only under the compulsion to
repel a wanton attack_ has she now drawn the sword.”

These heralds of peace and Christian love appear to have been so
immersed in their heavenly mission that they have not had time to
peruse such unevangelical works as the writings of Treitschke,
Clausewitz, Maurenbrecher, Nietzsche, Delbrück, Rohrbach, Schmoller,
Bernhardi. And yet these are the evangelists of the present generation
of Germans. Whether the innocence of the dove or the wisdom of the
serpent is answerable for this failure of the Evangelical Germans to
face the facts is immaterial. The main point is that first the German
professors published their justification of this revolting crime
against humanity; then came the anathema hurled against the allies by
German authors, who pledged themselves never again to translate into
the language of God’s chosen people the works of any French, English,
or Russian man of letters; these were succeeded by the Socialists,
who readily discovered chapter and verse in the Gospel of Marx for
the catastrophic action of the Government they were wont to curse,
and exhorted their Italian comrades to espouse the Kaiser’s cause
against the allies; and now the rear of this solemn procession of the
nation’s teachers is brought up by their spiritual guides and pastors,
who publicly proclaim that their Divine Master may fully be implored
to help his German worshippers to slay so many Russians, British, and
French Christians that they may bring this war to an end by dictating
the terms of peace, and firmly establishing the reign of militarism in
Europe. That is the only meaning of the summary condemnation of those
who have “dared to dispute the inner right of us and our Emperor to
invoke the assistance of God.”

If this be Evangelical Christianity as taught in latter-day Germany,
many Christians throughout the world, even among those who have scant
sympathy with Rome, will turn with a feeling of relief to the decree
of the new Pope enjoining prayers for the soldiers who are heroically
risking their lives in the field, but forbidding the faithful to
dictate to the Almighty the side to which he shall accord the final

As historians, this body of divines have one eye bandaged, and read
with the other only the trumped-up case for their own Kaiser and
countrymen. They write:

“As our Government was exerting itself to localize the justifiable
vengeance for an abominable royal murder, and to avoid the outbreak of
war between two neighbouring Great Powers, one of them, whilst invoking
the mediation of our Emperor, proceeded (in spite of its pledged word)
to threaten our frontiers, and compelled us to protect our land from
being ravaged by Asiatic barbarism. Then our adversaries were joined
also by those who by blood and history and faith are our brothers, with
whom we felt ourselves in the common world-task more closely bound
than with almost any nation. Over against a world in arms we recognize
clearly that we have to defend our existence, our individuality, our
culture, and our honour.” From the theological standpoint, then,
Germany is engaged in a purely defensive war against nations guilty of
breaking their pledged word, and of wantonly attacking the peace-loving

Nobody can read without a grim smile this misleading exposé which
ignores the Austrian ultimatum to Servia, with its forty-eight hours’
term for an answer; the exasperating demands which were drafted, not
for the purpose of being accepted by the Belgrade Government, but with
the admitted object of provoking a refusal; the fervent insistence with
which the British Foreign Minister besought the German Government to
obtain an extension of the time from their Austrian ally; the mockery
of a pretence at mediation made by the Kaiser and his Chancellor, and
their refusal to fall in with Sir Edward Grey’s proposal to summon a
conference and secure full satisfaction and effectual guarantees for
Austria; and the German ultimatum, presented to Russia and to France
at the very moment when the Vienna Government had “finally yielded” to
Russia’s demands and “had good hopes of a peaceful issue.”[2] Those
were essential factors in the origins of the war. Yet of these data
the spiritual shepherds of the German people have nothing to say. They
pass them over in silence. For they are labouring to establish in the
minds of Evangelical Christians abroad their “inner right” to invoke
the assistance of God for the Kaiser, who patronizes Him. This unctuous
blending of Teutonic religion with the apology of systematic inhumanity
reminds one of an attempt to improve the abominable smell of assafœtida
with a sprinkling of eau-de-Cologne.

These comments are nowise intended as a reproach to the theologians and
pastors who have set their names to this appeal. Personally, I venture
to think that they have acted most conscientiously in the matter,
just as did von Treitschke, Bernhardi, and their colleagues and their
followers. The only point that I would like to make clear is that they
have a warped ethical sense--what the schoolmen were wont to term “a
false conscience.” And the greater the scrupulosity with which they act
in accordance with its promptings, the more cheerfully and abominably
do they sin against the conscience of the human race.

The simplicity and unction with which these men come forward to
vindicate their “inner right” to pray God to help their Kaiser to
victory over pacific peoples, the calm matter-of-fact way in which they
accuse the Belgians of revolting barbarities--for that is one of their
main contentions--and justify the Kaiser’s lordly contempt of the scrap
of paper, are of a piece with every manifestation of the political
cult which has become one of Germany’s holiest possessions. And it is
because the British nation as a whole obstinately refused to listen to
those who apprised them of this elemental movement, and of the dangers
it concealed, that they dispensed with a large land army, slackened
the work of shipbuilding, and trusted to a treaty which they are now
surprised to see dealt with as a mere scrap of paper.

In like manner the British people at first smiled sceptically at the
narratives of Belgians who witnessed and described the killing of
unarmed men, women, and children, the finishing of the wounded on the
battlefield, the living shields of women and girls with which they
protected their soldiers, the taking and shooting of hostages, and
other crimes against humanity. After all, it was argued, the Germans
are not quite so unlike ourselves as these stories would have us
believe. They, too, are men who have left wives, sisters, mothers, and
children at home, and the wells of human pity are not dried up within
them. They are incapable of such savagery. Those tales evidently belong
to the usual class of fiction which sprouts up on all battlefields.

Yet, whatever the truth might be--and since the fiendish passions of
the soldiery were let loose against Louvain, Malines, and Rheims we
know that some of the narratives were based on gruesome facts--the
ground at first taken up was untenable. Nobody possessing even a
superficial acquaintance with Prussian history had grounds for
asserting that the German army was incapable of such diabolical deeds.
Its recorded doings in seasons of peace demonstrated its temper. That
the officers and the rank and file are obedient to their commanders
will not be gainsaid. To their Kaiser they are, if possible, still more
slavishly submissive. Well, the Kaiser, when his punitive expedition
was setting out for China, addressed them thus: “When you encounter the
enemy you will defeat him. _No quarter shall be given, no prisoners
shall be taken._ Let all who fall into your hands be at your mercy.
Just as the Huns a thousand years ago, under the leadership of Etzel
(Attila), gained a reputation in virtue of which they still live in
historical tradition, so may the name of Germany become known in
such a manner in China that no Chinaman will ever again even dare to
look askance at a German.” The monarch who gave utterance to those
winged words was not conscious of saying aught that might shock or
surprise his people. His false conscience felt no qualms. The principle
underlying this behest was the foundation-stone of Prussian culture.
And the Kaiser’s wish is now realized. The name of Germany, whose love
of wanton destruction, delight in human torture, and breach of every
principle of manly and soldierly honour are now become proverbial, will
henceforward be bracketed in history together with that of the Huns.

How British people who read and stigmatized these barbarous behests,
emphatically issued by the supreme ruler of the German nation and
the supreme head of the German Church, should have held him who
uttered or the troops that executed them incapable of the crimes
laid to their charge in Belgium is a mystery. Terrorism in occupied
countries has always been part of the Prussian method of waging war.
It is such an excellent substitute for numbers! The examples of it
given in the years 1814 and 1815 are still remembered. Since then it
has been intensified. During the Boxer movement in China I witnessed
illustrations of it which burned themselves in my memory. The tamest
of all was when the German troops arrived in Tientsin. The nights were
cool just then, and a knot of soldiers were dismayed at the prospect
of spending a night without blankets. I happened to know where there
was an untenanted house with a supply of blankets, and out of sheer
kindness I took them to it. With a smile of gratitude the officer
in command set the blankets on one side. Every portable article of
value was next seized and appropriated. And then the soldiers took to
smashing vases, statues, mirrors, the piano, and other articles of
furniture. They laughed at my remonstrances, and reminded me of the
Kaiser’s orders. All at once they abandoned the spoil, and rushed down
to the courtyard to shoot some Chinese who were said to be there. As
luck would have it, however, the newcomers were their own comrades, so
there were no executions that first evening. But the Kaiser’s men made
up for it later.

Germany’s necessity, as defined by her War Lord or any of her high
officials, knows no law. Stipulations and treaties are for non-German
States, which must be held strictly to their obligations. To Teutons
the Treaty of Bucharest and the neutrality of Belgium were meaningless
terms. But only to Teutons. The Japanese are to be made to respect the
neutrality of China. For the chosen people are a law unto themselves.
That is, and has long been, the orthodox doctrine of the Pan-German
Church. What more natural than its application to the treaty of 1839,
which Bismarck confirmed in writing in the year 1870, and which the
Kaiser and Herr von Bethmann Hollweg, with the hearty approval of the
whole articulate German nation, have recently spoken of contemptuously
as a scrap of paper? If any doubt could be entertained as to the extent
to which this German theory of morality has spread, it will have been
dispelled by the body of eminent German theologians who have just
issued their appeal to Evangelical Christians abroad. They, at any
rate, have no fears that their eloquent appeal will be treated as a
mere scrap of paper. It is the word of their “good old God.”



Europe’s tremendous tragedy, the opening scenes of which are now
unfolding themselves to horrified humanity, is no ordinary conflict
arising out of a diplomatic quarrel which timely concessions and soft
words might have settled with finality. In its present issues it is the
result of a carefully laid scheme of which the leaders of the German
people are the playwrights and the Kaiser the chief actor. It was
cleverly thought out and patiently prepared. The manifold forces let
loose by the Berlin Government for the purpose of leading up to a _coup
de théâtre_ which involves the existence of cultured Europe had long
since got beyond the control even of those who were employing them. All
that was still possible was the choice of the moment for ringing up the
curtain and striking the first fell blow. And, sooth to say, judging
by the data in the hands of the Berlin Foreign Office, no conjuncture
could have been more propitious to Germany’s designs than the present.
For circumstance had realized most of the desired conditions, and the
Kaiser, without hesitating, availed himself of his good fortune. It is
useless to dissemble the fact that the copious information accumulated
in the Wilhelmstrasse warranted the belief that there could not have
been a more auspicious moment for the realization of the first part
of the Kaiser’s programme than the present. If Germany be indeed set
apart by Providence as the people chosen to rule Europe and sway the
world, the outcome of the present conflict should be to sanction this
inscrutable decree of Fate. Certainly the hour has struck for which
she has been waiting and keeping her powder dry during the past forty
years. It is now or never.

Of this ingeniously conceived scheme the Achilles tendon was its
diplomatic aspect. And here Prussian clumsiness asserted itself
irrepressibly, as is its wont. A worse case with which to go before
the world than that of Germany in the present struggle it would be
hard to imagine. She has deliberately brought about a crude, naked
might-struggle, in which war-lust and brute force are pitted against
the most sacred and imprescriptible rights that lie at the very roots
of organized society. And she calls on God to help her to effect her

The British nation is loath to think evil of its neighbours. It
generously credits them with the best--or at any rate the least
wicked--motives, and, even when the evidence on the other side is
overwhelming, gives them the benefit of the doubt. How strong the
evidence was in this case I pointed out over and over again. In 1911,
for instance, I wrote: “Since Europeanism was killed at Sedan and
buried at Frankfurt-on-the-Main, over forty years ago, international
treaties have been steadily losing their binding force. Their
significance has been gradually transformed into that of historic
souvenirs, symbolizing a given political conjuncture. To-day they
are nothing more. The unique, solid foundation of peace that remains
is readiness on the part of the peace Powers to defend it on the

Optimists in this country objected that the German people and their
Chancellor were peacefully disposed, and utterly averse to letting
loose the horrors of an unparalleled war. And I replied that even if in
a certain sense the optimists were right, the attitude of the German
nation was beside the question. Nobody ever wants war, but only the
spoils it brings. “Germany,” I explained, “having spent fabulous sums
of money and human labour in creating an army greater in numbers and
more formidable than that of any of her rivals, would consider the
military superiority which this weapon bestows upon her as a title-deed
to property belonging to her competitors. She would, accordingly,
demand a return for her outlay, would call for the neighbour’s
territory she coveted, and expect to receive it as a propitiatory
sacrifice. War would not be her main object, but only the fruits of
war, extorted by threats which are more than mere words. She would
virtually say to France, Belgium, or Holland, ‘I have it in my power
to take what I want from you, and to ruin you over and above. But I
trust I may receive amicably from your sagacity what I should be forced
to wrest violently from your shortsightedness.’ That is at bottom a
modified form of the line of action pursued by the bandit barons of
mediæval Germany, a robust survival into the twentieth century.” And it
is exactly what has since happened. The White Paper tells the story of
the German Kaiser’s attempt to induce our Government to connive at the
seizure of France’s colonies, which Germany needed for her enterprising

But although for years I and some few others had been preaching the
imminence of this danger which no diplomatic arguments could exorcize,
the bulk of the British nation hoped on, refusing to impute to the
German people the motives or the aims which we knew it entertained.
In the _Contemporary Review_[3] I was attacked by the celebrated
Professor Hans Delbrück for affirming, as I have done for over twenty
years, that Germany was concentrating all her efforts on the coming
struggle between herself and this country, and the learned Professor
did me the honour to say that so long as I was allowed to express my
views on foreign politics in the _Contemporary Review_ there would and
could be no entente between Great Britain and Germany. “As long as Mr.
Dillon is permitted,” this German Professor and successor of Treitschke
wrote, “to set forth in the _Contemporary Review_ his fantastic views,
engendered by hatred and suspicion, about German policy, all those will
be working in vain who believe that peace between our nations can be
secured by arbitration treaties.”[4] I then summed up my opinions as

    When I read the smooth-tongued, plausible panegyrics on Germany’s
    politics, which are served up to us here in England every year, and
    contrast them with the systematic aggressiveness which everybody
    with open eyes and ears sees and hears in Berlin, I behold Germany
    rise before me in the form of a cuttlefish, with many lasso-like
    arms, ever ready to seize their unsuspecting prey, and also ready,
    when itself is in danger, to shed an ink-like fluid which blackens
    the water and hinders effective pursuit.

Everything that has come to pass since then offers a pointed
illustration of that presentment. The attempt to obtain without a war
a return for her outlay on her army and navy by calling for coveted
territory as a propitiatory sacrifice was energetically made during
the Morocco crisis. But the spring of the Panther failed of its
purpose. Germany’s further experiences during the London Conference
were likewise discouraging. The loose ranks of the Entente Powers
closed up at the approach of herself and her ally, and Albania proved
a mere torso. Then the supreme effort was put forth a few weeks
back, and the Berlin Government, alive to the possibility of a like
unfruitful result, determined to abide by and prepare for the extreme
consequences, which, sooth to say, appeared to them less formidable
than they really were.

Congruously with this resolve every precautionary measure that
prudence prompted or circumstance suggested was adopted betimes, some
secret, others public.

For the behoof of the European public the former were flatly denied,
and the latter glibly explained away.

Method characterized all these preparations, towards which the British
nation was particularly indulgent. Foremost among them was the increase
of the German army and the levy of the non-recurring war-tax. Now,
if Russia had had recourse to a measure of this kind, all Europe
would have clamoured for explanations. Germany was allowed to have
her way unquestioned. _Honi soit qui mal y pense._ And yet the German
Chancellor dropped a hint of his real purpose which ought to have
been sufficient to put Europe on its guard. He spoke of the coming
conflict between the Teutons and the Slavs. And in truth that was
the keynote to the situation. In Russia it was heard and understood.
Whether it was also taken to heart and adequately acted upon there is
another matter. In these islands most people listened, smiled, and went
their way unheeding. Yet this was the first step towards tackling the
Entente Powers one by one, which constituted the alpha and omega of the
Kaiser’s policy.

Another of the timely precautions taken by Germany, who was resolved
to make ready for every contingency, however improbable--and a general
European war seemed even to her statesmen most improbable--was the
purchase of horses. She despatched agents to Great Britain, and
especially to Ireland, in search of mounts suitable for cavalry
service, and also draught-horses. And during the months of March,
April, and May large numbers of these animals were exported from the
four provinces of Ireland to Hamburg without exciting protest or
occasioning comment. For the British are a trusting people. And now the
French army is obliged to make an effort to acquire a fresh supply of
mounts, and may encounter very serious difficulties. Corn was also laid
in, and heavy shipments of it went to Hamburg for the troops.

The German banking manœuvres were begun later. Enormous sums of gold
were garnered in by German financial institutions through their
influential agents in England, of whom several enjoyed the friendship,
but, one hopes, not the confidence, of some of our eminent public
men. And even since the war began large batches of cheques and bills
endorsed to London bankers by financial houses of Sweden, Denmark,
Holland, Portugal, Italy, have been forwarded to London for discount
and collection. Indeed, Germany appears to have been paying for
foodstuffs drawn from these neutral countries in cheques and bills
which, strange to say, were still being discounted here. For in this
respect, too, the British are a trusting people. Even mobilization
would seem to have been commenced secretly long before the crisis had
become acute. We learn from the newspaper press that among the papers
found on a captured German general is a service letter disciplining
him for not immediately answering an order for mobilization dated July
10th, when no one outside of Germany had a suspicion that war was
impending. This date enables us to gauge the sincerity of the Kaiser’s
efforts to “moderate” Austria’s “impetuosity.”

Whoever wishes to have an inkling of Germany’s method of opening
the diplomatic chess-game which preceded the war, and was intended
to “localize” it as far as seemed conducive to her interests, must
endeavour to get a glimpse of the action of the smaller hidden wheels
within the wheels of official diplomacy. For the Berlin Foreign
Office worked on various lines, keeping official, semi-official, and
absolutely secret agents, diplomatic and journalistic, hard at work
all the time. Thus in Russia there was the titular Ambassador, Count
Pourtalès, over whose head the Military Ambassador, a German officer
who had access to the Tsar, and was kept posted about everything that
was going on in Russia, was wont to despatch messages direct to the
Kaiser. And this personage was better informed of what was being done,
neglected, and planned by the Russian Government than some of the
Russian Secretaries of State. He had direct access to the highest
society, and indirect to every local institution in the Empire. To my
knowledge, this German Aide-de-Camp in the suite of the Russian Emperor
despatched detailed reports about the intrigues which were spun to oust
the present War Minister, Sukhomlinoff, from his post, and have the
Assistant War Minister appointed in his place. And I am able to add
a piquant detail: in one of these reports he assured his chief that
although the Assistant Minister, Polivanoff, is in his opinion the
better man, his appointment at the then conjuncture would throw things
military out of gear for a considerable time in Russia. But the Tsar
was not to be tempted. General Sukhomlinoff, who is undoubtedly the
right man in the right place, remained at his post.

It is hardly an exaggeration to say that Russia had no secrets whatever
from the agents, diplomatic and military, of the German Government.
Every intrigue that was woven, every scheme that was laid before the
various State departments in Petrograd, every casual remark dropped by
the Tsar in the intimacy of private life to a courtier, every real or
supposed weakness in the Imperial defences, was carefully reported,
with all the local anecdotic embroidery, and duly taken cognizance
of in Berlin. Among high officials there were some who, without evil
intent, but solely in virtue of what they honestly but foolishly
regarded as the privilege of private friendship, were wont to unburden
themselves of momentous State secrets to certain representatives of
the Empire with which Russia is now at war. These representatives were
made aware of the advice tendered to the Tsar by his Majesty’s trusted
advisers in various critical emergencies, and they announced it to
their chiefs, the Tsar’s present enemies. There was, for instance, a
few years ago, one influential Russian statesman without whose assent
the Government would undertake nothing of real importance, a patriot
whose leanings towards Austria and Germany were natural and frankly
proclaimed. In the interests of his country, which he identified
with the triumph of his own particular party, this Russian laid bare
many matters to the Austrian Ambassador, then Baron Aehrenthal, who,
being himself an Austrian of the same political school of thought,
warmly sympathized with his friend, and also took due note of his
friend’s confidences. That, it is asserted, was the main source of
Aehrenthal’s spirited policy. He believed he knew Russia’s weak points,
and relied on their handicapping the diplomacy of the Tsar. And then
his countrymen ascribed to military weakness the concessions which the
Russian Government made for the sake of European peace.

I can affirm that certain State documents, which I could, if necessary,
describe, were in this way conveyed to the future enemy, and that one
of these, together with all the facts and figures adduced therein
as proofs, contributed materially to Germany’s decision to present
her ultimatum to Russia, by convincing her that that Empire would not
venture to take up the challenge. I make this statement with first-hand
knowledge. Thus Russian ingenuousness and candour have played their
part--certainly a material part--in bringing down a frightful calamity
on that nation.

European and Asiatic Russia is positively weevilled with Germans. Most
of the foreign trade there is carried on through the intermediary of
German agents, almost every one of whom is in touch with the German
Consulate of the provincial chief town. In the railway administration,
too, there were numerous public servants, some of whom, by education,
tradition, religion, language, and sympathy, are as German as
Herr Bassermann or Admiral von Tirpitz. And all these channels of
information were so many tributaries of the great stream which flowed
unceasingly between the Singers’ Bridge and the Wilhelmstrasse.

For in the Berlin War Office they were informed of three matters
of supreme moment, which weighed heavy in the scales when war and
peace trembled in the balance. First, that the vaunted Russian gold
reserve had been immobilized, and was therefore not available for
war; second, that the army was unready; and third, that the Tsar, for
dynastic reasons, would on no account embark on another war. In the
Wilhelmstrasse and in the German War Office reports had been received
setting forth in detail that the Russian land forces had been uniformly
neglected in the interests of a short-sighted economy, and that the
wear and tear of the army during the Japanese campaign had never been
made good, could not, indeed, be made good without an enormous outlay,
whereas only a few paltry million roubles had been spent on current
needs in lieu of the milliards without which reorganization was not
feasible. Russia, therefore, was not to be feared. And this inference
was duly communicated to the German Ambassador in Vienna, M. von
Tschirschky, who worked really hard and successfully to bring about the
present conflict, without, however, foreseeing its extent.

The other documents turned upon Russian finances. But the burden of
their message was the same. The line of reasoning and the sequence of
allegations was this: Russia’s gold reserve was indeed large, but had
been spirited away. For the State Bank had lent out vast sums to the
private banks, most of which are financed by German institutions. And
these loans had been given, not, as in France and Berlin, for a maximum
term of two months, but for six, eight, twelve, fourteen months. The
private banks in turn, thirsty for profits, had distributed the money
thus borrowed among private individuals, who employed it in wild
speculation. And the result was that the gold reserve in Russia could
not be made liquid in time should hostilities break out this year;
consequently a war in the year 1914 would entail a financial crash of
unconceived dimensions. As for the Russian money deposited in Berlin,
it, too, was locked up there, and would be commandeered by the German
Government were Russia to be forced into an armed conflict. The shock
which this revelation is supposed to have given the Tsar was also
described for the benefit of the Wilhelmstrasse. And the revelation
itself constituted another of the elements which decided Germany to
cross the Rubicon.

In France the Germans were nearly as much at home as in Russia, one
marked difference being that a larger percentage of State secrets there
was to be found in the newspapers. But whatever the periodical prints
failed to divulge was ascertained without difficulty and reported
without delay. It is a curious fact, but it is a fact, that Germans had
ready access to almost every man of mark in the Republic, and statesmen
there who would hum and haw before receiving well-known Russian or
British publicists were prepared to admit them on the recommendation
of Germans and Austrians who made no secret of their nationality. I
heard this statement in Paris, and naturally hesitated to credit it.
But as it was worth verifying, I verified it. And this is what I found.
Some eminent men in Paris had refused to see a certain public man of
European note, some on the ground that they were too busy just then,
others because it was against their custom. The foreigner was advised
to renew his application at once, but through a private individual,
a citizen of one of the Powers now at war with the Republic. And he
did. The result was amazing. Within three days the doors of them all
were thrown open to him. But the quintessence of the irony lies in one
piquant detail: one of these French statesmen said to the intermediary
who is now inveighing against France and the French: “Let me see.
Is not that friend of yours a contributor to a periodical which is
strongly pro-German? If so, I had rather not meet him at all.” “By no
means,” was the answer. “He is very anglophile, and, of course, a great
friend of France.” “Ah, very well then, he can come.”



German diplomacy never contented itself with its one natural channel.
All its lines were many tracked. The Ambassador’s reports were checked
over his head by those of his secretaries, of the consular agents, of
the military and commercial attachés, of the heads of great financial
institutions and big business firms, who enjoyed and abused the
hospitality of Great Britain, France, and Russia, and by the secret
communications of professional spies and the disclosures made by
unwitting betrayers of secrets. During the Morocco crisis the German
Foreign Secretary, von Kiderlen Waechter, was in direct and continuous
telegraphic contact with the first Secretary of the German Embassy
in Paris, von Lanken, over the head of the Ambassador, von Schoen.
And here in London Prince Lichnowsky, like his colleague Pourtalès in
St. Petersburg, shrank during the period of the crisis preceding the
war to a mere figure-head of the Embassy. Herr von Kuhlmann was the
Ambassador. His information was treated as decisive. His views were
listened to with respect. For he always strove and generally contrived
to repair to the source himself. Thus it was he who was asked to visit
Ireland and send in a report to the Wilhelmstrasse on the likelihood
of civil war breaking out there, and its probable duration and general
effect upon the country and the Government.

Herr von Kuhlmann’s communication, which was checked by the accounts
of German correspondents and of a number of spies who were despatched
independently to Belfast and other parts of Ulster, made a profound
impression on the Kaiser and his official advisers. From the gist of
it they derived their conviction, which was still strong during the
week that ended on July 30th, that England’s neutrality was a foregone
conclusion. For a time Herr von Kuhlmann’s judgment was categorical.
He had no misgivings. According to him the die had already been cast,
and the effect of the throw could not be altered. The British Cabinet
was bound hand and foot by the sequel of its Home Rule policy. But even
had it been otherwise, it was committed to peace on other grounds. The
Asquith Government and the party it represented were firmly resolved
not to be drawn into a Continental war, whatever its origin or its
issues. That was the motive which had restrained Sir Edward Grey from
contracting any binding obligations towards France.

And so unhesitatingly was this view adopted in Berlin that when on
July 29th the German Ambassador terminated one of his despatches with
the expression of his personal impression--founded, he confessed, on
nothing more tangible than the manner, intonation, looks of Sir Edward
Grey--that if France were dragged into war Great Britain would not
remain neutral, his timid warning failed to modify the accepted dogma
that England was resolved to stand by inactive and look on at the
shock of mighty armies on the Continent, satisfied to play the part of
mediator as soon as victory and defeat should have cleared the way for
the readjustment of the map of Europe.

This amazing misjudgment can be explained without difficulty.
Paradoxical though it may sound, the German Government suffered from a
plethora of information. It was too well informed of what was going on
in Russia, France, and Britain, and too little qualified to contemplate
in correct perspective the things revealed. Take, for example, Russia.
Every one of the influences to which the Tsar was supposed to be
accessible, every one of the alleged weak points of the General Staff,
the War Ministry, the Railway administration, the Finances, were all
entered in the records and weighed among the motives for action. To
the Austrian Foreign Office they were communicated by the German
Ambassador, von Tschirschky, with whose own preconceived opinions of
Russia’s inertness they dovetailed to perfection. All these data were
at the fingers’ ends of the responsible leaders of the respective
Governments, all the inferences drawn were set down as highly probable,
and the final conclusion to which they pointed was that Russia would
not fight under present circumstances, even if from a military point
of view she could take the field, and that in any case she was
sufficiently aware of her impotence to recognize her inability and bend
before she was broken.

It is easy, in the light of recent events, to laugh at these deductions
and to deride the _naïveté_ of German omniscience. But on analysing the
materials which Berlin statesmen had for a judgment, one discerns the
reasons which led them to believe that a good prima facie case had been
made out for its accuracy. One characteristic and clinching argument
was advanced with an air of triumphant finality. These data, it was
urged, are not theoretic assumptions formed in Germany. They are the
deliberate views of competent Russians, arrived at in the conscientious
discharge of their duty and uttered for the welfare of their own
country. Is not that guarantee enough for the correctness of the facts
alleged and the sincerity of those who advance them?

The truth is, the Berlin authorities were too well supplied with
details, while lacking a safe criterion by which to measure their
worth. German diplomacy is many sided, and admirably well served by
a variety of auxiliary departments such as journalism, commerce,
educational establishments abroad, and espionage of a discreet and
fairly trustworthy character. But congruously with the tyrannical
spirit of system which pervades everything German, this paramount
organon for supplying the directors of the Empire’s policy with data
for their guidance and goals for their many converging movements deals
too exclusively in externals. Prussian diplomatists and statesmen
possess a vast body of information respecting the social and political
currents abroad, the condition of national defences and party
governments, the antagonisms of political groups, and other obvious
factors of political, military, naval, and financial strength and
weakness. But these facts nowise exhaust the elements of the problem
with which statesmanship is called upon to cope. There are other and
more decisive agencies which elude analysis and escape the vigilant
observation of the Prussian materialist. This superficial observer is
bereft of a sense for the soul-manifestations of a people, for the
multitudinous energies and enthusiasms stored up in its inner recesses,
for those hidden sources of strength which the wanton violation of
truth and justice set free, and which steel a nation to the wrenches
of real life and nerve it for a titanic struggle for the right. Above
all, he takes no account of a nation’s conscience, which, especially
in Anglo-Saxon peoples, is in vital and continuous contact with their
modes of feeling, thought, and action. He is a self-centred pedant,
capable indeed of close and thorough research and of scrupulous
loyalty to his own creed, but bringing to his work nothing but the
materialistic maxims of a cynically egoistic school, impassioned by
narrow aims, dissociated from humanity, blinded by stupid prejudices,
and bereft of innate balance. It is system without soul.

Of the Russian army the Staffs of Berlin and Vienna thought meanly.
“A mob in uniform,” was one description. Less contemptuous was this
other: “A barracks of which only the bricks have been got together, the
cement and the builders being still lacking.” Others there were--and
these were the most serious appraisers--who held that in another five
or six years the Russian land forces might be shaped into a formidable
weapon of defence and possibly of offence. But this opinion was urged
mainly as an argument against waiting. I once heard it supported
tersely in the following way. The army depends upon finances rather
than numbers. Without money you cannot train your soldiers. Ammunition
and guns, which are essential conditions to good artillery fire,
involve heavy expenditure. So, too, does rifle firing. Well, Russia’s
army has had no such advantages during the years that have elapsed
since her campaign against Japan. During all that time the salient
trait of her financial policy has been thrift. Grasping and saving, the
State has laid by enormous sums of money and has hoarded them miserly.
One effect of these precautions has been the neglect of the army and
the navy. At the close of the war Russia’s navy was practically without
ships and her diplomacy without backbone. And since then little has
been done to reinforce them.

Two hundred and fifty millions sterling were borrowed by Russia at
the close of the war with Japan, it was argued. That sum may be taken
roughly to represent the cost of the campaign. But it did not cover
the wear and tear of the war material, the loss of the whole navy,
the destruction of fortresses, barracks, guns, private property, etc.,
which would mount up to as much again. What was needed to repair
this vast breach in the land and sea forces was another loan of at
least three hundred millions sterling more. And this money was not
borrowed. Consequently the rebuilding of the damaged defences was
never undertaken. Only small annual credits, the merest driblets, were
allotted by the Finance Ministry to the War Office and the Admiralty,
and with these niggardly donations it had been impossible to repair the
inroads made by the war on the two imperial services. But the Tsar’s
Government, it was added, are about to turn over a new leaf. Large war
credits have been voted by the Duma. Far-reaching reforms are planned
for the army. Russia, awakened by Germany’s preparations and warned by
the Chancellor’s allusion to the struggle between Slavs and Teutons,
will make a strenuous effort to fashion her vast millions into a
formidable army. This work will take at least from three to five years.
We cannot afford to accord her this time, nor can we blink the fact
that she will never be less redoubtable than she is to-day.

That was the theoretical side of the case. It was reinforced by
considerations of a concrete nature, the criticisms of Russian experts
of high standing and long experience whose alleged utterances were said
to bear out the conclusion that a war waged by Russia against Germany,
or even against Austria, at the present conjuncture would be suicidal.
Never before, it was urged, was the Tsardom less ready from any point
of view for a campaign than at the present moment. And this, it was
reiterated, is the ripe judgment of Russian competent authorities whose
names were freely mentioned. These men, it was stated, had strongly
urged the Tsar’s Government and the Tsar himself to bear well in mind
this deplorable plight of the army when conducting the foreign business
of the Empire.

That the Russian Government was aware of the view thus taken in Berlin
and Vienna may safely be assumed. For Russia kept her eyes open and
knew more about German machinations and the assumptions on which they
hinged than was supposed. Having had an opportunity of picking up
ideas on the subject, she had not let it pass unutilized. Respecting
one scheme she knew every detail; I allude to the intention of Austria
and Germany to declare the Treaty of Bucharest a mere scrap of paper.
Ever since that treaty was signed, it had been the inflexible resolve
of Austria and Germany to upset it. I write this with first-hand
knowledge. But even had I not had this knowledge, it might have been
taken for granted on a priori grounds. The Balkan equilibrium as
established by that instrument was deemed lacking in stability. Count
Berchtold admitted this to the British Ambassador during the critical
days. Its Servian elements were particularly obnoxious to Austria,
who had refrained from annexing Turkish territory on the assumption
that she would be amply repaid for her self-restraint by political and
economical influence in the Peninsula.

Now, this assumption had been belied by events. Salonica was under the
dominion of Greece, whose leanings towards France and Great Britain
were notorious and fixed. Servia had waxed great, and was striving to
add further to her power and territory at Austria’s expense. Bulgaria
was sullen, and might become rebellious. Roumania, estranged from
the Dual Monarchy, had seemingly moved within the political orbit of
Russia. And even Turkey, abandoned to herself among these prospective
enemies of the Teutonic Powers, was amenable to their suasion and to
the pressure of France and England. Such a state of affairs could
not be brooked by Austria-Hungary, who beheld her Slav possessions
threatened in Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Dalmatia, nor by Germany, who
feared that her road to the sea and to Asia Minor would be blocked.
Accordingly the two allies decided to apply the scrap of paper doctrine
to the Treaty of Bucharest, to cut up Greater Servia, bribe Bulgaria
with the Macedonian provinces which King Ferdinand had lost by the
treacherous attack on his allies, deprive Greece of the islands and
throw them as a sop to Turkey, win over Roumania by intimidation and
cajolery, and constrain her to make a block with Bulgaria and Turkey
against Servia and Greece.

This preconcerted scheme had been questioned by easy-going optimists in
Great Britain before the outbreak of the war. But it has been virtually
acknowledged since then not only by the Austrian Government but also
by the “cream of Germany’s intelligence” in a pamphlet entitled “Truth
About Germany.” This statement of our enemy’s case was drawn up for
American consumption by a committee which includes among its members
Prince von Bülow, Herr Ballin, Field-Marshal von der Goltz, Herr von
Gwinner, Professor Harnack, the theologian, Prince Hatzfeldt, Herr von
Mendelssohn, Professor Schmoller, and Professor Wundt. In the chapter
dealing with the last Balkan war as one of the causes of the present
conflict, these gentlemen argue that the outcome of that struggle was a
humiliation for the Habsburg Monarchy, and that it had been so intended
by the Ministers of the Tsar. And then comes their important admission
that ever since the Treaty of Bucharest, the two Teutonic allies had
been diligently preparing for war.

    As soon as the Balkan troubles began (they write), Austria-Hungary
    had been obliged to put a large part of her army in readiness
    for war, because the Russians and Serbs had mobilized on their
    frontiers. The Germans felt that what was a danger for their ally
    was also a danger for them, and that they must do all in their
    power to maintain Austria-Hungary in the position of a great Power.
    They felt that this could only be done by keeping with their ally
    perfect faith and by great military strength, so that Russia might
    possibly be deterred from war and peace be preserved, or else
    that, in case war was forced upon them, they could wage it with
    honour and success. Now, it was clear in Berlin that, in view of
    the Russian and Servian preparations, Austria-Hungary, in case of
    a war, would be obliged to use a great part of her forces against
    Servia, and therefore would have to send against Russia fewer
    troops than would have been possible under the conditions formerly
    prevailing in Europe. Formerly even European Turkey could have been
    counted upon for assistance, but that, after her recent defeat,
    seemed very doubtful. These reasons and considerations, which were
    solely of a _defensive_ nature, led to the great German military
    Bills of the last two years. Also Austria-Hungary was obliged to
    increase its defensive strength.

These preparations, America is informed, “were merely meant to protect
us against, and to prepare us for, the attacks of Moscovite barbarism.”
But Russia’s incipient army reorganization--which cannot have been very
thorough, seeing that in spite of it the German Government regarded the
Russian army as incapable of taking the field--is cited as evidence of
malice prepense.[5] Disingenuousness could hardly go further.

Any experienced European statesman would have divined this plan even
without a concrete clue. I knew it, and exposed it in the columns of
the _Daily Telegraph_.



But between a plan and its execution there is always a space, and
sometimes an abyss. In this case the chief difficulty consisted in
the ways and means, the choice lying between pacific and warlike
expedients. Germany and Austria-Hungary had tried to rearrange the
Balkan balance of power by diplomatic measures, but failed. Shortly
before and during the Bucharest Conference I had authoritatively
announced their intention to have whatever agreement the Balkan States
might come to laid before them for reference and revision. Congruously
with this announcement, after the Conference they endeavoured to have
the Treaty submitted to them. But the other Powers negatived the
demand emphatically. And Servia naturally would refuse to disgorge.
Diplomacy thus proving ineffectual, other methods were contemplated,
and the most promising seemed a direct conflict with Servia. For the
Central European Powers could not use Turkey as their tool, owing to
her financial dependence on France, the disorganized condition of her
army, her naval inferiority to Greece, and the firm resolve of Roumania
to uphold the Treaty, if needs were by force. The sole remaining
issue, then, was to clip the wings of the little Slav State which had
so suddenly waxed great and would fain soar to dizzier heights at the
cost of the Austrian Eagle. How and when to achieve this feat was the
problem which had for months exercised the ingenuity of the statesmen
of Austria-Hungary and Germany. The wearisome series of negociations
on commercial and railway questions had to be tackled by Vienna and
Belgrade, and it was expected that they would offer the requisite
opportunity. But it turned out on trial that for a serious conflict
they offered no suitable handle. The two military Powers then tackled
Bulgaria, Turkey, and Roumania, who were to form a Balkan League,
with the point turned against Russia. Austria’s wish was to reach
this consummation without risking an open breach with Russia, which,
whatever the upshot, would have subjected her to a painful ordeal.

Here, however, Germany’s statesmen were confronted with no misgivings
as to Russia’s attitude. Austria was fitfully apprehensive. She was
ready to punish Servia and to force her to acquiesce in the partition
of her recently acquired territory, but she was in dread of drawing
in Russia. Germany, whose maxim was to cope with the Entente Powers,
if possible one by one, not with the whole group, would also have
preferred this solution, and believed it most probable, without, of
course, acting on the belief. Her estimate of Russia’s military plight
was, as we saw, very low. Russia’s army was considered to be still
suffering grievously from the effects of the Japanese campaign. Her
military experts were said to be opposed to war. The Tsar himself was
believed to have a horror of a fresh campaign on political and dynastic

But there was one little speck of apprehension on this otherwise
cloudless horizon. In November, 1912, when a European war seemed
imminent to many, Russia was in the compromising mood which tallied
with Germany’s expectations. But not all Russia. There was one
exception, but a noteworthy one, which might possibly upset all
calculations. The Tsar having felt his way by eliciting the opinions
of the most experienced men around him, who were almost unanimously
in favour of a compromise, heard one dissentient voice uplifted. He
was advised by the Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevitch, the present
Commander-in-Chief of the active army, not to shrink from a spirited
policy solely because war might appear to loom large at the end of
it. Russia could, the Grand Duke held, embark in a military conflict
without any of the risks apprehended by non-military men. Her army
was eager and ready. Its leaders were men of experience and tested
worth, and their strategical ability nowise inferior to that of their
prospective German and Austrian enemies. In a word, it behoved Russia
to pursue that policy which best harmonizes with her interests,
irrespective of the deterrent which war constitutes for so many.

That was the judgment of a Grand Duke who has many friends and some
enemies in his own country, but whom friends and enemies alike regard
as an ideal military leader, full of dash, dauntless, and devoted
to his profession with single-mindedness. Now, this man’s view, the
Germans argued, which was set aside just then, might prevail in a
second crisis. In any case, before opening the campaign against Servia,
it would be well to ascertain which way the wind was blowing. For this
purpose a _ballon d’essai_ might with profit be set flying. Such was
the happy thought which was conceived last spring and promptly carried

Teuton methods are instructive, if not edifying. Almost always they
are crooked, clumsy, and as recognizable as the goods marked “made
in Germany” once were. The device adopted on this occasion formed no
exception to the type. A long and carefully worded letter was sent to
the _Cologne Gazette_ by its correspondent in the Russian capital,
a plodding journalist named Ulrich. In this missive he dwelt on the
Russian army, its present defects and future possibilities, on the
exertions which the Tsar’s Government was making to reorganize it,
on the rôle it was destined to play when it became effective, and on
other cognate topics. The conclusion to which it pointed was: Russia is
very disorganized and weak to-day. Soon she will become redoubtable.
Now is the moment for a preventive war. There will never be a better
opportunity. This letter was known to have been inspired in St.
Petersburg by a high official of a foreign Embassy, who himself had
received instructions either from Vienna or Berlin, or both capitals.
At first suspicion fell upon the German Ambassador, Count Pourtalès,
but he had no difficulty in clearing himself of the charge. The
message had been written and published without his knowledge. Then
an ex-German adjutant of the Tsar was believed to be the inspirer of
the missive. But again the public was on a false scent. I know the
author--the real author--of the letter, and whence his instructions
came. But even now that war is being waged by the Empires involved,
I do not feel at liberty to disclose his name. Nor is it of any

What happened was what had been prearranged. All the German newspapers
of importance, taking the essay in the _Cologne Gazette_ as their text,
inaugurated a venomous press campaign against Russia as the marplot of
Europe and the enemy of the German people.

Why, it was asked, should she seek to reorganize her army if she
harboured no aggressive designs against Germany and Austria? Who
menaces her? Torrents of vituperation flowed through the canal of the
German and Austrian press, and for a few days it looked as if diplomacy
itself would be sucked into the vortex. For nearly a fortnight this
concerted attack on Russia was steadily pursued.

One day, before there were any signs of its abating, a telling article
appeared in an evening paper of St. Petersburg, the _Birshevya
Vedomosti_. And like the production of the _Cologne Gazette_ it,
too, was inspired, but inspired by the Tsar’s gifted War Minister,
Sukhomlinoff. And in this article were enumerated the army reforms
which had been put through by the War Office since the Manchurian
campaign. The peace effective, it was said, had been increased
considerably, the standard of training had been raised, the fortresses
supplied with material of the newest type, the artillery possessed more
effective guns than those of Austria or France, the air fleet disposed
of numerous aerial dreadnoughts, and Russia’s army was in a position,
and likewise in the mood, to assume the offensive instead of limiting
itself to the rôle heretofore assigned to it by Berlin and Vienna of
awaiting the enemy’s onslaught.

Such was the burden of M. Sukhomlinoff’s message. It was sharply
criticized by the Austro-German press, in the light of the documents to
which I have already alluded. Those vaunted reforms, it was urged, were
all imaginary. They stood not for results achieved, but for defects to
be remedied. No such results had been attained as yet, nor even striven
for. They could not be attempted without the expenditure of large sums
set apart for those specific purposes, and in Berlin and in Vienna we
know, as well as in St. Petersburg, that no large credits were allotted
to the army. “We also are aware,” it was added, “that the War Minister
will shortly ask the Duma to vote a credit for these very reforms, and
it is not to our interest to wait inactive until they are carried out.
Within three years they are not realizable, and before the expiry of
this term it behoves us to square accounts with the Tsardom.”

Soon afterwards the Russian War Minister did ask the Duma for an
extraordinary credit for the defences of the Empire. And he received it
without a dissentient voice among the recognized parliamentary parties.

Thus the statements of the _Birshevya Vedomosti_ made little impression
either in Berlin or Vienna, where the belief was still hugged that
Russia would have to recoil from war and adjust her diplomacy to this
recognized necessity.

This belief was destined to be further strengthened by the controversy
which raged around Russian finances as soon as the patriotic Premier
and Finance Minister had been relieved of his duties. M. Kokofftseff
had accomplished much as Minister of Finances and also as Premier. But
he was cordially disliked by the Germans, whose plots and intrigues
he had seen through and baulked. He had never allowed himself to be
cajoled by German flattery or hoodwinked by German wiles. The alliance
with France and the good understanding with Great Britain lay at the
foundations of his policy. And he made no secret of his convictions.
On his fall, which was hailed as a triumph by the Germans, his home
critics analysed his financial policy, and some of them charged him
with niggardliness towards the army. To my knowledge, however, it was
he who arranged for the extraordinary credit to be allotted to the
Russian War Office, which M. Sukhomlinoff received last March.

But the gravest count in the wide indictment against M. Kokofftseff
turned upon his financial operations and their alleged effect upon
Russia’s foreign policy, and her ability to uphold that policy by force
of arms. It was asserted, as I have already said, that the free reserve
of gold which was fondly supposed to be safe in the Imperial Bank,
ready for any national emergency, had been dissipated for the time
being and was immobilized. This enormous sum had, it was stated, been
lent out by the Bank to private financial institutions throughout the
Empire. One milliard and fifty million roubles! And these institutions
in turn had distributed this money among private individuals, doubtless
on good securities, but for unjustifiably long terms. Now, if a
national crisis were to break out while these terms were still running,
all that money would be locked up, the Tsar’s Government would have at
its disposal at most a miserable pittance of sixteen millions sterling,
and the Empire would be confronted with bankruptcy.

This pessimistic judgment, embroidered with figures and calculations,
was, as we have seen, treasured up in Berlin, Vienna, and Budapest,
where it produced an impression that may be truly termed decisive. It
certainly contributed in a large measure to change the loose belief
into a hard conviction that Russia was definitely debarred from
appearing on the field of battle against Austria, and, of course,
against Germany. This I know. And yet the allegations in question were
partly unfounded, partly exaggerated, and so little remained when truth
had been sifted from fiction that the weighty conclusions based upon
them by Germany and Austria lacked solid support. Subsequent events
have shown this conclusively. But it was not then realized by either of
the two Governments, whose leading members had pored over the figures
until they knew them by heart. It is my unalterable conviction that if
Germany had been delivered from this naive illusion respecting Russia,
and from certain others bearing upon Great Britain and Ireland, the war
now waging would have been--postponed.

Another miscalculation which played a part in heartening the Central
European Powers had to do with the internal condition of the Tsardom.
And it was accounted incompatible with any strenuous military
endeavour. Nowadays wars are waged not by dynasties, but by armed
nations. The entire nation shoulders its rifle and goes forth to do
battle with the foe. But unless it does so resolutely and unanimously,
the outlook is dismal. Now, can Russia accomplish this? it was
asked. And by way of answering the query the various elements of the
population were passed in review, the non-Russians coming first.

    Are the Finns (it was queried) likely to join hands with the
    Orthodox inhabitants who have been encroaching steadily on the
    guaranteed rights of the Grand Duchy? Is it not infinitely more
    likely that if the Tsar’s army were hard pressed, these once
    loyal subjects would rise up against it? And is it not equally
    certain that Sweden, despite her official neutrality, would lose
    no chance of aiding and abetting them? Is it to be supposed that
    the Poles would act differently? Have they any motive for liking
    Russia, still more for sacrificing themselves to succour her? Can
    the Little Russians and the people of the Caucasus be credited with
    more cordial feelings towards their conquerors than those which
    animate the Finns and the Poles? And the Jews? Would not these
    be the most dangerous of Russia’s foes, because they would ally
    themselves with the domestic as well as the foreign enemies of the
    Empire, creating insuperable difficulties on the railway lines, in
    the army, in finances?

    Coming to the Russians themselves, we find whole sections of them
    as badly disposed towards their Government as the Jews, the Poles,
    and the Finns. The industrial population is one seething mass of
    disaffection. Rebellion is smouldering among them, and needs only
    a puff of wind, such as a European war would supply in abundance,
    to break out into flame.[6] Before Russia could decide to go to war
    she would have to station one army corps in Finland, another in
    Poland, and a third and fourth in the interior to keep order among
    the restless peasants, who have their own aims and grievances,
    which would have to be considered if war broke out. In a word,
    Russia is bound hand and foot. She cannot make a warlike move. And
    if her diplomatists speak as though she contemplated such a step,
    it will be nothing more than bluff.

Moving along this line of reasoning, the statesmen of Berlin and
Vienna reached the comforting conclusion that they had nothing to
fear from the Tsardom. And that was the crucial point that had needed
elucidation. For if the Tsar’s Government remained inactive while
Servia was being punished and Turkey and Bulgaria bribed, there
would be no cause to apprehend a hitch. Certes, no European Power
would risk hostilities to help Servia out of a tight place, or,
indeed, to bring about any change in the map of the Balkans. The only
interference possible must come from the Tsardom, and if that Empire
were indeed paralysed, opposition from the group of three Powers would
be eliminated. And it was clear that Russia was, for the moment at
any rate, paralysed in almost every organ. The Tsar, the Duma, the
army, the War Office, the Finance Ministry, the ethnic elements of the
Empire, held each other in check.

That this was the theory held in Berlin, and with a trifle less
tenacity and conviction in Vienna, I know. I can also aver that the
principal grounds on which it was based were those which I have set
forth. And although it is idle now to speculate on what might have
been under conditions that were not realized, I think one may fairly
hazard the conjecture that if it had been proved to the satisfaction
of the statesmen of Austria that their inferences and the half-truths
or undiluted errors from which they drew them were indeed erroneous,
and that Russia’s forbearance would not stretch as far as the meditated
aggression nor her resources prove as limited as her enemies’ theories
assumed, the ultimatum to Servia would have been worded by Austria,
acting alone and in accordance with international usage, and the
demands it embodied would have been whittled down to the maximum of
what could reasonably have been exacted.

But Germany was literally too well informed and too little qualified
to determine the bearings of the overwhelming mass of materials
for a judgment which were laid before her. While immersing herself
in so-called facts, she left out of sight the soul of the nation,
with whose holiest possessions she was about to tamper. Despite her
undoubted gifts of observation and analysis, Prussianized Germany
is entirely lacking in the psychological sense. She deals with the
superficial, the obvious. As though a nation’s history were the
resultant of a sequence of lifeless events, of outward changes! As
though the inherited streams of racial impulse, of national volition,
of patriotic, irrepressible energy went for nothing in the equation!
As though the latent forces and tendencies of centuries would not
be brought into far resonant action by the rousing of slumbering
passion, by the fire-flames which the shock of war must kindle! In
all her minute calculations, Prussia’s materialistic leaders lost
sight of the spiritual, of the ideals that haunt a nation’s soul and
infuse into it in moments of stress a superhuman strength capable of
working miracles. The wild enthusiasm dormant in the Russian race,
but ready to start into life and action for the support of a heroic
cause, constitute an algebraical x for the Prussian calculator, who can
measure only coarse energies and brutal forces.



Prussian logic having thus triumphantly proved that the one prospective
enemy must remain quiescent, drew the obvious conclusion that the
other Powers of the Entente would not move a finger to baulk Austria
of her prey. And this was an all-important factor in the reckoning of
the Teutonic States. Russia’s active participation in the war would
perhaps entail, besides the onrush of her own countless swarms, the
co-operation of France, whereas the fundamental axiom of Prussia’s
war policy was to seek to try issues with each member of the Entente
separately, and for this purpose to force such a quarrel, now upon one,
now upon the other, as would leave the interests of that member’s
allies untouched for the time being. A further device was to constrain
the enemy formally to play the part of aggressor, so as to provide
a convenient bridge for the allies to withdraw within the sphere
of benevolent neutrality. This latter precaution was not adopted
towards Russia, the reason being the aforesaid conviction that, come
what might, Russia’s inactivity was a foregone conclusion. There are
convincing grounds for my statement that this consideration supplied
the motive for the Kaiser’s amendment to the Austrian ultimatum,
limiting the time given to Servia for reflection to forty-eight
hours[7] and for according to the Russians only twelve hours to

Austria-Hungary, whose quarrel with Servia was the little well-spring
from which the world-stream of armies took its source, showed herself
some degrees less confident than her Prussian ally. Her statesmen were
swayed by an instinctive forefeeling that some great element of the
Russian problem was still unaccounted for and might suddenly spring up
and upset all calculations. Tabulated figures and copies of the reports
of certain pessimistic Russian public men carried conviction to their
minds, but failed to dispel irrational fears. This despondent frame of
mind was intensified by the knowledge that if the punitive expedition
against Servia were to culminate in a European war, the Dual Monarchy
stood to lose more than her ally. And if fortune should prove adverse,
the Habsburg Monarchy would, in all probability, go to pieces.

To the members of the Vienna and Budapest Cabinets, therefore, caution
seemed more imperatively demanded than to their Berlin colleagues.
No effort, however, was spared by the German Ambassador in Vienna,
von Tschirschky, to bring vividly home to Counts Berchtold and Tisza
the utter disorganization of the Russian finances, armies, railways,
and administration, and to dissipate their ineradicable misgivings.
But in spite of the Ambassador’s incessant exertions, there was ever
present to the Austro-Hungarian mind a residue of doubt and disquietude
which stood in jarring contrast to the insolent demands embodied in
the amended ultimatum. And after that document had been presented in
Belgrade, and the desired answer received from the Servian Premier,
Pasitch, the anxiety of Austria’s statesmen threw a still darker cloud
over the vista that opened before them.

If Russia were to remain neutral during the punishment of Servia, it
was plain that France, too, would keep quiet. Her Government had no
concern with the way in which the Balkan equilibrium was established;
it cherished no sympathies with Bosnian assassins, and it had no spare
funds for military ventures. Still less were the French people desirous
of embarking on a European struggle for aims which could not be made
plausible to the average bourgeois taxpayer. French money had been
poured into Russia in never-ending streams, but that streams of French
blood should follow it was inconceivable to the mind of the people.
This line of reasoning was unanswerable. Given Russia’s neutrality,
then France’s quiescence was unquestionable. But suppose the premisses
turned out to be a mistake? Assuming, as during those anxious days
Austrians sometimes did, that Russia, belying all calculations, rose
up and girded her loins for battle, what then? The Republic would
assuredly throw in its lot with the Tsardom. Of that it would be rash
to doubt. Now, what this would mean to the two Central military States
was the next question which it behoved them to put clearly and solve
fully. And this is how they did it.

    France (it was argued) is in the last phase of political
    decadence. Comfort, luxury, self-indulgence, and the financial
    means to procure these are the goal of her latter-day strivings.
    She has no faith, no moral or religious ideals, no lofty
    aspirations, no generous ambitions. Her enthusiasms are burnt out,
    her thirst for military glory is stilled by historic memories. She
    possesses territory enough to absorb whatever energies she may
    still have left. Contented to live as she now is, her one desire
    is to be undisturbed. Above all else, she loathes the idea of a
    war which would bereave her of her material well-being and force
    her to put forth strenuous exertions for which she no longer has
    the heart. Her population, and therefore the race itself, is being
    systematically sacrificed to this love of ease. Peace, universal
    peace, is the French ideal to-day, and pacificism the form in which
    it is popularized for the man in the street. Look at the debates
    on the introduction of the three years’ military service in the
    Republic, and compare the reception accorded to that measure by
    the nation with the way in which the German race received, nay,
    welcomed, the sacrifices imposed by the recent war-tax. The truth
    is, France is undergoing a process of rapid decay. The martial
    spirit that flashed forth during the French Revolution and nerved
    the nation to withstand the world was the last flicker before
    extinction. The people of France is dying of self-indulgence.

    And coming to particulars, the public men of the Military Powers
    derided the army and the navy. They revelled in accounts of the
    long sequence of mishaps that befell French warships a couple of
    years ago. They savoured the stories of the powder that was not
    only smokeless, but fireless, when it was needed for the guns,
    and which exploded quickly enough to hurl ships and crews into
    destruction. Yet the most patriotic statesman of the Republic, M.
    Delcassé, was then presiding over the destinies of the Republic’s
    sea forces. And as for the army, who, it was asked, has forgotten
    the exodus of its best generals and officers on account of the
    treatment to which their views on religion subjected them? Here
    in Germany we have Catholic generals and officers fighting side
    by side with Protestants and Atheists, because one and all we are
    and feel ourselves Germans. It is possible that our Government
    or our Kaiser may impose a Professor on a University because he
    is an Orthodox Lutheran or a good Catholic, as was the case when
    the Kaiser sent Professor Spahn to a University chair in order
    to conciliate the Centre. But is it conceivable that any man,
    however influential or favoured, should receive a command in the
    German army or navy on other grounds than his strictly technical
    qualifications? Of course not. If we possessed a really good
    strategist, he would make his way to the top even if he were an
    incarnate demon. We have no political appointments in either of
    our services. There the maxim is supreme that the career is open
    to talents. For over forty years we have concentrated all our
    energies, diplomatic, financial, scientific, technical, upon the
    creation of two formidable weapons of defence and aggression,
    and have subordinated every other consideration to that end. What
    other people in Europe has done this, nay, attempted it? And we now
    possess that weapon. There is not the slightest doubt that if the
    Republic were foolish enough to venture all it has and is on the
    issue of a war with Germany, it would not stop at this blunder. It
    would go further, and select for its army leaders men who are good
    radicals or republicans, and who never go to mass, rather than able
    military men who can handle millions of soldiers and make their
    mark in strategy.

    “You must surely have read the disclosures about the plight of the
    French army recently made by Senator Humbert,” politicians remarked
    to me. “They reveal a condition of affairs which renders France,
    as we say in German, ‘harmless.’ It would be a mistake, therefore,
    to take the Republic too seriously. Such fighting power as is left
    in her is but a pithless simulacrum of what once was hers. You
    doubt the accuracy of the Senator’s allegations? But they are of
    a piece with everything else we saw and heard and knew of France
    long before M. Humbert rose to complain of the mess his friends
    and colleagues had made of the national defences. But if you want
    a more direct proof, read the corroborating testimony of the
    present War Minister, M. Messimy. That personage must surely know.
    He took stock of his department before uttering his opinion. And
    he endorsed the judgment of the Senator. No. France among virile
    nations is what Maxim Gorky’s ‘beings that once were men’ are among
    the social classes. She is to be included among the submerged.
    And that is why your Government will shake her off if she is
    drawn into war for Russia’s sake. You cannot save a nation against
    itself. And France is dying gradually of self-inflicted wounds.

    “One of the most valuable assets of a nation which has to hold its
    possessions by force of arms is the ease and rapidity with which
    it can get its fighting men and material together and throw them
    into the enemy’s country. Well, no country can approach Germany
    or even Austria in this respect. Our system of mobilization goes
    with unparalleled smoothness and velocity. To use a slang phrase,
    which is not without picturesqueness, it works with the swiftness
    and sureness of greased lightning. Now of all countries in Europe,
    Russia herself not excepted, the French are the most backward in
    this respect. Forty-four years’ peace have not provided them with
    leisure enough to make perceptible progress in this elementary
    operation of war.”

To my query on what grounds this amazing statement could be advanced
and supported, I was treated to a sort of lecture on the subject
which was then applied to the French railway system in the following
ingenious way:

    What mobilization is to a campaign, the railway system of a country
    is to mobilization. Almost everything depends upon the smooth and
    rapid running of the trains from all parts of the country to the
    base, and from there to the front or fronts. Order and rapidity are
    essential to success. And in the railway system of the Republic
    you look for these qualities in vain. To you who have travelled
    much in France the truth of this statement should be self-evident.
    Everybody who has used the German and French railways has had the
    contrast between them borne in upon him unpleasantly. Once off the
    principal lines in France, you find yourself in a railway sphere a
    quarter of a century behind the times. Examine the rolling stock,
    inspect the carriages, watch the railway officials at their work,
    compare the time-tables with the actual hours of the trains’
    departure and arrival, and you will then be able to form some
    notion of the disadvantage under which the French armies would
    begin a campaign against this country. They would resemble the
    warrior who, having set out for the field of battle, had to go home
    for the weapons which he had forgotten.

    Military transport in war-time is a much more formidable enterprise
    than the conveyance, say, of agricultural produce in peace. In
    fact, there is no comparison between them. But if the easier of the
    two problems makes impossible demands on the railway system, one
    is warranted in concluding that the more difficult one will prove
    wholly beyond its capacities. Well, that demonstration has already
    been made in the eyes of the world.

    The test case occurred in the autumn of the year 1911, and we
    watched it closely.[8] In Austria-Hungary, Germany, Switzerland,
    and Italy the fruit-crops had failed, and the demand for fruit
    in those countries was unprecedented. Most of their supplies had
    to be drawn from France. On the French railways, therefore, an
    unusually heavy strain was put, very much less, of course, than
    one would look for during a general mobilization, but still a
    telling strain. One difference, however, there was between the
    two emergencies: the export of French fruit in abnormal quantities
    had been anticipated and prepared for in advance, whereas the need
    for mobilization might make itself felt unawares and without any
    margin of time for preparative measures. Well, the French railway
    administration provided for the exportation of these enormous
    quantities of fruit no less than 15,000 wagons. The average
    distance over which this produce had to be conveyed was in round
    numbers six hundred miles.

    Some of the trains accomplished the journey much quicker than
    others. But the swiftest of them all took twelve or thirteen days.
    And these expeditious ones were few. The next in order required
    three weeks--three whole weeks for a journey of 600 miles in peace
    time, and despite a long notification and elaborate preparations.
    But some of the trains were four, five, and even six weeks on the
    way. One hundred miles a week for perishable fruit, which rotted
    at the stations and sidings! Now, over against this speed-rate of
    thirty miles a day in normal times, you have to set the speed of
    the German and Austrian military train in war-time. It is thirty
    miles an hour. And the German goods trains running to the western
    borders of the Empire go from six to eight and a half times more
    quickly than the French.

    With the reasons for this astounding backwardness we are not, they
    went on to say, concerned. That is the business of the Republic,
    not ours. Speaking summarily, one might fairly ascribe it to the
    lack of sufficient numbers of side stations, soundly laid rails,
    of engines and rolling stock, and last, but nowise least, to the
    Republican system of railway administration. In this branch of
    the public service, as in the army and the navy, what is most
    peremptorily required is authority, and that in France is lacking.
    Everybody wants to command, nobody cares to obey. Not only an army,
    but also a railway administration should be organized on the lines
    of an absolute monarchy--of a despotic State, if you like--one
    man’s will and its manifestations, direct and indirect, being law,
    and from that law there should be no facile appeal. Unless this
    condition is realized, you cannot reasonably expect to get from
    the railway mechanism all the advantages which the general staff
    should be able to count on securing from it in war-time. This is
    especially true in France, where personal jealousy or disfavour so
    often disqualifies talent and pitchforks mediocrity into the high
    places of responsibility and trust. In short, France is politically
    moribund. From her we have nothing to fear. She will certainly not
    go to war to shield Servia from well-deserved punishment. And that
    is precisely the present issue.

On two occasions since then these strictures and the German
anticipations which were built upon them came back to my mind with
painful vividness. During the first couple of weeks after the war,
I heard the Belgians in Liége, Louvain, Brussels, Alost, Ghent, and
Bruges anxiously inquiring, “Where are the French troops that should
be here to succour us? When are they coming? It is only a few hours’
railway journey to Paris. Why are they not here? Surely they have
had ample time to get to Belgium.” And when I ransacked my brain for
a comforting reply, all I found there was the image of the German
statesman propounding his view of French railways and the chaotic
confusion which would accompany and retard mobilization.

The second time I recalled that conversation on reading the newspaper
accounts of the fall of Namur. The Namur forts were to have held out
for weeks or months, we had been told, because they were the most
powerful in Europe, and also because the triangle between the Sambre
and the Meuse was held by French army corps in great force. But it
turned out that the French troops which were believed to be there had
not yet arrived, owing to difficulties that had been encountered _in
the mobilization_. These were the difficulties that had been foretold
me, that were confidently counted upon by the German War Ministry, and
of which I warned the French Government over two years ago.

Those statements were volunteered to me in order that I should make
them known in Great Britain as arguments to be taken into account when
the attitude of our own Government came up for discussion. As a matter
of course, I never brought them forward, my own conviction having
been uttered in season and out of season for twenty years--that all
Germany’s energies, military, naval, financial, commercial, diplomatic,
and journalistic, had been focussed upon exhaustive preparations for
a tremendous struggle to establish Teutonic supremacy in Europe, that
that struggle was unavoidable, and that the German war-machine was in
all respects worthy of the money, time, and energies that had been
spent on creating and perfecting it, and that no European army could
compete with it. Over and over again I expressed my regret at finding
the people of Great Britain irrationally hopeful and unsuspecting,
utterly ignorant of Germany’s systematic strivings and subversive
machinations, yet unwilling to learn from those who were conversant
with these matters. A considerable section of the French people was
equally trustful and supine. They were the blind of the class that will
not see. They pointed to the honest Chancellor, to the peace-loving
Kaiser, to the fair-minded professors and journalists who had assured
the British people that it had nothing to fear, and to the treaties
which they considered binding. They laughed to scorn the notion that
these instruments would be treated as scraps of paper.

In October, 1911, I wrote:

    The truth is, in this country we fail utterly to fathom the
    German _psyche_, just as in the Fatherland they misunderstand the
    workings of the national British soul. What is meanwhile clear
    enough is that the peace of Europe is at the mercy of well-armed,
    restless, ill-balanced Germany; that no section of that gifted and
    enterprising people differs sufficiently in its mode of thought
    and feeling from any other section to warrant our regarding it
    as a check upon rash impulse, vengeful aggression, or predatory
    designs; _that treaties possess no binding or deterrent force, and
    that friendly conduct on the part of Great Britain or France has no
    propitiatory effect. Brute force is the only thing that counts; and
    henceforth the Peace Powers must store it up at all costs_.[9]

Three months later I wrote:

    Germany would fain get wealthy colonies without the sacrifice
    of money and blood, but she is bent on getting them, cost what
    they may. And that is one of the main factors which it behoves us
    to bear in mind. Another is that in the pursuit of her aims she
    deems all means good. Success is the unique test. “You can expect
    forgiveness for a breach of faith only from a foe worsted on the
    battlefield,” says a latter-day German aphorism.[10]

Those statements, forecasts, and warnings were clear and emphatic. I
had been urging them on the attention of the British nation for twenty
years. But the bulk of the British nation refused to think evil of
their German cousins, whom I was believed to be calumniating.

But I continued to set the facts as I knew them before the public, and
the line of action which our rivals would, and we should, follow under
those difficult conditions I sketched briefly in the following words:

    The spirit in which German statesmen deem it meet and advantageous
    to hold intercourse with foreign nations is apparently as
    far removed from ours as the moon from the earth. Not only
    sentimentality, but more solid motives which can be much less
    easily missed, are lacking.... The practical outcome of this would
    seem to be that British relations towards Germany should be marked
    by cordiality, frankness, and a desire to let live, bounded by the
    vital necessity of abstaining from everything calculated to give
    umbrage to our intimate friends. And in the second place, from this
    line of conduct _we should look for no abiding results, because it
    cannot touch the heart of the rival nation_.[11]

But the faith of the easy-going British people and Government in
Germany’s honour and in the sincerity of her peace professions was
unshaken. They seemed possessed by the demons of credulity and
pacificism. Like the Russian Tsar who on the eve of the Manchurian
campaign exclaimed, “There cannot be war because I am in favour of
peace,” they fancied that because Great Britain was satiated with
territory and only demanded to be left in the undisturbed enjoyment
of what she possessed, therefore Germany, who yearned for territorial
expansion, would suppress her longings, relinquish her costly plans,
and likewise work for peace. That, too, was the belief of our own
Government, with the exception of a few permanent officials who, having
travelled, heard, and seen what was going on, yielded to the evidence
of their senses and bore witness to what they knew.

Accordingly the British Foreign Office set its hand to the work of
establishing peace, animated by a spirit of compromise which, sooth to
say, is rare in these days of national egotism and narrow patriotic
endeavour. Lord Haldane visited Berlin. An exchange of views took
place between that capital and London. Hopes of arriving at an
understanding on all points were entertained and expressed. And I, as
a friend of peace and a citizen of my country, felt bound to second
those endeavours to the best of my limited means. But I took care to
accompany my support with a warning. For I regarded Prussia’s attitude
as a snare. Acquainted with the methods of her diplomacy, I recognized
the trail of the serpent in the movements of the dove. This is what I

    After a long period of political estrangement Great Britain and
    Germany are now circumspectly endeavouring to make friends again.
    The effort is painful and success is dubious, but it is recognized
    that the present conjuncture is the flood-water of opportunity.
    It must be now or not until after distrust has become enmity, and
    peaceful rivalry has degenerated into war.... It is felt that
    whatever is feasible in the way of healing the wounds which are
    still aching must be effected at once. The British Government and
    nation not only favour an understanding, but are eager to see it
    arranged. They are prepared to make sacrifices for it, on condition
    that it is no mere semblance of a settlement.[12]

But I made it clear that we could “look for no abiding results” from
any settlement of our differences to which we might come, because
we were dealing with a Government and a nation whose assurances are
worthless, and whose promises are no more than a scrap of paper. Since
then the Imperial Chancellor has borne out what I then advanced in
words and acts that have branded his nation with the stigma of infamy.

But the well-meaning pacifists of all shades and degrees, from the
wordy interpreters of Prussian philosophies in high places down to
the credulous man in the street, who pinned his faith to the business
instincts of our German customers, clung tenaciously to their
comfortable faith. At last, five months ago, I uttered a further

    Among the new or newly intensified currents of political life now
    traversing the Continents of Europe, none can be compared in its
    cultural and political bearings and influence with the rivalry
    between the Slav and Teutonic races. This is no mere dispute about
    territorial expansion, political designs, or commercial advantages.
    It is a ruthless struggle for mastery in all domains of national
    and international existence, which, so far as one can now see,
    may at most be retarded by diplomatic goodwill on both sides, but
    can hardly be settled with finality by any treaty or convention.
    For here we are dealing with an instinctive, semi-conscious
    movement which obeys natural laws, and not with a deliberate
    self-determining agency which may be modified by argument or swayed
    by persuasion.[13]

In that same article I gave Germany’s plea for a preventive war,
which I felt was then in the air. And I quoted the pregnant remark
of my German colleague of the _Berliner Tageblatt_, who deliberately
wrote: “It cannot be gainsaid that the growth of Russia is in itself
a peril.” This chosen people, these apostles of culture and humanity,
could not brook the natural growth of a gifted neighbour. Russia must
be exterminated that Germany might thrive.

The Governments of Germany and Austria-Hungary then considered that the
odds against Russia’s participation in a war to shield Servia were,
under the existing conditions, almost tantamount to certainty. The
German Ambassador in Vienna stated this positively to our Ambassador
there and to his other colleagues. It was an axiom which admitted of
no question. It followed that France and Great Britain would also
hold aloof, and a duel with a foregone conclusion could, under these
propitious conditions, be fought by Austria against Servia. And this
was the state of things for which the Central European Powers had been
making ready from the conclusion of the Bucharest Treaty down to the
assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This monstrous crime,
for which there are neither excuse nor extenuating circumstances,
wholly changed the aspect of affairs, and provided the Teutonic allies
with a most welcome war-cry which was sure to rally their friends,
while immobilizing their enemies. It was not, therefore, to be wondered
at that they took such a long time to study the ways and means of
utilizing it to the fullest. And in this they succeeded so well that
France, Great Britain, Italy, and even Russia freely admitted Austria’s
right not merely to punish Servia for her aggressive agitation, but
also to take effective guarantees for her future good behaviour.

Never before was European public sentiment so universally and
whole-heartedly on the side of Austria-Hungary. Every nation and
political party sympathized with her aged monarch and supported the
legitimate claims of her Government. If the grievances ostensibly
put forward in Vienna and Budapest, and recognized by all civilized
peoples, had really represented the full extent of what Austria desired
to see redressed once for all, there would have been no war. And
left to herself, Austria would probably have contented herself with
this measure of amends for the past and guarantees for the future.
But she was not a free agent. In all fundamental issues she is the
vassal of Prussia. And the development of this crisis brought out
their inseparability in sharp outline and relief. Every act of the
Austro-Hungarian Government, from the moment when the Archduke fell in
Sarajevo to the declaration of war against Servia, was conceived with
the knowledge and collaboration of Berlin, and performed sometimes at
its instigation and always with its approval.

Germany herself is commonly said to have been bent upon war from the
outset of the crisis. Conscious of her readiness for the struggle,
she is supposed to have been eager to seize on the puissant war-cry
afforded her by the crime of Sarajevo to profit by the military
unpreparedness of France, Russia, and Great Britain, and the internal
strife in these countries, which had seemingly struck their diplomacy
with paralysis and disqualified their Governments from taking part in
a European conflict.

That this theory is erroneous I know on the highest authority. Having
watched, sometimes at close quarters, the birth, growth, cultivation,
and ripening of the scheme which has now borne fruit in the bitterest
and most tremendous war on record, and having had more than once
some of the decisive State papers under my eyes, I can affirm that
Germany’s hope and desire and striving were on the opposite side. She
deprecated a European war sincerely. She sought to ward it off by
every means compatible with the realization of her main scheme, and
she was disappointed beyond words at her failure. Her main scheme was
to deal with each of the Entente Powers separately, and to reserve
Great Britain for the last. And it was presumably in furtherance of
this programme that Admiral von Tirpitz tendered his advice to the
Kaiser--as we are told he did--not to break with England yet, but to
conciliate her by every available means, and thus to gain time for the
German navy to reach the standard which would enable it to cope with

That the German scheme of separating the Entente Powers and crushing
them one by one was feasible will hardly be denied. One has only to
read the recent diplomatic correspondence on the crisis in the light
of certain other data to realize how lucky the Entente Powers may
account themselves at having been provoked one and all by Germany.
Each Power felt strongly tempted to circumscribe its own interests to
the narrowest limits, and to keep its powder dry until these were
manifestly assailed. That was the temper of the Entente States. “In the
present case,” Sir Edward Grey explained to the German Ambassador, “the
dispute between Austria and Servia was not one in which we felt called
to take a hand. Even if the question became one between Austria and
Russia, we should not feel called upon to take a hand in it.”

Clearly, then, Germany might tackle Russia without drawing Great
Britain to the side of her enemy. But even “if Germany were involved,”
the Foreign Secretary went on to say, “and France became involved, we
had not made up our minds what we should do.” Consequently it might
well seem no great feat of diplomacy for Germany to set inducements
and deterrents before us sufficiently powerful to keep us neutral. In
no case was the Prussian scheme of dealing separately with each Power

The invasion of Servia as the first step had a twofold object for
Germany, who encouraged it from the outset: first, to gratify her
Austrian ally, on whom Servia had in truth inflicted terrific losses
during the past four years, thus enabling the Habsburgs to cripple
the independent Slavs of the South, and obtain guarantees against
the recurrence of the evil; and then to compel the principal Balkan
States to form a block against Russia, so that they could be relied
upon as a new Great Power in the coming struggle against that Empire.
On this subject I write with knowledge, having myself taken a hand
more than once in the international negociations which had the Balkan
equilibrium for their object. The first phase in the Teutonic advance
towards supreme world-power, then, was the tossing aside of the
Bucharest Treaty as a worthless scrap of paper, and the formation of
this Balkan League. And the first serious obstacle to it was raised by
myself in a series of negociations which may be made public elsewhere.

Germany, therefore, was not anxious to bring about a European war
just yet. On the contrary, her efforts to postpone it were sincere
and strenuous. And to her thinking she had reduced the chances of a
clash of nations to a faint possibility. Consequently it would be
much nearer the mark to say that, convinced that she would succeed in
“localizing the war,” she was bent on carrying out her policy in every
event, but that this policy being ultimately found incompatible with
the vital interests of Russia, the limits of whose forbearance she had
miscalculated, led necessarily to the present conflict. But for this
emergency, too, she had been extensively preparing and deemed herself
quite ready. Into Germany’s calculations and expectations I have more
than once had an insight, and I can affirm that she was twice out in
her reckoning of the probabilities. I ought, however, emphatically to
add that even for one of these miscalculations she made due allowance.
When the latent crisis became acute the opinion prevailed in Berlin
that the stability of the Tsar’s dynasty, as well as the solvency and
the integrity of his Empire, were bound up with the maintenance of
peace, and that Russia, being thus fettered, Austria would be allowed,
with certain formal reserves, to have a free hand against Servia. And
Germany’s initial efforts were directed to enlisting the co-operation
of Great Britain and of France in the task of securing this advantage
for her ally. That is why she was credited with a praiseworthy desire
to restrict the war-area as much as possible.

As we have seen, the grounds for Germany’s optimistic forecast
were reinforced by the opinions of certain Russian authorities.
These experts strongly held that a war with Germany would open the
sluice-gates of disaster for their country. There are always such
Calchases in every land, but Russia possesses an abnormally large
number of them. Some of these views were committed to paper, laid
before the highest authorities, and also reported simultaneously to
the Foreign Office in Berlin. The financial, military, and political
considerations adduced in support of these conclusions were also fully
set forth in the communications on the subject which Germany’s agents
in St. Petersburg supplied to the Wilhelmstrasse. Much of interest
might be written on this aspect of the preliminaries to the war--much
that is striking, instructive, and in a way sensational--but this is
hardly the moment for anything in the nature of startling disclosures.

In what the policy consisted which Germany and Austria pursued under
the mask of indignation against the Servian abettors of murder is
well known by now even to the general public. Over and over again I
unfolded it in the columns of the _Daily Telegraph_; and from the day
on which ominous rumours about Austria’s expected Note to Servia began
to disquiet Europe, I announced that the assassination of the Archduke
Franz Ferdinand was but the flimsiest of pretexts, that Austria was
minded to take the initiative in the struggle of the Teutons against
the Slavs, and that the European press was making a strange mistake in
accepting the theory that her aim was the condign punishment of the
accomplices of the assassins. I added that this was no dispute, in the
ordinary sense of the term, between Austria and Servia; it was only a
question of which of the two could impose its will on the other. In a
word, it was a trial of strength--_eine Machtfrage_.

Germany’s aim, I repeat, was, and had long been, to sever the bonds
that linked France with Russia, so as to be able to tackle each one
separately. The methods to which her statesmen had recourse in order
to effect a severance between the two allies were of a piece with the
expedients now being resorted to for the purpose of egging on Turkey to
a breach of her neutrality--such as the forging of Mr. Burns’ alleged
oration and the speech of the Lord Mayor of London against the war.
But some of them which have never yet been even hinted at are far more
sensational even than this. One of the Kaiser’s own little schemes
which has never been mentioned even in well-informed diplomatic
circles outdid in breeziness the episode of the scrap of paper.

The Entente was to be dealt with like an artichoke--to have leaf
after leaf torn off. To attain this Germany employed fair means and
foul--first flattered and cajoled the French--and when blandishments
failed passed abruptly to brutal threats. But her diplomacy in its
obsequious as well as its menacing mood had failed of its purpose.
And now war was to be essayed as a means to the end, but a war with
Servia only. Its objects, as we saw, were materially to weaken Slavdom,
humiliate Russia, create a Balkan League against that Empire, and
supply an object-lesson to those politicians in France who were opposed
to the alliance with the Tsardom, on the ground that it might at any
moment involve the Republic in a sanguinary struggle for obscure Slav
interests. The duel contemplated was to be confined to Austria-Hungary
and Servia. Every lever was to be moved to keep it restricted to
that narrow compass. As an Austrian victory would ensure a partial
dismemberment of Servia, to be followed by a new grouping of the Balkan
States--this time under the ægis of the Habsburgs--the Central European
Powers would have won a most useful ally in the shape of a new and
compact Balkan League.

A partnership of Turkey, Bulgaria, Roumania, and Greece, under the
lead of Austria and Germany, Servia being constrained to keep the
step with these, would have constituted a stout bulwark against the
tide of Slavdom flowing towards the Adriatic, and a puissant ally in
the event of a European war. That this was a real scheme, and is not
merely an inference or an assumption, may be taken as certain. I became
acquainted with the details of it at its inception. Bulgaria knows it
and Turkey knows it. Bulgaria’s pressing offer, made to Turkey at the
very moment when I was successfully endeavouring to obtain the assent
of the Porte and of the King of Greece to a treaty which I had drawn
up for the settlement of all their differences, was brought to my
cognizance. Happily, the suggested deal was scrutinized and rejected
by the Porte. Turkey, as represented by Talaat Bey, had brought an
open mind to the matter, allowing herself to be swayed only by her own
interests; and as it appeared that these would fare best by the treaty
which I proposed, she assented to this. Greece, needing permanent peace
as a condition of internal development, showed herself amenable to
reason and ready to compromise. And she, too, agreed to the treaty.
Roumania, animated by a like broad and liberal spirit, was steadfastly
opposed to every move, by whomsoever contemplated, which was likely
to jeopardize public tranquillity or modify the Treaty of Bucharest,
and favoured every arrangement capable of imparting stability to the
_status quo_.

But perseverance and importunity are characteristic traits of German
methods in diplomacy as in commerce. And on this occasion they stamped
her Balkan policy with the well-known cachet of the Hohenzollerns. The
moment it was decided that the Austrian demands should be so drafted as
to ensure their rejection by Servia, the two Central European Powers
set to work anew to stir up opposition to the Treaty of Bucharest,
realize the scheme for a Balkan League with its sharp point turned
against Russia, and have a large part of King Peter’s realm carved up
by the Balkan States themselves without the ostensible intervention of
Austria or Germany. This is an important point in the march of events
which preceded the war--a point, too, which, so far as I am aware, has
not been noticed by any publicist or statesman.

It is worth a moment’s consideration. The world has not forgotten
the assurance which Austria gave to Russia as an inducement to hold
her hand and allow Servia to be punished. It took the shape of an
undertaking that the Dual Monarchy would not annex any portion of
Servian territory. Now, on the face of it, this was a concession the
worth of which, from Russia’s point of view, might well be reckoned
considerable. And in truth it had great weight with the St. Petersburg
Foreign Office. For it seemed to imply that at the close of Austria’s
campaign against Servia the vanquished Slav State would at any rate
lose none of the land of which it was possessed before the war. That
was the obvious meaning of the official Austro-Hungarian assurance,
and it was construed in this sense by all the Chancelleries of the
Entente Powers without exception. It worked as a motive to lure Russia
to the far-reaching concessions she offered to Austria-Hungary in the
hope of “localizing the war.” Sir M. de Bunsen wrote to Sir Edward Grey
that the Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs thought “that Russia
would have no right to intervene after receiving his assurance that
Austria sought no territorial aggrandisement.”

But in reality the phrasing of this self-denying promise was deceptive.
Austria undertook that she would not incorporate Servian territory
in her own Empire, but in reading this declaration the accent should
be laid on the word _she_. She would refrain from cutting off slices
of Servian territory _for herself_. But it was resolved, none the
less, that Servian territory should be carved up and partitioned
among Servia’s neighbours--Bulgaria, Turkey, and Albania. The three
Greek islands--Samos, Chios, and Mytilene--were to revert to their
late owner. Russia never suspected this curious wile. Otherwise she
would not have fallen into the trap as she did. That it was part of
a deliberate plan which Germany and Austria set about realizing is
established beyond question. Neither can it be gainsaid that the form
of words chosen later on by Germany for the assurance she offered to
Sir Edward Grey respecting the integrity of France left room, and was
meant to leave room, for a similar subterfuge. To my knowledge, and to
that of at least one European Chancellery, Germany decided on making
an offer to Italy of Tunis, Nice, and Savoy, all which she might claim
and receive as a recompense for active co-operation during the war. And
this by-compact was deemed perfectly consistent with her promise to
Sir Edward Grey. Whether that bid for co-operation was actually made
to Italy, I am unable to say. That it was one of the inducements to be
held out to the Consulta, I know.

Meanwhile Turkey was exhorted to throw aside the Treaty which I had
drafted, and which was to have been signed by the Grand Vizier and
M. Venizelos at my house during the week ending on August 3rd. She
was further urged to close with Bulgaria’s offer of a treaty of
partition without delay, and to make common cause with her. At the
same time M. Venizelos was advised to treat with King Ferdinand’s
representatives, and come to an arrangement by which Bulgaria should
retake from the Serbs “the territory which by right belongs to them,”
and a certain lesser slice from Greece, who would receive in turn
partial compensation and perpetual guarantees. Moreover, all Bulgaria’s
territory, new and old, should be insured by Turkey and Greece. A
draft of this treaty actually existed. In case of refusal, Greece was
menaced with the loss of everything she had acquired by her Balkan
victories. How these suggestions were received I had no means of
learning. But the final upshot is disclosed by recent events. Turkey,
eager to regain some part of what she lost, and believing the present
moment propitious, lent herself readily to Germany’s designs. It was
only after the infraction of her neutrality by the warships _Goeben_
and _Breslau_, and moved by fear of the consequences to which her
connivance had exposed her, and by the proofs adduced that neutrality
would pay better than a fresh Balkan campaign, that she reined back.
She now apparently takes a modified view of the situation, and the more
statesmanlike of her leaders recognize that, after all, her interests
may turn out to be dependent upon the goodwill of the Entente Powers.
But Enver Pasha, a Pole by extraction and a German by sympathy, still
seems bent on exposing the Ottoman Empire to the risks of a single cast
of the die.



Germany’s programme, then, from the beginning of the crisis resolves
itself into two parts: to restrict the war in the sense that Austria’s
enemy was to have no allies, and to extend it by letting loose against
Servia as many of the Balkan States as could be enlisted by enticing
promises. Congruously with the first object, the seemingly humane
movement in favour of “localization” was approved by the Chancellor,
localization being construed to mean the neutrality of Russia. And for
a time it was not merely hoped, but believed, that Russia would remain
quiescent. Indeed, this belief was, as we have seen, the groundwork
of the policy with which the German Ambassador in Vienna identified

M. von Tschirschky is one of those convinced, acidulous Russophobes
who are obsessed by racial hatred of an intensity which men of the
English-speaking races are unable to realize. His diplomatic methods
extend far beyond the limits within which the average Ambassador and
diplomatist feels it his duty to keep his activity. In proselytizing he
is an adept; but his limitations are those of countrymen and class. He
had lived in St. Petersburg, where his diplomatic career was Sisyphus
work, and ever since then the keyword of his policy has been _delenda
est Moscovia_. Nor was he concerned to dissemble his passion. Every
politician in Austria, native and foreign, was aware of it, and when
diplomatists there heard that he had been enjoined by his Chief to
plead the cause of moderation in Vienna, they shrugged their shoulders
and grinned. He assured the Austrian Government that, from information
in possession of the Wilhelmstrasse, Russia was powerless to strike
a blow. “She is a negligible quantity,” he repeated. “If her armies
were to take the field the dynasty would fall. And the Tsar, alive
to the danger, is resolved to steer clear of it. Were he prevailed
upon to run the risk, the whole political and financial structure
would fall to pieces like a pack of cards.” And he was certain of
what he advanced. He honestly deceived himself before misleading his
friends. Parenthetically, it may be well to remind the reader that
this contention about Russia’s military impotence, which was accepted
in Vienna as well as Berlin, makes short work of the plea now advanced
that it was Russia’s bellicose attitude that provoked Germany. The
contrary proposition is true. Germany was aggressively insolent because
Russia was believed to be militarily powerless. That is why Austria’s
ultimatum to Servia was so indited that a refusal could be counted upon.

The history of that Note is curious. The assassination of the
Archduke Franz Ferdinand was fastened upon as a fitting pretext for
mutilating the Servian State. Servia’s Government and the entire
class of intellectuals from which it was drawn were stigmatized as
the real authors of the crime. The murder itself was declared to be
but a typical act of an unprincipled political organization which had
ramifications all over the land, including all political parties, the
clergy, and the teaching bodies. Bomb-throwing, assassination, and
a subversive propaganda in Bosnia and Herzegovina were alleged to
be among its recognized methods. Austria-Hungary, it was contended,
could not lead a normal life so long as this state of affairs was
allowed to endure. It must, therefore, be transformed radically. But no
transformation could be effected until Servia was brought to her knees
by the Habsburgs and forced into the groove of chronic quiescence which
had been destined for her by the murdered Archduke. In other words, she
must become a satellite of her powerful neighbour, and subordinate her
policy, military, commercial, and foreign, to that of the Ballplatz.
This was the programme, most of which had been adopted some eighteen
months before, during the factitious excitement about the imaginary
murder of the Austrian Consul, Prochaska, by the Serbs. I announced it
in the _Daily Telegraph_ at the time. Since then it had been kept in
abeyance, and now the crime at Sarajevo was held to have supplied a
favourable conjuncture for reviving it.

That official way of stating the grounds of the quarrel had one great
advantage. It identified Servia with monstrous crime and Austria with
law and justice. Foreign Governments which set a high value on the
reign of order and tranquillity would, it was hoped, be deterred from
giving countenance to such a nation of criminals as Servia was alleged
to be. By way of strengthening this deterrent, they were reminded of
the stain on Servia’s honour contracted when King Alexander and his
consort were brutally done to death. By that crime, it was alleged, the
present King himself had been compromised, and was consequently now
powerless to curb his unprincipled subjects, on whose goodwill his own
tenure of office depended. From Servia’s goodwill, therefore, there was
nothing to be hoped. But if regeneration could not come from within, it
must proceed from outside. And as Austria’s political interests were
also at stake, she would undertake the work of sternly punishing crime
and efficaciously preventing its recurrence. To this rôle no civilized
Power could reasonably demur without laying itself open to a charge of
fomenting a vast criminal organization which it behoves monarchs and
people alike to put down by every means in their power. This was the
argument by which Russia was to be floored. It was also the bridge over
which she would, it was assumed, recoil from Servia when Servia was at
grips with Austria-Hungary.

Now in that chain of allegations there was at least one link of truth.
Servian propaganda in Bosnia and Herzegovina had certainly been
unceasing, resourceful, and dangerous. It had also inflicted enormous
losses on the population of the Dual Monarchy. And the Vienna Cabinet
had undoubtedly a strong case for putting forth energetic action and
exacting substantial guarantees. Had it contented itself with thus
redressing real grievances all Europe would have endorsed its claims
and the war would have been postponed.

For Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose inhabitants are all Serbs by race and
language, were honeycombed with disaffection. No outsider realized or
even yet realizes the extent to which Austrian rule there was burrowed.
During the exhaustive investigation into the origins of the crime of
Sarajevo, the Central Governments learned with dismay that disaffection
was rife everywhere. This sensational revelation was the only result
of the inquiry, which was hidden from the public gaze, lest it should
compromise the local authorities and discredit the administration in
the eyes of the peoples.

But Austria had other interests besides her own to consider. Once more
it had fallen to her lot to discharge the functions of “brilliant
second” to her ally. And this was her undoing.

So much depended on the reception which her demands would meet in
Servia and Europe generally that the utmost care was bestowed on the
wording of it. The task of drawing it up was confided to the Hungarian
Premier, Count Tisza, partly on intrinsic grounds--this statesman
having displayed a keen interest in foreign politics generally and
in Balkan affairs in particular--and partly for political reasons,
Austria being desirous of bestowing upon Hungary an active rôle in
what was a fateful enterprise for both halves of the Monarchy. Before
the text of the document was fixed, the results of the inquiry into
the assassination were committed to writing, in the form of a _pièce
justificative_, intended to bring the outside world into dynamic
contact with what Austria brandmarked as a realm of assassins and
anarchists. Hardly any mystery was made of the object which the demands
were meant to attain. It was expected and intended that M. Pasitch
would find it impossible to assent to the terms laid down, some of
which could only be complied with by his treating the Constitution as a
worthless scrap of paper. It was felt that if he yielded an indignant
people would sweep away his Government, return a negative answer, and
possibly inaugurate a saturnalia of anarchy, to which the Emperor Franz
Josef’s troops would put a speedy end.

Sir Maurice de Bunsen, the British Ambassador in Vienna, in one of
his despatches, writes of this ultimatum: “Its integral acceptance by
Servia was neither expected nor desired, and when, on the following
afternoon, it was at first rumoured in Vienna that it had been
unconditionally accepted, there was a moment of keen disappointment.”
I was in Vienna at the time, and I know that that is a correct
presentment of the facts.

A long period of anxious suspense had preceded the publication of
the Note. In diplomatic circles curiosity became painfully intense.
Every hint of what was coming was eagerly snatched up, commented, and
transmitted to headquarters. Italian diplomacy, weighed down by a sense
of heavy responsibility and intuitive apprehension of imminent danger,
was treated to vague phrases about the heinous nature of the crime, the
necessity of preventing its recurrence, and Austria’s resolve to have
her relations with the Slav kingdom placed on a new and stable basis.
But beyond these generalities nothing concrete was submitted either to
the Duke of Avarna in Vienna or to the Marquis di San Giuliano in Rome.

The Russian Ambassador in the Austrian capital was led to infer that
no sweeping stroke would be dealt against Servia, and that the demands
contemplated would be compatible with her integrity, independence, and
honour. And he accordingly took a fortnight’s leave of absence a few
days before the Note was presented.

Very different was the attitude of the Austrian Government towards
Germany, who was vigilantly watching for every new phase of the
historic transaction in order to subordinate the whole to her own
vaster design. Nothing was kept back from the politicians of the
Wilhelmstrasse but the rough draft of the Note. The German Ambassador,
von Tschirschky, however, was one of the few who were initiated into
that mystery. This, it must be confessed, was natural. For without the
resolute backing of Germany the position taken up by Austria-Hungary
would have been untenable. Congruously with this privileged position,
Germany’s representative, von Tschirschky, saw the proposed text of the
ultimatum. Not that his advice on the subject was taken or solicited.
His views were known in advance. But it was he who telegraphed the
wording of the document to the Kaiser, who was then ostentatiously
absent from Germany. I advance this statement with full knowledge of
what actually took place. This communication was made not merely for
the purpose of keeping the War Lord informed of what it behoved him
to know, but also and mainly in order to secure his express assent
to the set terms of an official paper which was intended to bring
about hostilities between Austria and Servia, and might incidentally
precipitate a European conflict.

Well, the rough draft as originally drawn up by Count Tisza did not
obtain the Emperor’s unconditional approval. The versatile monarch
suggested a certain amendment to the wording and fixed the time-limit,
the alleged object of which was to leave no room for evasion, no
loophole for escape. And as a matter of course the verbal modifications
he proposed--I only know that their purpose was to sharpen
(scharfmachen) the terms--were embodied in the ultimatum which, thus
amended and sanctioned, was duly presented. I further had it on the
same indisputable authority that the time-limit of forty-eight hours
was the result of a proposal coming direct from Kaiser Wilhelm, who
held that Servia must not be allowed to deliberate or to take counsel
with Russia, but should be confronted with the necessity of giving
a categorical answer at once. His own mode of action towards Russia
and Belgium, to each of which States he allowed but twelve hours for
deliberation, was conceived in the same spirit and prompted by a like



Why this differential treatment as between Germany and Italy? one may
ask. Both being Austria’s allies, each might reasonably claim the
same degree of confidence as the other. Whence, then, this one-sided
distrust? To this query the answer came pat and plausible. There
was no difference in the degrees of confidence displayed by Austria
towards the Governments of her allies, no more information having been
vouchsafed to one than to the other. To the Berlin Foreign Office
was dealt out the same meed of intelligence as to the Consulta.
Consequently there is no ground for complaint. The matter being a
concern of Austria’s, with no direct bearings on the Triple Alliance,
was communicated to the other two members of the Alliance in exactly
the same measure. And I have good grounds for believing that the
_Berlin Foreign Office_ did not receive directly from the Ballplatz in
Vienna the text of the ultimatum to Servia. The Kaiser was the sole
direct recipient.

None the less, Italy’s position was necessarily shaped in part by
Austria’s failure to keep her informed of a move which might entail
a European war, and might, therefore, warrant a claim on her for her
services as an active ally in that war. The Consulta argued that if
Italy was deemed not to have a sufficient interest in a transaction
which was calculated to lead to an armed conflict, neither could she
be considered to have a corresponding interest in the upshot of that
transaction. For the duties of an ally during war presuppose certain
corresponding rights in peace, and foremost among these is her claim to
be consulted, to offer advice, and to exercise a moderating influence.
And as she was deprived of those rights, so she was _ipso facto_
relieved of the corresponding duties. And to this line of reasoning
there is no convincing answer. That, however, is but the formal aspect
of Italy’s justification of her neutrality. She can and does take her
stand on higher ground. Bound to aid her allies only if these are
attacked, she is under no obligation to co-operate with them in the
field if they themselves are the aggressors. And as Austria and Germany
deliberately provoked hostilities, they have no real claim on their

In France, and to a lesser extent in Great Britain, much--too much,
to my thinking--has been written about the strong motives which
appeal to King Victor Emanuel’s Government to abandon its neutrality
and throw in its lot with the Entente Powers. It was a deplorable
blunder, we are told, on the part of the short-sighted statesmen of
the Consulta to have ever entered into partnership with the military
States of Europe. Worse than this, it was an act of the blackest
ingratitude towards France, and in a lesser degree towards Russia. But
the belligerents of the Entente are generous, and Italy, if she repents
and makes amends by joining hands with France and Great Britain before
it is too late, will be magnanimously forgiven and lavishly rewarded.
Unredeemed Italy--_Italia irredenta_--now under the Austrian yoke, will
be presented to her at the close of hostilities. She may also take
possession of Valona and supreme command of the Adriatic. But these
rewards are for timely action. If she waits too long she will have
waited in vain.

Exhortations of this kind are to be deprecated as mischievous. They
are likely--if they produce any effect at all--to damage the cause
which they are meant to further. Italy must be allowed to understand
her own vital and secondary interests at least as well as the amateur
diplomatists who so generously undertake to ascertain and promote them,
and all of whom have an axe of their own to grind. In the eyes of the
world, though not in those of her ex-allies, Germany and Austria, she
has completely vindicated her right to hold aloof from her allies in a
war of pure aggression, waged for the hegemony of the Teutonic race.
But to pass from neutrality to belligerency, to treat the allies of
yesterday as the enemies of to-day, without transition and without
adequate provocation, would be in accordance neither with the precepts
of ethics nor the promptings of statesmanship.

The reproach hurled at Italy for her long co-partnership with Austria
and Germany appears to me to be unmerited. It was neither a foolish
nor an ungrateful move. On the contrary, I feel, and have always felt,
convinced that it was the act of an able statesman whose main merit in
the matter was to discern its necessity and to turn that necessity into
a work of apparent predilection. As a member of the Triple Alliance,
Italy discharged a twofold function, national and international. She
avoided a war against Austria-Hungary which, whatever the military
and naval upshot, would have secured for her no advantages, political
or territorial, and would have exhausted her resources financial and
military. And in this way, while directly pursuing her own interests,
she indirectly furthered those of all Europe. Even under the favourable
conditions realized by her membership of the Alliance, it was no easy
task to repress popular feeling against Austria. At one time, indeed,
when Count Aehrenthal was Minister of Foreign Affairs in Vienna, an
Austro-Italian war was on the point of breaking out. The late Archduke
Franz Ferdinand and his protégé, Baron Conrad von Hoetzendorff, who
was then, and is now, Chief of the General Staff, were strongly in
favour of severing the links that bound the Habsburg Monarchy to Italy
and delivering an ultimatum to the Consulta. Between their quarrel and
overt war stood a solitary individual, Count Aehrenthal, who had the
courage of his opinion and refused to countenance the projected breach.
His resignation or a pacific settlement were the alternatives which
he laid before his sovereign, and this perspective, together with his
lucid exposé of the sinister results of the proposed plunge, enlisted
the aged Emperor on his side, and Baron Conrad von Hoetzendorff was
gently removed--for a time--from the General Staff and appointed to a
different post of trust.

Another function discharged by Italy while she retained her membership
of the Alliance was purely international. She continued steadfastly
to cultivate cordial relations with Great Britain, turning a deaf ear
to the admonitions, exhortations, and blandishments of Berlin. No
competent student of international politics who has watched the growth
of Italy ever since she entered the Alliance, and has had the means
of acquainting himself with the covert threats, overt seductions,
and finely spun intrigues by which her fidelity to Great Britain was
tested, will refuse to her statesmen the palm of European diplomacy or
to her Government a sincere tribute for her steadfast loyalty to her
British friends. Her policy during this chequered period has been a
masterpiece of political wisdom and diplomatic deftness. In the Triple
Alliance her influence was, and was intended to be, of a moderating
character. It was thus that it was regarded by her statesmen and
employed by her diplomatists. Whenever a quarrel between one of her own
allies and one of ours grew acute, Italy’s endeavour was to compose it.
She was at least as much averse to war as we were ourselves, and she
cheerfully made heavy sacrifices to avert it. So long, therefore, as
she was treated as a fully qualified member of the Alliance, we could
feel assured that European peace had a powerful intercessor among its
most dangerous enemies.

That is why, before the war, I always shared the view of the statesmen
of the Consulta that Italy should do nothing calculated to sever her
connection with Austria and Germany. I went further than this, and
maintained that it was to our interest to support her diplomatically in
the Near East and elsewhere, on the ground that the stronger she became
the greater would her influence for peace grow, and the more valuable
the services she could and would confer upon us without impairing her
own interests.[14]

But by means of poisonous insinuations diplomatic and journalistic,
the Wilhelmstrasse strove hard to sow suspicion and breed dissension
between her and her western friends. It was, for instance, asserted by
Germany that when last the Triple Alliance was prematurely renewed,
the terms of the treaty had been extended, and an agreement respecting
the sea-power of the allies in the Mediterranean had been concluded by
all three. This was a falsehood concocted presumably for the purpose
of embroiling France, Russia, and Great Britain with Italy. Its effect
upon Russia was certainly mischievous. And having ascertained from
two of the allies that it was an invention, I publicly stigmatized
it as such, and affirmed that the treaty had been signed without
modification. And events have proved the accuracy of my information.

Another and much more insidious untruth, emanating from the same source
and fabricated for a like purpose, turned upon the withdrawal of our
warships from the Mediterranean, where our interests were confided to
the care of the French navy. This disposition was, of course, taken
with a view to the general sea-defences of Great Britain and France
in case of an emergency such as that which has since had to be faced.
It was certainly not directed against Italy, with whom our Government
neither had nor expected to have any grounds for a quarrel. None
the less, it supplied too attractive an occasion to be lost by the
ever-ready Prussian, who made haste to use it in order to generate
mistrust between Italy and her friends of the Entente. Sundry Italian
diplomatists were initiated, in seemingly casual ways, into the “true
meaning” of that “insidious” move. It was not directed against Germany
and Austria, they were assured, but had Italy, and Italy alone, for its
object. France, jealous of the growing power and prestige of Italy in
the Midland Sea, had sought and obtained Great Britain’s assent to the
concentration of France’s warships there. This innovation constituted,
and was meant to constitute, a warning to Italy to slacken her speed in
the Midland Sea. And I was requested to make private representations
to our Foreign Office, accompanied by a request that this unfriendly
measure should be discontinued. My assurances that it contained neither
a threat nor a warning to Italy were but wasted breath. Information of
a “trustworthy” character had been obtained--it was not volunteered,
and could not, therefore, be suspected--that the initiative had been
taken by France, whose dominant motive was jealousy of Italy.

To my mind this misstatement, which derived the poison of its sting
from the truly artful way in which it was conveyed through “a
disinterested source,” was one of the most mischievous of Prussian
wiles. Italy was led to believe that the real design of the Republic
was the establishment of French hegemony in the Mediterranean; that M.
Poincaré, whose regrettable speech about the French steamers _Carthage_
and _Manuba_, which had been detained by Italy during the Lybian
campaign, stung Italians to the quick, was the promoter of the scheme,
and that the shelving of M. Pichon, who was a friend of Italy’s, was
its corollary.

Italy was made to feel that France’s attitude towards her was
systematically semi-hostile. No one act, excepting the concentration of
the French fleet in the Mediterranean, was deemed radically serious,
but the endless sequence of pin pricks was construed as evidence
of a disposition which was as unfriendly as seemed compatible with
neighbourly relations. Among these things, the protection of Italian
religious communities in the East was taken by the Germans as the
text for repeated diatribes against France for her unfriendly conduct
towards her Latin sister. Atheistic France, it was sneeringly remarked,
insists on protecting in the East the very communities which she has
driven from her own territories in Europe, not because of the love she
bears them, but by reason of her jealousy and hatred of Italy.

I remember one dispute of the kind which arose about the house of an
Italian religious congregation in Tripoli of Syria. All the members
save one being Italians, and having demanded the protection of their
own Government, were entitled to have it, in virtue of a convention
on the subject between France and Italy a few years before. The
French Ambassador in Rome was anxious to have the question put off
indefinitely, although at bottom there was no question at all, seeing
that the case had been provided for. During the negociations and
discussions that needlessly went on for fully two years, Germany lost
no opportunity to rub France’s unfriendliness into Italy’s memory, and
to prove that Italy’s one natural ally is Austria-Hungary.

These things are of yesterday, and it needs some little time to deaden
the recollection of them.

When the present war was on the point of breaking out, one of the
first misstatements spread by the diplomacy of the two Prussianized
allies was Italy’s promise to co-operate with them against France, in
return for the stipulated cession to her--as her share of the spoils
of war--of Tunis, Savoy, and Nice. That this proposal was to have been
made is certain. Whether the intention was actually carried out I am
unable to say. But the archives of the French Foreign Office possess
an interesting and trustworthy report on the subject, only one item
of which is erroneous, to the effect that Italy had succumbed to the

Writing in the first half of June last on the subject of Italy’s
foreign policy, I expressed myself in the following terms:

    The problems with which Italian statesmen have for several decades
    been grappling are uncommonly difficult and delicate. Probably
    no European Government has in recent times been confronted with
    a task so thorny as that with which the responsible advisers of
    the three kings of United Italy have had to deal. And the tact,
    resourcefulness, and suppleness with which they have achieved a set
    of results which theoretically seemed unattainable and incompatible
    with each other command the admiration of competent judges. Italy’s
    foreign policy resembles nothing so much as one of those egg-dances
    which Pope Leo X. delighted to witness after his Lucullan banquets.
    And the deftness and rapidity with which the moves are made and
    steps taken that seem certain to crush this egg or that, yet do no
    damage to any of them, are amazing. But unlike the papal dancers,
    the statesmen of the Consulta can look forward to no prize, to no
    popular applause. Abroad they are accused of double-dealing, and at
    home of pursuing a costly policy of adventure. France charges them
    with ingratitude and perfidy. In Great Britain they are sometimes
    set down as schemers. In Vienna they are mistrusted, while Berlin
    indulges in scepticism or holds its judgment in suspense. And to
    crown all, they are blamed or repudiated by a certain section
    of their own people, whose welfare they have been laboriously
    endeavouring to promote.

    Italy’s policy in its general lines has been imposed by
    circumstances and tempered by statesmanship. Far from embodying
    Utopian notions or manifesting herself in dubious ventures, she has
    kept well within the limits of the essential, the indispensable. By
    making common cause with the two military Powers of Central Europe
    and forming the Triple Alliance, she steered clear of a conflict
    with Austria-Hungary which, so far as one can discern, there was
    no other way of avoiding. Italian irredentism in the Dual Monarchy
    and the rivalry of the two States in the Adriatic had confronted
    them both with the dilemma of choosing between a formal alliance
    and open antagonism. The decision took the form of a bold move, but
    a necessary one. Italy’s adherence to the League gave deep offence
    to France, and led to their estrangement, which was followed by
    several press campaigns and one damaging tariff war. And in spite
    of the subsequent reconciliation, the relations between the two
    Latin nations have never since been marked by genuine cordiality.
    The press of France and many eminent politicians there resent it as
    a sort of racial treason that Italy should be bound by treaty to
    Germany and Austria-Hungary. Russia, who for a time cultivated a
    close friendship with the Italian people, was surprised and pained
    by the seemingly needless and ostentatious renewal of the Triple
    Alliance in the year 1912, a twelvemonth before it had terminated.
    Even British publicists have found much to condemn in the attitude
    of the Italian Government during the Balkan war and down to the
    present moment. During all this time the cultivation of rudimentary
    neighbourliness, to say nothing of friendship between the Italian
    and the Austrian peoples as distinguished from their Governments,
    has been for the statesmen of both countries, and in particular
    for those of Rome, a work of infinite care, ingenious expedients,
    and painful self-discipline, openly deprecated by an influential
    section of the Italian press.

    The alpha and omega of Italy’s foreign policy in the present is
    the maintenance of her actual position in the Mediterranean, and
    in the future the seasonable improvement of that position, and in
    every case the prevention of a shifting of the equilibrium such
    as would alter it to her disadvantage. To attain these objects is
    an essential condition of Italy’s national existence, and calls
    for the constant exercise of vigilance and caution alternating
    with push and daring by her responsible rulers. It behoves her,
    therefore, to be well affected towards France, friendly with
    Austria, amicable with Great Britain, to hold fast to the Triple
    Alliance, and to give no cause for umbrage to the Triple Entente.
    In a word, it is the prestidigitation of statesmanship. And her
    diplomacy has acquitted itself well of the task. The sum of the
    efforts of successive Governments has been to raise Italy to a
    unique position in Europe, to make her a link between the two
    rival groups of Powers, to one of which she herself belongs, to
    bestow upon her the second place in the Triple Alliance, and to
    invest her with enormous influence for peace in the councils of
    Europe. To grudge her this influence, which has been uniformly
    exerted for the best interests of Europe and her own, implies
    imperfect acquaintance with those interests or else a leaning
    towards militarism. Every development which tends to strengthen
    Italy, diplomatically and politically, tends also to augment the
    safeguards of public peace and to lessen the chances of a European
    conflict. On these grounds, therefore, were there none other, a
    violent domestic reaction against the policy that has scored such
    brilliant results would be an international calamity. Happily,
    there is good hope that the bulk of the nation is wiser and also
    stronger than the section which is answerable for, and in secret
    sympathy with, the recent excesses.[15]

    As the Mediterranean State _par excellence_, Italy cannot
    contemplate the present distribution of power on the shores of
    that sea with genuine complacency. The grounds for dissatisfaction
    are rooted in the history of her past and in her apprehensions
    for the future. None the less, the _status quo_ in Europe being
    hallowed must be respected under heavy pains and penalties.
    And the policy of the Consulta is directed to its maintenance,
    because any modification of it in favour of another State, great
    or small, would infallibly drive Italy out of her quiescence and
    strain her to press with all her energies and at all risks in the
    direction of a favourable readjustment. That is why seventeen
    years ago the Austrian and the Italian Foreign Secretaries
    concluded the so-called _noli me tangere_ Convention, by which
    each of the two allies undertook to abstain from meddling with
    Albania, to uphold Turkish rule there, and, failing that, to
    establish self-government. It was in virtue of the same principle
    that during the Balkan war Italy supported Austria-Hungary in
    frustrating Servia’s attempt to divide up Albania among the allies
    and obtain for herself access to the Adriatic. As long as the
    Adriatic continues to present the same essential factors as to-day,
    the Italian Government will not swerve from its present attitude.
    But if once those factors or their relative positions towards each
    other underwent a change, the whole scaffolding of self-denial and
    everything that rested upon that would fall to pieces like a house
    of cards. And that scaffolding supports the peace of Europe.

    On her Eastern shore Italy possesses no port capable of serving
    as a thoroughly suitable base for naval operations. Brindisi is
    at best a mere makeshift; Venice is no better. Italy’s rival,
    Austria, on the other hand, is luckier. Cattaro, Sebenico, and Pola
    serve the purpose admirably, giving the Austrian navy a distinct
    advantage in this respect. It must, therefore, be gall and wormwood
    to Italian politicians to think that an ideal port, Valona, on the
    Albanian coast, a few hours from Italy, lies unutilized because
    each State grudges it to the other on grounds which cannot be
    reasoned away. Valona, incorporated in the Habsburg Monarchy, which
    is already so well equipped on the Adriatic both for defence and
    attack, would turn the scale against Italy, upset the equilibrium
    which is at present accepted as a stern necessity, and might even
    unchain the forces of war. The prospect of kindred eventualities
    forbids Austria to allow that magnificent naval base to fall into
    the hands of her rival, who, holding the key to the Adriatic,
    could close the Otranto Canal and immobilize the fleet of the Dual

    It would be unfair, therefore, to contend that the mainspring
    of Italy’s seemingly anti-Slav policy is racial bitterness
    or political narrow-mindedness. A natural instinct of
    self-preservation underlies it which neither argument nor sentiment
    can affect. Her present wish and the object of her endeavours is
    to enable Albania to maintain her independence and to keep the
    equilibrium in the Adriatic intact. And it is sheer inconceivable
    that any Italian Government should deviate from this line of

    It is entirely misleading, therefore, to assert that Italy’s
    alliance with the two military Powers of Central Europe is the
    result of eclectic affinities or to fancy that by cajolery or
    threats she can be moved to sever the links that bind her to the
    concern. I entertain not the slightest doubt that the French
    Ambassador in Rome, M. Barère, whose infinite patience and
    marvellous tact drew France and Italy very close together for
    a while, would be the first to recognize that the breaking-up
    of the Triple Alliance is a hopeless enterprise, and an aim of
    questionable utility from any point of view. Outsiders, whose
    opinions are moulded by the daily press, may be excused for
    thinking otherwise. The renewal of the treaty in the year 1912,
    a full year before its expiry, has been uniformly construed as
    an indication of Italy’s resolve to emphasize her friendship
    with her allies, and this interpretation appeared to be borne
    out by a number of concomitant circumstances and in particular
    by the comments of the European press. It was likewise assumed
    that at the same time the Treaty was supplemented by a naval
    convention turning upon the future action of the Triple Alliance
    in the Mediterranean. I investigated these reports in Rome and
    elsewhere, and I received convincing evidence that they were both
    equally groundless. No new clause touching the naval forces of the
    Alliance, or indeed dealing with anything else, was added to the
    Treaty. It was renewed as it stood. And the early date at which
    it was signed was credibly explained to me as the outcome of a
    legitimate eagerness on the part of Italy to see reaffirmed by
    Austria-Hungary the _noli me tangere_ Convention which acted as a
    bar to encroachments, territorial or other, on Albania.

    Between France and Italy the cordiality established mainly by the
    exertions of M. Barère has of late years undergone a marked change,
    and while the two Governments were endeavouring to smooth over
    their differences and deal amicably with each contentious matter as
    it cropped up, the press of each country was bombarding the other
    with taunts and reproaches which rendered the task of diplomacy
    unnecessarily difficult. And British publicists, for reasons which
    lie near the surface, felt inclined to take sides with their
    French colleagues, without perhaps investigating with sufficient
    closeness and care the origin of the estrangement. Those unfriendly
    utterances, some of them the effects of mere misunderstandings, run
    through contemporary political history like a red thread through a
    piece of white cambric.

    Italy’s solicitude for friendship with France and Great Britain is
    prompted by interest as well as sentiment. For she sorely needs
    peace, recognizes the need, and is exerting herself to the utmost
    to insure it. And this indisputable fact might profitably serve as
    the starting-point of one’s reasoning on the subject, and likewise
    as a safe basis for the attitude of the statesmen interested. For
    a long time, it is true, the occupation of Tunis by France in 1887
    was resented by every public man in the Peninsula. The ensuing
    tension was accentuated as much by the manner as by the policy of
    Crispi. The Abyssinian campaign made matters worse, seeing that
    the Abyssinians were believed to have received their arms and
    ammunition from the French. During all those untoward incidents,
    Great Britain was found on Italy’s side. The Franco-Italian war of
    tariffs raised mutual animosity to its highest power, after which
    a reaction set in which led to the conclusion of the Mediterranean
    agreements with France and England.

    During the Lybian war Italy seized two French steamers, the
    _Manuba_ and the _Carthage_, for alleged contravention of
    international law, and sent them to Cagliari. France protested, and
    M. Poincaré took up such a decided position in the matter and gave
    it such vehement expression that all Italy was unanimous in holding
    him as the destroyer of the good relations laboriously established
    by M. Barère and the Consulta. And the affront has not yet been
    forgotten. The next grievance had its source in the action of the
    British Government, which confided to France the protection of
    her Mediterranean interests, and encouraged the Republic to keep
    the bulk of its warships in that sea. This preponderance of the
    French fleet in Italy’s own sea was regarded by the Government of
    the Peninsula as an unfriendly act, owing to its special bearings
    on their relative naval strength there. And the author of this
    obnoxious innovation was believed to be the Republic, which had
    induced Great Britain to acquiesce.

    Lately Italy asked for an economic opening in Asia Minor, into
    which every Great Power of Europe was penetrating. That the demand
    was not unreasonable is shown by the fact that it has since been
    complied with. In view of that contingency, therefore, it would
    have been well to examine it without bias, instead of opposing it
    with vehemence. For Great Britain is no longer the most puissant
    State in the Midland Sea, and circumstances may one day arise in
    which she will be in want of an ally there. And Italy is her most
    natural partner. The circumstances that she is a member of the
    Triple Alliance is no bar to this prospective co-operation. For
    the Triple Alliance is a defensive combination. It provides for a
    certain well-defined eventuality, but outside that sphere Italy is

    The pith of the matter, then, is that British and French publicists
    are wont to lay undue stress on Italy’s alliance with Germany and
    Austria-Hungary. That engagement is but a single facet of her
    activity. There are others more enduring. She is obliged to protect
    her special interests and is also free to cultivate her special
    friendships. Paramount among those interests is the maintenance of
    peace, and chief of those friendships is that with Great Britain
    and France. Even the Triple Alliance was founded as an association
    for the prevention of war, and hitherto it has not drifted into
    aggression. Italy’s influence in that concern is growing, and
    together with it her facilities for upholding the pacific policy
    with which she has uniformly identified herself. And the more
    steadily her economic well-being and her political prestige
    develop, the greater will be the weight which as second member of
    the Alliance she can throw into the scale of peace.[16]

Italy occupies a unique position in the polity of Continental Europe.
Whereas all other Great Powers owe much of what they have and are to
successful wars, Italy is indebted for her rapid progress and growth
chiefly to the arts of peace and the triumphs of diplomacy. And as she
is an essentially pacific and cultured State, whose policy is inspired
solely by national interests, it stands to reason that her statesmen
will take heed not to endanger what she already possesses and what she
may reasonably hope for in the future by any hasty move, and least
of all by impulsively exchanging peace for war. In plain English,
she will be guided by events, and it would be mere childishness to
expect to see her rush into the arena, moved by a sudden outburst of
sentimentality. And as yet the national interest is not deemed to
have become a decisive motive. For this reason the importunity of her
ex-allies is more likely to damage than help the cause in which it is
employed. The Teutonic belligerents, too, are wasting their breath
when they hold out the annexation of Tunis, Savoy, and Nice as the
price of her co-operation, just as the Entente Powers would be doing
were they to endeavour to entice her to their side by dangling maps of
_Italia irredenta_ and Valona before her eyes. Italian statesmen may
be trusted to gauge the situation aright, and when the upshot of the
mighty struggle can be forecast, to make no miscalculation. They may
also be credited with decision enough to take their final stand in good
time. But above all else, it should be borne in mind that Italy will
be guided solely by the promptings of her national interests. She will
hardly consider these sufficiently guaranteed by a scrap of paper, and
still less by a German promise of one.

Respecting one important consideration Italian statesmen will hardly
be content to suspend their judgment or to cherish illusions. However
satisfied in mind they may be that their neutrality was warranted by
the aggression of their German and Austrian allies, they cannot ignore
the contrary thesis which is firmly held by every thinking German
and Austrian in the two Empires. The Kaiser, his Chancellor, the
Evangelical theologians, the men of letters of the Fatherland, Count
Bernstorff in Washington, all hold that Germany and Austria are but
defending themselves against unprincipled aggression. And the corollary
of this declaration is that Italy is guilty of the monstrous crime of
regarding her treaty obligations as a worthless scrap of paper. For the
moment impunity is the result of powerlessness to punish the criminal,
and will continue only as long as its cause is operative.

That this and other equally momentous aspects of the thorny problem are
receiving due consideration may be taken for granted.



Although the Austrian ultimatum to Servia was so worded and the
time accorded for a reply so limited as to ensure its rejection,
misgivings were, as we saw, felt and uttered in Vienna and Budapest
that Servia would knuckle down and execute the humiliating behests of
the Ballplatz. For this was a consummation which was deemed highly
undesirable. The carefully laid plan would have become difficult of
realization had Austria’s terms been acquiesced in unreservedly. It
would have rendered a military expedition superfluous and left Servia’s
army intact. Hence the exhaustive precautions adopted for the purpose
of provoking a negative answer to the ultimatum from Belgrade.

On July 23rd, while the Franco-Russian festivities were at their
height, and M. Poincaré and the Tsar were announcing to the world their
ultra-pacific strivings, the bolt fell from the blue. What will Russia
say? people asked in Western Europe. Well, the Russian Foreign Office,
as we now know, was informed by Austria of the text of the Note _only
seventeen hours after it had been presented, and only thirty-one hours
before the time limit had lapsed_! The little case thus made of Russia
by the Teutonic allies was meant to be clearly conveyed by this studied
affront. It had been decided in Berlin and Vienna that Russia must and
would remain passive.

Delay was the only danger apprehended in Vienna, and nothing was left
undone to prevent its occurrence. M. Pasitch, the Servian Premier,
who appears to have had an intuition of what was brewing, let it
be known before the Austrian Note was presented that he was absent
from Belgrade and was going abroad. His substitute was nominated. But
in Vienna they were on the alert, and M. Pasitch received from that
city an urgent telegram notifying him that the representations which
the Austro-Hungarian Government were drawing up would be delivered
in Belgrade almost immediately, and that their tenor was such as to
necessitate his presence in the capital. Thereupon the Premier hastened
back to Belgrade.

From the first inception of the Austro-German plan of concerted action,
the parts of each of the actors were assigned. Servia was to be stung
into utterances or action which would warrant resort to an Austrian
punitive expedition, but before this Russia was to be warned that
if she aided or abetted her protégé and issued a mobilization order
against Austria, a counter-move would at once be made by Germany, who
would mobilize, not as a demonstration, but for war. This warning was
to serve as an efficacious deterrent. If Russia, it was argued, can
be got to realize that even partial mobilization on her part will
provoke not merely general mobilization by Austria, but war with
Germany and with Austria-Hungary, her zeal for the Southern Slavs will
be damped, and she will entrench herself behind diplomatic formulas.
This conviction was deep-rooted. It formed one of the postulates
of the Austro-German scheme. Evidences of it are to be met with
everywhere. But by way of making quite sure, private letters were
written by Continental statesmen to their friends in the interested
Governments--letters like that which the Kaiser himself once penned to
Lord Tweedmouth--impressing upon them the gravity of the situation,
and adjuring them to realize that this time Austria and Germany were
playing no mere game of bluff, but were in downright earnest, and that
if peace was to be maintained at all, it could only be by inducing
Russia to forego mobilization.

That, too, was the burden of many of my own messages to the _Daily
Telegraph_, beginning with the very first. Thus on July 28th I

    The moment Russia mobilizes against the Dual Monarchy, the German
    Empire as well as Austria-Hungary will respond, and then the object
    of these military operations will be pursued to the bitter end,
    with the results so clearly foreseen and so graphically described
    by Sir Edward Grey in his proposals.

    In the interests of European peace, therefore, which can still
    be safeguarded, in spite of the hostilities now going ahead,
    it is essential that every means of friendly pressure should
    be thoroughly exhausted before a provocative measure such as
    mobilization is resorted to. For mobilization by Russia, Germany,
    and Austria will connote the outbreak of the long-feared general
    Continental war.

In the assumption that Russia would be partly intimidated and partly
talked over by her French allies and English friends as soon as these
learned what tremendous issues hung in the balance, the two Teutonic
Governments laid it down from the start that no Power would be
permitted to intervene between Austria and Servia in any shape or form.
These two States must compose or fight out their quarrel as best they
could without the good offices or advice of any foreign Government. “No
discussion will be allowed,” I accordingly telegraphed; “no extension
of time will be granted.” All these limitations were elements of the
pressure brought to bear upon Russia directly through her friends and
ally. I sought to make this clear in one of my messages to the _Daily
Telegraph_, in which I wrote:

    Meanwhile, Austria’s allies have taken their stand, which is
    favourable to the action of this Government and to the employment
    of all the available means to localize the eventual conflict. It
    is further assumed that Great Britain will, if hostilities should
    result, hold aloof, and that France will make her influence felt in
    preventing rather than waiting to localize the struggle.[17]

But Russia needed no deterrents, if Austria’s ostensible aim were her
real one, if she were bent only on obtaining guarantees for Servia’s
good behaviour in future. For the Tsardom was peaceably disposed and
extremely averse to war. M. Sazonoff’s attitude was straightforward
and considerate. He showed thorough understanding for Austria’s
grievances and reasonable claims. He had no intention of jeopardizing
peace by screening Servia or rescuing her from the consequences of her
misbehaviour. King Peter’s Cabinet accordingly received sound advice
from the Tsar’s Government. And what was more to the point, they
adopted it.

During the second day of the time-limit in Vienna and Budapest it was
feared that Servia would give in. M. Jovanovitch, the Servian Minister,
hinted as much, and when one reads Servia’s reply one cannot fairly
reproach him with overstating the gist of it. For it was acceptance of
all those demands which were compatible with independence. But then
independence was precisely what Austria was minded to take away. And
the reserves and provisoes made by the Servian Note for the purpose
of safeguarding it determined the departure of Baron von Giesl from
Belgrade. Characteristic of the fixed resolve of the Teutonic States to
force a quarrel upon Servia at all costs and irrespective of her reply
to the Austrian Note is the circumstance, vouched for by the Russian
press, that within forty minutes of the delivery of that reply, which
was a lengthy document, the Austrian Minister in Belgrade had read and
rejected it, had removed his luggage and that of his staff from the
Legation to the railway station, and was seated in the train that was
to convey him out of Servia. Forty minutes!

It is not easy for Western minds, accustomed to truth, honour,
and self-respect, to realize how all the usages of international
intercourse were thus set at naught during this first stage of the
European conflict. Words and forms were employed to mislead. Servia’s
answer was wanted only as providing a plausible pretext for the
resort to force, which had been decided on from the first. And I was
informed--although I must in fairness add that I had no tangible
evidence for the assertion, nothing but a strong presumption--that
even if M. Pasitch, violating the Constitution of his country, had
undertaken to carry out all Austria’s behests unreservedly, and if no
internal troubles had resulted from this subservience, the Austrian
troops massed on the Servian frontiers would not have been baulked of
their prey. Another demand was held in reserve which Servia could not
and would not comply with, and her refusal would have afforded the
wished-for ground for invasion.

In any and every case, Servia was to have been entered by Austrian
troops. That seems to have been a settled and irrevocable resolve. And
all the diplomatic notes, conversations, and reports, which Sir Edward
Grey, M. Viviani, and M. Sazonoff treated as excusable manifestations
of fiercely burning anger, were but cunningly devised expedients to
sting the Belgrade Cabinet into some word or act that might serve to
justify this set plan. The plan was not at first suspected by the
Entente Powers, nor was it fully understood for some time even after
its existence had been discovered. It was, as we saw, twofold. First,
the “punishment” of the army by the forces of the Dual Monarchy, and of
the nation by the levy of a crushing war indemnity, and of the economic
energies of the country by the imposition of a commercial treaty which
was to lay Servia permanently at the mercy of her powerful navy. And,
second, the partition of the newly annexed territories among Servia’s
neighbours and the establishment of a Balkan League under the ægis of
the Habsburgs. The machinery for bringing about this latter object
was in full movement at the very time that the British, French, and
Russian Governments were basing their moderation and self-containment
on Austria’s voluntary undertaking not to _annex_ any portion of
Servian territory. Here, again, was a case of juggling with phrases
which the Chancelleries of the Entente Powers were taking at their
face value. Pressure was even then being put upon Turkey, Bulgaria,
and Greece to assist in this underhand scheme, and reliance was being
placed in the Hohenzollern King Carol, who would, it was assumed, make
full use of his authority to hinder Roumania from taking sides against
Austria-Hungary. The Treaty of Bucharest was to be proclaimed a scrap
of waste paper.

Had the Governments of the Entente realized the impossibilities
that beset them when zealously endeavouring to hit upon a formula
which would have satisfied Vienna and insured the quiescence of St.
Petersburg, they would unquestionably have bent their efforts in quite
other directions. But this vital aspect of the matter lay hidden from
their vision. They were further imposed upon by Germany’s evident
anxiety that the war area should be restricted to Servian territory.
Indeed, one of the most caustic ironies of the crisis lay in the eager
co-operation of the Entente Powers with Germany for what they all
termed the peace of Europe, but which the Teutonic States knew to be
the smooth execution of their own sinister designs. The combined moral
pressure of all Europe was accordingly brought to bear upon Russia to
oblige or constrain her to passivity for the sake of the general peace.

And it must be confessed that the Tsar’s Ministers came up to the
highest expectations conceived of them. Defence, not offence, was their
watchword. They would follow the lead of their future adversaries
and content themselves with parrying their thrusts. M. Sazonoff’s
first step, although he may have foreseen the coming hurricane, was
to ask for an extension of the time-limit. “If you want to localize
the quarrel,” he argued, “you must adopt suitable measures. You say
that our co-operation is essential. Well, we are willing to accord it.
Let us get to work at once. Some of your demands involve a change in
the Servian Constitution. No Minister and no Cabinet can accomplish
this without a law passed by the Legislature. And this cannot be
done in a few hours. But give Servia a few days to turn your demands
over in her mind, and give us time to advise and to urge her to
prudence and compromise.” Now if, as France and Great Britain assumed,
Austria wanted only to punish Servia for her past attitude and obtain
guarantees of future good behaviour, she would have complied with this
common-sense request. But as that was not her entire plan, she refused,
congruously with her preliminary arrangement with the German Kaiser,
and relying on the axiom that Russia would not fight.

This negative answer disclosed the fact that the two allies’ plans
went further than had been assumed. Thereupon the Tsar’s Government
issued orders countermanding the manœuvres, promoting officers,
summarily terminating the camp gatherings, prohibiting aviation
over the frontiers, and proclaiming the two capitals in a state of
“extraordinary protection.” Notwithstanding, or by reason of this,
Berlin put in a plea that she should not be confounded with Vienna.
“It was not we who sent the ultimatum. Neither did we know the text of
it. That was Austria’s handiwork, and, what is more to the point, she
has acted at her own risk and peril. Please bear that in mind.” “We
certainly will. But are we to take it that, having acted at her own
risk and peril, Austria is proceeding alone?” “Ah, well, she is our
ally, you know, and we are bound to second her demands and stand by her
to the end.” “Well, will you exercise an ally’s right and counsel her
to postpone military operations until Europe has had time to secure
for her ample satisfaction.” “No, we do not see our way to comply with
this request.” That was Germany’s mode of speech and action. Thereupon
Russia introduced a modification of the law of military conscription
in so far as it deals with officers of the reserve and the militia.
The practical result of this innovation was to facilitate mobilization
should that measure be subsequently resorted to.

Soon after the expiry of the time-limit Austria declared war on the
realm of King Peter. M. Sazonoff, having from the start defined his
country’s position in the words, “Russia cannot adopt an attitude of
unconcern in a struggle between Austria-Hungary and Servia,” continued
to give striking proofs of the Tsar’s will to save Europe from a
general war. Sir Edward Grey had offered to get satisfaction for the
Dual Monarchy through the Powers, and he would have accomplished his
purpose without a doubt. But Austria was bent on getting something
more than satisfaction for herself and for Germany in spite of Russia,
whom she stigmatized as the mischief-maker. Hence all the heavy guns
of European diplomacy were levelled against the Tsardom, while the
St. Petersburg Foreign Office went beyond the Hercules’ pillars of
conciliation. Not only had Russia induced Servia to consent to terms
which were onerous and humiliating, but the Russian Ambassador in
Vienna said it was probable that his Government would, if properly
approached, _go still further_.[18] Our own Ambassador in that capital
assured his chief that he had gathered that Russia “_would go a long
way to meet Austrian demands on Servia_.”[19] M. Sazonoff did not
stop even here. He was careful to explain that mobilization should be
envisaged as what it really was, namely, a mere intimation that Russia
must be consulted regarding the fate of Servia, not as a threat of

The German Kaiser, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Kingdom
of Prussia, had laid down the principle that “in this world nothing
must be settled without the intervention of Germany and of the German
Emperor,” yet the fate of a Slav State, which Russia had, so to say,
created and watched over and protected, was about to be decided
without her consent, nay, without her knowledge. Russia was to be
ostentatiously ignored and the Balkan States to be impressed by the
fact that she was worse than powerless as a friend. That the Tsar’s
Government, however ready for compromise, would not brook this deadly
affront was manifest to all excepting those who had settled it to
their own satisfaction that she was too helpless to move. And the
two Teutonic allies were of this opinion. That is why their answers
to Russia’s demands for a conference, or at any rate for an exchange
of views, were not only negative in substance, but wantonly insolent
in form. All that M. Sazonoff demanded was an assurance that Servia
would not be utterly crushed. It was refused. He would, he said,
understand that Austria-Hungary is compelled to exact from Servia
measures which will secure her Slav provinces from the continuance of
hostile propaganda from Servian territory.[21] And that was what every
statesman in Europe was also saying. If Austria’s demands had been, as
they seemed, inspired by a legitimate desire to safeguard herself from
a real Servian danger, the undertakings of Servia and Russia ought to
have afforded her a broad enough basis for a pacific settlement. But
all these colloquies, assurances, and claims were but the screen behind
which a huge anti-European conspiracy was being hatched. And as yet
the truth had not dawned on the statesmen of the Entente, who, still
hypnotized by the crime of Sarajevo, were honestly working to obtain
amends and guarantees for Austria-Hungary and ward off the growing
peril of a general war.

Germany, ever alert and watchful, was the first to note that Russia’s
attitude differed from what it should be according to programme. She
did not appear disposed to take with resignation the humiliation
devised for her. She declared that she would not be indifferent to a
conflict between Austria and Servia. She demanded a hearing in the
councils of those who arrogated to themselves the right of life and
death over her Slav protégé. As soon as this discrepancy between
the actual and the expected became evident, the Berlin Government,
which had made provision for this eventuality, commenced elaborate
preparations against Russia, particularly in the Finnish Gulf. And
as is the wont of Prussia, these preparations were secret. But the
Russian authorities got wind of them, and apprized our Ambassador in
St. Petersburg of what was taking place.[22]

Russia’s spirited determination, coupled with her dignified
conciliatory disposition, caused painful heartburnings in Vienna. It
constituted the first hitch in the official programme. What was the
good of having agents in St. Petersburg, who supplied exact copies of
State papers and faithful narratives of private conversations, if the
legitimate deductions from these data were upset at the very outset?

To me, who witnessed the gradual breaking in of this painful light
on the systematic mind of Teutonic diplomacy, there was something
intensely ludicrous in the tragic spirit in which it was received.
Could nothing, it was asked, be done to keep Russia in bounds? Was
France fully alive to the issues which Russia’s intervention would
raise? Where was the love of peace so lately and so loudly professed by
the Tsar and M. Poincaré?

I had not the faintest doubt as to how Russia would behave under the
provocation to which she was being subjected by the Teutonic States.
There are some considerations of an altruistic nature which nations,
like individuals, set above their own vital interests--considerations
that engage all that is deepest and noblest in their feelings, that
fire their imagination and call forth all the energies of their will.
And the fate of the little Servian nation was one of these causes. To
the Russian the Slav cause is much more than a political interest: it
is a religious cult. But for such altruistic heroisms the Prussianized
German has no sense. To him it is the fourth emotional dimension. On
July 30th I despatched the following telegram to the _Daily Telegraph_,
which I afterwards discovered was not transmitted:

    It would be a delusion to suppose that Russia will keep the peace
    while Servia is undergoing punishment that would reduce her to
    the rank of a semi-vassal State, and it would be a piece of still
    greater self-deception to imagine that Germany will not raise her
    army to its war-footing once the mobilization order has been issued
    in St. Petersburg, or will not use that army to the full when it is
    in the field. And as Austria-Hungary is resolved to have her way
    with Servia, and to refuse to render account of her action to any
    other Power, one is forced to the conclusion that the only possible
    solution to the present crisis is the much-dreaded European war.
    It is for that tremendous struggle that the Great Powers, and
    possibly one or other of the smaller ones, must now make ready.

On July 30th the meek, insignificant figure of the German Ambassador,
Count Pourtalès, his head sheepishly bent down on his left shoulder,
passed through the spacious apartments of the Russian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs. After a brief talk with M. Sazonoff he became aware
that the Rubicon was about to be passed, whereupon, as our Ambassador
to the Tsar puts it, “he completely broke down. He appealed to M.
Sazonoff to make some suggestion which he would telegraph to the German
Government as a last hope.” For he, too, was aware that Russia’s
entrance into the arena was an item which the Berlin wire-pullers had
no wish to add to their compact little programme. To this appeal the
Tsar’s Minister gave a ready and conciliatory reply: “If Austria,”
he said, “recognizing that her conflict with Servia has assumed the
character of a question of European interest, declares herself ready
to eliminate from her ultimatum those points which run counter to the
principle of Servia’s sovereignty, Russia engages to stop all military

That proposal was fair and moderate from every point of view but one.
And that one was the Austro-German plot, which it was calculated to

As yet Russia’s mobilization was but partial.

This consummation the Berlin authorities, and still more those of
Vienna and Budapest, were straining every nerve to prevent. Even at
this twelfth hour, when every lever had been moved in vain to eliminate
Russia, a last expedient suggested itself to the resourceful minds of
the plotters. Could not Great Britain be induced to throw her weight
in the scale of the “peacemakers,” or, at any rate, to withdraw it
from the scale of the would-be belligerents? All she had to do was to
make a formal declaration without further delay that, pipe how the
allies might, she would refuse to take part in the war-dance. The
London Foreign Office has peace and war in its hands, they urged. If
Sir Edward Grey’s professions are sincere, now is the moment to act
up to them. Let him declare that he will not support Russia or France
if these Powers persist in forcing Germany and Austria into war, and
the situation will be eased at once. We here in Germany and Austria
know that Britain will keep aloof, but Russia and particularly France
think differently. If they were warned in time, all might yet be right
and the war would be localized. And various original expedients were
discussed for having the matter brought before his Majesty’s Secretary
of State for Foreign Affairs. I, too, was asked for my opinion and
suggestions. I uttered the former in words which I at once made
public. I stated that the British Government was sincerely anxious
to see peace speedily re-established in the Balkans and safeguarded
throughout Europe; that his Majesty’s Government had done and still
were engaged in doing everything calculated to achieve these ends;
that their hands were perfectly free and would remain free so long as
they could continue to discharge the functions of peace-maker; and
that if, contrary to their hope and expectation, that task should
become impossible, their action would be determined by eventualities
upon which, as they still lay in the region of conjecture, it would be
premature to speculate.

That neutrality was and would remain Great Britain’s card was for long
taken for granted. It was the last illusion to vanish.

It is worth noting that the pressure which Germany and Austria sought
to exert on the British Government in order to elicit a declaration of
neutrality, less as a policy--that being taken for granted--than as a
means of influencing Russia and France, seemed equally desirable to
the Tsar’s Government for the purpose of obtaining a promise of naval
and military support, and thus deterring the two military States from
their subversive designs. Thus M. Sazonoff urged our Government to show
their hand in this way. But Sir George Buchanan replied that it would
be a mistake to think “that the cause of peace could be promoted by our
telling the German Government that they would have to deal with us as
well as with Russia and France if they supported Austria by force of
arms. Their attitude would merely be stiffened by such a menace, and
we could only induce her to use her influence at Vienna to avert war by
approaching her in the capacity of a friend who was anxious to preserve
peace. His Excellency must not, if our efforts were to be successful,
do anything to precipitate a conflict. In these circumstances I trusted
that the Russian Government would defer the mobilization ukase as long
as possible, and that troops would not be allowed to cross the frontier
even when it was issued.”[23]

That was a statesmanlike view, and, coupled with the earnest request
made by our Government to M. Sazonoff that he would have mobilization
delayed as long as possible, it affords signal proof that Great
Britain marched perseveringly and with steadfast tread along the road
that led to peace, and strenuously exerted herself to draw all other
Powers after her. That is the answer to the allegations now made by
the German Government and its organs that Great Britain provoked
the war. Sir Edward Grey’s exertions to hinder the collision were
strenuous and persistent. They failed, and could not but fail, seeing
that Austria and Germany had bound themselves to carry out a set
aggressive plan, and were not open either to argument or suasion. The
sole difference between the two was that Austria-Hungary relied upon
Russia’s quiescence and was willing to reconsider her attitude if that
condition were not realized, whereas Germany, while also acting on
the same assumption, had made ample provision for error, and was not
to be turned from her scheme even if Russia entered the lists. “The
conviction had been expressed to me by the German Ambassador on July
24th,” writes Sir M. de Bunsen from Vienna, “that Russia would stand
aside. This feeling, which was also held at the Ballplatz, influenced,
no doubt, the course of events.”

Adopting the moderating counsel tendered by the British Government,
Russia at first proceeded only to partial mobilization. But as even
that legitimate measure of self-defence had been prohibited--there
is no more fitting term to suit the mode in which the veto had been
uttered--by Germany, the Russian Ambassador, as soon as he heard of
it, packed up his belongings and prepared to quit Vienna. He then
learned, however, to his surprise, that the resources of diplomacy
were not yet deemed to be exhausted, and he resumed conversations with
Count Berchtold and Baron Macchio. On the same day I was apprized that
certain Russian lighthouses on the Black Sea had been ordered to put
out their lights, and that the Stock Exchange was closed for three days.

France’s behaviour during this rising tide of Teutonic aggression
testified to her settled resolve to avoid every measure of precaution
which might supply Germany with a pretext for diplomatic protest or
military aggression. Nor did she hesitate to sacrifice those initial
advantages which might be secured by such preliminary steps as all
nations menaced by war are wont to adopt. The War Office withdrew their
advance-posts to a distance of ten kilometres from the frontier,
and the local population were thus abandoned to the attack of the
German army. To my mind this is one of the most conclusive proofs
of the self-containment and pacific mood of the Entente Powers.
Great Britain sternly refusing to offer the slenderest encouragement
to either of her friends, and straining their forbearance to its
uttermost limits by demanding heavy strategical sacrifices of each
in the cause of conciliation; Russia holding her hand, contented to
follow Germany’s moves feebly and at intervals, and falling in with
every suggestion made in the interests of peace, however it might
jar with her sentiments or clash with her general policy; and France
drawing away her troops from the threatened frontiers while Germany was
mobilizing--these eloquent facts supply the most complete answer to the
questions who wanted and who began the war.

“The Government,” M. Viviani explained, “wishes to make it clear that
in no case will France be the aggressor.” And the Government of the
Republic made this abundantly clear.

Germany took a different view of her rights and duties. On July
30th her advance-posts were moved forward to the French frontiers.
The 16th Corps from Metz and part of another corps from Treves and
Cologne occupied the frontier at Metz. Reservists were on their way
to Germany by tens of thousands, yet France abstained from summoning a
single recruit. The next move was also made by Berlin: all Germany was
proclaimed to be in a “state of war,” the Crown Prince was appointed
Commander of the First Division of the Guards. Then, and only then,
did Russia issue the order for general mobilization. But even then
she mollified the effect of this precaution by announcing that it
was not a signal for war, but merely an intimation that her voice,
too, must be heard in deciding the fate of Servia. At the same time
passenger traffic on the railways was reduced, goods traffic suspended
altogether, and Finland and the province of Petersburg were declared in
a state of siege.

This news came to Vienna, in a distorted form, through the Prussian
capital. It was affirmed that the Tsar and also M. Sazonoff had broken
their solemn promise not to mobilize during the endeavours which
the Kaiser was making to coax Austria into a more pliant mood. This
statement was, like so many others that emanated from the same source,
at variance with facts and intended to mislead. Without the knowledge
of those facts I at once recorded my absolute conviction that this was
a venomous calumny against M. Sazonoff and his sovereign. We now know
that what the Tsar actually wrote to the Kaiser was this:

    It is technically impossible to discontinue our military
    operations, which are rendered necessary by Austria’s mobilization.
    We are far from wishing for war, and so long as the negociations
    with Austria regarding Servia continue, my troops will not
    undertake any provocative action. I give thee my word upon it.

That is a very different thing from an undertaking not to mobilize.
And as for the Kaiser coaxing his ally into a compliant mood, he and
his Ministers were stiffening her obstinacy, and when she did finally
give way, far from welcoming her decision, he quashed it himself by his
ultimatums to Russia and France. Neither France nor Russia had at any
moment during these stirring days kept step with Austria and Germany
in their military preparations. They deliberately and ostentatiously
lagged behind at the cost of precious time and strategic advantages,
and in the delusive belief that they were dealing with two peace-loving
States, whereas they were being circumvented by two banded conspirators
whose one aim was to execute their plot at the lowest possible cost,
and one of whom was determined to execute it in any and every event.

I endeavoured to make this aspect of the collision as clear as the
restrictions of censorship would allow. No one capable of reading and
grasping the meaning of a cautiously worded warning could mistake the
import of the following passage of a message which I sent to the _Daily
Telegraph_ on July 26th, fully a week before the die had been cast. I

    As I have explained, the assassination of the Archduke and the
    greater or lesser degree of indirect responsibility for this
    crime which may be ascribed to Servia’s public men are matters
    which touch but the fringe of the question. The real issue lies
    much deeper than the events of the last few weeks. It is of long
    standing, and has been submitted time and again to the Servian
    Government and people, who are therefore deemed to be in possession
    of all the requisite data for coming to a definite decision. Hence
    the probable refusal with which the Austrian Ministers will meet
    such requests by one or all of the Entente Powers. The German
    Government was kept accurately and fully posted well in advance by
    reason of the far-reaching practical decisions which the sequel of
    this action might suddenly and peremptorily oblige her to take.

    All the deliberation, therefore, on the Note and the contingent
    necessity of following it up in ways unwelcome to both allies, but
    unavoidable in certain circumstances, took place beforehand, and,
    together with it, the requisite diplomatic and military measures
    were adopted by the statesmen of Vienna and Budapest before any
    overt action was undertaken. Vigilant attention was paid to the
    choice of a propitious moment.

    It was a moment when the sympathies of Europe were with the
    Austro-Hungarian people, whose Soveriegn-designate was cruelly
    slain by political assassins from Servia at the instigation of
    men who occupied posts as public servants there. It was a moment
    when the French nation, impressed by revelations made in the
    Senate respecting its inadequate preparedness for war, appears
    less than ever minded to take any diplomatic action which might
    lead to a breach of the peace. It was a moment when the cares of
    the British Government are absorbed in forecasting and preparing
    for the fateful consequences of its internal policy, which may, it
    is apprehended, culminate in civil war. It was a moment when the
    President and Foreign Secretary of the French Republic were absent
    in Russia, drinking toasts to the peace of Europe and celebrating
    the concord and brotherhood of the French and Russian peoples. It
    was a moment when Russia herself is confronted with a problem of
    revolutionary strikes, which, it is assumed, would set in with
    oceanic violence if that Empire were to embark in war with the
    Central European Powers.

    Finally, it was the moment after Servia’s friend and mentor, M. de
    Hartwig, the Russian Minister in Belgrade, had been called to his
    last account, and King Peter’s Ministers were obliged to come to a
    decision on the merits of the case alone, without M. de Hartwig’s
    counsel, and without being able to reckon with confidence upon any
    backing, military or even diplomatic.

    To imagine, therefore, that the Austro-Hungarian statesmen would
    deliberately throw away any of the advantages offered by this
    complex of favourable conditions would be to credit them with a
    degree of _naïveté_ uncommon among public men. The object which the
    Austrian Emperor’s Ministers had in view when presenting the Note
    was precisely to elicit a refusal, or acceptance, pure and simple,
    not to wrangle about the wording of conditions or diplomatic
    formulas. The average man in the Dual Monarchy was afraid that the
    reply might be an acquiescence, and he said so. His hope, which
    never hardened into belief, was that Baron Giesl would receive a
    _non possumus_ for his answer.

To the British public this was as clear an exposé of the actual
situation and its bearings upon the peace of Europe as could well be

All Europe, and in particular the British Foreign Office, was now
beginning to see that the open and secret moves of this fateful
chess-match were determined by Germany, who was the real player
throughout. Hence the redoubling of the efforts made to get Berlin to
utter the word which would have dispelled the storm-clouds. If the
Kaiser’s Government had intimated to Vienna their desire to see the
demands of the ultimatum modified, as they could have done, there is
no doubt that the answer would have been compliance. That this step
ought to have been taken, not only for peace’ sake, but also on the
merits of the case, can be shown from the announcement made by the
German Secretary of State himself. Sir Edward Grey wrote on July 27th:
“The German Secretary of State has himself said that _there were some
things in the Austrian Note that Servia could hardly be expected to
accept_.” Why, then, one may pertinently ask, did the German Government
not take exception to them? To this the only rational answer is,
because it approved, nay inspired, the policy of asking for the
impossible in order to elicit a refusal. If those impossible demands
had been withdrawn, Russia was ready to give Austria a free hand. And
Austria finally agreed to withdraw them, but Germany vetoed her sudden
moderation by presenting ultimatums to Russia and France.

It was Germany, therefore, who plunged Europe into war.

For lest there should remain the shadow of a doubt as to the leading
part played by the Kaiser and his Ministers in picking the quarrel
with Servia and Russia, Sir Edward Grey left it to Berlin to make
any suggestions it cared to offer with a view to compromising the

    I urged (he writes) that the German Government should suggest any
    method by which the influence of the four Powers could be used
    together to prevent war between Austria and Russia. France agreed.
    Italy agreed. The whole idea of mediation or mediating influence
    was ready to be put in operation by _any method that Germany_ could
    suggest, if mine was not acceptable. In fact, mediation was ready
    to come into operation by any method that Germany thought possible
    if only Germany would “press the button” in the interests of

This offer needs no comment. It laid the entire responsibility for
non-acceptance on the shoulders of the Kaiser and his advisers. It
was with Germany’s sabre that the statesmen of Vienna and Budapest
were endeavouring to frighten the Slavs. She had the right and the
duty to withhold her military support from an ally whose cause was
not just. And she owned in words that Austria’s cause answered to
this description. Yet she not only upheld that cause, but took the
initiative in furthering it, her motive being that Russia, according
to her information, was crippled and powerless, and could now be
discredited in the eyes of her protégées and humbled in the dust. This
was an opportunity that might not recur, and should, therefore, be
utilized to the fullest. Accordingly, Germany would confront Russia
with the choice between a diplomatic or a military defeat.

That, in brief, was the Kaiser’s line of action.

And here we reach the parting of the ways of Austria and Germany. The
statesmen of Vienna dreaded war with Russia, and as soon as it faced
them drew back and lowered their tone. On July 27th Sir Edward Grey was
informed by our Ambassador in Vienna that the conversations between the
Tsar’s Foreign Minister in St. Petersburg and the Austrian Ambassador
had been proceeding, and the two negociators had made perceptible
headway. “The former had agreed that much of the Austro-Hungarian Note
to Servia was perfectly reasonable, _and, in fact, they had practically
reached an understanding as to the guarantees which Servia might
reasonably be asked to give to Austria-Hungary for her future good
behaviour_.” In other words, the main difficulty seemed to have been
overcome. But the German Ambassador in Vienna had still to be reckoned
with. This _advocatus diaboli_ was determined that Russia should quaff
the cup of humiliation to the dregs. And he succeeded.

The very next day Count Berchtold, in answer to a request from the
Russian Ambassador in Vienna that the conversations in St. Petersburg
should be continued and that the Austrian Ambassador there should be
invested with full powers for the purpose, stated that he was unable to
comply with the request.[25] On this same day Russia ordered a partial
mobilization, and declared that it connoted no aggressive intention
against Germany.

It was meant only as an admonition to Austria that, while anxious
to settle all differences in a friendly way, Russia was not quite
so incapacitated for military action as her neighbour imagined. It
was a perfectly legitimate reply to Austria’s partial mobilization
and declaration of war against Servia. Nobody was taken by surprise
by it except the two States which had set Russia down as militarily
powerless. And of these Austria was the more painfully impressed, and
showed this by a sudden infusion of the spirit of compromise into
her diplomatic methods. Two days later she reconsidered her refusal
to allow the conversations in St. Petersburg to be continued. Count
Berchtold received the Russian Ambassador in a friendly manner,
and apprized him that his request would be complied with, and the
negociations with M. Sazonoff would be resumed. And they were resumed
and worked out to what was rightly considered success.

But Germany again stepped in--not, however, as mediator, but as a



Austria-Hungary, sobered down by the tremendous consequences of her
obstinacy, which now loomed large, displayed a conciliatory frame of
mind. Her Ambassador in the Russian capital, implicitly confessing
that the ultimatum to Servia was an act of provocation, wisely yielded
on the crucial difference between the two Governments, and assured M.
Sazonoff that Austria would submit to mediation the demands in the
ultimatum which appeared destructive of Servia’s independence. In other
words, she gave way, and the long-sought issue out of the deadlock was
found, and found without Germany’s assistance. What was wanted now was
no longer Germany’s active co-operation, but only her abstention from

But the moment Austria became conciliatory Germany assumed an attitude
of sheer aggression which at once took the matter out the diplomatic
sphere and left no room for compromise.

On July 31st the earthquake came. Germany presented her ultimatum
to Russia, allowing her only twelve hours to issue the order for
demobilization. Twelve hours! It is impossible not to recognize the
same Hohenzollern touch in this document and that other one which had
been presented shortly before to Servia. They both bear the impress of
the monarch who once publicly said: “There is but one will, and that is
mine.”[26] Contemptuous silence was the only answer vouchsafed to this
arrogant demand, which was intended to cow the Tsar and his Ministers
before they could consult with their foreign friends. On August 1st
the sheepish-looking diplomatist who represented the mighty Kaiser in
St. Petersburg proceeded to the Foreign Office to deliver his last
and fatal message there, and, according to the papers, he transformed
the awful tragism of the moment into an incident worthy of an _opéra
bouffe_ by handing to the Foreign Minister a paper one side of which
contained a declaration of war, while the other was a statement
prepared for the eventuality of Russia’s acquiescence. And with this
claim to be remembered in the history of involuntary humour Count
Pourtalès made his exit from public life.

In this odd way new actors were introduced into a drama which had
been originally composed only for three. The result was exceedingly
distasteful to the statesmen of Vienna, and Budapest. It was recognized
as a source of complications and difficulties which had indeed been
provided for, but which it would have been more advantageous to
separate and cope with in detail. All that now remained for German
diplomacy was to make absolutely sure of the neutrality of Great

It may not be amiss, however, to lay before the reader the instructive
account of the final stages of diplomatic effort as sketched by the
British ex-Ambassador to the Court of Vienna in his supplementary
dispatch, dated London, September 1st:--

    The delivery at Belgrade on July 23rd of the Austrian note to
    Servia was preceded by a period of absolute silence at the
    Ballplatz. Except Herr von Tschirschky, who must have been aware
    of the tenour if not of the actual words of the note, none of my
    colleagues was allowed to see through the veil. On July 22nd and
    23rd M. Dumaine, French Ambassador, had long interviews with Baron
    Macchio, one of the Under Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs,
    by whom he was left under the impression that the words of warning
    he had been instructed to speak to the Austro-Hungarian Government
    had not been unavailing, and that the note which was being drawn
    up would be found to contain nothing with which a self-respecting
    State need hesitate to comply. At the second of these interviews he
    was not even informed that the note was at that very moment being
    presented at Belgrade, or that it would be published in Vienna on
    the following morning. Count Forgach, the other Under Secretary of
    State, had indeed been good enough to confide to me on the same day
    the true character of the note, and the fact of its presentation
    about the time we were speaking.


    So little had the Russian Ambassador been made aware of what was
    preparing that he actually left Vienna on a fortnight’s leave
    of absence about July 20th. He had only been absent a few days
    when events compelled him to return. It might have been supposed
    that Duc Avarna, Ambassador of the allied Italian Kingdom, which
    was bound to be so closely affected by fresh complications in
    the Balkans, would have been taken fully into the confidence of
    Count Berchtold during this critical time. In point of fact, his
    Excellency was left completely in the dark. As for myself, no
    indication was given me by Count Berchtold of the impending storm,
    and it was from a private source that I received on July 15th
    the forecast of what was about to happen, which I telegraphed to
    you the following day. It is true that during all this time the
    _Neue Freie Presse_ and other leading Viennese newspapers were
    using language which pointed unmistakably to war with Servia. The
    official _Fremdenblatt_, however, was more cautious, and till the
    note was published the prevailing opinion among my colleagues was
    that Austria would shrink from courses calculated to involve her in
    grave European complications.

    On July 24th the note was published in the newspapers. By common
    consent it was at once styled an ultimatum. Its integral acceptance
    by Servia was neither expected nor desired; and when, on the
    following afternoon, it was at first rumoured in Vienna that it
    had been unconditionally accepted, there was a moment of keen
    disappointment. The mistake was quickly corrected, and as soon as
    it was known later in the evening that the Servian reply had been
    rejected and that Baron Giesl had broken off relations at Belgrade,
    Vienna burst into a frenzy of delight, vast crowds parading the
    streets and singing patriotic songs till the small hours of the


    The demonstrations were perfectly orderly, consisting for the
    most part of organized processions through the principal streets,
    ending up at the Ministry of War. One or two attempts to make
    hostile manifestations against the Russian Embassy were frustrated
    by the strong guard of police which held the approaches to the
    principal Embassies during those days. The demeanour of the people
    at Vienna, and, as I was informed, in many other principal cities
    of the Monarchy, showed plainly the popularity of the idea of
    war with Servia, and there can be no doubt that the small body
    of Austrian and Hungarian statesmen by whom this momentous step
    was adopted gauged rightly the sense, and it may even be said the
    determination, of the people, except presumably in portions of
    the provinces inhabited by the Slav races. There had been much
    disappointment in many quarters at the avoidance of war with Servia
    during the annexation crisis in 1908 and again in connection with
    the recent Balkan War. Count Berchtold’s peace policy had met
    with little sympathy in the Delegation. Now the floodgates were
    opened, and the entire people and Press clamoured impatiently
    for immediate and condign punishment of the hated Servian race.
    The country certainly believed that it had before it only the
    alternative of subduing Servia or of submitting sooner or later
    to mutilation at her hands. But a peaceful solution should first
    have been attempted. Few seemed to reflect that the forcible
    intervention of a Great Power in the Balkans must inevitably call
    other Great Powers into the field. So just was the cause of Austria
    held to be, that it seemed to her people inconceivable that any
    country should place itself in her path, or that questions of mere
    policy or prestige should be regarded anywhere as superseding the
    necessity which had arisen to exact summary vengeance for the
    crime of Sarajevo. The conviction had been expressed to me by the
    German Ambassador on July 24th that Russia would stand aside. This
    feeling, which was also held at the Ballplatz, influenced, no
    doubt, the course of events, and it is deplorable that no effort
    should have been made to secure by means of diplomatic negociations
    the acquiescence of Russia and Europe as a whole in some peaceful
    compromise of the Servian question by which Austrian fears of
    Servian aggression and intrigue might have been removed for the
    future. Instead of adopting this course, the Austro-Hungarian
    Government resolved upon war. The inevitable consequence ensued.
    Russia replied to a partial Austrian mobilization and declaration
    of war against Servia by a partial Russian mobilization against
    Austria. Austria met this move by completing her own mobilization,
    and Russia again responded with results which have passed into


    On July 28th I saw Count Berchtold and urged as strongly as I
    could that the scheme of mediation mentioned in your speech in
    the House of Commons on the previous day should be accepted as
    offering an honourable and peaceful settlement of the question at
    issue. His Excellency himself read to me a telegraphic report of
    the speech, but added that matters had gone too far; Austria was
    that day declaring war on Servia, and she could never accept the
    conference which you had suggested should take place between the
    less interested Powers on the basis of the Servian reply. This was
    a matter which must be settled directly between the two parties
    immediately concerned. I said his Majesty’s Government would hear
    with regret that hostilities could not be arrested, as you feared
    they would lead to European complications. I disclaimed any British
    lack of sympathy with Austria in the matter of her legitimate
    grievances against Servia, and pointed out that, whereas Austria
    seemed to be making these the starting-point of her policy, his
    Majesty’s Government were bound to look at the question primarily
    from the point of view of the maintenance of the peace of Europe.
    In this way the two countries might easily drift apart.

    His Excellency said that he, too, was keeping the European aspect
    of the question in sight. He thought, however, that Russia would
    have no right to intervene after receiving his assurance that
    Austria sought no territorial aggrandisement. His Excellency
    remarked to me in the course of his conversation that, though he
    had been glad to co-operate towards bringing about the settlement
    which had resulted from the ambassadorial conferences in London
    during the Balkan crisis, he had never had much belief in the
    permanency of that settlement, which was necessarily of a highly
    artificial character, inasmuch as the interests which it sought to
    harmonize were in themselves profoundly divergent. His Excellency
    maintained a most friendly demeanour throughout the interview,
    but left no doubt in my mind as to the determination of the
    Austro-Hungarian Government to proceed with the invasion of Servia.


    The German Government claim to have persevered to the end in the
    endeavour to support at Vienna your successive proposals in the
    interest of peace. Herr von Tschirschky abstained from inviting
    my co-operation or that of the French and Russian Ambassadors in
    carrying out his instructions to that effect, and I had no means of
    knowing what response he was receiving from the Austro-Hungarian
    Government. I was, however, kept fully informed by M. Schebeko,
    the Russian Ambassador, of his own direct negociations with Count
    Berchtold. M. Schebeko endeavoured on July 28th to persuade the
    Austro-Hungarian Government to furnish Count Szapary with full
    powers to continue at St. Petersburg the hopeful conversations
    which had there been taking place between the latter and M.
    Sazonoff. Count Berchtold refused at the time, but two days later
    (July 30th), though in the meantime Russia had partially mobilized
    against Austria, he received M. Schebeko again, in a perfectly
    friendly manner, and gave his consent to the continuance of the
    conversations in St. Petersburg. From now onwards the tension
    between Russia and Germany was much greater than between Russia
    and Austria. As between the latter an arrangement seemed almost in
    sight, and on August 1st I was informed by M. Schebeko that Count
    Szapary had at last conceded the main point at issue by announcing
    to M. Sazonoff that Austria would consent to submit to mediation
    the points in the Note to Servia which seemed incompatible with
    the maintenance of Servian independence. M. Sazonoff, M. Schebeko
    added, had accepted this proposal on condition that Austria would
    refrain from the actual invasion of Servia. Austria, in fact,
    had finally yielded, and that she herself had at this point good
    hopes of a peaceful issue is shown by the communication made to
    you on August 1st by Count Mensdorff, to the effect that Austria
    had neither “banged the door” on compromise nor cut off the
    conversations. M. Schebeko to the end was working hard for peace.
    He was holding the most conciliatory language to Count Berchtold,
    and he informed me that the latter, as well as Count Forgach, had
    responded in the same spirit. Certainly it was too much for Russia
    to expect that Austria would hold back her armies, but this matter
    could probably have been settled by negociation, and M. Schebeko
    repeatedly told me he was prepared to accept any reasonable


    Unfortunately, these conversations at St. Petersburg and Vienna
    were cut short by the transfer of the dispute to the more dangerous
    ground of a direct conflict between Germany and Russia. Germany
    intervened on July 31st by means of her double ultimatums to St.
    Petersburg and Paris. The ultimatums were of a kind to which only
    one answer is possible, and Germany declared war on Russia on
    August 1st, and on France on August 3rd. A few days’ delay might
    in all probability have saved Europe from one of the greatest
    calamities in history.

    Russia still abstained from attacking Austria, and M. Schebeko had
    been instructed to remain at his post till war should actually
    be declared against her by the Austro-Hungarian Government. This
    only happened on August 6th, when Count Berchtold informed the
    foreign missions at Vienna that “the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador
    at St. Petersburg had been instructed to notify the Russian
    Government that, in view of the menacing attitude of Russia in the
    Austro-Servian conflict, and the fact that Russia had commenced
    hostilities against Germany, Austria-Hungary considered herself
    also at war with Russia.”


    M. Schebeko left quietly in a special train provided by the
    Austro-Hungarian Government on August 7th. He had urgently
    requested to be conveyed to the Rumanian frontier, so that he might
    be able to proceed to his own country, but was taken instead to the
    Swiss frontier, and ten days later I found him at Berne.

    M. Dumaine, French Ambassador, stayed on till August 12th. On the
    previous day he had been instructed to demand his passport on the
    ground that Austrian troops were being employed against France.
    This point was not fully cleared up when I left Vienna. On August
    9th M. Dumaine had received from Count Berchtold the categorical
    declaration that no Austrian troops were being moved to Alsace.
    The next day this statement was supplemented by a further one,
    in writing, giving Count Berchtold’s assurance that not only had
    no Austrian troops been moved actually to the French frontier,
    but that none were moving from Austria in a westerly direction
    into Germany in such a way that they might replace German troops
    employed at the front. These two statements were made by Count
    Berchtold in reply to precise questions put to him by M. Dumaine,
    under instructions from his Government. The French Ambassador’s
    departure was not attended by any hostile demonstration, but his
    Excellency before leaving had been justly offended by a harangue
    made by the Chief Burgomaster of Vienna to the crowd assembled
    before the steps of the Town Hall, in which he assured the people
    that Paris was in the throes of a revolution and that the President
    of the Republic had been assassinated.

    The British declaration of war on Germany was made known in Vienna
    by special editions of the newspapers about midday on August 5th.
    An abstract of your speeches in the House of Commons, and also of
    the German Chancellor’s speech in the Reichstag of August 4th,
    appeared the same day, as well as the text of the German ultimatum
    to Belgium. Otherwise few details of the great events of these
    days transpired. The _Neue Freie Presse_ was violently insulting
    towards England. The _Fremdenblatt_ was not offensive, but little
    or nothing was said in the columns of any Vienna paper to explain
    that the violation of Belgian neutrality had left his Majesty’s
    Government no alternative but to take part in the war.

    The declaration of Italian neutrality was bitterly felt in Vienna,
    but scarcely mentioned in the newspapers.

    On August 5th I had the honour to receive your instruction of the
    previous day preparing me for the immediate outbreak of war with
    Germany, but adding that, Austria being understood to be not yet
    at that date at war with Russia and France, you did not desire me
    to ask for my passport or to make any particular communication to
    the Austro-Hungarian Government. You stated at the same time that
    his Majesty’s Government of course expected Austria not to commit
    any act of war against us without the notice required by diplomatic

    On Thursday morning, August 13th, I had the honour to receive your
    telegram of the 12th, stating that you had been compelled to inform
    Count Mensdorff, at the request of the French Government, that a
    complete rupture had occurred between France and Austria, on the
    ground that Austria had declared war on Russia, who was already
    fighting on the side of France, and that Austria had sent troops to
    the German frontier under conditions that were a direct menace to
    France. The rupture having been brought about with France in this
    way, I was to ask for my passport, and your telegram stated, in
    conclusion, that you had informed Count Mensdorff that a state of
    war would exist between the two countries from midnight of August


    After seeing Mr. Penfield, the United States Ambassador, who
    accepted immediately in the most friendly spirit my request
    that his Excellency would take charge provisionally of British
    interests in Austria-Hungary during the unfortunate interruption
    of relations, I proceeded, with Mr. Theo Russell, Counsellor of
    his Majesty’s Embassy, to the Ballplatz. Count Berchtold received
    me at midday. I delivered my message, for which his Excellency did
    not seem to be unprepared, although he told me that a long telegram
    from Count Mensdorff had just come in, but had not yet been brought
    to him. His Excellency received my communication with the courtesy
    which never leaves him. He deplored the unhappy complications which
    were drawing such good friends as Austria and England into war.
    In point of fact, he added, Austria did not consider herself then
    at war with France, though diplomatic relations with that country
    had been broken off. I explained in a few words how circumstances
    had forced this unwelcome conflict upon us. We both avoided
    useless argument. Then I ventured to recommend to his Excellency’s
    consideration the case of the numerous stranded British subjects
    at Carlsbad, Vienna, and other places throughout the country. I
    had already had some correspondence with him on the subject, and
    his Excellency took a note of what I said, and promised to see what
    could be done to get them away when the stress of mobilization
    should be over. Count Berchtold agreed to, Mr. Phillpotts, till
    then British Consul at Vienna under Consul-General Sir Frederick
    Duncan, being left by me at the Embassy in the capacity of Chargé
    des Archives. He presumed a similar privilege would not be
    refused in England if desired on behalf of the Austro-Hungarian
    Government. I took leave of Count Berchtold with sincere regret,
    having received from the day of my arrival in Vienna, not quite
    nine months before, many marks of friendship and consideration
    from his Excellency. As I left I begged his Excellency to present
    my profound respects to the Emperor Francis Joseph, together with
    an expression of my hope that his Majesty would pass through these
    sad times with unimpaired health and strength. Count Berchtold was
    pleased to say he would deliver my message.

    Count Walterskirchen, of the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Office,
    was deputed the following morning to bring me my passport and
    to acquaint me with the arrangements made for my departure that
    evening (August 14th). In the course of the day Countess Berchtold
    and other ladies of Vienna society called to take leave of Lady
    de Bunsen at the Embassy. We left the railway station by special
    train for the Swiss frontier at 7 p.m. No disagreeable incidents
    occurred. Count Walterskirchen was present at the station on behalf
    of Count Berchtold. The journey was necessarily slow, owing to
    the encumbered state of the line. We reached Buchs, on the Swiss
    frontier, early in the morning of August 17th. At the first halting
    place there had been some hooting and stone throwing on the part of
    the entraining troops and station officials, but no inconvenience
    was caused, and at the other large stations on our route we found
    that ample measures had been taken to preserve us from molestation
    as well as to provide us with food. I was left in no doubt that the
    Austro-Hungarian Government had desired that the journey should be
    performed under the most comfortable conditions possible, and that
    I should receive on my departure all the marks of consideration
    due to his Majesty’s representative. I was accompanied by my own
    family and the entire staff of the Embassy, for whose untiring zeal
    and efficient help in trying times I desire to express my sincere

Germany’s first care, once Russia and France had been provoked to
take up arms, was to make British neutrality quite secure. It had
been relied upon from the very inception of the German plan down to
the moment[27] when Sir Edward Grey delivered his telling speech
in the House of Commons. British neutrality was an unquestioned
postulate which lay at the very root of the scheme engineered by the
Empire-builders of Berlin. And they clung to it throughout with the
tenacity of drowning men holding on to a frozen plank in Polar seas.



Over and over again I heard the chances of British neutrality and
belligerency discussed by statesmen of the two military Empires, and
the odds in favour of our holding strictly aloof from hostilities were
set down as equivalent to certainty. The grounds for this conviction
were numerous, and to them convincing. Great Britain, it was argued,
possesses no land army capable of throwing an expeditionary force
of any value into the Continental arena. All her fighting strength
is concentrated in her navy, which could render but slight positive
services to the mighty hosts in the field with whom the issue would
lie. Consequently the losses she would sustain by breaking off
commercial intercourse with her best customer would be enormous as
compared to the slender help she could give her friends. And if the
worst came to the worst Germany might take that help as given, and
promise in return for neutrality to guarantee spontaneously whatever
the British Navy might be supposed capable of protecting efficaciously.

Again, public opinion in Great Britain is opposed to war and to
Continental entanglements. And for that reason no binding engagements
have been entered into by the British Government towards France or
Russia, even during the course of the present crisis. Had any intention
been harboured to swerve from this course, it would doubtless have
manifested itself in some tangible shape before now. But no tokens of
any such deviation from the traditional policy has been perceived.
On the contrary, it is well known to the German Government that
the Cabinet actually in power consists of Ministers who are averse
on principle to a policy which might entangle their country in a
Continental war, and who will stand up for that principle if ever it
be called in question. And in support of this contention words or acts
ascribed to the Cabinet and to certain of its members were quoted and
construed as pointing to the same conclusion.

One little syllogism in particular engraved itself on my memory. It
ran somewhat as follows. The Asquith Cabinet is dependent on the votes
of the Radicals and the Irish Home Rulers. Now, the former hate Russia
cordially, and will not allow this opportunity of humiliating her to
lapse unutilized. And the latter, with a little war of their own to
wage, have no superfluous energies to devote to a foreign campaign.
Consequently, the Government, even were it desirous of embarking on a
warlike adventure, is powerless. It cannot swim against a current set
by its own supporters.

Those and other little sums in equation were almost always capped by a
conclusive reference to the impending civil war in Ireland and England,
the danger of risings in Egypt and India, and the constant trouble
with the suffragettes. Whenever this topic came up for discussion I
was invariably a silent listener, so conversant were the debaters with
all the aspects and bearings of the Ulster movement, and so eager
were they to display their knowledge. I learned, for instance, that
numerous German agents, journalists, and one diplomatist well known to
social London had studied the question on the spot, and entertained
no doubt that a fratricidal struggle was about to begin. I received
the condolence of my eminent friends on the impending break-up of old
England, and I heard the reiterated dogma that with her hands thus full
she would steer clear of the conflict between the groups of Continental
Great Powers. I was comforted, however, by the assurance that at the
close of hostilities Great Britain might make her moderating influence
felt to good purpose and resume the praiseworthy efforts to the failure
of which the coming catastrophe was to be attributed.

In all these close calculations the decisive element of national
character was left out, with the consequences we see. Despite their
powers of observation and analysis, the Germans, even those who are
gifted and experienced, are devoid of some indefinable inner sense
without which they must ever lack true insight into the soul-stuff,
the dormant qualities of the people whose wrath they have wantonly
aroused. To the realm of British thought and feeling they, with
their warped psychological equipment, find no access. Its secondary
characteristics they grasp with their noted thoroughness and seek to
practise upon with their traditional cynicism. But the deeper springs
of our race-character, its clear-souled faith, its masculine vigour,
and its vast reserve of elemental force, lie beyond their narrow range
of vision. To the sentient and perceptive powers even of the most
acute German observer, the workings of the British soul, its inherited
nobilities, its deep moral feeling, are inaccessible. And here, more
than in any other branch of the “intelligence department,” a little
knowledge is indeed a dangerous thing.

This want of penetration accounts for the greatest and most calamitous
mistake into which the Kaiser and his numerous “eyes” in this country
fell. They watched the surface manifestations of public life here, and
drew their inferences as though there were no other, no more decisive,
elements to be reckoned with. Herr von Kuhlmann, in particular, had
made a complete survey of the situation in Ireland, and his exhaustive
report was corroborated by emphatic statements of a like tenor received
from independent witnesses whose duty it was to collect data on the
spot. Utterances of public men and influential private individuals in
this country were reported in full. Plans, dates, numbers were set
down with scrupulous care. Local colour was deftly worked in, and the
general conclusions bore the marks of unquestionable truths. Even the
suffragette movement was included in this comprehensive survey, and
was classed among the fetters which must handicap the British Cabinet,
should it display any velleity to join hands with France and Russia.
Every possible factor except the one just mentioned was calculated
with the nicety of an apothecary compounding a prescription. Nothing,
apparently, was left to chance.

Summaries of these interesting documents were transmitted to Vienna,
where they served merely to confirm the conviction, harboured from the
beginning, that whatever conflicts might rage on the Continent, Great
Britain would stick to her own business, which was bound to prove
uncommonly engrossing in the near future. Not the faintest trace of
doubt or misgiving was anywhere perceptible among Germans or Austrians
down to July 30th. On the previous day the German Ambassador in London
had had a conversation with Sir Edward Grey, which appears to have made
a far deeper impression on him than the words uttered by the British
Foreign Secretary would necessarily convey. He had been told that the
situation was very grave, but that, so long as it was restricted to
the issues then actually involved, Great Britain had no thought of
identifying herself with any Continental Power. If, however, Germany
took a hand in it and were followed by France, all European interests
would be affected, and “I did not wish him to be misled by the friendly
tone of our conversation--which I hoped would continue--into thinking
that we should stand aside.” Characteristic is the remark which
these words elicited from Prince Lichnowsky. “He said that he quite
understood this.” And yet he could not have understood it. Evidently he
interpreted it as he would have interpreted a similar announcement made
by his own chief. To his thinking it was but a face-saving phrase,
not a declaration of position meant to be taken seriously. Otherwise
he would not have asked the further question which he at once put. “He
said that he quite understood, but he asked whether I meant that we
should, under certain circumstances, intervene.”

    I replied (continues Sir Edward Grey) that I did not wish to say
    that, or to use anything that was like a threat, or attempt to
    apply pressure by saying that, if things became worse, we should
    intervene. There would be no question of our intervening if Germany
    was not involved, or even if France was not involved. But we knew
    very well that if the issue did become such that we thought British
    interests required us to intervene, we must intervene at once, and
    the decision would have to be very rapid, just as the decisions
    of other Powers had to be. I hoped that the friendly tone of our
    conversations would continue as at present, and that I should be
    able to keep as closely in touch with the German Government when
    working for peace. But if we failed in our efforts to keep the
    peace, and if the issue spread so that it involved practically
    every European interest, I do not wish to be open to any reproach
    from him that the friendly tone of all our conversations had misled
    him or his Government into supposing that we should not take
    action, and to the reproach that if they had not been so misled,
    the course of things might have been different.

    The German Ambassador took no exception to what I had said; indeed,
    he told me that it accorded with what he had already given in
    Berlin as his view of the situation.

Not so much this plain statement of the British case as the impressive
way in which it was delivered startled the Kaiser’s representative
and flashed a blinding light on the dark ways of German diplomacy.
That same evening the Prince made known the personal effect upon
himself of what he had seen and heard, and it was that Great Britain’s
neutrality “could not be relied upon.” This “subjective impression,”
as they termed it, was telegraphed to Vienna, where it was anxiously
discussed. And, curiously enough, it sufficed to shatter the hopes
which Austrian statesmen had cherished that nothing was to be feared
from Great Britain. Psychologically, this tragic way of taking the news
is difficult to explain. Whether it was that the Austrians, having
less faith in the solidarity of their Empire and the staying powers of
their mixed population, and greater misgivings about the issue of the
war, were naturally more pessimistic and more apt to magnify than to
underrate the dangers with which a European conflict threatened them,
or that they had received unwelcome tidings of a like nature from an
independent source, I am unable to determine. I know, however, that
Prince Lichnowsky’s own mind was made up during that colloquy with Sir
Edward Grey. And he made no mystery of it. To a statesman who brought
up the topic in the course of an ordinary conversation he remarked:

    It is my solid conviction that England will not only throw in her
    lot with France and Russia, but will be first in the arena. There
    is not the shadow of a doubt about it. Nothing can stop her now.

That view was also adopted by the statesmen of Austria-Hungary, who
communicated it to me on the following day.[28] It was on July 29th
that the German Chancellor had tendered the “strong bid” for British
neutrality from which the wished-for result was anticipated. And to
this “infamous proposal” the answer was not telegraphed until July
30th. In Vienna we had cognizance of it on the following day. But
I was informed on Saturday that, however unpromising the outlook,
further exertions would be put forth to persuade Great Britain not
to relinquish her rôle of mediatrix, but to reserve her beneficent
influence on the Powers until they had tried issues in a land campaign
and were ready for peace negociations. Then she could play to good
purpose the congenial part of peacemaker and make her moderating
influence felt by both parties, who, exhausted by the campaign, would
be willing to accept a compromise.

These efforts were ingeniously planned, the German statesmen using
British ideas, aims, and traditions as weapons of combat against the
intentions--still wavering, it was believed--of the Liberal Government
to resort to force if suasion and argument should fail, in order to
redeem the nation’s plighted word and uphold Belgian neutrality. Among
these aims which our Government had especially at heart was a general
understanding with Germany, and the perspective of realizing this was
dangled before the eyes of our Government by the Chancellor. But the
plan had one capital defect. It ignored the view taken in this country
of the sanctity of treaties. The course taken by the conversations,
which were now carried on with rapidity to the accompaniment of
the march of armed men and the clatter of horses’ hoofs, is worth
considering. Down to the last moment the British Government kept
its hands free. M. Sazonoff’s appeals to our Ambassador to move his
Government to take sides fell on deaf ears. The endeavours of the
Government of the French Republic were equally infructuous. “In the
present case,” Sir Edward Grey told the French Ambassador in London,
“the dispute between Austria and Servia was not one in which we felt
called on to take a hand.” That was the position consistently taken up
by the British Government in every Balkan crisis that had broken out
since Aehrenthal incorporated Bosnia and Herzegovina. And it was also
one of the postulates of the German conspiracy, which undertook to
prove that whatever complications might arise out of Austria’s action,
the crucial question and the one issue was the crime of Sarajevo.

But Sir Edward Grey did not stop here. He went much further and
destroyed the illusions of those who imagined the British Empire would
be so materially affected by an Austrian campaign against Russia
that it would proffer assistance to the Slav Empire. In fact, he
consistently withheld encouragement from all would-be belligerents.

    Even if the question became one between Austria and Russia (Sir
    Edward Grey went on to say), we should not feel called upon to
    take a hand in it. It would then be a question of the supremacy of
    Teuton or Slav--a struggle for supremacy in the Balkans; and our
    idea has always been to avoid being drawn into a war over a Balkan

This, too, was well known and reckoned upon by the two Teutonic allies
when laying their plans, one of which was to thrust into the foreground
the Slavo-Teutonic character of the struggle and the immunity of
British interests from detriment, whatever the outcome. But the British
Foreign Secretary went much further than this. He said:

    If Germany became involved and France became involved, we had not
    made up our minds what we should do; it was a case that we should
    have to consider. France would then have been drawn into a quarrel
    which was not hers, but in which, owing to her alliance, her honour
    and interest obliged her to engage. We were free from engagements,
    and we should have to decide what British interests required us to
    do. I thought it necessary to say that, because, as he knew, we
    were taking all precautions with regard to our fleet, and I was
    about to warn Prince Lichnowsky not to count on our standing aside,
    but it would not be fair that I should let M. Cambon be misled
    into supposing that this meant that we had decided what to do in a
    contingency that I still hoped might not arise.

This straight talk, coupled with the strenuous and insistent but
vain exertions of the British Foreign Secretary to get first Austria
and then Germany to stay their hand and accept full satisfaction and
absolute guarantees from Servia, constitute the cardinal facts in the
history of the origin of the present war. They furnish the measure of
our peace efforts and of our self-containment. And they also reveal the
two conspiring Powers working in secret concert, not, as was at first
assumed, to remove the causes of the conflict, but to immobilize the
Powers that were likely to take an active part in it. That is the clue
to what seemed inexplicable in their fitful and apparently incongruous
moves. Whenever Sir Edward Grey asked for an extension of time, for a
Conference of the Powers, or for any other facilities for settling the
Austro-Servian quarrel diplomatically, Germany and Austria were unable
to comply with his request. Would Vienna consent to lengthen the time
accorded to Servia for an answer? No, she was unable to do so. And in
this Germany backed her up as behoves a brilliant second. Dealings with
Belgrade, she held, must be effected expeditiously. And when Sir Edward
Grey proposed to the German Government that the Servian reply might be
used as a basis for conversations, the Imperial Chancellor _regrets_
that things have marched too rapidly!

    I was sent for again to-day by the Imperial Chancellor (writes
    Sir Edward Goschen), who told me that he regretted to state
    that the Austro-Hungarian Government, to whom he had at once
    communicated your opinion, had announced that _events had marched
    too rapidly_, and that it was therefore _too late_ to act upon your

Thus having first fixed the time-limit at forty-eight hours and then
refused to have it extended in order to allow time for a settlement,
Germany expresses her regret that it is too late to act on the
suggestion that a pause shall ensue to enable a peaceful arrangement to
be arrived at.

The cynicism embodied in this answer is curiously like the pleas for
mercy addressed by a young murderer to the jury before the verdict
was brought in. “I am an orphan,” he said, “and alone in a cold,
unsympathetic world. I can look neither to a father nor a mother to
advise, chide, or comfort me. May I hope that you at least will show me
pity and mercy?” A touching appeal it might well seem until read in
the light of the circumstance that he who made it was being tried for
the murder of both his parents.

With a prescience of the coming struggle which his own deliberate
manœuvres were meant to bring about, the Chancellor displayed keen and,
it was then believed, praiseworthy anxiety to impress our Government
with the sincerity of his desire and the strenuousness of his efforts
for peace.

    From the fact that he (the Imperial Chancellor) had gone so far in
    the matter of giving advice at Vienna, his Excellency hoped that
    you would realize that he was sincerely doing all in his power to
    prevent danger of European complications.

    The fact of his communicating this information to you was a proof
    of the confidence which he felt in you, and evidence of his
    anxiety that you should know he was doing his best to support your
    efforts in the cause of general peace, efforts which he sincerely

His Excellency was aware of the necessity of preparing the ground for
the next and most difficult move of all, and was providing for it in
his own way. It was a German Captatio benevolentiæ.



While the Kaiser and his advisers were thus adroitly pulling diplomatic
and journalistic wires to secure coherence of time with place and
auspicious conditions for dealing the premeditated blow, the British
Government were treated with the fine blinding dust of ethical phrases
and stories of persevering but baffled efforts put forth in the cause
of European peace.

    The German Ambassador (Sir Edward Grey writes to Sir Edward
    Goschen) has been instructed by the German Chancellor to inform
    me that he is endeavouring to mediate between Vienna and St.
    Petersburg, and he hopes with good success. Austria and Russia
    seem to be in constant touch, and he is endeavouring to make
    Vienna explain in a satisfactory form at St. Petersburg the scope
    and extension of Austrian proceedings in Servia. I told the
    German Ambassador that an agreement arrived at direct between
    Austria and Russia would be the best possible solution. I would
    press no proposal as long as there was a prospect of that, but my
    information this morning was that the Austrian Government have
    declined the suggestion of the Russian Government that the Austrian
    Ambassador at St. Petersburg should be authorized to discuss
    directly with the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs the means
    of settling the Austro-Servian conflict. The press correspondents
    at St. Petersburg had been told that the Russian Government would
    mobilize. The German Government had said that they were favourable
    in principle to mediation between Russia and Austria if necessary.
    They seemed to think the particular method of conference,
    consultation, or discussion, or even _conversations a quatre_ in
    London too formal a method. I urged that the German Government
    should suggest any method by which the influence of the four
    Powers could be used together to prevent war between Austria and
    Russia. France agreed, Italy agreed. The whole idea of mediation
    or mediating influence was ready to be put into operation by any
    method that Germany thought possible if only Germany would “press
    the button” in the interests of peace.

Now at this same moment orders had been issued by the Government of
which the Chancellor was the head to move the advance-posts of the
German army on the French frontiers. And these orders were carried
out on the following day, as we now know from the French Minister’s
despatch to M. Cambon, dated July 31st. “The German army,” he writes,
“had its advance-posts on our frontiers yesterday.” And we further
learn from M. Sazonoff that even before this date “absolute proof
was in possession of the Russian Government that Germany was making
military and naval preparations against Russia--more particularly in
the direction of the Gulf of Finland.”[30]

The disingenuousness, not to use a harsher term, of these diplomatic
methods needs no comment. It is one of the inseparable marks of German
diplomacy and German journalism, which are as odious in peace as are
German methods of warfare during a campaign. Of plain dealing and
truthful speech there is no trace. Underlying the assurances, hopes,
and sincere regrets with which all German conversations with our
diplomatists are larded, it is easy to distinguish the steady tendency
to impress our Foreign Office with Germany’s fervid desire to maintain
peace, her bitter disappointment at being forced step by step into war,
and her humanitarian resolve to keep that war within the narrowest
possible limits. And with all the documents and the subsequent facts
before us, it is just as easy to perceive the real drift of the
Kaiser’s scheming. Great Britain was to be made to feel that anything
which Germany might be forced to do in the way of disregarding treaties
would be done with the utmost reluctance and only under duress. The
building up of this conviction was one of the main objects of the
curious expedients resorted to by her clumsy statesmen, and was at the
same time the overture to the last act in which the Treaty of 1839
was to be flung aside as a scrap of paper, but “without prejudice” to
British interests.

The bid for British neutrality was the culminating phase of this
unique diplomatic campaign. It was proffered with an intensity of
emotion, a high-pitched feeling for the weal of the British nation,
and a biblical solemnity which must, it was felt, tell with especial
force with a people whose character so often merges in temperament and
whose policy is always suffused with morality. Every consideration
to which the Foreign Secretary, his colleagues, their parliamentary
supporters, and the nation were thought to be impressible was singled
out and emphasized. The smooth-tongued tempter at first, sure of his
prey, approached the Liberal and pacific Cabinet through our political
interests, elementary feelings, and national prejudices, winnowed
by religious sentiment and passionate sincerity. With a penetrative
intuition which would have proved unerring had it been guided by any of
the lofty sentiments which it presupposed in its intended victim, they
appealed to our loathing for crime, our hatred of oriental despotism,
our indifference to Slav strivings, our aversion to the horrors of war,
our love of peace, our anxiety to come to a permanent understanding
with Germany, and by our attachment to all these boons of a highly
cultured people they adjured us to hold aloof from the war and connive
at their disregard of a treaty which they would have been delighted to
respect had not brutal necessity compelled them to ignore it. But even
this hard stroke of Fate--hard for them as for the Belgians--they would
deaden to the best of their power by recognizing Belgium’s integrity
anew at the end of the war.

It was at this end of the cleverly fashioned disguise that the cloven
hoof protruded.

It is worth recalling that on the very day[31] on which the German
Ambassador, acting on the instructions of his Chief, told Sir Edward
Grey that the Chancellor was endeavouring to mediate between Vienna and
St. Petersburg, “and he hopes (the Chancellor) with good success,”
that same Chancellor, with that foreknowledge which is the sole
privilege of the author of a movement, was cautiously preparing the
scene for the next act on which he himself was soon to raise the

    He said (our Ambassador in Berlin[32] wrote) that should Austria
    be attacked by Russia a European conflagration might, he feared,
    become inevitable owing to Germany’s obligations as Austria’s
    ally, in spite of his continued efforts to maintain peace. He then
    proceeded to make the following strong bid for British neutrality.
    He said that it was clear, so far as he was able to judge the main
    principle which governed British policy, that Great Britain would
    never stand by and allow France to be crushed in any conflict
    there might be. That, however, was not the object at which Germany
    aimed. Provided that neutrality of Great Britain were certain,
    every assurance would be given to the British Government that the
    Imperial Government aimed at no territorial acquisitions at the
    expense of France should they prove victorious in any war that
    might ensue.

    I questioned his Excellency about the French colonies, and he said
    that he was unable to give a similar undertaking in this respect.
    As regards Holland, however, his Excellency said that, so long as
    Germany’s adversaries respected the integrity and neutrality of the
    Netherlands, Germany was ready to give his Majesty’s Government an
    assurance that she would do likewise. It depended upon the action
    of France what operations Germany might be forced to enter upon
    in Belgium, but when the war was over, Belgian integrity would be
    respected if she had not sided against Germany.

    His Excellency ended by saying that ever since he had been
    Chancellor the object of his policy had been, as you were aware, to
    bring about an understanding with England; he trusted that these
    assurances might form the basis of the understanding which he so
    much desired. He had in mind a general neutrality agreement between
    England and Germany, though it was, of course, at the present
    moment too early to discuss details, and an assurance of British
    neutrality in the conflict which the present crisis might possibly
    produce would enable him to look forward to the realization of his

    In reply to his Excellency’s enquiry how I thought his request
    would appeal to you, I said that I did not think it probable that
    at this stage of events you would care to bind yourself to any
    course of action, and that I was of opinion that you would desire
    to retain full liberty.

Now, a few remarks will suffice to set this seemingly speculative
survey of the Chancellor in its true light. The impression which
the opening words conveyed, “Should Austria be attacked by Russia a
European conflagration might, he feared, become inevitable owing to
Germany’s obligations as Austria’s ally,” was that while Germany
deprecated any course that might lead to a conflict, she would be
obliged by her religious respect for her own scrap of paper to spring
to her ally’s support if Austria were attacked by Russia. But Austria
was not attacked by Russia. On the contrary, these two Powers had come
to an arrangement before Germany presented her ultimatums to Russia and
France. The Kaiser declared war against Russia on August 1st, whereas
Russia abstained from every overt act of hostility against Austria,
and instructed her Ambassador to remain in Vienna until Austria should
declare war on Russia. And this did not happen until August 6th.
Germany and Russia, therefore, were several days at war, while Russia
and Austria were still holding diplomatic intercourse with each other.
In view of these decisive facts, one cannot seriously contend that
Germany’s rôle was that of an ally hastening to succour an assailed

Further, when the Chancellor was affirming that in return for British
neutrality he would give every assurance that the Imperial German
Government aimed at no territorial acquisitions at the expense
of France, he must have known, as all the parties to the secret
arrangement knew, that the wording was chosen to leave a loophole
through which Italy, if she could be cajoled into active co-operation,
might pass into Savoy and Nice, and possibly even Tunis. It was exactly
the same phraseology that had been employed in Austria’s assurance
respecting her self-denying promise not to annex any part of Servian
territory to her own dominions. Both engagements were cast in the same
grammatical mould; both emanated from one and the same source.

The second remark is to the effect that the German Chancellor can
hardly be taken to have adequately expressed what was in his mind when
he stated that it depended upon the action of France what operations
Germany might be forced to enter upon in Belgium. He must have known
that that was a foregone conclusion of the German Kaiser and the
General Staff, with which France’s action had nothing to do. That he
knew this full well may be inferred from the justification for the
invasion of Belgium which was officially offered to Sir E. Goschen by
the German Secretary of State, von Jagow:

    They had to advance into France by the quickest and easiest way,
    so as to be able to get well ahead with their operations, and
    endeavour to strike some decisive blow as early as possible.

We have to hark back to the days of Frederick to discover a parallel
for the amazing duplicity and hypocrisy of the present Kaiser’s

Plainly and definitively this “infamous offer” was rejected.

    His Majesty’s Government (ran the answer) cannot for a moment
    entertain the Chancellor’s proposal that they should bind
    themselves to neutrality on such terms.

    What he asks us to effect is to engage to stand by while French
    colonies are taken and France is beaten, so long as Germany does
    not take French territory as distinct from the colonies.

    From the material point of view such a proposal is unacceptable,
    for France, without further territory in Europe being taken from
    her, could be so crushed as to lose her position as a Great Power
    and become subordinate to German policy.

    Altogether apart from that, it would be a disgrace for us to make
    this bargain with Germany at the expense of France, a disgrace from
    which the good name of this country would never recover.

    The Chancellor also in effect asks us to bargain away whatever
    obligation or interest we have as regards the neutrality of
    Belgium. We could not entertain that bargain either.

    Having said so much, it is unnecessary to examine whether the
    prospect of a future general neutrality agreement between England
    and Germany offered positive advantages sufficient to compensate us
    for tying our hands now. We must reserve our full freedom to act as
    circumstances may seem to us to require in any such unfavourable
    and regrettable development of the present crisis as the Chancellor

    You should speak to the Chancellor in the above sense, and add
    most earnestly that the one way of maintaining the good relations
    between England and Germany is that they should continue to
    work together to preserve the peace of Europe; if we succeed in
    this object, the mutual relations of Germany and England will, I
    believe, be _ipso facto_ improved and strengthened. For that object
    His Majesty’s Government will work in that way with all sincerity
    and goodwill.

And now the British Government in turn made a bid, an honourable bid,
for peace.

    And I will say this (Sir Edward Grey wrote): If the peace of Europe
    can be preserved, and the present crisis safely passed, my own
    endeavour will be to promote some arrangement to which Germany
    could be a party, by which she could be assured that no aggressive
    or hostile policy would be pursued against her or her allies by
    France, Russia, and ourselves, jointly or separately. I have
    desired this, and worked for it, so far as I could, through the
    last Balkan crisis, and Germany having a corresponding object, our
    relations sensibly improved. The idea has hitherto been too Utopian
    to form the subject of definite proposals, but if this present
    crisis, so much more acute than any that Europe has gone through
    for generations, be safely passed, I am hopeful that the relief and
    reaction which will follow may make possible some more definite
    _rapprochement_ between the Powers than has been possible hitherto.

Both Austria-Hungary and Germany were thus offered every inducement
which the Governments of Great Britain, France, and Russia could give,
including stable guarantees that nothing would be undertaken against
them diplomatically or otherwise, and that they could live and thrive
not only in peace, but in an atmosphere from which all fear of war was
eliminated. More than this they could not have hoped for, unless they
were bent upon aggression. But then they were bent upon aggression
from the outset, and their sole concern was to execute it with as much
advantage and as little risk to themselves as the unusually favourable
conjuncture seemed to promise. That was the mainspring of their
diplomacy during the crisis.

As soon as Kriegsgefahr[33] was proclaimed in Germany,[34] and general
mobilization ordered in Russia,[35] Sir Edward Grey at once drew up
a question in identical terms which he had put to the French and the
German Governments as to whether, in case of war, they were minded to
abide by the restrictions on their future military operations which
respect for the neutrality of Belgium entailed. To the Brussels Cabinet
the query was whether Belgium was prepared to maintain her neutrality
to the utmost of her power. These three simultaneous inquiries opened
the fateful issue on which so much depended. The French Minister of
Foreign Affairs unhesitatingly replied that the Government of the
Republic were resolved to respect the neutrality of Belgium unless it
were violated by some other Power. From Germany the British Ambassador
could obtain no answer. He telegraphed:

    I have seen Secretary of State, who informs me that he must consult
    the Emperor and the Chancellor before he could possibly answer. I
    gathered from what he said that he thought any reply they might
    give could not but disclose a certain amount of their plan of
    campaign in the event of war ensuing, and he was, therefore,
    very doubtful whether they would return any answer at all. His
    Excellency, nevertheless, took note of your request.

This reference to the disclosure of their plan of campaign was
sufficiently suggestive. Characteristic of the system of making
mendacious charges against all whom they are preparing to wrong is the
groundless allegation contained in Sir Edward Goschen’s next sentence:

    It appears from what he (the Secretary of State) said that German
    Government consider that certain hostile acts have already been
    committed by Belgium. As an instance of this, he alleged that a
    consignment of corn for Germany had been placed under an embargo

    I hope to see his Excellency to-morrow again to discuss the matter
    further, but the prospect of obtaining a definite answer seems to
    me remote.

Sir Edward Grey, unwilling to let this important issue be suddenly
settled by an accomplished fact, informed the German Ambassador next
day[36] that the reply of the German Government with regard to the
neutrality of Belgium was a matter of very great regret, because the
neutrality of Belgium affected feeling in this country.

    If Germany could see her way to give the same assurance as that
    which had been given by France it would materially contribute to
    relieve anxiety and tension here. On the other hand, if there were
    a violation of the neutrality of Belgium by one combatant while the
    other respected it, it would be extremely difficult to restrain
    public feeling in this country. I said that we had been discussing
    this question at a Cabinet meeting, and as I was authorized to tell
    him this I gave him a memorandum of it.

This broad hint caused Prince Lichnowsky, who had instructions to move
every lever to hold Great Britain back, to realize how near was the
fatal parting of the ways. Accordingly, he bestirred himself once more.

    He asked me (the Foreign Secretary continues) whether if Germany
    gave a promise not to violate Belgian neutrality we would engage to
    remain neutral.

    I replied that I could not say that; our hands were still free,
    and we were considering what our attitude should be. All I could
    say was that our attitude would be determined largely by public
    opinion here, and that the neutrality of Belgium would appeal very
    strongly to public opinion here. I did not think that we could give
    a promise of neutrality on that condition alone.

Naturally. For that condition took no account of France.

Dismayed at the tumbling of the house of cards put together by his
Government, the Ambassador made a final appeal to Sir Edward Grey:

    The Ambassador pressed me as to whether I could not formulate
    conditions on which we would remain neutral. He even suggested that
    the integrity of France and her colonies might be guaranteed.

    I said that I felt obliged to refuse definitely any promise to
    remain neutral on similar terms, and I could only say that we must
    keep our hands free.

On Monday, August 3rd, these data were communicated to the House of
Commons by the Secretary for Foreign Affairs in a masterly speech
marked by moderation and reserve. He laid before the House all the data
available for a judgment and decision, understating, as is his wont,
the case for such a solution as he himself might be apt to favour.

    It now appears (he said) from the news I have received to-day,
    which has come quite recently--and I am not yet quite sure how
    far it has reached me in an accurate form--that an ultimatum has
    been given to Belgium by Germany, the object of which was to offer
    Belgium friendly relations with Germany on condition that she
    would facilitate the passage of German troops through Belgium.
    Well, until one has these things absolutely definitely up to the
    last moment, I do not wish to say all that one would say if one
    was in a position to give the House full, complete, and absolute
    information upon the point. We were sounded once in the course of
    last week as to whether if a guarantee was given that after the
    war Belgian integrity would be preserved that would content us.
    We replied that we could not bargain away whatever interests or
    obligations we had in Belgian neutrality. Shortly before I reached
    the House I was informed that the following telegram had been
    received from the King of the Belgians by King George:

        “Remembering the numerous proofs of your Majesty’s friendship
        and that of your predecessor, and the friendly attitude of
        England in 1870, and the proof of friendship you have just
        given us again, I make a supreme appeal to the diplomatic
        intervention of your Majesty’s Government to safeguard the
        integrity of Belgium.”

    Diplomatic intervention took place last week on our part. What can
    diplomatic intervention do now? We have great and vital interests
    in the independence of Belgium, and integrity is the least part.
    If Belgium is compelled to allow her neutrality to be violated, of
    course the situation is clear. Even if by agreement she admitted
    the violation of her neutrality, it is clear she could only do so
    under duress. The smaller States in that region of Europe ask but
    one thing: their one desire is that they should be left alone and
    independent. The one thing they fear is, I think, not so much that
    their integrity should be interfered with, but their independence.
    If in this war which is before Europe one of the combatants should
    violate its neutrality and no action should be taken to resent
    it, at the end of the war, whatever the integrity may be, the
    independence will be gone. I have one further quotation from Mr.
    Gladstone as to what he thought about the independence of Belgium.
    He said:

        “We have an interest in the independence of Belgium which
        is wider than that we have in the literal operation of the
        guarantee. It is found in the answer to the question whether
        under the circumstances of the case this country, endowed as it
        is with influence and power, would quietly stand by and witness
        the perpetration of the direst crime that ever stained the
        pages of history, and thus become participators in the sin.”

    Now if it be the case that there has been anything in the nature of
    an ultimatum to Belgium, asking her to compromise or violate her
    neutrality, whatever may have been offered to her in return, her
    independence is gone if that holds, and if her independence goes,
    the independence of Holland will follow.

As yet, however, there was nothing solid in the way either of a
declaration of Germany’s policy or of an ascertained breach of
Belgium’s neutrality to go upon. And the Foreign Secretary was careful
to make this clear:

    Now (he said) I have put the question of Belgium somewhat
    hypothetically, because I am not yet sure of all the facts, but if
    the facts turn out to be as they have reached us at present, it is
    quite clear that there is an obligation on this country to do its
    utmost to prevent the consequences to which those facts will lead
    if they are undisputed.

Meanwhile, the British Ambassador in Berlin had kept on pressing for an
answer to what was indeed a Sphinx question--the scrap of paper--for
the Kaiser, whose diagnosis of the British character, fitfully tested
and modified by the official despatches daily pouring in upon him,
played a material part in swaying his appreciation of the situation,
and together with it his decision. The bearings of this decision were
twofold--political and military. Germany might dispense with the
strategic advantages which the route through Belgium offered her army
under one of two conditions: either if the odds against France were
sufficient to enable her to count upon an easy victory, or if the
political disadvantages that would accrue to her from a violation of
the Treaty of 1839 outweighed the military facilities it would secure
her. And it was for the purpose of settling this preliminary point
and allowing her to choose whichever course offered her the greatest
inducements that Prince Lichnowsky put the question whether the British
Government would engage to remain neutral if Germany promised to
observe the terms of the Treaty. And when, this attempt having failed
to elicit a definite assurance, he pressed Sir Edward Grey to formulate
conditions which would buy our neutrality, the British Secretary of
State virtually told him that it was not for sale.

This straightforward way of meeting the stratagem by which our hands
were to be fettered, while Germany was to be free to choose whichever
alternative best suited her, clinched the matter in the Kaiser’s mind,
if we may judge by the closing conversations between his Ministers in
Berlin and our Ambassador.

Sir Edward Goschen describes these final scenes of the historic game
of “hedging” in words which will be remembered as long as the British
Empire stands:

    In accordance with the instructions contained in your telegram of
    the 4th inst. (he writes) I called upon the Secretary of State that
    afternoon and inquired, in the name of his Majesty’s Government,
    whether the Imperial Government would refrain from violating
    Belgian neutrality. Herr von Jagow at once replied that he was
    sorry to say that his answer must be “No,” as, in consequence of
    the German troops having crossed the frontier that morning, Belgian
    neutrality had been already violated. Herr von Jagow again went
    into the reasons why the Imperial Government had been obliged to
    take this step, namely, that they had to advance into France by
    the quickest and easiest way, so as to be able to get well ahead
    with their operations and endeavour to strike some decisive blow as
    early as possible.

    It was a matter of life and death for them, as if they had gone by
    the more southern route they could not have hoped, in view of the
    paucity of roads and the strength of the fortresses, to have got
    through without formidable opposition entailing great loss of time.
    This loss of time would have meant time gained by the Russians
    for bringing up their troops to the German frontier. Rapidity of
    action was the great German asset, while that of Russia was an
    inexhaustible supply of troops. I pointed out to Herr von Jagow
    that this _fait accompli_ of the violation of the Belgian frontier
    rendered, as he would readily understand, the situation exceedingly
    grave, and I asked him whether there was not still time to draw
    back and avoid possible consequences, which both he and I would
    deplore. He replied that, for the reasons he had given me, it was
    now impossible for them to draw back.

Thus the die was cast. An accomplished fact was created which could
not, it was urged, be undone. It was now unhappily too late, just as it
had been too late to stay Austria’s invasion of Servia. But at least
reasons could still be offered in explanation of the stroke, and it was
hoped that Great Britain might own that they were forcible. The Germans
“had to advance into France by the quickest and easiest way, and they
could not have got through by the other route without formidable
opposition entailing great loss of time.” And the German army was in a

    During the afternoon (continues the British Ambassador) I received
    your further telegram of the same date, and, in compliance with the
    instructions therein contained, I again proceeded to the Imperial
    Foreign Office, and informed the Secretary of State that unless the
    Imperial Government could give the assurance by twelve o’clock that
    night that they would proceed no further with their violation of
    the Belgian frontier and stop their advance, I had been instructed
    to demand my passports and inform the Imperial Government that his
    Majesty’s Government would have to take all steps in their power to
    uphold the neutrality of Belgium and the observance of a treaty to
    which Germany was as much a party as themselves.

    Herr von Jagow replied that to his great regret he could give
    no other answer than that which he had given me earlier in the
    day, namely, that the safety of the Empire rendered it absolutely
    necessary that the Imperial troops should advance through Belgium.
    I gave his Excellency a written summary of your telegram, and,
    pointing out that you had mentioned twelve o’clock as the time when
    his Majesty’s Government would expect an answer, asked him whether,
    in view of the terrible consequences which would necessarily ensue,
    it were not possible even at the last moment that their answer
    should be reconsidered. He replied that if the time given were even
    twenty-four hours or more, his answer must be the same.

    I said that in that case I should have to demand my passports.
    This interview took place at about seven o’clock. In a short
    conversation which ensued Herr von Jagow expressed his poignant
    regret at the crumbling of his entire policy and that of the
    Chancellor, which had been to make friends with Great Britain,
    and then, through Great Britain, to get closer to France. I said
    that this sudden end to my work in Berlin was to me also a matter
    of deep regret and disappointment, but that he must understand
    that under the circumstances and in view of our engagements, his
    Majesty’s Government could not possibly have acted otherwise than
    they had done.

    I then said that I should like to go and see the Chancellor, as
    it might be, perhaps, the last time I should have an opportunity
    of seeing him. He begged me to do so. I found the Chancellor very
    agitated. His Excellency at once began a harangue, which lasted for
    about twenty minutes. He said that the step taken by his Majesty’s
    Government was terrible to a degree; just for a word--“neutrality,”
    a word which in war-time had so often been disregarded--just for
    a scrap of paper Great Britain was going to make war on a kindred
    nation who desired nothing better than to be friends with her. All
    his efforts in that direction had been rendered useless by this
    last terrible step, and the policy to which, as I knew, he had
    devoted himself since his accession to office had tumbled down
    like a house of cards. What we had done was unthinkable; it was
    like striking a man from behind while he was fighting for his life
    against two assailants. He held Great Britain responsible for all
    the terrible events that might happen.

    I protested strongly against that statement, and said that, in the
    same way as he and Herr von Jagow wished me to understand that for
    strategical reasons it was a matter of life and death to Germany to
    advance through Belgium and violate the latter’s neutrality, so I
    would wish him to understand that it was, so to speak, a matter of
    “life and death” for the honour of Great Britain that she should
    keep her solemn engagement to do her utmost to defend Belgium’s
    neutrality if attacked. That solemn compact simply had to be kept,
    or what confidence could anyone have in engagements given by Great
    Britain in the future? The Chancellor said, “But at what price will
    that compact have been kept? Has the British Government thought of
    that?” I hinted to his Excellency as plainly as I could that fear
    of consequences could hardly be regarded as an excuse for breaking
    solemn engagements, but his Excellency was so excited, so evidently
    overcome by the news of our action, and so little disposed to hear
    reason, that I refrained from adding fuel to the flame by further

    As I was leaving he said that the blow of Great Britain joining
    Germany’s enemies was all the greater that almost up to the
    last moment he and his Government had been working with us and
    supporting our efforts to maintain peace between Austria and
    Russia. I said that this was part of the tragedy which saw the two
    nations fall apart just at the moment when the relations between
    them had been more friendly and cordial than they had been for
    years. Unfortunately, notwithstanding our efforts to maintain peace
    between Russia and Austria, the war had spread, and had brought us
    face to face with a situation which, if we held to our engagements,
    we could not possibly avoid, and which unfortunately entailed
    our separation from our late fellow-workers. He would readily
    understand that no one regretted this more than I.

    After this somewhat painful interview I returned to the Embassy,
    and drew up a telegraphic report of what had passed. This telegram
    was handed in at the Central Telegraph Office a little before
    nine p.m. It was accepted by that office, but apparently never

    At about 9.30 p.m. Herr von Zimmermann, the Under-Secretary of
    State, came to see me. After expressing his deep regret that the
    very friendly official and personal relations between us were about
    to cease, he asked me casually whether a demand for passports was
    equivalent to a declaration of war. I said that such an authority
    on international law as he was known to be must know as well or
    better than I what was usual in such cases. I added that there were
    many cases where diplomatic relations had been broken off, and,
    nevertheless, war had not ensued; but that in this case he would
    have seen from my instructions, of which I had given Herr von Jagow
    a written summary, that his Majesty’s Government expected an answer
    to a definite question by twelve o’clock that night, and that in
    default of a satisfactory answer they would be forced to take such
    steps as their engagements required. Herr Zimmermann said that that
    was, in fact, a declaration of war, as the Imperial Government
    could not possibly give the assurance required either that night or
    any other night.



“Just for neutrality--a word which in war-time had so often been
disregarded--just for a scrap of paper, Great Britain was going to make
war on a kindred nation.”

The frame of mind which generated this supreme unconcern for the
feelings of the Belgians, this matter-of-fact contempt for the
inviolability of a country’s plighted word, gives us the measure of
the abyss which sunders the old-world civilization, based on all that
is loftiest in Christianity, from modern German culture. From this
revolutionary principle, the right to apply which, however, is reserved
to Germany alone, radiate wholly new conceptions of right and wrong,
truth and falsehood, plain and double dealing, which are destructive of
the very groundwork of all organized society. Some forty or fifty years
ago it was a doctrine confined to Prussia of the Hohenzollerns: to-day
it is the creed of the Prussianized German Empire.

Frederic the Great practised it without scruple or shame. It was he
who, having given Maria Theresa profuse assurances of help should her
title to the Habsburg throne ever be questioned by any other State,
got together a powerful army as secretly as he could, invaded her
territory, and precipitated a sanguinary European war. Yet he had
guaranteed the integrity of the Austrian Empire. What were his motives?
He himself has avowed them openly: “ambition, interest, and a yearning
to move people to talk about me were the mainsprings of my action.” And
this wanton war was made without any formal declaration, without any
quarrel, without any grievance. He was soon joined by other Powers,
with whom he entered into binding engagements. But as soon as he was
able to conclude an advantageous peace with the Austrian Empress, he
abandoned his allies and signed a treaty. This document, like the
former one, he soon afterwards treated as a mere scrap of paper, and
again attacked the Austrian Empire. And this was the man who wrote a
laboured refutation of the pernicious teachings of Machiavelli, under
the title of “Anti-Machiavel”!

Now, Frederic the Great is the latter-day Germans’ ideal of a monarch.
His infamous practices were the concrete nucleus around which the
subversive Pan-Germanic doctrines of to-day gathered and hardened into
the political creed of a race. What the Hohenzollerns did for Prussia,
Prussia under the same Hohenzollerns has effected for Germany, where
not merely the Kaiser and his Government, or the officials, or the
officers of the army and navy, or the professors and the journalists,
but the clergy, the socialists, nay, all thinking classes of the
population, are infected with the virus of the fell Prussian disease
which threatens the old-world civilization with decomposition.

To this danger humanity cannot afford to be either indifferent or
lenient. It may and will be extremely difficult to extirpate the
malady, but the Powers now arrayed against aggressive and subversive
Teutonism should see to it that the nations affected shall be made
powerless to spread it.

The sheet-anchor of new Germany’s faith is her own exclusive right
to tear up treaties, violate agreements, and trample the laws of
humanity underfoot. To no other Power, however great its temptation,
however pressing its needs, is this privilege to be extended. Belgian
neutrality is but a word to be disregarded--by Germany; a solemn treaty
is but a scrap of paper to be flung into the basket--by Germany; but
woe betide any other Power who should venture to turn Germany’s methods
against herself! Now that Japan has begun operations against German
Tsingtao, the Kaiser’s Minister in Pekin promptly protested against the
alleged violation of Chinese neutrality which it involved. Sacred are
all those engagements by which Germany stands to gain some advantage,
and it is the duty of the civilized world to enforce them. All others
which are inconvenient to the Teuton he may toss aside as scraps of

To the threats that China would be held responsible for injury to
German property following on the Japanese operations, unless she
withstood the Japanese by force, the Pekin Government administered a
neatly worded lesson. If the Pekin Government, the Foreign Minister
replied, were to oppose the landing of the Japanese on the ground that
the territory in question belongs to China, it would likewise be
her duty to drive out the Germans for the same reason, Tsingtao also
being Chinese. Moreover, Tsingtao had only been leased to Germany for
a term of years, and, according to the scrap of paper, ought never to
have been fortified, seeing that this constituted a flagrant violation
of China’s neutrality. These arguments are unanswerable, even from
Germany’s point of view. But the Kaiser still maintains that he has
right on his side! Deutschland über Alles!

With a people whose reasoning powers show as little respect for the
laws of logic as their armies evince for the laws of humanity or their
press for truth, it would be idle to argue. Psychologically, however,
it is curious to observe the attitude of the body of German theologians
towards the scrap of paper. Psychologically, but also for a more direct
reason: because of the unwarranted faith which the British people are
so apt to place in the German people’s sense of truth and justice, and
more particularly in the fairmindedness of their clergy. Well, this
clergy, in its most eminent representatives, does indeed expend strong
adjectives in its condemnation--not of the Kaiser’s crime, but of
Belgian atrocities!

This is how German divines propound the rights and wrongs of the
Belgian episode to Evangelical Christians abroad:

    Unnameable horrors have been committed against Germans living
    peaceably abroad--against women and children, against wounded and
    physicians--cruelties and shamelessness such as many a heathen
    and Mohammedan war has not revealed. Are these the fruits, by
    which the non-Christian peoples are to recognize whose disciples
    the Christian nations are? Even the not unnatural excitement
    of a people, whose neutrality--_already violated by our
    adversaries--could under the pressure of implacable necessity_
    not be respected, affords no excuse for inhumanities, nor does it
    lessen the shame that such could take place in a land long ago

If Ministers of the Gospel thus tamper with truth and ignore elementary
justice and humanity, can one affect surprise at the mischievous
inventions of professional journalists?

This strange blending of religion with mendacity, of culture with
humanity, of scientific truth with political subterfuge, reads like a
chapter in cerebral pathology. The savage military organism against
which a veritable crusade is now being carried on by the peace-loving,
law-abiding nations of Europe has been aptly characterized as “the
thing which all free civilization has learned to loathe like a
vampire: the conscienceless, ruthless, godless might of a self-centred
militarism, to which honour is a word, chivalry a weakness, and
bullying aggression the breath of life.”[37]

       *       *       *       *       *

It is a relief to turn from the quibbles, subterfuges, and downright
falsehoods that characterize the campaign of German diplomacy to the
dignified message which the King-Emperor recently addressed to the
Princes and Peoples of that India which our enemies hoped would rise up
in arms against British rule.


    During the past few weeks the peoples of my whole Empire at home
    and overseas have moved with one mind and purpose to confront
    and overthrow an unparalleled assault upon the continuity of
    civilization and the peace of mankind.

    The calamitous conflict is not of my seeking. My voice has been
    cast throughout on the side of peace. My Ministers earnestly strove
    to allay the causes of strife and to appease differences with which
    my Empire was not concerned.

    Had I stood aside when in defiance of pledges to which my Kingdom
    was a party the soil of Belgium was violated, and her cities laid
    desolate, when the very life of the French nation was threatened
    with extinction, I should have sacrificed my honour and given to
    destruction the liberties of my Empire and of mankind. I rejoice
    that every part of the Empire is with me in this decision.

    Paramount regard for treaty faith and the pledged word of rulers
    and peoples is the common heritage of England and of India.

    Among the many incidents that have marked the unanimous uprising of
    the populations of my Empire in defence of its unity and integrity,
    nothing has moved me more than the passionate devotion to my Throne
    expressed both by my Indian subjects and by the Feudatory Princes
    and the Ruling Chiefs of India, and their prodigal offers of their
    lives and their resources in the cause of the Realm.

    Their one-voiced demand to be foremost in the conflict has touched
    my heart, and has inspired to the highest issues the love and
    devotion which, as I well know, have ever linked my Indian subjects
    and myself.

    I recall to mind India’s gracious message to the British nation of
    goodwill and fellowship, which greeted my return in February, 1912,
    after the solemn ceremony of my Coronation Durbar at Delhi, and I
    find in this hour of trial a full harvest and a noble fulfilment of
    the assurance given by you that the destinies of Great Britain and
    India are indissolubly linked.

The history of the Kaiser’s dealings with Belgium is but a single
episode in the long series of lessons taught us by German militarism,
with its two sets of weights and measures and its Asiatic maxims of
foreign policy. The paramount interest of this incident is to be
ascribed to the circumstance that it marks the central moment of the
collision between Germany and Britain. It also struck a keynote of
difference between the new Pan-Germanic code of morals and the old one
still common to the remainder of the human race. Lastly, it opened the
eyes of the purblind in this country and made them see at last.

Belgium and Luxemburg are neutral States, and all Europe is bound to
respect their neutrality. But this obligation in the case of Prussia
is made more sacred and more stringent still by the circumstance that
she herself is one of the guarantors of that neutrality. Not only is
she obliged to refrain from violating Belgian territory, but it is her
duty to hinder, with force if necessary, a breach by other nations.
This twofold obligation Germany set at naught, and then affected wonder
at the surprise of her neighbours. “By necessity we have occupied
Luxemburg, and perhaps have already entered Belgian territory,” the
Chancellor said calmly. “This is an infraction of international
law.... We are ... compelled to overrule the legitimate protest of the
Luxemburg and Belgian Governments. We shall repair the wrong we are
doing as soon as our military aims have been achieved.” Military aims
annul treaties, military necessities know no law, and the slaughter of
tens of thousands of peaceable citizens and the destruction of their
mediæval monuments constitute a wrong which “we Germans shall repair as
soon as our military aims are achieved.”

In such matter-of-fact way this German Bayard, as he once was called
by his English admirers, undertakes, if he be allowed to break two
promises, that he will make a third by way of compensation.

Not content with having brought six Powers into line against her
destructive doctrines and savage practices, Germany would fain throw
the blame for the war now on Great Britain, now on Russia. Here, again,
it is the Imperial Chancellor who propounds the thesis. On September
12th he sent the following curious statement to the Danish Press Bureau
for publication:--

    The English Prime Minister, in his Guildhall speech, reserved to
    England the rôle of protector of the smaller and weaker States, and
    spoke about the neutrality of Holland, Belgium, and Switzerland
    as being exposed to danger from the side of Germany. It is true
    that we have broken Belgium’s neutrality because bitter necessity
    compelled us to do so, but we promised Belgium full indemnity and
    integrity if she would take account of this state of necessity.
    If so, she would not have suffered any damage, as, for example,
    Luxemburg. If England, as protector of the weaker States, had
    wished to spare Belgium infinite suffering she should have advised
    Belgium to accept our offer. England has not “protected” Belgium,
    so far as we know; I wonder, therefore, whether it can really be
    said that England is such a disinterested protector.

    We knew perfectly well that the French plan of campaign involved
    a march through Belgium to attack the unprotected Rhineland. Does
    anyone believe England would have interfered to protect Belgian
    freedom against France?

    We have firmly respected the neutrality of Holland and Switzerland;
    we have also avoided the slightest violation of the frontier of the
    Dutch province of Limburg.

    It is strange that Mr. Asquith only mentioned the neutrality
    of Belgium, Holland, and Switzerland, but not that of the
    Scandinavian countries. He might have mentioned Switzerland with
    reference to France, but Holland and Belgium are situated close
    to England on the opposite side of the Channel, and that is why
    England is so concerned for the neutrality of these countries.

    Why is Mr. Asquith silent about the Scandinavian countries? Perhaps
    because he knows that it does not enter our head to touch these
    countries’ neutrality; or would England possibly not consider
    Denmark’s neutrality as a _noli me tangere_ for an advance in the
    Baltic or for Russia’s warlike operations?

    Mr. Asquith wishes people to believe that England’s fight against
    us is a fight of freedom against might. The world is accustomed
    to this manner of expression. In the name of freedom England,
    with might and with the most recklessly egotistic policy, has
    founded her mighty Colonial Empire, in the name of freedom she has
    destroyed for a century the independence of the Boer Republics, in
    the name of freedom she now treats Egypt as an English colony and
    thereby violates international treaties and solemn promises, in the
    name of freedom one after another of the Malay States is losing
    its independence for England’s benefit, in the name of freedom she
    tries, by cutting German cables, to prevent the truth being spread
    in the world.

    The English Prime Minister is mistaken. When England joined with
    Russia and Japan against Germany she, with a blindness unique in
    the history of the world, betrayed civilization and handed over
    to the German sword the care of freedom for European peoples and

The Germanistic conceptions of veracity and common honesty which this
plea reveals makes one feel the new air that breathes over every
department of the national cult--the air blowing from the borderland
between the sphere of high scientific achievement and primeval
barbarism. One is puzzled and amused by the solemn statement that if
Germany has ridden rough shod over the rights of Belgium, she has
committed no such breach of law against Holland, Denmark, and other
small states. “We have firmly respected the neutrality of Holland and
Switzerland.” It is as though an assassin should say: “True, I killed
Brown, whose money I needed sorely. But at least give me credit for not
having murdered Jones and Smith, who possess nothing that I could carry
away at present, and whose goodwill was essential to the success of my

The violation of Belgium’s neutrality was part of Germany’s plan
of campaign against France. This fact was known long ago. It was
implicitly confessed in the official answer given to Sir Edward
Goschen’s question on the subject. Yet on Sunday, August 2nd, the
German military Attaché in Brussels, in conversation with the Belgian
War Minister, exclaimed: “I cannot, for the life of me, understand
what you mean by mobilizing. Have you anything to fear? Is not your
neutrality guaranteed?” It was, but only by a scrap of paper. For a few
hours later the Belgian Government received the German ultimatum.[38]
On the following day Germany had begun to “hack her way” through
treaty rights and the laws of humanity. The document published by the
Chancellor is the mirror of German moral teaching and practice.

The reply to it, issued by the British Press Bureau, with the authority
of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, is worth reproducing:

    “Does anyone believe,” asks the German Chancellor, “that England
    would have interfered to protect Belgian freedom against France?”

    The answer is that she would unquestionably have done so. Sir
    Edward Grey, as recorded in the White Paper, asked the French
    Government “whether it was prepared to engage to respect the
    neutrality of Belgium so long as no other Power violates it.” The
    French Government replied that they were resolved to respect it.
    The assurance, it was added, had been given several times, and
    formed the subject of conversation between President Poincaré and
    the King of the Belgians.

    The German Chancellor entirely ignores the fact that England took
    the same line about Belgian neutrality in 1870 that she has taken
    now. In 1870 Prince Bismarck, when approached by England on the
    subject, admitted and respected the treaty obligations in relation
    to Belgium. The British Government stands in 1914 as it stood in
    1870; it is Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg who refused to meet us in
    1914 as Prince Bismarck met us in 1870.


    The Imperial Chancellor finds it strange that Mr. Asquith in his
    Guildhall speech did not mention the neutrality of the Scandinavian
    countries, and suggests that the reason for the omission was some
    sinister design on England’s part. It is impossible for any public
    speaker to cover the whole ground in each speech.

    The German Chancellor’s reference to Denmark and other Scandinavian
    countries can hardly be considered very tactful. With regard to
    Denmark, the Danes are not likely to have forgotten the parts
    played by Prussia and England respectively in 1863–4, when the
    Kingdom of Denmark was dismembered. And the integrity of Norway
    and Sweden was guaranteed by England and France in the Treaty of
    Stockholm in 1855.

    The Imperial Chancellor refers to the dealings of Great Britain
    with the Boer Republics, and suggests that she has been false
    therein to the cause of freedom.

    Without going into controversies now happily past, we may recall
    what General Botha said in the South African Parliament a few
    days ago, when expressing his conviction of the righteousness
    of Britain’s cause and explaining the firm resolve of the South
    African Union to aid her in every possible way: “Great Britain had
    given them a Constitution under which they could create a great
    nationality, and had ever since regarded them as a free people and
    as a sister State. Although there might be many who in the past had
    been hostile towards the British flag, he could vouch for it that
    they would ten times rather be under the British than under the
    German flag.”


    The German Chancellor is equally unfortunate in his references
    to the “Colonial Empire.” So far from British policy having been
    “recklessly egotistic,” it has resulted in a great rally of
    affection and common interest by all the British Dominions and
    Dependencies, among which there is not one which is not aiding
    Britain by soldiers or other contributions or both in this war.

    With regard to the matter of treaty obligations generally, the
    German Chancellor excuses the breach of Belgian neutrality by
    military necessity--at the same time making a virtue of having
    respected the neutrality of Holland and Switzerland, and saying
    that it does not enter his head to touch the neutrality of the
    Scandinavian countries. A virtue which admittedly is only practised
    in the absence of temptation from self-interest and military
    advantage does not seem greatly worth vaunting.

    To the Chancellor’s concluding statement that “To the German sword”
    is entrusted “the care of freedom for European peoples and States,”
    the treatment of Belgium is a sufficient answer.

Passing summarily in review the causes of the war touched upon in the
foregoing pages, the reader will have discerned that the true interest
of the story of the scrap of paper lies in the insight it affords the
world into the growth, spread, and popularization of the greatest
of human conceptions possible to a gifted people, whose religious
faith has been diverted to the wildest of political ideals and whose
national conscience has been fatally warped. For the Germans are a
highly dowered, virile race, capable, under favourable conditions,
of materially furthering the progress of humanity. In every walk of
science, art, and literature they have been in the van. Their poetry is
part of the world’s inheritance. Their philosophy at its highest level
touches that of ancient Greece. Their music is unmatched. In chemistry
and medicine they have laboured unceasingly and with results which will
never be forgotten. Into the dry bones of theology they have infused
the spirit of life and movement. In the pursuit of commerce they have
deployed a degree of ingenuity, suppleness, and enterprise which was
rewarded and may be summarized by the result that, during the twelve
years ending in 1906, their imports and exports increased by nearly one
hundred per cent.

But the national genius, of which those splendid achievements are
the fruits, has been yoked to the chariot of war in a cause which is
dissolvent of culture, trust, humanity, and of all the foundations
of organized society. That cause is the paramountcy of their race,
the elevation of Teutonism to the height occupied among mortals
by Nietzsche’s Over-man, whose will is the one reality, and whose
necessities and desires are above all law. Around this root-idea a vast
politico-racial system, partaking of the nature of a new religion, has
been elaborately built up by the non-German Prussians, and accepted
and assimilated by a docile people which was sadly deficient in the
political sense. And it is for the purpose of forcing this poisonous
creed and its corollaries upon Europe and the world that the most
tremendous war of history is now being waged. This remarkable movement
had long ago been studied and described by a few well-informed and
courageous British observers, but the true issues have been for the
first time revealed to the dullest apprehension by the historic episode
of the scrap of paper.

It is only fair to own that the Prussianized Germans have fallen from
their high estate, and become what they are solely in consequence of
the shifting of their faith from the spiritual to the political and
military sphere. Imbued with the new spirit, which is impatient of
truth when truth becomes an obstacle to success, as it is of law when
law becomes a hindrance to national aims, they have parted company with
morality to enlist in the service of a racial revival based on race
hatred. Pan-Germanism is a quasi-religious cult, and its upholders are
fanatics, persuaded of the righteousness of their cause, and resolved,
irrespective of the cost, to help it to triumph.

The non-German State, Prussia, was the bearer of this exclusively
Germanic “culture.” It fitted in with the set of the national mind,
which lacked political ideals. Austria, however, occupied a position
apart in this newest and most grandiose of latter-day religions. She
was but a tool in the hands of her mighty co-partner. “The future,”
wrote the national historian Treitschke, “belongs to Germany, with
whom Austria, if she desires to survive, must link herself.” And the
instinct of self-preservation determined her to throw in her lot with
Prussianized Germany. But even then, it is only fair to say that
Austria’s conception of her functions differed widely from that of
her overbearing Mentor. Composed of a medley of nationalities, she
eschewed the odious practice of denationalizing her Slav, Italian,
and Roumanian peoples in the interests of Teutondom. One and all they
were allowed to retain their language, cultivate their nationality,
and, when feasible, to govern themselves. But, congruously with the
subordinate rôle that fell to her, she played but a secondary part in
the preliminaries to the present conflict. Germany, who at first acted
as the unseen adviser, emerged at the second stage as principal.

We cannot too constantly remember the _mise en scène_ of the present
world-drama. Germany and Austria were dissatisfied with the Treaty
of Bucharest, and resolved to treat it as a contemptible scrap of
paper. They were to effect such a redistribution of territory as would
enable them to organize a Balkan Federation under their own auspices
and virtual suzerainty. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
offered them a splendid opening. On pretext of punishing the real
assassins and eradicating the causes of the evil, Austria was to
mutilate Servia and wedge her in among Germanophile Balkan States. The
plan was kept secret from every other Power, even from the Italian
ally--so secret, indeed, that the Russian Ambassador in Vienna was
encouraged to take leave of absence, just when the ultimatum was about
to be presented, which he did. The German Kaiser, while claiming to
be a mere outsider, as uninitiated as everybody else, was a party to
the drafting of the ultimatum, which, according to his own Ministers,
went the length of demanding of Servia the impossible. That document
was avowedly intended to provoke armed resistance, and when it was
rumoured that the Serbs were about to accept it integrally, Austrians
and Germans were dismayed. It was the Kaiser himself who had the
time-limit for an answer cut down to forty-eight hours in order to
hinder diplomatic negociations; and it was the Kaiser’s Ministers who,
having had Sir Edward Grey’s conciliatory proposals rejected, expressed
their sincere regret that, owing to the shortness of the time-limit,
they had come too late.

When the Belgrade Government returned a reply which was fitted to serve
as a basis for an arrangement, it was rejected by the Austrian Minister
almost before he could have read it through. While the Kaiser in his
letter to the Tsar, and the Imperial Chancellor in his talks with our
Ambassador, were lavishing assurances that they were working hard to
hold Austria back, the German Ambassador in Vienna, through whom they
were thus claiming to put pressure on their ally, was openly advocating
war with Servia, and emphatically declaring that Russia would have to
stand aside. At the same moment Germany’s military preparations were
secretly being pushed forward. But Austria, perceiving at last that the
Germans’ estimate of Russia’s weakness was unfounded, and she herself
faced with the nearing perils of an awful conflict with the great
Slav Empire, drew back and agreed to submit the contentious points
to mediation. Thereupon Germany sprang forward, and, without taking
the slightest account of the Servian question, presented twelve-hour
ultimatums to Russia and to France. Thus the thin pretension that she
was but an ally, bound by the sacredness of treaty obligations to help
her assailed co-partner, was cynically thrown aside, and she stood
forth in her true colours as the real aggressor.

In her forecast of the war which she had thus deliberately brought
about the sheet-anchor of her hope of success was Great Britain’s
neutrality. And on this she had built her scheme. Hence her solicitude
that, at any rate, this postulate should not be shaken. Her infamous
offer to secure it was one of the many expedients to which her Kaiser
and his statesmen had recourse. But they had misread the British
character. Their fatal misjudgment marks the fundamental divergence
in ethical thought and feeling between the “culture” of Teutonism and
the old-world civilization represented by Great Britain. They lack the
ethical sense with which to perceive the motives which inspired the
attitude of this country. They are able to understand and appreciate
a war of revenge or a war of conquest, but they are incapable of
conceiving the workings of a national mind which can undertake a costly
and bloody war merely to uphold the sacredness of a treaty--a war for a
mere scrap of paper.

In engineering this war of wanton aggression Germany committed one
capital mistake--a result of the atrophy of her moral sense: she
failed to gauge the ethical soul of the British people. She neither
anticipated nor adequately prepared for the adhesion of Great Britain
to France and Russia. And to ward off this peril when it became
visible she was ready to make heavy sacrifices--for the moment. One
of these was embodied in the promise not to annex any portion of
French territory. But here, again, this undertaking would not have
hindered her from encouraging Italy to incorporate Nice and Savoy,
as an inducement to lend a hand in the campaign. Her assumption that
England would not budge was based largely on the impending civil war
in Ireland, the trouble caused by the suffragettes, the spread of
disaffection in India and Egypt, and above all on the paramountcy of a
Radical peace party in Great Britain which was firmly opposed to war,
loathed Russian autocracy, and contemplated with dismay the prospect
of Russian victories. These favourable influences were then reinforced
by the vague promise to conclude a convention of neutrality with Great
Britain at some future time on lines to be worked out later, by the
undertaking to abstain from _annexing_ French territory in Europe,
and at last by the German Ambassador’s suggestion that the British
Government should itself name the price at which Britain’s neutrality
during the present war and her connivance at a deliberate breach of
treaty could be purchased.

That all these promises and promises of promises should have proved
abortive, and that Austria and Germany should have to take on France,
Russia, and Great Britain when they hoped to be able to confine their
attentions to little Servia, was gall and wormwood to the Kaiser’s
shifty advisers. For it constituted a superlatively bad start for
the vaster campaign, of which the Servian Expedition was meant to
be but the early overture. A new start already seems desirable, and
overtures for the purpose of obtaining it were made by the German
Ambassador at Washington, who suggested that the war should be called
a draw and terms of peace suggested by Great Britain. But the allies
had already bound themselves to make no separate peace, and their
own interests oblige them to continue the campaign until Prussian
militarism and all that it stands for have been annihilated. None the
less, it is nowise improbable that as soon as the allies have scored
such successes as may seem to bar Germany’s way to final and decisive
victory, she may endeavour, through the good offices of the United
States, to obtain peace on such terms as would allow her to recommence
her preparations on a vaster scale than ever before, amend her schemes,
correct her mistakes, and make a fresh start when her resources become
adequate to the magnitude of her undertaking. And if the allies were
ill-advised or sluggish enough to close with any such offers, they
would be endeavouring to overtake their Fate and to deserve it. What
would a peace treaty be worth, one may ask, as an instrument of moral
obligation if the nation which is expected to abide by it treats it on
principle as a scrap of paper? There can be no peace except a permanent
peace, and that can be bought only by demolishing the organization
which compelled all Europe to live in a state of latent warfare. As Mr.
Lloyd George tersely put it: “If there are nations that say they will
only respect treaties when it is to their interests to do so, we must
make it to their interests to do so.” And until we have accomplished
this there can be no thought of slackening our military and naval

One word more about German methods. Intelligent co-ordination of all
endeavours and their concentration on one and the same object is
the essence of their method and the secret of their success. German
diplomacy is cleverly and continuously aided by German journalism,
finance, industry, commerce, literature, art, and--religion. Thus,
when the Government think it necessary, and therefore right, to break
an international convention, violate the laws of war, or declare a
treaty a mere scrap of paper, they charge the State on whose rights
they are preparing to trespass with some offence which would explain
and palliate, if not justify, their illegality. It was thus that the
German Secretary of State, when asked by our Ambassador whether the
neutrality of Belgium would be respected, said evasively that certain
hostile acts had already been committed by Belgium--i.e. before the
end of July! In the same way, tales of Belgian cruelty towards German
soldiers and German _women_--as though these, too, had invaded King
Albert’s dominions--were disseminated to palliate the crimes against
Louvain, Malines, and Termonde. And now Great Britain is accused of
employing dum-dum bullets by the Kaiser, whose soldiers take hostages
and execute them, put Belgian women and children in the first firing
line, whose sailors are laying mines in the high seas, and whose most
honest statesmen are industriously disseminating deliberate forgeries
among neutral peoples. Prince Bülow, the ex-Chancellor, in an appeal to
civilized peoples for their sympathy with Germany in this iniquitous
war, operates with the forged speech mendaciously attributed to Mr.
John Burns, in which England is accused of having assailed Germany from
behind out of brutal jealousy and perpetrated the crime of high treason
against the white races!

The present Imperial Chancellor, von Bethmann Hollweg, reputed to be
the most veracious public man in Germany, has quite recently issued
a memorial for the purpose of substantiating the charges of atrocity
levelled against Belgians as a set-off to German savagery in Louvain,
Malines, and elsewhere. The Chancellor relies upon the evidence of one
Hermann Consten, a Swiss subject and a member of the Swiss Red Cross
Society, a gentleman, therefore, whose political disinterestedness
entitles him to be heard, and whose presence at Liége during the siege
is an adequate voucher for his excellent source of information.

But inquiry has elicited the facts that the description of this witness
given by the honest Chancellor is wholly untrue. The Chief of Police at
Basle, in Switzerland, has since testified that Consten is a German,
that he conducted a German agency in Basle which is believed to have
been an espionage concern, that he was charged with fraud, and after
a judicial inquiry expelled from Switzerland on September 10th, that
he was under police surveillance for two years, that he is not a Swiss
subject, nor a member of the Red Cross Society, and that, as he resided
in Switzerland during all the time that the siege of Liége was going
on, he could not have seen any of the atrocities he alleges.[39]

When the Chief of a Government descends to slippery expedients like
these to find extenuating circumstances for acts of fiendish savagery
that have staggered the world, he is unwittingly endorsing the judgment
against which he would fain appeal. And if Germany’s most veracious
statesman has no scruple to palm off barefaced lies on American and
European neutrals, what is one to think of the less truth-loving
apostles of Prussian culture?

What we in Great Britain have to expect from Germany, if now or at any
future time the anti-Christian cultural religion and inhuman maxims on
which her military creed rests get the upper hand, has been depicted
in vivid colours by Germans of all professions and political parties.
_Delenda est Carthago._ But the very mildest and fairest of all these
writers may be quoted to put us on our guard. Professor Ostwald, the
well-known German chemist, is a pacifist, a man opposed on principle
to war. In a document addressed to American pacifists for their
enlightenment as to the aims and scope of the present contest, this
bitter adversary of all militarism makes an exception in favour of that
of his own country. An enthusiast for civilization, he would gladly see
that of the British Empire destroyed. He writes:

    According to the course of the war up to the present time, European
    peace seems to me nearer than ever before. We pacifists must only
    understand that, unhappily, the time was not yet sufficiently
    developed to establish peace by the peaceful way. If Germany,
    as everything now seems to make probable, is victorious in the
    struggle not only with Russia and France, but attains the further
    end of destroying the source from which for two or three centuries
    all European strifes have been nourished and intensified, namely,
    the English policy of World Dominion, then will Germany, fortified
    on one side by its military superiority, on the other side by the
    eminently peaceful sentiment of the greatest part of its people,
    and especially of the German Emperor, dictate peace to the rest of
    Europe. I hope especially that the future treaty of peace will in
    the first place provide effectually that a European war such as the
    present can never again break out.

    I hope, moreover, that the Russian people, after the conquest of
    their armies, will free themselves from Tsarism through an internal
    movement by which the present political Russia will be resolved
    into its natural units, namely, Great Russia, the Caucasus, Little
    Russia, Poland, Siberia, and Finland, to which probably the Baltic
    Provinces would join themselves. These, I trust, would unite
    themselves with Finland and Sweden, and perhaps with Norway and
    Denmark, into a Baltic Federation, which _in close connection with
    Germany_ would ensure European peace and especially form a bulwark
    against any disposition to war which might remain in Great Russia.

    For the other side of the earth I predict a similar development
    under the leadership of the United States. I assume that the
    English Dominion will suffer a downfall similar to that which I
    have predicted for Russia, and that under these circumstances
    Canada would join the United States, the expanded republic
    assuming a certain leadership with reference to the South American

    _The principle of the absolute sovereignty of the individual
    nations_, which in the present European tumult has proved itself so
    inadequate and baneful, must be given up and replaced by a system
    conforming to the world’s actual conditions, and especially to
    those political and economic relations which determine industrial
    and cultural progress and the common welfare.[40]

The peace which this distinguished pacifist is so eager to establish on
a stable basis can only be attained by the “mailed fist,” fortified on
one side by its military superiority, and on the other by the eminently
peaceful sentiment of the German Emperor. And the means to be employed
are the utter destruction of the British Empire and the break-up of
Russia into small States under German suzerainty. This is a powerful
wrench, but it is not all. The “absolute sovereignty of the individual
nations is to be made subordinate to Germany in Europe, and, lest
Americans should find fault with the arrangements, to the United States
on the new Continent.”[41]

No peace treaty with a nation which openly avows and cynically pursues
such aims as these by methods, too, which have been universally branded
as infamous, would be of any avail. It is essential to the well being
of Europe and the continuity of human progress that the political
Antichrist, who is waging war against both, shall be vanquished, and
that peace shall be concluded only when Prussianized Germany has been
reduced to a state of political, military, and naval impotency.




(_From “The Morning Post,” September 21st, 1914_)

Under the title of “Recueil de Documents Diplomatiques. Négociations
ayant précédé la guerre,” the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs
has published at St. Petersburg an important Orange Book giving full
details of the diplomatic negociations which preceded the war. Although
dated August 6th (July 24th Old Style), it only reached London last
evening. The first document is a telegram from M. Strandtman, the
Russian Chargé d’Affaires at Belgrade, under date July 23rd, in which
he informs the Minister for Foreign Affairs in St. Petersburg that the
Austrian Minister has just sent to M. Patchou, who is representing
M. Pasitch, the Servian Minister of Finance, at six o’clock in
the evening, an ultimatum from his Government, fixing a delay of
forty-eight hours for the acceptance of the demands contained in it.
M. Pasitch and the other Ministers, who were away on an electioneering
tour, had been communicated with, and were expected to return to
Belgrade on Friday morning. M. Patchou added that he asked the aid
of Russia, and declared that no Servian Government would be able to
accept the demands of Austria. The same day M. Strandtman telegraphed
to his Government, stating what were the alleged grievances of the
Austro-Hungarian Government against Servia. The Servian Government was
to suppress the “criminal and terrorist” propaganda directed against
Austria with a view to detaching from the Dual Monarchy the territories
composing part of it. Servia was called upon to publish on the first
page of the Servian “Official Journal” of July 13th a notice to this
effect, while expressing regret for the fatal consequences of these
“criminal proceedings.”


Moreover, the Servian Government was to undertake (1) to suppress
all publications designed to excite people to hatred and contempt of
the Austrian Monarchy; (2) to dissolve at once the “Narodna Odbrana”
Society; (3) to eliminate from the curriculum of the public schools
anything tending to foment an anti-Austrian propaganda; (4) to dismiss
military and civil officers guilty of similar propaganda; (5) to accept
the collaboration of Austria in the suppression of the said “subversive
movement”; (6) to open a judicial inquiry against the partisans of the
conspiracy of June 28th still in Servia; (7) to arrest Commandant Voija
Tankositch and Milan Ciganovitch, a Servian official; (8) to prevent
illicit traffic in arms and explosives across the frontier, and dismiss
and punish severely the Servian officials at the Schabatz-Loznica
frontier guilty of having helped the authors of the crime of Sarajevo
by facilitating their passage across the frontier; (9) to give the
Austrian Government explanations as to the declarations hostile to
Austria made by high Servian officials in interviews after the crime
of June 28th; (10) to advise the Austrian Government without delay
that the above demands have been complied with. To these demands a
satisfactory reply must be given at latest by Saturday, July 25th,
at six o’clock in the evening. On the following day, July 24th, the
Minister for Foreign Affairs at St. Petersburg sent a telegram to the
Russian Chargé d’Affaires at Belgrade, in which he pointed out that the
communication of the Austrian Government gave a wholly insufficient
length of time to the Powers for dealing with the complications which
had arisen. In order to guard against the incalculable consequences,
which were equally serious for all the Powers, that might follow from
the action of the Austrian Government, it was indispensable first
of all that the delay accorded to Servia should be extended. At the
same time M. Sazonoff despatched an identical message to the Russian
Ambassadors in England, France, Germany, and Italy, in which he said he
hoped that the Governments to which they were accredited would support
the Russian Government in the view that it took.


The Prince Regent of Servia, on the same date, July 24th, wrote to
the Emperor of Russia a letter, in which, after referring to the
Austrian Note, he said that Servia, recognizing its international
duties, at the very first opportunity after the horrible crime,
declared that it condemned that crime and was ready to open an inquiry
if the complicity of certain Servian subjects should be proved in
the course of the investigations made by the Austrian authorities.
“However,” he continued, “the demands contained in the Austrian Note
are unnecessarily humiliating to Servia and incompatible with her
dignity as an independent State. We are ready to accept those Austrian
conditions which are compatible with the position of a sovereign State
as well as any which your Majesty may advise us to accept, and all
the persons whose participation in the crime shall be demonstrated
will be severely punished by us. Among the demands made by Austria
are some which could not be satisfied without certain changes in our
legislation, which would require time.”

On July 25th the Russian Chargé d’Affaires at Belgrade, in a telegram
to his Government, which did not reach Petrograd till July 27th, sent
a copy of the Servian reply to the Austrian demands, in which it
was stated that Servia had many times given proofs of a pacific and
moderate policy during the Balkan crisis. The Servian Government could
not accept responsibility for manifestations of a private character
such as were contained in newspaper articles and the peaceful work of
societies, manifestations which take place in nearly all countries in
the ordinary way, and which are not subject to official control. The
Servian Government had been painfully surprised at the allegations to
the effect that certain persons in Servia had taken part in preparing
the crime at Sarajevo.


The Servian Government proceeded to repeat its assurance that it was
willing to make all efforts to find out the guilty without regard to
rank or station, and to punish them for any complicity in that crime;
further, the Servian Government transmitted a long announcement, which
it undertook to publish on the front page of the _Journal Officiel_
of July 26th. It was largely based upon the Austrian demands, and
undertook, while formally repudiating all idea of interfering in
Austrian affairs, to warn its civil and military authorities, as well
as the entire population of the Kingdom, that it would proceed with the
utmost severity against all persons who should be guilty of such acts.
The Government undertook besides to introduce at the first sitting of
the Skupschtina a Press Law enacting severe penalties for any attempt
to excite the people to hatred and contempt of the Austrian Monarchy,
and it promised that at the forthcoming revision of the Constitution
Article 22 should be amended in such a way that such publications
could be confiscated, which under the existing law was impossible. The
Government did not possess any proof, and the Note of the Austrian
Government did not furnish any proof, that the Narodna Odbrana Society
and other similar associations had committed any criminal act.
Nevertheless, the Servian Government would accept the demand of the
Austrian Government, and would dissolve the Narodna Odbrana Society and
any other society which might act in a manner hostile to Austria. Other
points on which the Servian Government offered to meet the Austrian
demands were the elimination from the curriculum of the Servian public
elementary schools of any propaganda against Austria which could be
shown to exist, and to dismiss from the Servian service any officers
who might be shown to have been guilty of acts directed against the
integrity of Austrian territory.

The Servian Government, while protesting that it did not clearly
understand the sense and the tendency of the demand of the Austrian
Government that it should accept upon its territory the collaboration
of the Austrian Government, declared that it was ready to admit
any collaboration consistent with the principles of international
law and criminal procedure, as well as with neighbourly relations.
The Government considered it its duty to open a judicial inquiry
with regard to the conspiracy of June 28th, but could not accept
the participation of Austrian delegates, as this would involve the
violation of the Servian Constitution. On the very evening, however,
of the receipt of the Austrian Note the Government proceeded to arrest
Commandant Voija Tankositch. With regard to Milan Ciganovitch, who was
an Austrian subject, they had not been able to find him. The Government
would undertake to extend the measures taken to prevent the illicit
traffic in arms and explosives across the frontier, and would at once
order an inquiry and punish severely the frontier officials on the line
Schabatz-Loznica who neglected their duty by permitting the passage of
the authors of the crime of Sarajevo. The Government would willingly
give explanations as to the opinions expressed by its agents after
the crime, as soon as the Austrian Government would communicate the
statements in question and show that they had really been made. “In
case,” it was added, “the Austrian Government should not be satisfied
with this reply, the Servian Government, considering that it is to
the common interest not to precipitate a solution of this question,
is ready, as at all times, to accept a pacific understanding, while
remitting this question to the decision either of the International
Tribunal of The Hague or to the Great Powers which took part in the
elaboration of the declaration which the Servian Government made on
March 31st, 1909.”


On July 23rd the Russian Chargé d’Affaires in Paris telegraphed to
the Minister of Foreign Affairs in St. Petersburg: “To-day a morning
newspaper publishes in a form not entirely accurate the declarations
made yesterday by the German Ambassador, following them up with
commentaries representing them in the light of a threat. The German
Ambassador, much impressed by these revelations, paid a visit to-day
to the Acting Director of the Political Department, and informed him
that his words did not bear the construction put upon them. He declared
that Austria had presented its Note to Servia without any precise
understanding with Berlin, but that nevertheless Germany approved the
point of view of Austria, and that certainly ‘the arrow once shot’
(these were his exact words) Germany could only be guided by its duties
as an ally.”

M. Sazonoff on July 26th telegraphed to the Russian Ambassador at Rome
the following significant words: “Italy could play a rôle of the first
importance in favour of the maintenance of peace by exercising the
necessary influence on Austria and adopting an unfavourable attitude
towards the conflict, for that conflict could not be localized. It is
desirable that you should express the conviction that it is impossible
for Russia not to come to the assistance of Servia.”

On the same day that this was written the Acting Russian Consul at
Prague telegraphed to St. Petersburg the news that the mobilization in
Austria-Hungary had been decreed.

A number of documents follow which do not deal with matters that are
not more or less public property, although incidentally they show how
strenuously Sir Edward Grey was working for peace.


Even so late as July 28th the Russian Ambassador at Vienna was still
seeking a _modus vivendi_. In a telegram of that date to his Minister
for Foreign Affairs he related how he had seen Count Berchtold, and
told him in the most friendly terms how desirable it was to find a
solution which, while consolidating the good relations between Austria
and Russia, would give the Austrian Monarchy serious guarantees with
regard to its future relations with Servia. Count Berchtold replied
that he was perfectly aware of the gravity of the situation and of the
advantages of a frank explanation with the Cabinet of St. Petersburg.
On the other hand, he declared that the Austrian Government, which
had taken energetic measures against Servia much against the grain,
could no longer back out or submit to discussion any of the terms of
the Austrian Note. Count Berchtold added that the crisis had become so
acute, and public opinion had become so excited, that the Government
could not consent to do this even if it would, the more so as the
Servian reply afforded proof of a want of sincerity in its promises for
the future.


On July 29th the Russian Ambassador in France sent to his Government a
telegram saying: “Germany declares that it is necessary to exercise a
moderating influence at St. Petersburg. This sophistry has been refuted
at Paris, as at London. At Paris Baron de Schoen has in vain tried to
get France to join with Germany in pressing on Russia the necessity of
maintaining peace. The same attempts have been made at London. In both
capitals the reply was that such action ought to be taken at Vienna,
because the excessive demands of Austria, her refusal to discuss the
slight reserves made by Servia, and her declaration of war against that
country threatened to provoke a general war.”

On July 30th the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs made to the
German Ambassador in St. Petersburg the following declaration, urging
that it should be transmitted without delay to Berlin: “If Austria,
recognizing that the Austro-Servian question has assumed the character
of a European question, declares itself ready to eliminate from its
ultimatum the points directed against the sovereign rights of Servia,
Russia undertakes to cease her military preparations.”


_Communiqué_ from the Minister of Foreign Affairs concerning the events
of the last few days.

                                                       August 2nd, 1914.

A statement distorting the events of recent days having appeared in
the foreign Press, the Minister of Foreign Affairs holds it to be
his duty to publish the following _aperçu_ respecting the diplomatic
negociations that have taken place during the period above mentioned.

On July 23rd the Austro-Hungarian Minister at Belgrade presented to
the Servian Minister-President a Note in which the Servian Government
was accused of having favoured the pan-Servian movement which had
resulted in the assassination of the Heir to the Austro-Hungarian
Throne. Consequently Austria-Hungary demanded of the Servian Government
that it should not alone formally (_sous une forme solennelle_)
condemn the aforementioned propaganda, but further, under the control
of Austria-Hungary, should take sundry measures with the object of
bringing to light the plot, punishing those Servian subjects who had
taken part in it, and ensuring in the future the prevention of any such
outrage within the Kingdom. The Servian Government was allowed a period
of forty-eight hours in which to reply to this Note.

The Imperial Government, to whom the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador at
St. Petersburg had communicated the text of the Note seventeen hours
after it had been sent to Belgrade, having taken cognizance of the
demands therein contained, was forced to recognize that some of them
were fundamentally impossible of execution, while others were presented
in a form incompatible with the dignity of an independent State.
Holding as inadmissible the lowering of Servia’s dignity involved in
these demands, also the inclination of Austria-Hungary to ensure its
preponderance in the Balkans displayed in these same requirements,
the Russian Government pointed out in the most friendly manner to
Austria-Hungary the desirability of submitting the points contained in
the Austro-Hungarian Note to fresh examination. The Austro-Hungarian
Government did not think it possible to consent to any discussion
respecting the Note. The pacific action of the other Powers at Vienna
met with a like non-success.


Despite the fact that Servia had denounced the crime and had shown
herself ready to give satisfaction to Austria to an extent exceeding
that foreseen not only by Russia but also by the other Powers, the
Austro-Hungarian Minister at Belgrade considered the Servian reply
insufficient and left that city.

Recognizing the exaggerated nature of the demands presented by Austria,
Russia had already declared that it would be impossible for her to
remain indifferent, but at the same time without refusing to use all
her efforts to discover a peaceful issue which should be acceptable
to Austria and should spare its _amour propre_ as a Great Power. At
the same time Russia firmly declared that a peaceful solution of
the question could only be admitted on a basis which should imply
no diminution of the dignity of Servia as an independent State.
Unfortunately all the efforts of the Imperial Government in this
direction remained without effect.


The Austro-Hungarian Government, after having rejected all conciliatory
intervention on the part of the Powers in its dispute with Servia,
proceeded to mobilize; war was officially declared against Servia,
and on the following day Belgrade was bombarded. The manifesto which
accompanied the declaration of war openly accuses Servia of having
prepared and carried out the crime of Sarajevo. This accusation,
involving as it does an entire people and a whole State in a crime
against the common law, by its evident inanity served to enlist on
behalf of Servia the broad sympathies of Europe.


In consequence of this method of action by the Austro-Hungarian
Government, despite Russia’s declaration that she would not remain
indifferent to Servia’s fate, the Imperial Government deemed it
necessary to order the mobilization of the military circumscriptions
of Kieff, Odessa, Moscow, and Kazan. This decision was necessary
because since the date of the sending of the Austro-Hungarian Note to
the Servian Government and Russia’s first intervention five days had
elapsed; nevertheless, the Viennese Cabinet had taken no steps to meet
our pacific efforts. On the contrary, the mobilization of half the
Austro-Hungarian Army had been decreed.

The German Government was informed of the measures taken by Russia;
it was at the same time explained that these measures were simply the
consequence of Austria’s arming and were in no way directed against
Germany. The Imperial Government declared that Russia was ready to
continue the _pourparlers_ with a view to a pacific solution of the
dispute, either by means of direct negociations with the Viennese
Cabinet, or, in accordance with the proposals of Great Britain, by a
conference of the four Great Powers not directly interested, namely,
England, France, Germany, and Italy.

This effort on the part of Russia also failed. Austria-Hungary declined
a further exchange of views with us, and the Viennese Cabinet renounced
participation in the projected conference of the Powers.


Russia nevertheless did not cease her efforts in favour of peace.
Replying to the German Ambassador’s question, on what conditions
we would suspend our warlike preparations, the Minister of Foreign
Affairs said the conditions were that Austria-Hungary should recognize
that the dispute with Servia had become a European question, and that
Austria-Hungary should not insist on demands incompatible with the
sovereign rights of Servia. Russia’s proposition was judged by Germany
to be unacceptable on the part of Austria-Hungary, and simultaneously
St. Petersburg received news of the proclamation of a general
mobilization in Austria-Hungary. Meanwhile hostilities on Servian
territory continued, and there was a renewed bombardment of Belgrade.

The non-success of our pacific proposals obliged us to increase our
military precautions. The Cabinet of Berlin having addressed to us a
question on the subject, the reply was made that Russia was forced to
begin arming in order to be prepared against all eventualities. While
taking these precautions Russia continued to seek to the utmost of her
ability for an issue out of the situation, and declared herself ready
to accept any solution consistent with the conditions she had already
laid down.

In spite of this conciliatory communication the German Government, on
July 31st, addressed to the Russian Government, a demand that they
should suspend their military measures by midday on August 1st. At
the same time the German Government threatened that if Russia did
not comply they would order a general mobilization. On August 1st
the German Ambassador, in the name of his Government, transmitted a
declaration of war to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.


On August 2nd the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs sent the
following telegram to the representatives of his country abroad:

“It is quite clear that Germany is trying to throw upon us the
responsibility for the rupture. Our mobilization is due to the enormous
responsibility that we should have assumed if we had not taken all
precautions at a time when Austria, confining her negociations to
dilatory _pourparlers_, was bombarding Belgrade and carrying out a
general mobilization. His Majesty the Emperor had given his word to
the German Emperor not to undertake any aggressive act as long as the
discussions with Austria should last. After such a guarantee and all
the proofs which Russia had given of her love of peace, Germany had
no right to doubt our declaration that we would accept with joy any
peaceful issue compatible with the dignity and independence of Servia.
Any other course, while completely incompatible with our own dignity,
would have shaken the European equilibrium and assured the hegemony
of Germany. The European, even world-wide, character of the conflict
is infinitely more important than the pretext on which it has been
commenced. By her declaration of war against us while negociations
were going on between the Powers, Germany has assumed a heavy


The Austro-Hungarian Ambassador at St. Petersburg remitted to the
Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs the subjoined note at six o’clock
on the evening of August 6th:

“By order of his Government, the undersigned Ambassador of
Austria-Hungary has the honour to notify to his Excellency as follows:
Considering the menacing attitude of Russia in relation to the conflict
between the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and Servia, and in view of the
fact that as a result of this conflict Russia, after a communication
from the Cabinet of Berlin, has thought right to begin hostilities
against Germany, which consequently finds itself in a state of war with
Russia, Austria-Hungary, from the present moment considers herself
equally in a state of war with Russia.”

        _Printed in Great Britain by Hazell, Watson & Viney, Ld.
                    London and Aylesbury.--1414759_


[1] Cf. _Westminster Gazette_, September 9th, 1914.

[2] Cf. Sir M. de Bunsen’s supplementary despatch, which is reproduced
in full on pp. 129–140.

[3] “The Price of a German-English Entente.” By Professor Hans
Delbrück. (February, 1911.)

[4] “Solange es Herrn Dillon erlaubt sein wird, in der _Contemporary
Review_ über deutsche Politik seine aus Hass und Argwohn erzeugten
Phantasien vorzutragen, solange arbeiten umsonst, die da glauben, dass
durch Schiedsverträge der Frieden zwischen unsern Nationen gesichert
werden könne.”--_Preussische Jahrbücher, Mai, 1911._

[5] Cf. _Westminster Gazette_, September 14th.

[6] There is prima facie evidence for the statement that labour
strikes were being actually engineered in Russia during the crisis
which culminated in the present war by agents supplied with money from
Germany. I cannot fairly say that this has been proven.

[7] I understand that this was one of the modifications which the
Kaiser himself made in the Austrian ultimatum. I know that he also
altered something in that document, and made it sharper than was at
first intended.

[8] I endeavoured to draw the friendly attention of the French
Government to these striking defects in an unsigned article which I
published at the time.

[9] _Contemporary Review_, October, 1911, p. 569.

[10] _Contemporary Review_, January, 1912, p. 111.

[11] _Contemporary Review_, January, 1912, p. 114.

[12] _Contemporary Review_, April, 1912, p. 566.

[13] _Contemporary Review_, April, 1914, p. 571–2.

[14] One of my last articles on this subject appeared in the July issue
of the _Contemporary Review_.

[15] The general strike, accompanied in places by riots, a few months

[16] _Contemporary Review_, July, 1914, p. 122–128.

[17] _Daily Telegraph_, July 25th, 1914.

[18] Cf. Sir M. de Bunsen’s Despatch, July 29th, to Sir Edward Grey,
with White Paper.

[19] Ibidem.

[20] Cf. White Paper. Sir M. de Bunsen’s Despatch, July 30th.

[21] White Paper. Sir M. de Bunsen’s Despatch, July 30th.

[22] See White Paper. Despatch sent by Sir G. Buchanan, July 30th.

[23] White Paper. Despatch sent by the British Ambassador in St.
Petersburg, dated July 27th.

[24] Sir Edward Grey’s Despatch, July 29th.

[25] Cf. Sir M. de Bunsen’s Despatch dated London, Sept 1st.

[26] The Kaiser was then addressing his soldiers.

[27] Monday, August 3rd.

[28] Friday, July 31st, 1914.

[29] White Paper. Despatch of British Ambassador in Berlin, dated July

[30] White Paper. Sir G. Buchanan’s Despatch, July 30th.

[31] July 29th.

[32] White Paper. Sir Edward Goschen’s Despatch, July 29th.

[33] Literally “danger of war.”

[34] July 31st.

[35] July 31st.

[36] August 1st.

[37] _Daily Telegraph._

[38] _Le Soir_, August 9th; _La Metropole_, August 8th, 1914.

[39] _Westminster Gazette_, September 22nd.

[40] _Westminster Gazette_, September 18th.

[41] Ibidem.

Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in the original book; otherwise they
were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; unbalanced quotation
marks were remedied when the change was obvious, and otherwise left

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