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Title: The German War - Some Sidelights and Reflections
Author: Doyle, Arthur Conan, Sir, 1859-1930
Language: English
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THE GERMAN WAR



THE GERMAN WAR



BY

ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE

AUTHOR OF "THE GREAT BOER WAR," ETC.



HODDER AND STOUGHTON

LONDON NEW YORK TORONTO

MCMXIV



_Printed in Great Britain by Hazell, Watson & Viney, Ld.,_

_London and Aylesbury_



PREFACE


These essays, upon different phases of the wonderful world-drama
which has made our lifetime memorable, would be unworthy of
republication were it not that at such a time every smallest thing
which may help to clear up a doubt, to elucidate the justice of our
cause, or to accentuate the desperate need of national effort,
should be thrown into the scale. The longest essay appeared in _The
Fortnightly Review_ and the shorter ones for the most part in _The
Daily Chronicle_. I have left them as written at the time, even
where after-events have caused some modification of my views.

                                             ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE.
  WINDLESHAM, CROWBOROUGH,
      _November 1914._



CONTENTS


                                                PAGE
     I.   THE CAUSES OF THE WAR                    1

    II.   THE WORLD-WAR CONSPIRACY                32

   III.   THE DEVIL'S DOCTRINE                    41

    IV.   THE GREAT GERMAN PLOT                   55

     V.   THE "CONTEMPTIBLE LITTLE ARMY"          65

    VI.   A POLICY OF MURDER                      79

   VII.   MADNESS                                 89

  VIII.   GREAT BRITAIN AND THE NEXT WAR          99

    IX.   AFTERTHOUGHTS                          144


       *       *       *       *       *



I

THE CAUSES OF THE WAR


  This article, stating the British case, was issued as a
  recruiting pamphlet in Great Britain, but was used abroad
  as a simple explanation which would enable neutrals to
  understand the true facts. It was published in full by
  fifty leading journals in the United States, and was
  translated into Dutch and Danish, 25,000 copies being
  distributed in each country.

The causes of the war are only of moment to us, at this stage, in
that we gain more strength in our arms and more iron in our souls by
a knowledge that it is for all that is honourable and sacred for
which we fight. What really concerns us is that we are in a fight
for our national life, that we must fight through to the end, and
that each and all of us must help, in his own fashion, to the last
ounce of his strength, that this end may be victory. That is the
essence of the situation. It is not words and phrases that we need,
but men, men--and always more men. If words can bring the men, then
they are of avail. If not, they may well wait for the times to mend.
But if there is a doubt in the mind of any man as to the justice of
his country's quarrel, then even a writer may find work ready to his
hand.

Let us cast our minds back upon the events which have led up to this
conflict. They may be divided into two separate classes--those which
prepared the general situation, and those which caused the special
quarrel. Each of these I will treat in its turn.

It is a matter of common knowledge, one which a man must be blind
and deaf not to understand, that for many years Germany, intoxicated
by her success in war and by her increase of wealth, has regarded
the British Empire with eyes of jealousy and hatred. It has never
been alleged by those who gave expression to this almost universal
national passion that Great Britain had in any way, either
historically or commercially, done Germany a mischief. Even our most
bitter traducers, when asked to give any definite historical reasons
for their dislike, were compelled to put forward such ludicrous
excuses as that the British had abandoned the Prussian King in the
year 1761, quite oblivious of the fact that the same Prussian King
had abandoned his own allies in the same war under far more damaging
circumstances, acting up to his own motto that no promises are
binding where the vital interests of a State are in question. With
all their malevolence they could give no examples of any ill turn
done by us until their deliberate policy had forced us into
antagonism. On the other hand, a long list of occasions could very
easily be compiled on which we had helped them in some common cause
from the days of Marlborough to those of Blücher. Until the
twentieth century had turned they had no possible cause for
political hatred against us. In commerce our record was even more
clear. Never in any way had we interfered with that great
development of trade which has turned them from one of the poorest
to one of the richest of European States. Our markets were open to
them untaxed, whilst our own manufactures paid 20 per cent. in
Germany. The markets of India, of Egypt, and of every portion of
the Empire which had no self-appointed tariff, were as open to
German goods as to British ones. Nothing could possibly have been
more generous than our commercial treatment. No doubt there was some
grumbling when cheap imitations of our own goods were occasionally
found to oust the originals from their markets. Such a feeling was
but natural and human. But in all matters of commerce, as in all
matters political before the dawn of this century, they have no
shadow of a grievance against us.

And yet they hated us with a most bitter hatred, a hatred which long
antedates the days when we were compelled to take a definite stand
against them. In all sorts of ways this hatred showed itself--in the
diatribes of professors, in the pages of books, in the columns of
the Press. Usually it was a sullen, silent dislike. Sometimes it
would flame up suddenly into bitter utterance, as at the time of the
unseemly dispute around the deathbed of the Emperor's father, or on
the occasion of the Jameson Raid. And yet this bitter antagonism was
in no way reciprocated in this country. If a poll had been taken at
any time up to the end of the century as to which European country
was our natural ally, the vote would have gone overwhelmingly for
Germany. "America first and then Germany" would have been the
verdict of nine men out of ten. But then occurred two events which
steadied the easy-going Briton, and made him look more intently and
with a more questioning gaze at his distant cousin over the water.
Those two events were the Boer War and the building of the German
fleet. The first showed us, to our amazement, the bitter desire
which Germany had to do us some mischief, the second made us realise
that she was forging a weapon with which that desire might be
fulfilled.

We are most of us old enough to remember the torrent of calumny and
insult which was showered upon us in the day of our temporary
distress by the nation to whom we had so often been a friend and an
ally. It is true that other nations treated us little better, and
yet their treatment hurt us less. The difference as it struck men at
the time may be summarised in this passage from a British writer of
the period.

"But it was very different with Germany," he says. "Again and again
in the world's history we have been the friends and the allies of
these people. It was so in the days of Marlborough, in those of the
Great Frederick, and in those of Napoleon. When we could not help
them with men we helped them with money. Our fleet has crushed their
enemies. And now, for the first time in history, we have had a
chance of seeing who were our friends in Europe, and nowhere have we
met more hatred and more slander than from the German Press and the
German people. Their most respectable journals have not hesitated to
represent the British troops--troops every bit as humane and as
highly disciplined as their own--not only as committing outrages on
person and property, but even as murdering women and children.

"At first this unexpected phenomenon merely surprised the British
people, then it pained them, and finally, after two years of it, it
has roused a deep, enduring anger in their minds."

He goes on to say, "The continued attacks upon us have left an
enduring feeling of resentment, which will not and should not die
away in this generation. It is not too much to say that five years
ago a complete defeat of Germany in a European war would have
certainly caused British intervention. Public sentiment and racial
affinity would never have allowed us to see her really go to the
wall. And now it is certain that in our lifetime no British guinea
and no soldier's life would under any circumstances be spent for
such an end. That is one strange result of the Boer War, and in the
long run it is possible that it may prove not the least important."

Such was the prevailing mood of the nation when they perceived
Germany, under the lead of her Emperor, following up her expressions
of enmity by starting with restless energy to build up a formidable
fleet, adding programme to programme, out of all possible proportion
to the German commerce to be defended or to the German coastline
exposed to attack. Already vainglorious boasts were made that
Germany was the successor to Britain upon the seas. "The Admiral of
the Atlantic greets the Admiral of the Pacific," said the Kaiser in
a message to the Czar. What was Britain to do under this growing
menace? So long as she was isolated the diplomacy of Germany might
form some naval coalition against her. She took the steps which were
necessary for her own safety, and without forming an alliance she
composed her differences with France and Russia and drew closer the
friendship which united her with her old rival across the Channel.
The first-fruit of the new German fleet was the _entente cordiale_.
We had found our enemy. It was necessary that we should find our
friends. Thus we were driven into our present combination.

And now we had to justify our friendship. For the first time we were
compelled to openly oppose Germany in the deep and dangerous game of
world politics. They wished to see if our understanding was a
reality or a sham. Could they drive a wedge between us by showing
that we were a fair-weather friend whom any stress would alienate.
Twice they tried it, once in 1906 when they bullied France into a
conference at Algeciras, but found that Britain was firm at her
side, and again in 1911 when in a time of profound peace they
stirred up trouble by sending a gunboat to Agadir, and pushed
matters to the very edge of war. But no threats induced Britain to
be false to her mutual insurance with France. Now for the third and
most fatal time they have demanded that we forswear ourselves and
break our own bond lest a worse thing befall us. Blind and foolish,
did they not know by past experience that we would keep our promise
given? In their madness they have wrought an irremediable evil to
themselves, to us, and to all Europe.

I have shown that we have in very truth never injured nor desired to
injure Germany in commerce, nor have we opposed her politically
until her own deliberate actions drove us into the camp of her
opponents. But it may well be asked why then did they dislike us,
and why did they weave hostile plots against us? It was that, as it
seemed to them, and as indeed it actually may have been, we
independently of our own wills stood between Germany and that world
empire of which she dreamed. This was caused by circumstances over
which we had no control and which we could not modify if we had
wished to do so. Britain, through her maritime power and the energy
of her merchants and people, had become a great world power when
Germany was still unformed. Thus, when she had grown to her full
stature she found that the choice places of the world and those most
fitted for the spread of a transplanted European race were already
filled up. It was not a matter which we could help, nor could we
alter it, since Canada, Australia, and South Africa would not, even
if we could be imagined to have wished it, be transferred to German
rule. And yet the Germans chafed, and if we can put ourselves in
their places we may admit that it was galling that the surplus of
their manhood should go to build up the strength of an alien and
possibly a rival State. So far we could see their grievance, or
rather their misfortune, since no one was in truth to blame in the
matter. Had their needs been openly and reasonably expressed, and
had the two States moved in concord in the matter, it is difficult
to think that no helpful solution of any kind could have been
found.

But the German method of approaching the problem has never been to
ask sympathy and co-operation, but to picture us as a degenerate
race from whom anything might be gained by playing upon our imagined
weakness and cowardice. A nation which attends quietly to its own
sober business must, according to their mediæval notions, be a
nation of decadent poltroons. If we fight our battles by means of
free volunteers instead of enforced conscripts, then the military
spirit must be dead amongst us. Perhaps, even in this short
campaign, they have added this delusion also to the dust-bin of
their many errors. But such was their absurd self-deception about
the most virile of European races. Did we propose disarmament, then
it was not humanitarianism but cowardice that prompted us, and their
answer was to enlarge their programme. Did we suggest a
navy-building holiday, it was but a cloak for our weakness, and an
incitement that they should redouble their efforts. Our decay had
become a part of their national faith. At first the wish may have
been the father to the thought, but soon under the reiterated
assertions of their crazy professors the proposition became
indisputable. Bernhardi in his book upon the next war cannot conceal
the contempt in which he has learned to hold us. Niebuhr long ago
had prophesied the coming fall of Britain, and every year was
believed to bring it nearer and to make it more certain. To these
jaundiced eyes all seemed yellow, when the yellowness lay only in
themselves. Our army, our navy, our Colonies, all were equally
rotten. "Old England, old, indeed, and corrupt, rotten through and
through." One blow and the vast sham would fly to pieces, and from
those pieces the victor could choose his reward. Listen to Professor
Treitschke, a man who, above all others, has been the evil genius of
his country, and has done most to push it towards this abyss: "A
thing that is wholly a sham," he cried, in allusion to our Empire,
"cannot, in this universe of ours, endure for ever. It may endure
for a day, but its doom is certain." Were ever words more true when
applied to the narrow bureaucracy and swaggering Junkerdom of
Prussia, the most artificial and ossified sham that ever our days
have seen? See which will crack first, our democracy or this, now
that both have been plunged into the furnace together. The day of
God's testing has come, and we shall see which can best abide it.

I have tried to show that we are in no way to blame for the
hostility which has grown up between us. So far as it had any solid
cause at all it has arisen from fixed factors, which could no more
be changed by us than the geographical position which has laid us
right across their exit to the oceans of the world. That this
deeply-rooted national sentiment, which for ever regarded us as the
Carthage to which they were destined to play the part of Rome,
would, sooner or later, have brought about war between us, is, in my
opinion, beyond all doubt. But it was planned to come at the moment
which was least favourable for Britain. "Even English attempts at a
_rapprochement_ must not blind us to the real situation," says
Bernhardi. "We may, at most, use them to delay the necessary and
inevitable war until we may fairly imagine we have some prospect of
success." A more shameless sentence was never penned, and one
stands marvelling which is the more grotesque--the cynicism of the
sentiment, or the folly which gave such a warning to the victim. For
be it remembered that Bernhardi's words are to be taken very
seriously, for they are not the ravings of some Pan-German
monomaniac, but the considered views of the foremost military writer
of Germany, one who is in touch with those inner circles whose
opinions are the springs of national policy. "Our last and greatest
reckoning is to be with Great Britain," said the bitter Treitschke.
Sooner or later the shock was to come. Germany sat brooding over the
chessboard of the world waiting for the opening which should assure
a winning game.

It was clear that she should take her enemies separately rather than
together. If Britain were attacked, it was almost certain that
France and Russia would stand by her side. But if, on the contrary,
the quarrel could be made with these two Powers, and especially with
Russia, in the first instance, then it was by no means so certain
that Great Britain would be drawn into the struggle. Public opinion
has to be strongly moved before our country can fight, and public
opinion under a Liberal Government might well be divided upon the
subject of Russia. Therefore, if the quarrel could be so arranged as
to seem to be entirely one between Teuton and Slav there was a good
chance that Britain would remain undecided until the swift German
sword had done its work. Then, with the grim acquiescence of our
deserted Allies, the still bloody sword would be turned upon
ourselves, and that great final reckoning would have come.

Such was the plan, and fortune favoured it. A brutal murder had, not
for the first time, put Servia into a position where a State may be
blamed for the sins of individuals. An ultimatum was launched so
phrased that it was impossible for any State to accept it as it
stood and yet remain an independent State. At the first sign of
argument or remonstrance the Austrian army marched upon Belgrade.
Russia, which had been already humiliated in 1908 by the forcible
annexation of Bosnia, could not possibly submit a second time to the
Caudine Forks. She laid her hand upon her sword-hilt. Germany
sprang to the side of her Ally. France ranged herself with Russia.
Like a thunderclap the war of the nations had begun.

So far all had worked well for German plans. Those of the British
public who were familiar with the past and could look into the future
might be well aware that our interests were firmly bound with those
of France, and that if our faggots were not tied together they would
assuredly be snapped each in its turn. But the unsavoury
assassination which had been so cleverly chosen as the starting-point
of the war bulked large in the eyes of our people, and, setting
self-interest to one side, the greater part of the public might well
have hesitated to enter into a quarrel where the cause seemed remote
and the issues ill-defined. What was it to us if a Slav or a Teuton
collected the harbour dues of Salonica! So the question might have
presented itself to the average man who in the long run is the ruler
of this country and the autocrat of its destinies. In spite of all
the wisdom of our statesmen, it is doubtful if on such a quarrel we
could have gained that national momentum which might carry us to
victory. But at that very moment Germany took a step which removed
the last doubt from the most cautious of us and left us in a position
where we must either draw our sword or stand for ever dishonoured and
humiliated before the world. The action demanded of us was such a
compound of cowardice and treachery that we ask ourselves in dismay
what can we ever have done that could make others for one instant
imagine us to be capable of so dastardly a course? Yet that it was
really supposed that we could do it, and that it was not merely put
forward as an excuse for drawing us into war, is shown by the anger
and consternation of the Kaiser and his Chancellor when we drew back
from what the British Prime Minister has described as "an infamous
proposal." One has only to read our Ambassador's description of his
interview with the German Chancellor after our decision was
announced, "so evidently overcome by the news of our action," to see
that through some extraordinary mental aberration the German rulers
did actually believe that a vital treaty with Britain's signature
upon it could be regarded by this country as a mere "scrap of paper."

What was this treaty which it was proposed so lightly to set aside?
It was the guarantee of the neutrality of Belgium signed in 1839
(confirmed verbally and in writing by Bismarck in 1870), by Prussia,
France, and Britain, each of whom pledged their word to observe and
to enforce it. On the strength of it Belgium had relied for her
security amidst her formidable neighbours. On the strength of it
also France had lavished all her defences upon her eastern frontier,
and left her northern exposed to attack. Britain had guaranteed the
treaty, and Britain could be relied upon. Now, on the first occasion
of testing the value of her word it was supposed that she would
regard the treaty as a worthless scrap of paper, and stand by
unmoved while the little State which had trusted her was flooded by
the armies of the invader. It was unthinkable, and yet the wisest
brains of Germany seem to have persuaded themselves that we had sunk
to such depths of cowardly indolence that even this might go
through. Surely they also have been hypnotised by those foolish
dreams of Britain's degeneration, from which they will have so
terrible an awakening.

As a matter of fact, the General Staff had got ahead of the
diplomatists, and the German columns were already over the border
while the point was being debated at Berlin. There was no retreat
from the position which had been taken up. "It is to us a vital
matter of strategy and is beyond argument," said the German soldier.
"It is to us a vital matter of honour and is beyond argument,"
answered the British statesman. The die was cast. No compromise was
possible. Would Britain keep her word or would she not? That was the
sole question at issue. And what answer save one could any Briton
give to it? "I do not believe," said our Prime Minister, "that any
nation ever entered into a great controversy with a clearer
conscience and stronger conviction that she is fighting, not for
aggression, not for the maintenance of her own selfish interest, but
in defence of principles the maintenance of which is vital to the
civilisation of the world." So he spoke, and History will endorse
his words, for we surely have our quarrel just.

So much for the events which have led us to war. Now for a moment
let us glance at what we may have to hope for, what we may have to
fear, and above all what we must each of us do that we win through
to a lasting peace.

What have we to gain if we win? That we have nothing material to
gain, no colonies which we covet, no possessions of any sort that we
desire, is the final proof that the war has not been provoked by us.
No nation would deliberately go out of its way to wage so hazardous
and costly a struggle when there is no prize for victory. But one
enormous indirect benefit we will gain if we can make Germany a
peaceful and harmless State. We will surely break her naval power
and take such steps that it shall not be a menace to us any more. It
was this naval power, with its rapid increase, and the need that we
should ever, as Mr. Churchill has so well expressed it, be ready at
our average moment to meet an attack at their chosen moment--it was
this which has piled up our war estimates during the last ten years
until they have bowed us down. With such enormous sums spent upon
ships and guns, great masses of capital were diverted from the
ordinary channels of trade, while an even more serious result was
that our programmes of social reform had to be curtailed from want
of the money which could finance them. Let the menace of that
lurking fleet be withdrawn--the nightmare of those thousand hammers
working day and night in forging engines for our destruction, and
our estimates will once again be those of a civilised Christian
country, while our vast capital will be turned from measures of
self-protection to those of self-improvement. Should our victory be
complete, there is little which Germany can yield to us save the
removal of that shadow which has darkened us so long. But our
children and our children's children will never, if we do our work
well now, look across the North Sea with the sombre thoughts which
have so long been ours, while their lives will be brightened and
elevated by money which we, in our darker days, have had to spend
upon our ships and our guns.

Consider, on the other hand, what we should suffer if we were to
lose. All the troubles of the last ten years would be with us still,
but in a greatly exaggerated form. A larger and stronger Germany
would dominate Europe and would overshadow our lives. Her coast-line
would be increased, her ports would face our own, her coaling
stations would be in every sea, and her great army, greater then
than ever, would be within striking distance of our shores. To avoid
sinking for ever into the condition of a dependant, we should be
compelled to have recourse to rigid compulsory service, and our
diminished revenues would be all turned to the needs of
self-defence. Such would be the miserable condition in which we
should hand on to our children that free and glorious empire which
we inherited in all the fulness of its richness and its splendour
from those strong fathers who have built it up. What peace of mind,
what self-respect could be left for us in the remainder of our
lives? The weight of dishonour would lie always upon our hearts. And
yet this will be surely our fate and our future if we do not nerve
our souls and brace our arms for victory. No regrets will avail, no
excuses will help, no after-thoughts can profit us. It is
now--_now_--even in these weeks and months that are passing that the
final reckoning is being taken, and when once the sum is made up no
further effort can change it. What are our lives or our labours, our
fortunes or even our families, when compared with the life or death
of the great mother of us all? We are but the leaves of the tree.
What matter if we flutter down to-day or to-morrow, so long as the
great trunk stands and the burrowing roots are firm? Happy the man
who can die with the thought that in this greatest crisis of all he
has served his country to the uttermost; but who would bear the
thoughts of him who lives on with the memory that he has shirked his
duty and failed his country at the moment of her need?

There is a settled and assured future if we win. There is darkness
and trouble if we lose. But if we take a broader sweep and trace the
meanings of this contest as they affect others than ourselves, then
ever greater, more glorious are the issues for which we fight. For
the whole world stands at a turning-point of its history, and one or
other of two opposite principles, the rule of the soldier or the
rule of the citizen, must now prevail. In this sense we fight for
the masses of the German people, as some day they will understand,
to free them from that formidable military caste which has used and
abused them, spending their bodies in an unjust war and poisoning
their minds by every device which could inflame them against those
who wish nothing save to live at peace with them. We fight for the
strong, deep Germany of old, the Germany of music and of philosophy,
against this monstrous modern aberration the Germany of blood and of
iron, the Germany from which, instead of the old things of beauty,
there come to us only the rant of scolding professors with their
final reckonings, their Welt-politik, and their Godless theories of
the Superman who stands above morality and to whom all humanity
shall be subservient. Instead of the world-inspiring phrases of a
Goethe or a Schiller, what are the words in the last decade which
have been quoted across the sea? Are they not always the
ever-recurring words of wrath from one ill-balanced man? "Strike
them with the mailed fist." "Leave such a name behind you as Attila
and his Huns." "Turn your weapons even upon your own flesh and blood
at my command." These are the messages which have come from this
perversion of a nation's soul.

But the matter lies deep. The Hohenzollerns and the Hapsburgs have
used their peoples as a great landowner might use the serfs upon his
estate. It was, and is, their openly expressed theory that they were
in their position by the grace of God, that they owed no reckoning
to any man, and that kingdom and folk were committed for better or
worse to their charge. Round this theory of the dark ages there
gathered all the forces of the many Courts of the Empire, all the
nobility who make so huge a class in Germanic countries, all the
vast army to whom strict discipline and obedience were the breath of
life, all the office-holders of the State, all the purveyors of
warlike stores. These and their like were the natural setting to
such a central idea. Court influence largely controlled the
teaching at schools and universities, and so the growing twig could
be bent. But all these forces together could not have upheld so
dangerous and unnatural a theory had it not been for the influence
of a servile Press.

How that Press was managed, how the thoughts of the people could be
turned to the right or the left with the same precision as a platoon
of Grenadiers, has been shown clearly enough in the Memoirs of
Bismarck. Public opinion was poisoned at its very roots. The average
citizen lived in a false atmosphere where everything was distorted
to his vision. He saw his Kaiser, not as an essentially weak and
impetuous man with a dangerous entourage who were ever at his ear,
but as Germany personified, an angel with a flaming sword, beating
back envious assailants from the beloved Fatherland. He saw his
neighbours not as peaceful nations who had no possible desire to
attack him, but, on the contrary, lived in constant fear of him, but
as a band of envious and truculent conspirators who could only be
kept in order by the sudden stamp of the jackboot and the menacing
clatter of the sabre. He insensibly imbibed the Nietzsche doctrine
that the immorality of the Superman may be as colossal as his
strength and that the slave-evangel of Christianity was superseded
by a sterner law. Thus when he saw acts which his reason must have
told him were indefensible, he was still narcotised by this
conception of some new standard of right. He saw his Kaiser at the
time of a petty humiliation to Great Britain sending a telegram of
congratulation to the man who had inflicted this rebuff. Could that
be approved by reason? At a time when all Europe was shuddering over
the Armenian massacres he saw this same Kaiser paying a
complimentary visit to the Sultan whose hands were still wet with
the blood of murdered Christians. Could that be reconciled with what
is right? A little later he saw the Kaiser once again pushing
himself into Mediterranean politics, where no direct German interest
lay, and endeavouring to tangle up the French developments in
Northern Africa by provocative personal appearances at Morocco, and,
later, by sending a gunboat to intrude upon a scene of action which
had already by the Treaty of Algeciras been allotted to France.

How could an honest German whose mind was undebauched by a
controlled Press justify such an interference as that? He is or
should be aware that in annexing Bosnia, Austria was tearing up a
treaty without the consent of the other signatories, and that his
own country was supporting and probably inciting her ally to this
public breach of faith. Could he honestly think that this was right?
And, finally, he must know, for his own Chancellor has publicly
proclaimed it, that the Invasion of Belgium was a breach of
international right, and that Germany, or rather, Prussia, had
perjured herself upon the day that the first of her soldiers passed
over the frontier. How can he explain all this to himself save on a
theory that might is right, that no moral law applies to the
Superman, and that so long as one hews one's way through the rest
can matter little? To such a point of degradation have public morals
been brought by the infernal teachings of Prussian military
philosophy, dating back as far as Frederick the Second, but
intensified by the exhortations of Press and professors during our
own times. The mind of the average kindly German citizen has been
debauched and yet again debauched until it needed just such a world
crisis as this to startle him at last from his obsession and show
him his position and that of his country in its true relation with
humanity and progress.

Thus I say that for the German who stands outside the ruling classes
our victory would bring a lasting relief, and some hope that in the
future his destiny should be controlled by his own judgment and not
by the passions or interests of those against whom he has at present
no appeal. A system which has brought disaster to Germany and chaos
to all Europe can never, one would think, be resumed, and amid the
debris of his Empire the German may pick up that precious jewel of
personal freedom which is above the splendour of foreign conquest. A
Hapsburg or a Hohenzollern may find his true place as the servant
rather than the master of a nation. But apart from Germany, look at
the effects which our victory must have over the whole wide world.
Everywhere it will mean the triumph of reasoned democracy, of
public debate, of ordered freedom in which every man is an active
unit in the system of his own government; whilst our defeat would
stand for a victory to a privileged class, the thrusting down of the
civilian by the arrogance and intolerance of militarism, and the
subjection of all that is human and progressive to all that is
cruel, narrow, and reactionary.

This is the stake for which we play, and the world will lose or gain
as well as we. You may well come, you democratic over-sea men of our
blood, to rally round us now, for all that you cherish, all that is
bred in your very bones, is that for which we fight. And you, lovers
of Freedom in every land, we claim at least your prayers and your
wishes, for if our sword be broken you will be the poorer. But fear
not, for our sword will not be broken, nor shall it ever drop from
our hands until this matter is for ever set in order. If every ally
we have upon earth were to go down in blood and ruin, still would we
fight through to the appointed end. Defeat shall not daunt us.
Inconclusive victory shall not turn us from our purpose. The grind
of poverty and the weariness of hopes deferred shall not blunt the
edge of our resolve. With God's help we shall go to the end, and
when that goal is reached it is our prayer that a new era shall come
as our reward, an era in which, by common action of State with
State, mutual hatreds and strivings shall be appeased, land shall no
longer be estranged from land, and huge armies and fleets will be
nightmares of the past. Thus, as ever, the throes of evil may give
birth to good. Till then our task stands clear before us--a task
that will ask for all we have in strength and resolution. Have you
who read this played your part to the highest? If not, do it now, or
stand for ever shamed.


       *       *       *       *       *



II

THE WORLD-WAR CONSPIRACY


It is instructive and interesting now,[1] before fresh great events
and a new situation obliterate the old impressions, to put it on
record how things seemed to some of us before the blow fell. A
mental position often seems incredible when looked back to from some
new standpoint.

  [1] August 20, 1914.

I am one of those who were obstinate in refusing to recognise
Germany's intentions. I argued, I wrote, I joined the Anglo-German
Friendship Society; I did everything I could for the faith that was
in me. But early last year my views underwent a complete change, and
I realised that I had been wrong, and that the thing which seemed
too crazy and too wicked to be true actually was true. I recorded my
conversion at the time in an article entitled "Great Britain and
the Next War" in the _Fortnightly_ of March, and reading over that
article I find a good deal which fits very closely to the present
situation. Forecasts are dangerous, but there is not much there
which I would wish to withdraw. What brought about my change of view
was reading Bernhardi's book on Germany and the next war.

Up to then I had imagined that all this sabre-rattling was a sort of
boyish exuberance on the part of a robust young nation which had a
fancy to clank about the world in jackboots. Some of it also came,
as it seemed to me, from a perfectly natural jealousy, and some as
the result of the preaching of those extraordinary professors whose
idiotic diatribes have done so much to poison the minds of Young
Germany. This was clear enough. But I could not believe that there
was a conspiracy hatching for a world-war, in which the command of
the sea would be challenged as well as that of the land. No motive
seemed to me to exist for so monstrous an upheaval, and no prize to
await Germany, if she won, which could at all balance her enormous
risks if she lost. Besides, one imagined that civilisation and
Christianity did stand for something, and that it was inconceivable
that a nation with pretensions to either the one or the other could
at this date of the world's history lend itself to a cold-blooded,
barbarous conspiracy by which it built up its strength for a number
of years with the intention of falling at a fitting moment upon its
neighbours, without any cause of quarrel save a general desire for
aggrandisement.

All this, I say, I could not bring myself to believe. But I read
Bernhardi's book, and then I could not help believing. I wrote an
article in the hope that others who had been as blind as myself
might also come to see the truth. For who was Bernhardi? He was one
of the most noted officers in the German army. And here was a book
addressed to his own fellow-countrymen, in which these sentiments
were set forth. You could not set such a document aside and treat it
as of no account. As I said at the time, "We should be mad if we did
not take very serious notice of the warning."

But the strange thing is that there should have been a warning.
There is a quaint simplicity in the German mind, which has shown
itself again and again in the recent events. But this is surely the
supreme example of it. One would imagine that the idea that the book
could be translated and read by his intended victims had never
occurred to the author. As a famous soldier, it is impossible to
believe that he was not in touch with the General Staff, and he
outlines a policy which has some reason, therefore, to be looked
upon as an official one. It is as bright a performance as if some
one on Lord Roberts's staff had written a description of the
Paardeberg flank march and sent it to Cronje some weeks before it
was carried out. And yet it was not an isolated example, for Von
Edelsheim, who actually belongs to this amazing General Staff,
published a shorter sketch, setting forth how his country would deal
with the United States--an essay which is an extraordinary example
of bombastic ignorance. Such indiscretions can only be explained as
manifestations of an inflated national arrogance, which has blown
itself up into a conviction that Germany was so sure of winning
that it mattered little whether her opponents were upon their guard
or not.

But Bernhardi's programme, as outlined in his book, is actually
being carried through. The whole weight of the attack was to be
thrown upon France. Russia was to be held back during her slow
mobilisation, and then the victorious legions from Paris were to
thunder across in their countless troop trains from the western to
the eastern firing-line. Britain was to be cajoled into keeping
aloof until her fate was ripe. Then her fleet was to be whittled
down by submarines, mines, and torpedo-boats until the numbers were
more equal, when the main German fleet, coming from under the forts
of Wilhelmshaven, should strike for the conquest of the sea. Such
were the plans, and dire the fate of the conquered. They were in
accordance with the German semi-official paper, which cried on the
day before the declaration of war: "We shall win--and when we do,
'Vae victis!'" With France it was to be a final account. Our own
fate would be little better. It needs a righteous anger to wage war
to the full, and we can feel it when we think of the long-drawn
plot against us, and of the fate which defeat would bring.

However favourable the general trend of events, we can hardly hope
to escape some bad hours during this war. The Germans are a great
and brave people, with a fine record in warlike history. They will
not go down without leaving their mark deep upon the Allies. We must
not take the opening successes too seriously, or allow ourselves to
have the edge taken off our resolution by the idea that things will
necessarily go well with us. On land and sea vast efforts and
occasional disappointments will await us. But it will not be long.
It is, as it seems to me, absolutely impossible that it should be
long. The temper of the times will not brook slow measures, nor will
the enormous financial strain upon Germany be tolerated
indefinitely. How dangerous is prophecy, and these very words may
come back to mock me; but I cannot myself see how it can be over in
less than six months, or how it could extend for more than twelve.

If it should happen that the military affairs of Germany are as
rotten as her diplomacy, then it certainly should not last long.
That, no doubt, is too much to expect, but there are many degrees of
incapacity which are short of that extreme limit. For of that, at
least, there can be no dispute. What has come from all this crazy
science of Real-politik and Welt-politik and the rest of it? Simply
that wherever it was possible to lose the trick Germany and her
partner have done so. An alliance with Italy so loose that it was
useless, a Mediterranean understanding with Austria so vague that it
only operated after it had become of no service to the German
cruisers, the drawing of Servia, Montenegro, and, finally, of
Belgium, into the field against them, the dealing with England in
the one fashion which must unite our ranks and cut the ground from
under the feet of any party which might cause dissension--these are
the results of the Wilhelmstrasse combinations, with Potsdam
embellishments. Was there ever so colossal a muddle? Is there any
one point which could have been worse handled? And then as a
by-product the universal distrust and anger which such policy has
aroused in the neutral countries--yes, it really is a thing
complete.

But the German soldier may prove himself as good as ever. That he
will be as brave as ever I have no doubt at all. That he will be as
hardy as ever is less likely, as the population of the Fatherland
has drifted largely from fields to factories, and as the standard of
comfort, and even luxury, have greatly increased. The Westphalian
artisan of William is very different material from the Brandenburg
peasant of Frederick, even as the short-service soldier of 1914 is
very different from the ten-year man of 1750. I should expect to see
the German as good, but no better than his neighbours. But the whole
issue of this campaign depends, from his point of view, upon his
being better. He has to win against superior numbers. He must not
only win, but win quickly. If an equilibrium were established, the
strangulation from England must bring victory to the Allies. It is a
great deal that the Kaiser has asked from his men.

And there is his much-vaunted military organisation. An American
friend of mine, who had means of forming an opinion, remarked to
me, "Yes, it is a huge and smooth-running machine, with delicate
adjustments. Like all such machines, if a few cogwheels stuck the
whole might racket itself to pieces." A cogwheel stuck at Liége,
another may stick before long, and it all depends on how the machine
can adjust itself. The lesson of history is ominous. The Prussians
of Jena and Auerstadt were men who had been swollen up by the
tradition of Frederick's prowess. Yet in a single day their defeat
was so great and their power of recuperation so slight that they
were utterly dispersed, and their country for seven years ceased to
exist as a factor in European politics. They have always been great
winners. They have not always been great in adversity. How will they
now stand this test if it should come their way?


       *       *       *       *       *



III

THE DEVIL'S DOCTRINE


I have been interesting and exasperating myself, during a most
untimely illness,[2] by working through a part of the literature of
German Imperial Expansion. I know that it is only a part, and yet
when I look at this array--Treitschke and Bernhardi, Schiemann and
Hasse, Bley, Sybel, "Gross-Deutschland" and "Germania Triumphans"--it
represents a considerable body of thought. And it is the literature
of the devil. Not one kindly sentiment, not one generous expression,
is to be found within it. It is informed with passionate cupidity for
the writer's country and unreasoning, indiscriminate hatred and
jealousy towards everything outside it--above all, towards the
British Empire. How could such a literature fail to bring about a
world-coalition against the country which produced it! Were there no
Germans who foresaw so obvious a result? The whole tendency of the
doctrine is that Germany should, artichoke fashion, dismember the
world. Not a word is said as to the world suddenly turning and
dismembering her. But was not that the only protection against such
monstrous teaching as these books contain?

  [2] September 10, 1914.

You may object that these Imperialists were but a group of
monomaniacs and did not represent the nation. But the evidence is
the other way. They represented that part of the nation which counts
in international politics--they represented the Kaiser and his
circle, Von Tirpitz and the Navy men, Krupp, von Bohlen and the
armour-plated gang, the universities where such doctrines were
openly preached, the Army, the Junkers--all the noisy, aggressive
elements whose voice has sounded of late years as the voice of
Germany. All were infected by the same virus of madness which has
compelled Europe to get them once for all into a strait-jacket.

The actual policy of State was conducted on the very lines of these
teachings, where the devilish doctrine that war should be for ever
lurking in a statesman's thoughts, that he should be prepared to
pounce upon a neighbour should it be in a state of weakness, and that
no treaty or moral consideration should stay his hand, is repeated
again and again as the very basis of all state-craft. At the time of
the Agadir crisis we have the German Minister of Foreign Affairs
openly admitting that he took the view of the fanatical Pan-Germans.
"I am as good a Pan-German as you," said Kiderlen-Waechter to the
representative of the League. Each was as good or as bad as the
other, for all were filled with the same heady, pernicious stuff
which has brought Europe to chaos.

Where, now, is that "deep, patient Germany" of which Carlyle wrote?
Was ever a nation's soul so perverted, so fallen from grace! Read
this mass of bombast--learned bombast of professors, vulgar bombast
of Lokal-Anzeigers and the like, but always bombast. Wade through
the prophetic books with their assumption that Britain must perish
and Germany succeed her; consult the scolding articles and
lectures, so narrow, ungenerous, and boastful in their tone, so
utterly wanting in the deeper historical knowledge or true reading
of a rival's character; see the insane Pan-German maps, with their
partitions of Europe for the year 1915 or thereabouts; study the
lectures of the crazy professors, with their absurd assumption of
accurate knowledge and their extraordinary knack of getting every
fact as wrong as it could possibly be--take all this together, and
then say whether any nation has ever in this world been so foolishly
and utterly misled as have the Germans.

I have alluded to their knack of getting everything wrong. It is
perfectly miraculous. One would not have thought it possible that
people could be _always_ wrong. So blinded have they been by hate
that everything was distorted. Never even by accident did they
stumble upon the truth. Let us take a list of their confident
assertions--things so self-evident that they were taken for granted
by the average journalist:

  "The British Army was worthless; its presence on the Continent,
  even if it could come, was immaterial.

  "Britain herself was absolutely decadent.

  "Britain's commerce could be ruined by the German cruisers.

  "The United States would fall upon us if we were in trouble.

  "Canada and Australia were longing to break away from the Empire.

  "India loathed us.

  "The Boers were eager to reconquer South Africa.

  "The Empire was an artificial collection of States which must
  fly to pieces at the first shock."

This was the nonsense which grave Berlin Professors of History
ladled out to their receptive students. The sinister Treitschke, who
is one of half a dozen men who have torn down Imperial Germany just
as surely as Roon, Bismarck, and Moltke built it up, was the
arch-priest of this cult. Like Nietzsche, whose moral teaching was
the supplement to the Pan-German Material doctrine, Treitschke was
not, by extraction, a German at all. Both men were of the magnetic
Slav stock, dreamers of dreams and seers of visions--evil dreams and
dark visions for the land in which they dwelt. With their magic
flutes they have led the whole blind, foolish, conceited nation down
that easy, pleasant path which ends in this abyss.

Nietzsche was, as his whole life proved, a man upon the edge of
insanity, who at last went obviously mad. Treitschke was a man of
great brain power, who had an _idée fixe_--a monomania about
Britain. So long as he raved in Berlin, Englishmen took no more
notice than they do of an anarchist howling in the park; for it is
the British theory that a man may say and think what he will so long
as he refrains from doing. But Treitschke was always dangerous. He
was magnetic, eloquent, enthusiastic, flashing wondrous visions of
the future before his listeners, varying in beauty, but always alike
in that they were seen across our prostrate body. Those who are in a
position to judge, like the late Professor Cramb, say that his
influence on young Germany could only be compared with that of
Carlyle and Macaulay united in Great Britain. And now, after his
death, his words have all sprung to deeds to the ruin of his own
country and to the deep misfortune of ours. He used to visit
England, this strange and sinister man, but as he was stone deaf his
bodily presence brought him little nearer to us. With useless ears
and jaundiced eyes he moved among us, returning to Berlin for the
new Semester as ignorant as he had left it, to rail against us once
again. He worked to harm us, and he has done so, but Lord! what is
the worst that he has done to us compared with the irretrievable
ruin that he has brought to his own country! He and Von Tirpitz,
Count Bieberstein, Maximilian Harden and a few more, to say nothing
of the head plotter of all--a fine Germany they will leave behind
them! Treitschke is dead, and so is Bieberstein, but a good many of
their dupes may live to see the day when Indian princes ride as
conquerors down Unter den Linden and the shattered remains of the
braggadocio statues of the Sieges Allée, that vulgar monument of
bastard Imperialism, will expiate the honoured ashes of Louvain.

But the stupidity of it all--that is the consideration which comes
in a wave to submerge every other aspect of the matter. For consider
the situation: as lately as 1897 the European grouping was clear.
The antagonists were already ranged. Russia had definitely taken her
side with France; against them, equally definitely, were Germany and
Austria, whilst Italy clearly was on an orbit by herself. War sooner
or later was a certainty. Unattached, but with a distinct bias to
Germany on racial, religious, and other grounds, lay Great Britain,
the richest Power in the world, the ruler of the seas, and a nation
which was historically tenacious and unconquerable in war. Was it
not clear that the first interest of Germany was to conciliate such
a Power and to make sure that if she were not an ally she would at
least never be an enemy? No proposition could be clearer than that.
And yet cast your minds back and remember the treatment and bearing
of Germany towards Britain since that date--the floods of scorn, the
libels, the bitter attacks, the unconcealed determination to do her
harm. See how it has all ended, and how this atmosphere of hatred
has put a driving force into Great Britain which has astonished
ourselves. This is the end of all the clever Welt-Politik. Truly
_Quos Deus vult perdere_--the gods must have willed it much, for no
nation was ever madder.

Where were the sane Germans? Why was there no protest from them?
Perhaps there was, but we never heard of it amid the beating of
those great Pan-German drums. Did the whole nation, for example,
really agree in so harebrained a scheme as the Bagdad Railway? Think
of the insanity of such a project as that. Here is a railway
representing very many millions of German capital which is built in
the heart of Asia Minor, as far removed from any sort of German
protection or effective control as if it were in the moon. The next
step, vaguely thought out, was that German settlers were to be
planted along the line of the railroad, but upon that being advanced
the Turks, who had smiled most amiably at the actual railway
construction, put down their slippers in the most emphatic manner.
The net result, therefore, would seem to be that Turkey holds a
hostage of a great many millions of German capital which, so long
as Germany behaves herself, may or may not return some interest; but
if Germany goes against Turkish wishes could at once be confiscated.
Apart from Turkey, Russia in the Caucasus, and England in North-West
India regard with a good deal of interested attention this singular
and helpless German railway which projects out into space.

There is one phase of their doctrines which has, perhaps, received
less attention than it deserves. It will be found very fully treated
in Professor Usher's book on _Pan-Germanism_, which, coming from an
American authority who seems to have studied his subject very
thoroughly, has the merit of impartiality. This proposition is that
just as a treaty is only a scrap of paper, so also is a bond or
debenture, and that just as the highest interest of a nation may at
any moment override ordinary morality, the same vital urgency may
justify anything in the nature of repudiation of debt. This is not
to be done on account of inability to pay the debt; but through a
deliberate, cold-blooded plot to weaken the creditor by robbing him
of his property.

Modern Germany has been largely built up by foreign capital. In war,
if Germany is conquered the debt necessarily holds good. But if
Germany wins, part of her reward of victory is the complete
repudiation of all debts. Thus the glorious or inglorious prize of
success would be, that all her vast industrial plant would be freed
from every debenture and start without an encumbrance, a free
present from the enemy. This example, they hope, would lead other
nations to do the same, and so still further ruin the finances of
England and France, which are the great lending nations of the
earth. They frankly admit that such a _coup_ would make it very
difficult for their nation to borrow money again, but on the other
hand, they would have made such an immense profit over the
transaction that they would be able to go on for many years without
any need of more capital. "To secure so stupendous a result as
this," said the American Professor, "is well worth the expenditure
of money for building a fleet. That money, so far as the German
nation is concerned, is merely invested in an enterprise from which
they confidently expect returns perhaps a hundred-fold."

As to the morality of this transaction, the Professor, who has
certainly no anti-German bias, expresses their views very plainly.
It is the same as Frederick the Great's views as to the morality of
treaties which have descended with such fatal effects upon his
successor on the Prussian throne. Once admit such anti-social
theories and there is no end to their application. Here it is in the
domain of economics just as shameless as in that of politics. "Once
more," says the Professor, "the Germans hear around them our cries
against the morality of this procedure. The Germans refuse to
recognise as moral anything which jeopardises their national
existence." They are to be the judges of what these are, and if
repudiation of debt is considered to be one of them, then all debt
may be repudiated. They will not put their views into practice this
time because they will not be the victors, but when the
reconstruction of Germany begins and she comes once again as a
chastened borrower into the market-place of the world, it would be
well to have some assurance as to how far she retains these views
upon commercial morality.

But I have visions of a really chastened Germany, of a Germany which
has sloughed all this wicked nonsense, which has found her better
self again, and which is once more that "deep, patient Germany" with
which I began this essay. She never can be now what she could so
easily have been. She could have continued indefinitely to extend
from Poland to the Vosges, one vast community, honoured by all for
industry and for learning, with a huge commerce, a happy, peaceful,
prosperous population, and a Colonial system which, if smaller than
that of nations which were centuries older in the field, would at
least be remarkable for so short a time. None of these things would
the world have grudged her, and in the future as in the past she
would have found in the British Dominions and in Great Britain
herself an entry for her products as free as if she were herself
part of the Empire.

All this must be changed for the worse, and it is just that she
should suffer for her sins. The work of sixty years will be
destroyed. But will not the spiritual Germany be the stronger and
better? We cannot say. We can but hope and wait and wonder. What is
sure is that the real Germany, of whom Carlyle spoke, can never be
destroyed. Nor would we desire it. Our wrath is not against Germany,
but against that Krupp-Kaiser-Junker combination which has brought
her to such a deadly pass.


       *       *       *       *       *



IV

THE GREAT GERMAN PLOT


It will be a fascinating task for the historian of the immediate
future to work out the various strands of evidence which seem to be
independent and yet when followed up converge upon the central
purpose of a prearranged war for the late summer of 1914--a war in
which Germany should be the prime mover and instigator and Austria
the dupe and catspaw.

Of course, there are some great facts patent to all the world. There
is the sudden rapid acceleration of German preparations for the last
two years, the great increase of the army with the colours, and the
special emergency tax which was to bring in fifty millions of money.
Looking back, we can see very clearly that these things were the run
before the jump. Germany at the moment of declaring war had
accumulated by processes extending over years all the money which
by borrowing or taxation she could raise, and she cannot really
expect the rest of the world to believe that it was a mere
coincidence that a crisis came along at that particular and
favourable moment. All the evidence tends to show that the
long-planned outbreak--the "letting-go" as it was called in
Germany--was carefully prepared for that particular date and that
the Bosnian assassinations had nothing whatever to do with the
matter. A pretext could very easily be found, as Bernhardi remarks,
and if the Crown Prince of Austria were still alive and well we
should none the less have found ourselves at death-grips with the
Kaiser over the Belgian infraction.

There are a number of small indications which will have to be
investigated and collated by the inquiring chronicler. There is, for
example, the reception of guns for a merchant cruiser in a South
American port which must have been sent off not later than July 10,
three weeks before the crisis developed. There is the document of
this same date, July 10, found upon a German officer, which is said
to have censured him for not having answered some mobilisation form
on that day. Then there is the abnormal quantity of grain ordered in
Canada and America in May; and finally there is the receipt of
mobilisation warnings by Austrian reservists in South Africa,
advising them that they should return at a date which must place
their issue from Vienna in the first week of July. All these small
incidents show the absurdity of the German contention that at a
moment of profound peace some sort of surprise was sprung upon them.
There was, indeed, a surprise intended, but they were to be the
surprisers--though, indeed, I think their machinations were too
clumsy to succeed. They had retained the immorality but lost the
ability for that sudden tiger pounce which Frederick, in a moment of
profound peace, made upon Silesia.

I fancy that every Chancellery in Europe suspected that something
was in the wind. It was surely not a mere coincidence that the grand
Fleet lay ready for action at Spithead and that the First Army Corps
was practising some very useful mobilisation exercises at
Aldershot. After all, our British Administration is not so
simple-minded as it sometimes seems. Indeed, that very simplicity
may at times be its most deadly mask. At one time of my life I was
much bruised in spirit over the ease with which foreigners were
shown over our arsenals and yards. Happening to meet the head of the
Naval Intelligence Department, I confided my trouble to him. It was
at a public banquet where conversation was restricted, but he turned
his head towards me, and his left eyelid flickered for an instant.
Since then I have never needed any reassurance upon the subject.

But there is another matter which will insist on coming back into
one's thoughts when one reviews the events which preceded the war. I
was in Canada in June, and the country was much disturbed by the
fact that a shipload of Hindus had arrived at Vancouver, and had
endeavoured to land in the face of the anti-Asiatic immigration
laws. It struck me at the time as a most extraordinary incident, for
these Indians were not the usual Bengalee pedlars, but were Sikhs of
a proud and martial race. What could be their object in
endeavouring to land in Canada, when the climate of that country
would make it impossible for them to settle in it? It was a most
unnatural incident, and yet a most painful one, for the British
Government was placed in the terrible dilemma of either supporting
Canada against India or India against Canada. Could anything be
better calculated to start an agitation in one country or the other?
The thing was inexplicable at the time, but now one would wish to
know who paid for that ship and engineered the whole undertaking. I
believe it was one more move on Germany's world-wide board.[3]

  [3] Two months later, according to _The Times_, official
      evidence of this was actually forthcoming.--A. C. D.

In connection with the date at which the long-expected German war
was to break out, it is of interest now to remember some of the
conversations to which I listened three years ago, when I was a
competitor in the Anglo-German motor competition, called the Prince
Henry Tour. It was a very singular experience, and was itself not
without some political meaning, since it could hardly have been
chance that a German gunboat should appear at Agadir at the very
instant when the head of the German Navy was making himself
agreeable (and he can be exceedingly agreeable) to a number of
Britons, and a genial international atmosphere was being created by
the nature of the contest, which sent the whole fleet of seventy or
eighty cars on a tour of hospitality through both countries. I
refuse to believe that it was chance, and it was a remarkable
example of the detail to which the Germans can descend. By the rules
of the competition a German officer had to be present in each
British car and a British officer in each German one during the
whole three weeks, so as to check the marks of the driver. It was
certainly an interesting situation, since every car had its foreign
body within it, which had to be assimilated somehow with the
alternative of constant discomfort. Personally we were fortunate in
having a Rittmeister of Breslau Cuirassiers, with whom we were able
to form quite a friendship. Good luck to you, Count Carmer, and bad
luck to your regiment! To you also, little Captain Türck,
_Fregattencapitän am dienst_, the best of luck, and ill betide
your cruiser! We found pleasant friends among the Germans, though
all were not equally fortunate, and I do not think that the net
result helped much towards an international entente.

However, the point of my reminiscence is that on this tour I, being
at that time a champion of Anglo-German friendship, heard continual
discussions, chiefly on the side of British officers, several of
whom were experts on German matters, as to when the impending war
would be forced upon us. The date given was always 1914 or 1915.
When I asked why this particular year, the answer was that the
German preparations would be ready by then, and especially the
widening of the Kiel Canal, by which the newer and larger
battleships would be able to pass from the Baltic to the North Sea.
It says something for the foresight of these officers that this
widening was actually finished on June 24 of this year, and within
six weeks the whole of Europe was at war. I am bound to admit that
they saw deeper into the future than I did, and formed a truer
estimate of our real relations with our fellow-voyagers. "Surely
you feel more friendly to them now," said I at the end to one
distinguished officer. "All I want with them now is to fight them,"
said he. We have all been forced to come round to his point of view.

Yes, it was a deep, deep plot, a plot against the liberties of
Europe, extending over several years, planned out to the smallest
detail in the days of peace, developed by hordes of spies, prepared
for by every conceivable military, naval, and financial precaution,
and finally sprung upon us on a pretext which was no more the real
cause of war than any other excuse would have been which would serve
their turn by having some superficial plausibility. The real cause
of war was a universal national insanity infecting the whole German
race, but derived originally from a Prussian caste who inoculated
the others with their megalomania.

This insanity was based upon the universal supposition that the
Germans were the Lord's chosen people, that in the words of Buy,
they were "the most cultured people, the best settlers, the best
warriors"--the best everything. Having got that idea thoroughly
infused into their very blood, the next step was clear. If they were
infinitely the best people living amidst such tribes as "the
barbarous Russians, the fickle French, the beastly Servians and
Belgians," to quote one of their recent papers, then why should they
not have all the best things in the world? If they were really the
most powerful, who could gainsay them? They need not do it all at
once, but two great national efforts would give them the whole of
unredeemed Germany, both shores of the Rhine down to the sea, the
German cantons of Switzerland, and, in conjunction with Austria, the
long road that leads to Salonica. All local causes and smaller
details sink into nothing compared with this huge national ambition
which was the real driving force at the back of this formidable
project.

And it was a very formidable project. If such things could be
settled by mere figures and time-tables without any reference to the
spirit and soul of the nations, it might very well have succeeded. I
think that we are not indulging too far in national complacency if
we say that without the British army--that negligible factor--it
would for the time at least have succeeded. Had the Germans
accomplished their purpose of getting round the left wing of the
French, it is difficult to see how a debacle could have been
avoided, and it was our little army which stood in the pass and held
it until that danger was past. It is certain now that the huge sweep
of the German right had never been allowed for, that the French
troops in that quarter were second-line troops, and that it was our
great honour and good fortune to have dammed that raging torrent and
stopped the rush which must have swept everything before it until it
went roaring into Paris. And yet how many things might have
prevented our presence at the right place at the right time, and how
near we were to a glorious annihilation upon that dreadful day when
the artillery of five German army corps--eight hundred and thirty
guns in all--were concentrated upon Smith-Dorrien's exhausted men.
The success or failure of the great conspiracy hung upon the
over-matched British covering batteries upon that one critical
afternoon. It was the turning-point of the history of the world.


       *       *       *       *       *



V

THE "CONTEMPTIBLE LITTLE ARMY"


Early last year, in the course of some comments which I made upon
the slighting remarks about our Army by General von Bernhardi, I
observed, "It may be noted that General von Bernhardi has a poor
opinion of our troops. This need not trouble us. We are what we are,
and words will not alter it. From very early days our soldiers have
left their mark upon Continental warfare, and we have no reason to
think that we have declined from the manhood of our forefathers."
Since then he has returned to the attack. With that curious power of
coming after deep study to the absolutely diametrically wrong
conclusion which the German expert, political or military, appears
to possess, he says in his _War of To-day_, "The English Army,
trained more for purposes of show than for modern war," adding in
the same sentence a sneer at our "inferior Colonial levies." He will
have an opportunity of reconsidering his views presently upon the
fighting value of our over-sea troops, and surely so far as our own
are concerned he must already be making some interesting notes for
his next edition, or rather for the learned volume upon _Germany and
the Last War_ which will no doubt come from his pen. He is a man to
whom we might well raise a statue, for I am convinced that his
cynical confession of German policy has been worth at least an army
corps to this country. We may address to him John Davidson's lines
to his enemy--

   "Unwilling friend, let not your spite abate,
    Spur us with scorn, and strengthen us with hate."

There is another German gentleman who must be thinking rather
furiously. He is a certain Colonel Gadke, who appeared officially at
Aldershot some years ago, was hospitably entreated, being shown all
that he desired to see, and on his return to Berlin published a
most depreciatory description of our forces. He found no good thing
in them. I have some recollection that General French alluded in a
public speech to this critic's remarks, and expressed a modest hope
that he and his men would some day have the opportunity of showing
how far they were deserved. Well, he has had his opportunity, and
Colonel Gadke, like so many other Germans, seems to have made a
miscalculation.

An army which has preserved the absurd _Paradeschritt_, an exercise
which is painful to the bystander, as he feels that it is making
fools of brave men, must have a tendency to throw back to earlier
types. These Germans have been trained in peace and upon the theory
of books. In all that vast host there is hardly a man who has
previously stood at the wrong end of a loaded gun. They live on
traditions of close formations, vast cavalry charges, and other
things which will not fit into modern warfare. Braver men do not
exist, but it is the bravery of men who have been taught to lean
upon each other, and not the cold, self-contained, resourceful
bravery of the man who has learned to fight for his own hand. The
British have had the teachings of two recent campaigns fought with
modern weapons--that of the Tirah and of South Africa. Now that the
reserves have joined the colours there are few regiments which have
not a fair sprinkling of veterans from these wars in their ranks.
The Pathan and the Boer have been their instructors in something
more practical than those Imperial Grand Manoeuvres where the
all-highest played with his puppets in such a fashion that one of
his generals remarked that the chief practical difficulty of a
campaign so conducted would be the disposal of the dead.

Boers and Pathans have been hard masters, and have given many a slap
to their admiring pupils, but the lesson has been learned. It was
not show troops, General, who, with two corps, held five of your
best day after day from Mons to Compiègne. It is no reproach to
your valour: but you were up against men who were equally brave and
knew a great deal more of the game. This must begin to break upon
you, and will surely grow clearer as the days go by. We shall often
in the future take the knock as well as give it, but you will not
say that we have a show army if you live to chronicle this war, nor
will your Imperial master be proud of the adjective which he has
demeaned himself in using before his troops had learned their
lesson.

The fact is that the German army, with all its great traditions, has
been petrifying for many years back. They never learned the lesson
of South Africa. It was not for want of having it expounded to them,
for their military attaché--"'im with the spatchcock on 'is
'elmet," as I heard him described by a British orderly--missed
nothing of what occurred, as is evident from their official history
of the war. And yet they missed it, and with it all those ideas of
individual efficiency and elastic independent formations, which are
the essence of modern soldiering. Their own more liberal thinkers
were aware of it. Here are the words which were put into the mouth
of Güntz, the representative of the younger school, in Beyerlein's
famous novel:

"The organisation of the German army rested upon foundations which
had been laid a hundred years ago. Since the great war they had
never seriously been put to the proof, and during the last three
decades they had only been altered in the most trifling details. In
three long decades! And in one of those decades the world at large
had advanced as much as in the previous century.

"Instead of turning this highly developed intelligence to good
account, they bound it hand and foot on the rack of an everlasting
drill which could not have been more soullessly mechanical in the
days of Frederick. It held them together as an iron hoop holds
together a cask the dry staves of which would fall asunder at the
first kick."

Lord Roberts has said that if ten points represent the complete
soldier, eight should stand for his efficiency as a shot. The German
maxim has rather been that eight should stand for his efficiency as
a drilled marionette. It has been reckoned that about 200 books a
year appear in Germany upon military affairs, against about 20 in
Britain. And yet after all this expert debate the essential point of
all seems to have been missed--that in the end everything depends
upon the man behind the gun, upon his hitting his opponent and upon
his taking cover so as to avoid being hit himself.

After all the efforts of the General Staff the result when shown
upon the field of battle has filled our men with a mixture of
admiration and contempt--contempt for the absurd tactics, admiration
for the poor devils who struggle on in spite of them. Listen to the
voices of the men who are the real experts. Says a Lincolnshire
sergeant, "They were in solid square blocks, and we couldn't help
hitting them." Says Private Tait (2nd Essex), "Their rifle shooting
is rotten. I don't believe they could hit a haystack at 100 yards."
"They are rotten shots with their rifles," says an Oldham private.
"They advance in close column, and you simply can't help hitting
them," writes a Gordon Highlander. "You would have thought it was a
big crowd streaming out from a Cup-tie," says Private Whitaker of
the Guards. "It was like a farmer's machine cutting grass," so it
seemed to Private Hawkins of the Coldstreams. "No damned good as
riflemen," says a Connemara boy. "You couldn't help hitting them.
As to their rifle fire, it was useless." "They shoot from the hip,
and don't seem to aim at anything in particular."

These are the opinions of the practical men upon the field of
battle. Surely a poor result from the 200 volumes a year, and all
the weighty labours of the General Staff! "Artillery nearly as good
as our own, rifle fire beneath contempt," that is the verdict. How
will the well-taught _Paradeschritt_ avail them when it comes to a
stricken field?

But let it not seem as if this were meant for disparagement. We
should be sinking to the Kaiser's level if we answered his
"contemptible little army" by pretending that his own troops are
anything but a very formidable and big army. They are formidable in
numbers, formidable, too, in their patriotic devotion, in their
native courage, and in the possession of such material, such great
cannon, aircraft, machine guns, and armoured cars, as none of the
Allies can match. They have every advantage which a nation would be
expected to have when it has known that war was a certainty, while
others have only treated it as a possibility. There is a minuteness
and earnestness of preparation which are only possible for an
assured event. But the fact remains, and it will only be brought out
more clearly by the Emperor's unchivalrous phrase, that in every arm
the British have already shown themselves to be the better troops.
Had he the Froissart spirit within him he would rather have said:
"You have to-day a task which is worthy of you. You are faced by an
army which has a high repute and a great history. There is real
glory to be won to-day." Had he said this, then, win or lose, he
would not have needed to be ashamed of his own words--the words of
an ungenerous spirit.

It is a very strange thing how German critics have taken for granted
that the British Army had deteriorated, while the opinion of all
those who were in close touch with it was that it was never so good.
Even some of the French experts made the same mistake, and General
Bonnat counselled his countrymen not to rely upon it, since "it
would take refuge amid its islands at the first reverse." One would
think that the causes which make for its predominance were obvious.
Apart from any question of national spirit or energy, there is the
all-important fact that the men are there of their own free will, an
advantage which I trust that we shall never be compelled to
surrender. Again, the men are of longer service in every arm, and
they have far more opportunities of actual fighting than come to any
other force. Finally, they are divided into regiments, with
centuries of military glory streaming from their banners, which
carry on a mighty tradition. The very words the Guards, the Rifles,
the Connaught Rangers, the Buffs, the Scots Greys, the Gordons,
sound like bugle-calls. How could an army be anything but dangerous
which had such units in its line of battle?

And yet there remains the fact that both enemies and friends are
surprised at our efficiency. This is no new phenomenon. Again and
again in the course of history the British Armies have had to win
once more the reputation which had been forgotten. Continentals have
always begun by refusing to take them seriously. Napoleon, who had
never met them in battle, imagined that their unbroken success was
due to some weakness in his marshals rather than to any excellence
of the troops. "At last I have them, these English," he exclaimed,
as he gazed at the thin red line at Waterloo. "At last they have me,
these English," may have been his thought that evening as he spurred
his horse out of the debacle. Foy warned him of the truth. "The
British infantry is the devil," said he. "You think so because you
were beaten by them," cried Napoleon. Like von Kluck or von Kluck's
master, he had something to learn.

Why this continual depreciation? It may be that the world pays so
much attention to our excellent right arm that it cannot give us
credit for having a very serviceable left as well. Or it may be that
they take seriously those jeremiads over our decay which are
characteristic of our people, and very especially of many of our
military thinkers. I have never been able to understand why they
should be of so pessimistic a turn of mind, unless it be a sort of
exaltation of that grumbling which has always been the privilege of
the old soldier. Croker narrates how he met Wellington in his
latter years, and how the Iron Duke told him that he was glad that
he was so old, as he would not live to see the dreadful military
misfortunes which were about to come to his country. Looking back we
can see no reasons for such pessimism as this. Above all, the old
soldier can never make any allowance for the latent powers which lie
in civilian patriotism and valour. Only a year ago I had a long
conversation with a well-known British General, in which he asserted
with great warmth that in case of an Anglo-German war with France
involved the British public would never allow a trained soldier to
leave these islands. He is at the front himself and doing such good
work that he has little time for reminiscence, but when he has he
must admit that he underrated the nerve of his countrymen.

And yet under the pessimism of such men as he there is a curious
contradictory assurance that there are no troops like our own. The
late Lord Goschen used to tell a story of a letter that he had from
a captain in the Navy at the time when he was First Lord. This
captain's ship was lying alongside a foreign cruiser in some port,
and he compared in his report the powers of the two vessels. Lord
Goschen said that his heart sank as he read the long catalogue of
points in which the British ship was inferior--guns, armour,
speed--until he came to the postscript, which was: "I think I could
take her in twenty minutes."

With all the grumbling of our old soldiers there is always some
reservation of the sort at the end of it. Of course those who are
familiar with our ways of getting things done would understand that
a good deal of the croaking is a means of getting our little army
increased, or at least preventing its being diminished. But whatever
the cause, the result has been the impression abroad of a
"contemptible little army." Whatever surprise in the shape of
17-inch howitzers or 900-foot Zeppelins the Kaiser may have for us,
it is a safe prophecy that it will be a small matter compared to
that which Sir John French and his men will be to him.

But above all I look forward to the development of our mounted
riflemen. This I say in no disparagement of our cavalry, who have
done so magnificently. But the mounted rifleman is a peculiarly
British product--British and American--with a fresh edge upon it
from South Africa. I am most curious to see what a division of these
fellows will make of the Uhlans. It is good to see that already the
old banners are in the wind--Lovat's Horse, Scottish Horse, King
Edward's Horse, and the rest. All that cavalry can do will surely be
done by our cavalry. But I have always held, and I still very
strongly hold, that the mounted rifleman has it in him to alter our
whole conception of warfare, as the mounted archer did in his day;
and now in this very war will be his first great chance upon a large
scale. Ten thousand well-mounted, well-trained riflemen, young
officers to lead them, all broad Germany with its towns, its
railways, and its magazines before them--there lies one more
surprise for the doctrinaires of Berlin.


       *       *       *       *       *



VI

A POLICY OF MURDER


When one writes with a hot heart upon events which are still recent
one is apt to lose one's sense of proportion. At every step one
should check oneself by the reflection as to how this may appear ten
years hence, and how far events which seem shocking and abnormal may
prove themselves to be a necessary accompaniment of every condition
of war. But a time has now come when in cold blood, with every
possible restraint, one is justified in saying that since the most
barbarous campaigns of Alva in the Lowlands, or the excesses of the
Thirty Years' War, there has been no such deliberate policy of
murder as has been adopted in this struggle by the German forces.
This is the more terrible since these forces are not, like those of
Alva, Parma, or Tilly, bands of turbulent and mercenary soldiers,
but they are the nation itself, and their deeds are condoned or even
applauded by the entire national Press. It is not on the chiefs of
the army that the whole guilt of this terrible crime must rest, but
it is upon the whole German nation, which for generations to come
must stand condemned before the civilised world for this reversion
to those barbarous practices from which Christianity, civilisation,
and chivalry had gradually rescued the human race. They may, and do,
plead the excuse that they are "earnest" in war, but all nations are
earnest in war, which is the most desperately earnest thing of which
we have any knowledge. How earnest we are will be shown when the
question of endurance begins to tell. But no earnestness can condone
the crime of the nation which deliberately breaks those laws which
have been endorsed by the common consent of humanity.

War may have a beautiful as well as a terrible side, and be full of
touches of human sympathy and restraint which mitigate its
unavoidable horror. Such have been the characteristics always of the
secular wars between the British and the French. From the old
glittering days of knighthood, with their high and gallant courtesy,
through the eighteenth-century campaigns where the debonair guards
of France and England exchanged salutations before their volleys,
down to the last great Napoleonic struggle, the tradition of
chivalry has always survived. We read how in the Peninsula the
pickets of the two armies, each of them as earnest as any Germans,
would exchange courtesies, how they would shout warnings to each
other to fall back when an advance in force was taking place, and
how, to prevent the destruction of an ancient bridge, the British
promised not to use it on condition that the French would forgo its
destruction--an agreement faithfully kept upon either side. Could
one imagine Germans making war in such a spirit as this? Think of
that old French bridge, and then think of the University of Louvain
and the Cathedral of Rheims. What a gap between them--the gap that
separates civilisation from the savage!

Let us take a few of the points which, when focussed together, show
how the Germans have degraded warfare--a degradation which affects
not only the Allies at present, but the whole future of the world,
since if such examples were followed the entire human race would,
each in turn, become the sufferers. Take the very first incident of
the war, the mine-laying by the _Königin Luise_. Here was a
vessel, which was obviously made ready with freshly charged mines
some time before there was any question of a general European war,
which was sent forth in time of peace, and which, on receipt of a
wireless message, began to spawn its hellish cargo across the North
Sea at points 50 miles from land in the track of all neutral
merchant shipping. There was the keynote of German tactics struck at
the first possible instant. So promiscuous was the effect that it
was a mere chance which prevented the vessel which bore the German
Ambassador from being destroyed by a German mine. From first to last
some hundreds of people have lost their lives on this tract of sea,
some of them harmless British trawlers, but the greater number
sailors of Danish and Dutch vessels pursuing their commerce as they
had every right to do. It was the first move in a consistent policy
of murder.

Leaving the sea, let us turn to the air. Can any possible term save
a policy of murder be applied to the use of aircraft by the Germans?
It has always been a principle of warfare that unfortified towns
should not be bombarded. So closely has it been followed by the
British that one of our aviators, flying over Cologne in search of a
Zeppelin shed, refrained from dropping a bomb in an uncertain light,
even though Cologne is a fortress, lest the innocent should suffer.
What is to be said, then, for the continual use of bombs by the
Germans, which have usually been wasted in the destruction of cats
or dogs, but which have occasionally torn to pieces some woman or
child? If bombs were dropped on the forts of Paris as part of a
scheme for reducing the place, then nothing could be said in
objection, but how are we to describe the action of men who fly over
a crowded city dropping bombs promiscuously which can have no
military effect whatever, and are entirely aimed at the destruction
of innocent civilians? These men have been obliging enough to drop
their cards as well as their bombs on several occasions. I see no
reason why these should not be used in evidence against them, or why
they should not be hanged as murderers when they fall into the hands
of the Allies. The policy is idiotic from a military point of view;
one could conceive nothing which would stimulate and harden national
resistance more surely than such petty irritations. But it is a
murderous innovation in the laws of war, and unless it is sternly
repressed it will establish a most sinister precedent for the
future.

As to the treatment of Belgium, what has it been but murder, murder
all the way? From the first days at Visé, when it was officially
stated that an example of "frightfulness" was desired, until the
present moment, when the terrified population has rushed from the
country and thrown itself upon the charity and protection of its
neighbours, there has been no break in the record. Compare the story
with that of the occupation of the South of France by Wellington in
1813, when no one was injured, nothing was taken without full
payment, and the villagers fraternised with the troops. What a
relapse of civilisation is here! From Visé to Louvain, Louvain to
Aerschott, Aerschott to Malines and Termonde, the policy of murder
never fails.

It is said that more civilians than soldiers have fallen in Belgium.
Peruse the horrible accounts taken by the Belgian Commission, who
took evidence in the most careful and conscientious fashion. Study
the accounts of that dreadful night in Louvain which can only be
equalled by the Spanish Fury of Antwerp. Read the account of the
wife of the burgomaster of Aerschott, with its heart-rending
description of how her lame son, aged sixteen, was kicked along to
his death by an aide-de-camp. It is all so vile, so brutally
murderous that one can hardly realise that one is reading the
incidents of a modern campaign conducted by one of the leading
nations in Europe.

Do you imagine that the thing has been exaggerated? Far from it--the
volume of crime has not yet been appreciated. Have not many Germans
unwittingly testified to what they have seen and done? Only last
week we had the journal of one of them, an officer whose service had
been almost entirely in France and removed from the crime centres of
Belgium. Yet were ever such entries in the diary of a civilised
soldier? "Our men behaved like regular Vandals." "We shot the whole
lot" (these were villagers). "They were drawn up in three ranks. The
same shot did for three at a time." "In the evening we set fire to
the village. The priest and some of the inhabitants were shot." "The
villages all round were burning." "The villages were burned and the
inhabitants shot." "At Leppe apparently two hundred men were shot.
There must have been some innocent men among them." "In the future
we shall have to hold an inquiry into their guilt instead of merely
shooting them." "The Vandals themselves could not have done more
damage. The place is a disgrace to our army." So the journal runs on
with its tale of infamy. It is an infamy so shameless that even in
the German record the story is perpetuated of how a French lad was
murdered because he refused to answer certain questions. To such a
depth of degradation has Prussia brought the standard of warfare.

And now, as the appetite for blood grows ever stronger--and nothing
waxes more fast--we have stories of the treatment of prisoners. Here
is a point where our attention should be most concentrated and our
action most prompt. It is the just duty which we owe to our own
brave soldiers. At present the instances are isolated, and we will
hope that they do not represent any general condition. But the
stories come from sure sources. There is the account of the
brutality which culminated in the death of the gallant motor-cyclist
Pearson, the son of Lord Cowdray. There is the horrible story in a
responsible Dutch paper, told by an eye-witness, of the torture of
three British wounded prisoners in Landen Station on October 9.

The story carries conviction by its detail. Finally, there are the
disquieting remarks of German soldiers, repeated by this same
witness, as to the British prisoners whom they had shot. The whole
lesson of history is that when troops are allowed to start murder
one can never say how or when it will stop. It may no longer be part
of a deliberate, calculated policy of murder by the German
Government. But it has undoubtedly been so in the past, and we
cannot say when it will end. Such incidents will, I fear, make peace
an impossibility in our generation, for whatever statesmen may write
upon paper can never affect the deep and bitter resentment which a
war so conducted must leave behind it.

Other German characteristics we can ignore. The consistent,
systematic lying of the German Press, or the grotesque blasphemies
of the Kaiser, can be met by us with contemptuous tolerance. After
all, what is is, and neither falsehood nor bombast will alter it.
But this policy of murder deeply affects not only ourselves but the
whole framework of civilisation so slowly and painfully built
upwards by the human race.


       *       *       *       *       *



VII

MADNESS


We have all, I suppose, read and marvelled at the wonderful German
"song of hate." This has been so much admired over the water that
Prince Ruprecht of Bavaria (who had just stated his bitter hatred of
us in a prose army order) distributed copies of the verses to his
Bavarians as a stimulant in their long, unsuccessful tussle with our
troops at Ypres. In case the reader has forgotten its flavour, I
append a typical verse:

    "We will never forgo our hate.
     We have all but a single hate.
     We love as one, we hate as one,
     We have one foe and one alone--
                 ENGLAND."

This sort of thing is, it must be admitted, very painful and odious.
It fills us with a mixture of pity and disgust, and we feel as if,
instead of a man, we were really fighting with a furious, screaming
woman. Germany used to be a very great nation, mentally and morally
as well as in material ways, and many of us, even while we fight
her, are honestly pained by the depths of degradation into which she
has fallen. This shrill scream of hate and constant frenzied ranting
against Great Britain may reach its highest note in this poem, but
we know that it pervades the whole Press and every class of national
thought. It is deliberately fed by lying journals, which publish
bogus letters describing the imaginary sufferings of German
prisoners, and also by the Government itself, which upon receiving a
Socialist report partly favourable to Britain, excised those
passages and circulated the rest as a complete document, so as to
give the idea that it was wholly condemnatory. Wherever we touch
Germany in its present phase, whether it be the Overlord himself
with his megalomaniac messages, the princes with their looting of
châteaux, the Foreign Office with its trick of stealing American
passports for the use of German spies, the army with its absolute
brutality, the navy with its tactics of mine-laying in neutral
waters, the Press with its grotesque concoctions, the artists with
their pictures, which are so base that the decent Germans have
themselves at last rebelled against them, or the business men with
their assertion that there is less economic disturbance in Germany
than in Great Britain--wherever, I say, you touch them you come
always upon what is odious and deceitful. A long century will have
passed before Germany can wash her hands clean from murder, or purge
from her spirit the shadow of this evil time.

If the words of one humble individual could reach across the seas,
there are two things upon which I should wish to speak earnestly to
a German: the one, our own character, the other, the future which he
is deliberately preparing for the Fatherland which he loves. Our
papers do get over there, even as theirs come over here, so one may
hope it is not impossible that some German may give a thought to
what I say, if he is not so bemused by the atmosphere of lies in
which his Press has enveloped him that he cannot recognise cold
truth when he sees it.

First as to ourselves: we have never been a nation who fought with
hatred. It is our ideal to fight in a sporting spirit. It is not
that we are less in earnest, but it is that the sporting spirit
itself is a thing very largely evolved by us and is a natural
expression of our character. We fight as hard as we can, and we like
and admire those who fight hard against us so long as they keep
within the rules of the game. Let me take an obvious example. One
German has done us more harm than any other in this war. He is
Captain von Müller of the _Emden_, whose depredations represent
the cost of a battleship. Yet an honest sigh of relief went up from
us all when we learned that he had not perished with his ship, and
if he walked down Fleet Street to-day he would be cheered by the
crowd from end to end. Why? Because almost alone among Germans he
has played the game as it should be played. It is true that
everything that he did was illegal. He had no right to burn
uncondemned prizes, and a purist could claim that he was a pirate.
But we recognised the practical difficulties of his position; we
felt that under the circumstances he had acted like a gentleman, and
we freely forgave him any harm that he had done us. With this
example before you, my German reader, you cannot say that it is
national hatred when we denounce your murderers and brigands in
Belgium. If they, too, had acted as gentlemen, we should have felt
towards them as to von Müller.

If you look back in British history, you will find that this absence
of hatred has always been characteristic of us. When Soult came to
London after the Napoleonic wars, he was cheered through the City.
After the Boer War, Botha, de Wet, and Delarey had a magnificent
reception. We did not know that one of them was destined to prove a
despicable and perjured traitor. They had been good fighters, the
fight was done, we had shaken hands--and we cheered them. All
British prize-fights ended with the shaking of hands. Though the men
could no longer see each other, they were led up and their hands
were joined. When a combatant refuses to do this, it has always been
looked upon as unmanly, and we say that bad blood has been left
behind. So in war we have always wished to fight to a finish and
then be friends, whether we had won or lost.

Now, this is just what we should wish to do with Germany, and it is
what Germany is rapidly making impossible. She has, in our opinion,
fought a brave but a thoroughly foul fight. And now she uses every
means to excite a bitter hatred which shall survive the war. The
Briton is tolerant and easy-going in times of peace--too careless,
perhaps, of the opinion of other nations. But at present he is in a
most alert and receptive mood, noting and remembering very carefully
every word that comes to him as to the temper of the German people
and the prospects of the future. He is by no means disposed to pass
over all these announcements of permanent hatred. On the contrary,
he is evidently beginning, for the first time since Napoleon's era,
to show something approaching to hatred in return. He--and "he"
stands for every Briton across the seas as well as for the men of
the Islands--makes a practical note of it all, and it will not be
forgotten, but will certainly bear very definite fruits. The
national thoughts do not come forth in wild poems of hate, but they
none the less are gloomy and resentful, with the deep, steady
resentment of a nation which is slow to anger.

And now, my problematical German reader, I want you to realise what
this is going to mean to you after the war. Whether you win or
lose--and we have our own very certain opinion as to which it will
be--Germany will still remain as a great independent State. She may
be a little trimmed at the edges, and she may also find herself with
some awkward liabilities; but none the less she will be a great
kingdom or republic--as the Fates may will. She will turn her hand
to trade and try to build up her fortunes once more--for even if we
suppose her to be the victor, she still cannot live for ever on
plunder, and must turn herself to honest trade, while if she loses
her trade will be more precious to her than ever. But what will her
position be when that time has come?

It will be appalling. No other word can express it. No legislation
will be needed to keep German goods out of the whole British
Empire, which means more than a quarter of the globe. Anything with
that mark might as well have a visible cholera bacillus upon it for
the chance it will have of being handled after this war. That is
already certain, and it is the direct outcome of the madness which
has possessed Germany in her frantic outcry of hatred. What chance
they have of business with France, Russia, or Japan they know best
themselves; but the British Empire, with that wide trade toleration
which has long been her policy (and for which she has had so little
gratitude), would have speedily forgiven Germany and opened her
markets to her. Now it is not for many a long year that this can be
so--not on account of the war, but on account of the bitterness
which Germany has gone out of her way to import into the contest. It
is idle to say that in that case we should lose our exports to
Germany. Even if it were so, it would not in the least affect the
sentiments of the retail sellers and buyers in this country, whose
demands regulate the wholesale trade. But as a matter of fact, what
Germany buys from the British Empire is the coal, wool, etc., which
are the raw materials of her industry, with which she cannot
possibly dispense.

But the pity of it all! We might have had a straight, honest fight,
and at the end of it we might have conceded that the German people
had been innocently misled, by their military caste and their Press,
into the idea that their country was being attacked, and so were
themselves guiltless in the matter. They, on their side, might at
last have understood that Britain had been placed in such a position
by her guarantees to Belgium that it was absolutely impossible that
she could stand out of the war. With these mutual concessions, some
sort of friendship could possibly have been restored, for it is no
one's interest, and least of all ours, that the keystone should be
knocked right out of the European arch. But all this has been
rendered impossible by these hysterical screamers of hate, and by
those methods of murder on land, sea, and in air with which the war
has been conducted. Hate is a very catching emotion, and when it
translates itself into action it soon glows on either side of the
North Sea. With neither race, to use Carlyle's simile, does it blaze
like the quick-flaming stubble, but with both it will smoulder like
the slow red peat. Are there not even now strong, sane men in
Germany who can tell these madmen what they are sowing for the next
generation and the one that comes after it? It is not that we ask
them to abate the resistance of their country. It is understood that
this is a fight to the end. That is what we desire. But let them
stand up and fight without reviling; let them give punishment
without malice and receive it without wincing; let their press cease
from lying, and their prophets from preaching hatred--then, lose or
win, there may still be some chance for their future. But, alas! the
mischief is already, I fear, too deep. When the seeds are sown, it
is hard to check the harvest. Let the impartial critic consider von
Müller of the _Emden_, and then, having surveyed our Press and
that of Germany, let him say with whom lies the blame.


       *       *       *       *       *



VIII

GREAT BRITAIN AND THE NEXT WAR[4]

  [4] Published, _Fortnightly Review_, February 1913.


  This essay is of some interest, as it was written two
  years before the war, and was one of the first attempts
  to make the public realise the importance of Bernhardi's
  notorious book. The author follows it by an unpublished
  essay called "Afterthoughts," in which he examines how
  far his reading of the future has been justified by the
  event.

I am a member of the Anglo-German Society for the improvement of the
relations between the two countries, and I have never seriously
believed in the German menace. Frequently I have found myself alone
in a company of educated Englishmen in my opinion that it was
non-existent--or at worst greatly exaggerated. This conclusion was
formed upon two grounds. The first was, that I knew it to be
impossible that we could attack Germany save in the face of
monstrous provocation. By the conditions of our government, even if
those in high places desired to do such a thing, it was utterly
impracticable, for a foreign war could not be successfully carried
on by Great Britain unless the overwhelming majority of the people
approved of it. Our foreign, like our home, politics are governed by
the vote of the proletariat. It would be impossible to wage an
aggressive war against any Power if the public were not convinced of
its justice and necessity. For this reason we could not attack
Germany. On the other hand, it seemed to be equally unthinkable that
Germany should attack us. One fails to see what she could possibly
hope to gain by such a proceeding. She had enemies already upon her
eastern and western frontiers, and it was surely unlikely that she
would go out of her way to pick a quarrel with the powerful British
Empire. If she made war and lost it, her commerce would be set back
and her rising colonial empire destroyed. If she won it, it was
difficult to see where she could hope for the spoils. We could not
give her greater facilities for trade than she has already. We could
not give her habitable white colonies, for she would find it
impossible to take possession of them in the face of the opposition
of the inhabitants. An indemnity she could never force from us. Some
coaling stations and possibly some tropical colonies, of which
latter she already possesses abundance, were the most that she could
hope for. Would such a prize as that be worth the risk attending
such a war? To me it seemed that there could be only one answer to
such a question.

It still seems to me that this reasoning is sound. I still think
that it would be an insane action for Germany deliberately to plan
an attack upon Great Britain. But unfortunately an attack delivered
from mistaken motives is as damaging as any other attack, and the
mischief is done before the insanity of it is realised. If I now
believe such an attack to be possible, and it may be imminent, it is
because I have been studying _Germany and the Next War_, by General
von Bernhardi.

A book written by such a man cannot be set aside as the mere ravings
of a Pan-Germanic Anglophobe. So far as appears, he is not a
Pan-German at all. There is no allusion to that Germania _irredente_
which is the dream of that party. He is a man of note, and the first
living authority in Germany upon some matters of military science.
Does he carry the same weight when he writes of international
politics and the actual use of those mighty forces which he has
helped to form? We will hope not. But when a man speaks with the
highest authority upon one subject, his voice cannot be entirely
disregarded upon a kindred one. Besides, he continually labours, and
with success, to make the reader understand that he is the direct
modern disciple of that main German line of thought which traces
from Frederick through Bismarck to the present day. He moves in
circles which actually control the actions of their country in a
manner to which we have no equivalent. For all these reasons, his
views cannot be lightly set aside, and should be most carefully
studied by Britons. We know that we have no wish for war, and desire
only to be left alone. Unfortunately, it takes two to make peace,
even as it takes two to make a quarrel. There is a very clear
statement here that the quarrel is imminent, and that we must think
of the means, military, naval, and financial, by which we may meet
it. Since von Bernhardi's book may not be accessible to every reader
of this article, I will begin by giving some idea of the situation
as it appears to him, and of the course of action which he
foreshadows and recommends.

He begins his argument by the uncompromising statement that war is a
good thing in itself. All advance is founded upon struggle. Each
nation has a right, and indeed a duty, to use violence where its
interests are concerned and there is a tolerable hope of success. As
to the obvious objection that such a doctrine bears no possible
relation to Christianity, he is not prepared to admit the validity
of the Christian ethics in international practice. In an ingenious
passage he even attempts to bring the sanction of Christianity to
support his bellicose views. He says:--

     "Again, from the Christian standpoint, we arrive at the
     same conclusion. Christian morality is based, indeed, on
     the law of love. 'Love God above all things, and thy
     neighbour as thyself.' This law can claim no significance
     for the relations of one country to another, since its
     application to politics would lead to a conflict of
     duties. The love which a man showed to another country as
     such would imply a want of love for his own countrymen.
     Such a system of politics must inevitably lead men
     astray. Christian morality is personal and social, and in
     its nature cannot be political. Its object is to promote
     morality of the individual, in order to strengthen him to
     work unselfishly in the interests of the community. It
     tells us to love our individual enemies, but does not
     remove the conception of enmity."

Having thus established the general thesis that a nation should not
hesitate to declare war where a material advantage may be the
reward, he sets out very clearly what are some of the causes for war
which Germany can see before her. The following passages throw a
light upon them:--

     "Strong, healthy, and flourishing nations increase in
     numbers. From a given moment they require a continual
     expansion of their frontiers, they require new territory
     for the accommodation of their surplus population. Since
     almost every part of the globe is inhabited, new
     territory must, as a rule, be obtained at the cost of its
     possessors--that is to say, by conquest, which thus
     becomes a law of necessity."

Again:--

     "Lastly, in all times the right of conquest by war has
     been admitted. It may be that a growing people cannot win
     colonies from uncivilised races, and yet the State wishes
     to retain the surplus population which the mother country
     can no longer feed. Then the only course left is to
     acquire the necessary territory by war. Thus the instinct
     of self-preservation leads inevitably to war, and the
     conquest of foreign soil. It is not the possessor, but
     the victor, who then has the right."

And he concludes:--

     "Arbitration treaties must be peculiarly detrimental to
     an aspiring people, which has not yet reached its
     political and national zenith, and is bent on expanding
     its power in order to play its part honourably in the
     civilised world."

And adds:--

     "It must be borne in mind that a peaceful decision by an
     arbitration court can never replace in its effects and
     consequences a warlike decision, even as regards the
     State in whose favour it is pronounced."

To many of us it would seem a legitimate extension of the author's
argument if we said that it would have a virile and bracing effect
upon our characters if, when we had a grievance against our
neighbour, we refrained from taking it into the law courts, but
contented ourselves with breaking his head with a club. However, we
are concerned here not so much with the validity of the German
general's arguments as with their practical application so far as
they affect ourselves.

Brushing aside the peace advocates, the writer continues: "To such
views, the off-spring of a false humanity, the clear and definite
answer must be made that, under certain circumstances, it is not
only the right but the moral and political duty of the statesman to
bring about a war. The acts of the State cannot be judged by the
standard of individual morality." He quotes Treitschke: "The
Christian duty of sacrifice for something higher does not exist for
the State, for there is nothing higher than it in the world's
history--consequently it cannot sacrifice itself to something
higher." One would have hoped that a noble ideal and a moral purpose
were something higher, but it would be vain to claim that any
country, ourselves included, have ever yet lived fully up to the
doctrine. And yet some conscious striving, however imperfect, is
surely better than such a deliberate negation.

Having laid down these general propositions of the value of war, and
of the non-existence of international moral obligations, General von
Bernhardi then proceeds to consider very fully the general position
of Germany and the practical application of those doctrines. Within
the limits of this essay I can only give a general survey of the
situation as seen by him. War is necessary for Germany. It should be
waged as soon as is feasible, as certain factors in the situation
tell in favour of her enemies. The chief of these factors are the
reconstruction of the Russian fleet, which will be accomplished
within a few years, and the preparation of a French native colonial
force, which would be available for European hostilities. This also,
though already undertaken, will take some years to perfect.
Therefore, the immediate future is Germany's best opportunity.

In this war Germany places small confidence in Italy as an ally,
since her interests are largely divergent, but she assumes complete
solidarity with Austria. Austria and Germany have to reckon with
France and Russia. Russia is slow in her movements, and Germany,
with her rapid mobilisation, should be able to throw herself upon
France without fear of her rear. Should she win a brilliant victory
at the outset, Russia might refuse to compromise herself at all,
especially if the quarrel could be so arranged that it would seem as
if France had been the aggressor. Before the slow Slavonic mind had
quite understood the situation and set her unwieldy strength in
motion, her ally might be struck down, and she face to face with the
two Germanic Powers, which would be more than a match for her.

Of the German army, which is to be the instrument of this
world-drama, General von Bernhardi expresses the highest opinion:
"The spirit which animates the troops, the ardour of attack, the
heroism, the loyalty which prevail among them, justify the highest
expectations. I am certain that if they are soon to be summoned to
arms their exploits will astonish the world, provided only that they
are led with skill and determination." How their "ardour of attack"
has been tested it is difficult to see, but the world will probably
agree that the German army is a most formidable force. When he goes
on, however, to express the opinion that they would certainly
overcome the French, the two armies being approximately of the same
strength, it is not so easy to follow his argument. It is possible
that even so high an authority as General von Bernhardi has not
entirely appreciated how Germany has been the teacher of the world
in military matters and how thoroughly her pupils have responded to
that teaching. That attention to detail, perfection of arrangement
for mobilisation, and careful preparation which have won German
victories in the past may now be turned against her, and she may
find that others can equal her in her own virtues.

Poor France, once conquered, is to be very harshly treated. Here is
the passage which describes her fate:--

     "In one way or another _we must square our account with
     France_ if we wish for a free hand in our international
     policy. This is the first and foremost condition of a
     sound German policy, and since the hostility of France
     once for all cannot be removed by peaceful overtures, the
     matter must be settled by force of arms. France must be
     so completely crushed that she can never again come
     across our path."

It is not said how Germany could permanently extinguish France, and
it is difficult to think it out. An indemnity, however large, would
eventually be paid and France recover herself. Germany has found the
half-German border provinces which she annexed so indigestible that
she could hardly incorporate Champagne or any other purely French
district. Italy might absorb some of Savoy and the French Riviera.
If the country were artificially separated the various parts would
fly together again at the first opportunity. Altogether, the
permanent sterilisation of France would be no easy matter to
effect. It would probably be attempted by imposing the condition
that in the future no army, save for police duties, would be allowed
her. The history of Prussia itself, however, shows that even so
stringent a prohibition as this can be evaded by a conquered but
indomitable people.

Let us now turn to General von Bernhardi's views upon ourselves;
and, first of all, it is of interest to many of us to know what are
those historical episodes which have caused him and many of his
fellow-countrymen to take bitter exception to our national record.
From our point of view we have repeatedly helped Germany in the
past, and have asked for and received no other reward than the
consciousness of having co-operated in some common cause. So it was
in Marlborough's days. So in the days of Frederick. So also in those
of Napoleon. To all these ties, which had seemed to us to be of
importance, there is not a single allusion in this volume. On the
other hand, there are very bitter references to some other
historical events which must seem to us strangely inadequate as a
cause for international hatred.

We may, indeed, congratulate ourselves as a nation, if no stronger
indictment can be made against us than is contained in the book of
the German general. The first episode upon which he animadverts is
the ancient German grievance of the abandonment of Frederick the
Great by England in the year 1761. One would have thought that there
was some statute of limitations in such matters, but apparently
there is none in the German mind. Let us grant that the premature
cessation of a campaign is an injustice to one's associates, and let
us admit also that a British Government under its party system can
never be an absolutely stable ally. Having said so much, one may
point out that there were several mitigating circumstances in this
affair. We had fought for five years, granting considerable
subsidies to Frederick during that time, and dispatching British
armies into the heart of Germany. The strain was very great, in a
quarrel which did not vitally affect ourselves. The British nation
had taken the view, not wholly unreasonably, that the war was being
waged in the interests of Hanover, and upon a German rather than a
British quarrel. When we stood out France did the same, so that the
balance of power between the combatants was not greatly affected.
Also, it may be pointed out as a curious historical fact that this
treatment which he so much resented was exactly that which Frederick
had himself accorded to his allies some years before at the close of
the Silesian campaign. On that occasion he made an isolated peace
with Maria Theresa, and left his associates, France and Bavaria, to
meet the full force of the Austrian attack.

Finally the whole episode has to be judged by the words of a modern
writer: "Conditions may arise which are more powerful than the most
honourable intentions. The country's own interests--considered, of
course, in the highest ethical sense--must then turn the scale."
These sentences are not from the work of a British apologist, but
from this very book of von Bernhardi's which scolds England for her
supposed adherence to such principles. He also quotes, with
approval, Treitschke's words: "Frederick the Great was all his life
long charged with treachery because no treaty or alliance could
ever induce him to renounce the right of free self-determination."

Setting aside this ancient grievance of the Seven Years' War, it is
of interest to endeavour to find out whether there are any other
solid grounds in the past for Germany's reprobation. Two more
historical incidents are held up as examples of our perfidy. The
first is the bombardment of Copenhagen in 1807, when the British
took forcible possession in time of peace of the Danish fleet. It
must be admitted that the step was an extreme one, and only to be
justified upon the plea of absolute necessity for vital national
reasons. The British Government of the day believed that Napoleon
was about to possess himself of the Danish fleet and would use it
against themselves. Fouché has admitted in his Memoirs that the
right was indeed given by a secret clause in the Treaty of Tilsit.
It was a desperate time, when the strongest measures were
continually being used against us, and it may be urged that similar
measures were necessary in self-defence. Having once embarked upon
the enterprise, and our demand being refused, there was no
alternative but a bombardment of the city with its attendant loss of
civilian life. It is not an exploit of which we need be proud, and
at the best can only be described as a most painful and unfortunate
necessity; but I should be surprised if the Danes, on looking back
to it, judge it more harshly than some more recent experiences which
they have had at the hands of General von Bernhardi's own
fellow-countrymen. That he is himself prepared to launch upon a
similar enterprise in a much larger and more questionable shape is
shown by his declaration that if Holland will not take sides against
England in the next war it should be overrun by the German troops.

General von Bernhardi's next historical charge is the bombardment of
Alexandria in 1882, which he describes as having been affected upon
hypocritical pretences in a season of peace. To those who have a
recollection of that event and can recall the anti-European movement
of Arabi and the massacre which preceded the bombardment, the charge
will appear grotesque. But it is with a patchwork quilt of this sort
that this German publicist endeavours to cover the unreasoning, but
none the less formidable, jealousy and prejudice which inflame him
against this country. The foolish fiction that the British
Government declared war against the Boers in order to gain
possession of their gold mines is again brought forward, though one
would have imagined that even the gutter-Press who exploited it
twelve years ago had abandoned it by now. If General von Bernhardi
can explain how the British Government is the richer for these
mines, or whether a single foreign shareholder has been dispossessed
of his stock in them, he will be the first who has ever given a
solid fact in favour of this ridiculous charge. In a previous
paragraph of his book he declares that it was President Kruger who
made the war and that he was praiseworthy for so doing. Both
statements cannot be true. If it was President Kruger who made the
war, then it was not forced on by Great Britain in order to possess
herself of the goldfields.

So much for the specific allegations against Great Britain. One can
hardly regard them as being so serious as to wipe out the various
claims, racial, religious, and historical, which unite the two
countries. However, we are only concerned with General von
Bernhardi's conclusions, since he declares that his country is
prepared to act upon them. There remain two general grounds upon
which he considers that Germany should make war upon the British
Empire. The first is to act as the champion of the human race in
winning what he calls the freedom of the seas. The second is to
further German expansion as a world-Power, which is cramped by our
opposition.

The first of these reasons is difficult to appreciate. British
maritime power has been used to ensure, not to destroy, the freedom
of the seas. What smallest Power has ever been hindered in her
legitimate business? It is only the pirate, the slaver, and the
gun-runner who can justly utter such a reproach. If the mere fact of
having predominant latent strength upon the water is an encroachment
upon the freedom of the sea, then some nation must always be guilty
of it. After our mild supremacy we may well say to Germany, as
Charles said to James: "No one will assassinate me in order to put
you on the throne." Her mandate is unendorsed by those whom she
claims to represent.

But the second indictment is more formidable. We lie athwart
Germany's world ambitions, even as, geographically, we lie across
her outlets. But when closely looked at, what is it of which we
deprive her, and is its attainment really a matter of such vital
importance? Do we hamper her trade? On the contrary, we exhibit a
generosity which meets with no acknowledgment, and which many of us
have long held to be altogether excessive. Her manufactured goods
are welcomed in without a tax, while ours are held out from Germany
by a 20 per cent. tariff. In India, Egypt, and every colony which
does not directly control its own financial policy, German goods
come in upon the same footing as our own. No successful war can
improve her position in this respect. There is, however, the
question of colonial expansion. General von Bernhardi foresees that
Germany is increasing her population at such a pace that emigration
will be needed soon in order to relieve it. It is a perfectly
natural national ambition that this emigration should be to some
place where the settlers need not lose their flag or nationality.
But if Great Britain were out of the way, where would they find such
a place? Not in Canada, Australia, South Africa, or New Zealand.
These States could not be conquered if the Motherland had ceased to
exist. General von Bernhardi talks of the high lands of Africa, but
already Germany possesses high lands in Africa, and their
colonisation has not been a success. Can any one name one single
place upon the earth's surface suitable for white habitation from
which Germany is excluded by the existence of Great Britain? It is
true that the huge continent of South America is only sparsely
inhabited, its whole population being about equal to that of
Prussia. But that is an affair in which the United States, and not
we, are primarily interested, and one which it is not our interest
either to oppose or to support.

But, however inadequate all these reasons for war may seem to a
Briton, one has still to remember that we have to reckon with the
conclusions exactly as if they were drawn from the most logical
premises. These conclusions appear in such sentences as follows:--

  "What we now wish to attain must be fought for and won against
  a superior force of hostile interests and Powers."

  "Since the struggle is necessary and inevitable, we must fight
  it out, cost what it may."

  "A pacific agreement with England is a will-o'-the-wisp, which
  no serious German statesman would trouble to follow. We must
  always keep the possibility of war with England before our
  eyes and arrange our political and military plans accordingly.
  We need not concern ourselves with any pacific protestations
  of English politicians, publicists, and Utopians, which cannot
  alter the real basis of affairs."

  "The situation in the world generally shows there can only be a
  short respite before we once more face the question whether we
  will draw the sword for our position in the world, or renounce
  such position once for all. We must not in any case wait until
  our opponents have completed their arming and decide that the
  hour of attack has come."

  "Even English attempts at a _rapprochement_ must not blind us
  to the real situation. We may at most use them to delay the
  necessary and inevitable war until we may fairly imagine we
  have some prospect of success."

This last sentence must come home to some of us who have worked in
the past for a better feeling between the two countries. And this is
the man who dares to accuse _us_ of national perfidy.

These extracts are but a few from a long series which show beyond
all manner of doubt that Germany, so far as General von Bernhardi is
an exponent of her intentions, will undoubtedly attack us suddenly
should she see an opportunity. The first intimation of such attack
would, as he indicates, be a torpedo descent upon our Fleet, and a
wireless message to German liners which would bring up their
concealed guns, and turn each of them into a fast cruiser ready to
prey upon our commerce. That is the situation as he depicts it. It
may be that he mistakes it. But for what it is worth, that is his
opinion and advice.

He sketches out the general lines of a war between England and
Germany. If France is involved, she is to be annihilated, as already
described. But suppose the two rivals are left face to face. Holland
and Denmark are to be bound over to the German side under pain of
conquest. The German Fleet is to be held back under the protection
of the land forts. Meanwhile, torpedoes, submarines, and airships
are to be used for the gradual whittling down of the blockading
squadrons. When they have been sufficiently weakened the Fleet is to
sally out and the day has arrived. As to the chances of success, he
is of opinion that in material and _personnel_ the two fleets may be
taken as being equal--when once the numbers have been equalised. In
quality of guns, he considers that the Germans have the advantage.
Of gunnery he does not speak, but he believes that in torpedo work
his countrymen are ahead of any others. In airships, which for
_reconnaissance_, if not for actual fighting power, will be of
supreme importance, he considers also that his country will have a
considerable advantage.

Such, in condensed form, is the general thesis and forecast of this
famous German officer. If it be true, there are evil days coming
both for his country and for ours. One may find some consolation in
the discovery that wherever he attempts to fathom our feelings he
makes the most lamentable blunders. He lays it down as an axiom, for
example, that if we were hard-pressed the Colonies would take the
opportunity of abandoning us. We know, on the other hand, that it is
just such a situation which would bring about the federation of the
Empire. He is under the delusion also that there is deep commercial
and political jealousy of the United States in this country, and
that this might very well culminate in war. We are aware that there
is no such feeling, and that next to holding the trident ourselves
we should wish to see it in the hands of our American cousins. One
thing he says, however, which is supremely true, which all of us
would endorse, and which every German should ponder: it is that the
idea of a war between Germany and ourselves never entered into the
thoughts of any one in this country until the year 1902. Why this
particular year? Had the feeling risen from commercial jealousy
upon the part of Great Britain, it must have shown itself far
earlier than that--as early as the "Made in Germany" enactment. It
appeared in 1902 because that was the close of the Boer War, and
because the bitter hostility shown by the Germans in that war opened
our eyes to the fact that they would do us a mischief if they could.
When the German Navy Act of 1900 gave promise that they would soon
have the means of doing so, the first thoughts of danger arose, and
German policy drove us more and more into the ranks of their
opponents. Here, then, General von Bernhardi is right; but in nearly
every other reference to our feelings and views he is wrong; so that
it is to be hoped that in those matters in which we are unable to
check him, such as the course of German thought and of German action
in the future, he is equally mistaken. But I repeat that he is a man
of standing and reputation, and that we should be mad if we did not
take most serious notice of the opinions which he has laid down.

I have headed this article "Great Britain and the Next War," since
it looks at the arguments and problems which General von Bernhardi
has raised in his _Germany and the Next War_ from the British point
of view. May it prove that the title is an absurdity and the war an
imaginative hypothesis. But I should wish, before I close, to devote
a few pages to my view upon the defensive measures of our country. I
am well aware that I speak with no expert authority, which makes it
the more embarrassing that my opinions do not coincide with those of
any one whom I have encountered in this controversy. Still, it is
better to be a voice, however small, than an echo.

It would simplify the argument if we began by eliminating certain
factors which, in my opinion, simply darken counsel, as they are
continually brought into the front of the question to the exclusion
of the real issues which lie behind them. One of them is the
supposed possibility of an invasion--either on a large scale or in
the form of a raid. The former has been pronounced by our highest
naval authorities of the time as being impossible, and I do not
think any one can read the Wilson Memorandum without being convinced
by its condensed logic. Von Bernhardi, in his chapter upon the
possible methods of injuring Great Britain, though he treats the
whole subject with the greatest frankness, dismisses the idea either
of raid or invasion in a few short sentences. The raid seems to me
the less tenable hypothesis of the two. An invasion would, at least,
play for a final stake, though at a deadly risk. A raid would be a
certain loss of a body of troops, which would necessarily be the
flower of the army; it could hope to bring about no possible
permanent effect upon the war, and it would upset the balance of
military power between Germany and her neighbours. If Germany were
an island, like ourselves, she might risk such a venture. Sandwiched
in between two armed nations as strong as herself, I do not believe
that there is the slightest possibility of it.

But if, as Von Bernhardi says, such plans are visionary, what is the
exact object of a Territorial Army, and, even more, what would be
the object of a National Service Army upon compulsory lines for home
defence? Is it not a waste of money and energy which might be more
profitably employed in some other form? Every one has such an
affection and esteem for Lord Roberts--especially if one has the
honour of his personal acquaintance--that one shrinks from
expressing a view which might be unwelcome to him.[5] And yet he
would be the first to admit that it is one's duty to add one's
opinion to the debate, if that opinion has been conscientiously
formed, and if one honestly believes that it recommends the best
course of action for one's country. So far as his argument for
universal service is based upon national health and physique, I
think he is on ground which no one could attack. But I cannot bring
myself to believe that a case has been made out for the substitution
of an enforced soldier in the place of the volunteer who has always
done so splendidly in the past. Great as is Lord Roberts's
experience, he is talking here of a thing which is outside it, for
he has never seen an enforced British soldier, and has, therefore,
no data by which he can tell how such a man would compare with the
present article. There were enforced British sailors once, and I
have seen figures quoted to show that of 29,000 who were impressed
27,000 escaped from the Fleet by desertion. It is not such men as
these who win our battles.

  [5] More now, alas! than ever.--Nov. 26, A. C. D.

The argument for enforced service is based upon the plea that the
Territorial Army is below strength in numbers and deficient in
quality. But if invasion is excluded from our calculations this is
of less importance. The force becomes a nursery for the Army, which
has other reserves to draw upon before it reaches it. Experience has
shown that under warlike excitement in a virile nation like ours,
the ranks soon fill up, and as the force becomes embodied from the
outbreak of hostilities, it would rapidly improve in quality. It is
idle to assert that because Bulgaria can, in a day, flood her troops
into Turkey, therefore we should always stand to arms. The
Turko-Bulgarian frontier is a line of posts--the Anglo-German is a
hundred leagues of salt water.

But am I such an optimist as to say that there is no danger in a
German war? On the contrary, I consider that there is a vast danger,
that it is one which we ignore, and against which we could at a
small cost effect a complete insurance. Let me try to define both
the danger and the remedy. In order to do this we must consider the
two different forms which such a war might take. It might be a
single duel, or it might be with France as our ally. If Germany
attacked Great Britain alone, it may safely be prophesied that the
war would be long, tedious, and possibly inconclusive, but our
_rôle_ would be a comparatively passive one. If she attacked
France, however, that _rôle_ would be much more active, since we
could not let France go down, and to give her effective help we must
land an expeditionary force upon the Continent. This force has to be
supplied with munitions of war and kept up to strength, and so the
whole problem becomes a more complex one.

The element of danger, which is serious in either form of war, but
more serious in the latter, is the existence of new forms of naval
warfare which have never been tested in the hands of competent men,
and which may completely revolutionise the conditions. These new
factors are the submarine and the airship. The latter, save as a
means of acquiring information, does not seem to be formidable--or
not sufficiently formidable to alter the whole conditions of a
campaign. But it is different with the submarines. No blockade, so
far as I can see, can hold these vessels in harbour, and no skill or
bravery can counteract their attack when once they are within
striking distance. One could imagine a state of things when it might
be found impossible for the greater ships on either side to keep the
seas on account of these poisonous craft. No one can say that such a
contingency is impossible. Let us see, then, how it would affect us
if it should come to pass.

In the first place, it would not affect us at all as regards
invasion or raids. If the German submarines can dominate our own
large ships, our submarines can do the same for theirs. We should
still hold the seas with our small craft. Therefore, if Great
Britain alone be at war with Germany, such a naval revolution would
merely affect our commerce and food supply. What exact effect a
swarm of submarines, lying off the mouth of the Channel and the
Irish Sea, would produce upon the victualling of these islands is a
problem which is beyond my conjecture. Other ships besides the
British would be likely to be destroyed, and international
complications would probably follow. I cannot imagine that such a
fleet would entirely, or even to a very large extent, cut off our
supplies. But it is certain that they would have the effect of
considerably raising the price of whatever did reach us. Therefore
we should suffer privation, though not necessarily such privation as
would compel us to make terms. From the beginning of the war, every
home source would naturally be encouraged, and it is possible that
before our external supplies were seriously decreased, our internal
ones might be well on the way to make up the deficiency. Both of the
two great protagonists--Lord Haldane and Lord Roberts--have declared
that if we lost the command of the seas we should have to make
peace. Their reference, however, was to complete naval defeat, and
not to such a condition of stalemate as seems to be the more
possible alternative. As to complete naval defeat, our estimates,
and the grand loyalty of the Overseas Dominions, seem to be amply
adequate to guard against that. It is useless to try to alarm us by
counting in the whole force of the Triple Alliance as our possible
foes, for if they came into the war, the forces of our own allies
would also be available. We need only think of Germany.

A predominance of the submarine would, then, merely involve a period
of hard times in this country, if we were fighting Germany
single-handed. But if we were in alliance with France, it becomes an
infinitely more important matter. I presume that I need not argue
the point that it is our vital interest that France be not
dismembered and sterilised. Such a tragedy would turn the western
half of Europe into a gigantic Germany with a few insignificant
States crouching about her feet. The period of her world dominance
would then indeed have arrived. Therefore, if France be wantonly
attacked, we must strain every nerve to prevent her going down, and
among the measures to that end will be the sending of a British
expeditionary force to cover the left or Belgian wing of the French
defences. Such a force would be conveyed across the Channel in
perhaps a hundred troopships, and would entail a constant service of
transports afterwards to carry its requirements.

Here lies, as it seems to me, the possible material for a great
national disaster. Such a fleet of transports cannot be rushed
suddenly across. Its preparation and port of departure are known. A
single submarine amid such a fleet would be like a fox in a poultry
yard destroying victim after victim. The possibilities are
appalling, for it might be not one submarine, but a squadron. The
terrified transports would scatter over the ocean to find safety in
any port. Their convoy could do little to help them. It would be a
debacle--an inversion of the Spanish Armada.

If the crossing were direct from the eastern ports to Antwerp, the
danger would become greater.[6] It is less if it should be from
Portsmouth to Havre. But this is a transit of seven hours, and the
railways from Havre to the Belgian frontier would be insufficient
for such a force. No doubt the Straits of Dover would be strongly
patrolled by our own torpedo craft, and the crossing would, so far
as possible, be made at night, when submarines have their minimum of
efficiency; but, none the less, it seems to me that the risk would
be a very real and pressing one. What possible patrol could make
sure of heading off a squadron of submarines? I should imagine it to
be as difficult as to bar the Straits to a school of whales.

  [6] This, of course, would presuppose that Holland was
      involved in the war.--A. C. D.

But supposing such a wholesale tragedy were avoided, and that in
spite of the predominance of submarines the army got safely to
France or to Belgium, how are we to ensure the safe passage of the
long stream of ships which, for many months, would be employed in
carrying the needful supplies? We could not do it. The army might
very well find itself utterly isolated, with its line of
communications completely broken down, at a time when the demand
upon the resources of all Continental countries was so great that
there was no surplus for our use. Such a state of affairs seems to
me to be a perfectly possible one, and to form, with the chance of
a disaster to the transports, the greatest danger to which we should
be exposed in a German war. But these dangers and the food question,
which has already been treated, can all be absolutely provided
against in a manner which is not only effective, but which will be
of equal value in peace and in war. The Channel Tunnel is essential
to Great Britain's safety.

I will not dwell here upon the commercial or financial advantages of
such a tunnel. Where the trade of two great nations concentrates
upon one narrow tube, it is obvious that whatever corporation
controls that tube has a valuable investment, if the costs of
construction have not been prohibitive. These costs have been placed
as low as five million pounds by Mr. Rose Smith, who represents a
practical company engaged in such work. If it were twice, thrice, or
four times that sum it should be an undertaking which should promise
great profits, and for that reason should be constructed by the
nation, or nations, for their common national advantage. It is too
vital a thing for any private company to control.

But consider its bearing upon a German war. All the dangers which I
have depicted are eliminated. We tap (_via_ Marseilles and the
tunnel) the whole food supply of the Mediterranean and the Black
Sea. Our expeditionary force makes its transit, and has its supplies
independent of weather or naval chances. Should anything so unlikely
as a raid occur, and the forces in this country seem unable to cope
with it, a Franco-British reinforcement can be rushed through from
the Continent. The Germans have made great works like the Kiel Canal
in anticipation of war. Our answer must be the Channel Tunnel,
linking us closer to our ally.

Though this scheme was discarded (under very different naval and
political conditions) some twenty years ago, no time has, as a
matter of fact, been lost by the delay; as I am informed that
machinery for boring purposes has so enormously improved that what
would have taken thirty years to accomplish can now be done in
three. If this estimate be correct, there may still be time to
effect this essential insurance before the war with which General
von Bernhardi threatens us breaks upon us.

Let us, before leaving the subject, glance briefly at the objections
which have formerly been urged against the tunnel. Such as they are,
they are as valid now as ever, although the advantages have
increased to such an extent as to throw the whole weight of the
argument upon the side of those who favour its construction. The
main (indeed, the only) objection was the fear that the tunnel would
fall into wrong hands and be used for purposes of invasion. By this
was meant not a direct invasion through the tunnel itself--to invade
a nation of forty-five million people through a hole in the ground
twenty-five miles long would stagger the boldest mind--but that the
tunnel might be seized at each end by some foreign nation, which
would then use it for aggressive military purposes.

At the time of the discussion our relations with France were by no
means so friendly as they are now, and it was naturally to France
only that we alluded, since they would already hold one end of the
tunnel. We need not now discuss any other nation, since any other
would have to seize both ends by surprise, and afterwards retain
them, which is surely inconceivable. We are now bound in close ties
of friendship and mutual interest to France. We have no right to
assume that we shall always remain on as close a footing, but as our
common peril seems likely to be a permanent one, it is improbable
that there will be any speedy or sudden change in our relations. At
the same time, in a matter so vital as our hold upon the Dover end
of the tunnel, we could not be too stringent in our precautions. The
tunnel should open out at a point where guns command it, the mouth
of it should be within the lines of an entrenched camp, and a
considerable garrison should be kept permanently within call. The
latter condition already exists in Dover, but the numbers might well
be increased. As an additional precaution, a passage should be
driven alongside the tunnel, from which it could, if necessary, be
destroyed. This passage should have an independent opening within
the circle of a separate fort, so that the capture of the end of the
tunnel would not prevent its destruction. With such precautions as
these, the most nervous person might feel that our insular position
had not really been interfered with. The strong fortress of the
Middle Ages had a passage under the moat as part of the defence.
This is our passage.

Could an enemy in any way destroy it in time of war?

It would, as I conceive, be sunk to a depth of not less than two
hundred feet below the bed of the ocean. This ceiling would be
composed of chalk and clay. No explosive from above could drive it
in. If it were designed on a large scale--and, personally, I think
it should be a four-line tunnel, even if the cost were doubled
thereby--no internal explosion, such as might be brought about by
secreting explosive packets upon the trains, would be likely to do
more than temporarily obstruct it. If the very worst happened, and
it were actually destroyed, we should be no worse off than we are
now. As to the expense, if we are driven into a war of this
magnitude, a few millions one way or the other will not be worth
considering.

Incidentally, it may be noted that General von Bernhardi has a poor
opinion of our troops. This need not trouble us. We are what we are,
and words will not alter it. From very early days our soldiers have
left their mark upon Continental warfare, and we have no reason to
think that we have declined from the manhood of our forefathers. He
further calls them "mercenaries," which is a misuse of terms. A
mercenary is a man who is paid to fight in a quarrel which is not
his own. As every British soldier must by law be a British citizen,
the term is absurd. What he really means is that they are not
conscripts in the sense of being forced to fight, but they are
sufficiently well paid to enable the army as a profession to attract
a sufficient number of our young men to the colours.

Our military and naval preparations are, as it seems to me, adequate
for the threatened crisis. With the Channel Tunnel added our
position should be secure. But there are other preparations which
should be made for such a contest, should it unhappily be forced
upon us. One is financial. Again, as so often before in the history
of British wars, it may prove that the last guinea wins. Everything
possible should be done to strengthen British credit. This crisis
cannot last indefinitely. The cloud will dissolve or burst.
Therefore, for a time we should husband our resources for the
supreme need. At such a time all national expenditure upon objects
which only mature in the future becomes unjustifiable. Such a tax as
the undeveloped land tax, which may bring in a gain some day, but at
present costs ten times what it produces, is the type of expenditure
I mean. I say nothing of its justice or injustice, but only of its
inopportuneness at a moment when we sorely need our present
resources.

Another preparation lies in our national understanding of the
possibility of such a danger and the determination to face the
facts. Both Unionists and Liberals have shown their appreciation of
the situation, and so have two of the most famous Socialist leaders.
No audible acquiescence has come from the ranks of the Labour Party.
I would venture to say one word here to my Irish fellow-countrymen
of all political persuasions. If they imagine that they can stand
politically or economically while Britain falls, they are woefully
mistaken. The British Fleet is their one shield. If it be broken,
Ireland will go down. They may well throw themselves heartily into
the common defence, for no sword can transfix England without the
point reaching Ireland behind her.

Let me say in conclusion, most emphatically, that I do not myself
accept any of those axioms of General von Bernhardi which are the
foundation-stones of his argument. I do not think that war is in
itself a good thing, though a dishonourable peace may be a worse
one. I do not believe that an Anglo-German war is necessary. I am
convinced that we should never, of our own accord, attack Germany,
nor would we assist France if she made an unprovoked attack upon
that Power. I do not think that as the result of such a war, Germany
could in any way extend her flag so as to cover a larger white
population. Every one of his propositions I dispute. But that is all
beside the question. We have not to do with his argument, but with
its results. Those results are that he, a man whose opinion is of
weight, and a member of the ruling class in Germany, tells us
frankly that Germany will attack us the moment she sees a favourable
opportunity. I repeat that we should be mad if we did not take very
serious notice of the warning.


       *       *       *       *       *



IX

AFTERTHOUGHTS


So it was so after all. I write after perusing what was written two
years ago. I lean back in my chair and I think of the past. "So it
really was so after all," represents the thought which comes to my
mind.

It seems hardly fair to call it a conspiracy. When a certain action
is formulated quite clearly in many books, when it is advocated by
newspapers, preached by professors, and discussed at every
restaurant, it ceases to be a conspiracy. We may take Bernhardi's
book as a text, but it is only because here between two covers we
find the whole essence of the matter in an authoritative form. It
has been said a thousand times elsewhere. And now we know for all
time that these countless scolding and minatory voices were not mere
angry units, but that they were in truth the collective voice of
the nation. All that Bernhardi said, all that after long disbelief
he made some of us vaguely realise, has now actually happened. So
far as Germany is concerned it has been fulfilled to the letter.
Fortunately so far as other nations have been concerned it has been
very different. He knew his own, but he utterly misjudged all else,
and in that misjudgment he and his spy-trusting Government have dug
a pit for themselves in which they long may flounder.

Make war deliberately whenever you think that you may get profit
from it. Find an excuse, but let it be an excuse which will give you
a strong position before the world and help your alliances. Take
advantage of your neighbour's temporary weakness in order to attack
him. Pretend to be friendly in order to screen warlike preparations.
Do not let contracts or treaties stand in the way of your vital
interests. All of these monstrous propositions are to be found in
this _vade mecum_ of the German politician and soldier, and each of
them has been put in actual practice within a very few years of the
appearance of the book. Take each of them in turn.

Take first the point that they made war deliberately, and took
advantage of the imagined weakness of their neighbours in order to
attack them. When was it that they backed up, if they did not
actually dictate, the impossible ultimatum addressed as much to
Russia as to Servia? When was it that they were so determined upon
war that they made peace impossible at the moment when Austria was
showing signs of reconsidering her position? Why so keen at that
particular moment? Was it not that for the instant each of her three
antagonists seemed to be at a disadvantage? Russia was supposed not
to have recovered yet from her Japanese misadventure. France was
torn by politics, and had admitted in the Senate that some important
branches of her armies were unprepared. Britain seemed to be on the
verge of civil war. It was just such a combination as was predicated
by Bernhardi. And his country responded to it exactly as he had
said, choosing the point of quarrel against the Slav race so as to
conciliate the more advanced or liberal nations of the world.

Then again they pretended to be friendly in order to cover hostile
preparations. To the very last moment the German Minister in
Brussels was assuring the Government of King Albert that nothing but
the best intentions animated those whom he represented, and that
Belgian neutrality was safe. The written contract was deliberately
dishonoured on the false and absurd plea that if they did not
dishonour it some one else would. Thus, of the five propositions
which had seemed most monstrous and inhuman in Bernhardi's book in
1912, every single one had been put into actual practice by his
country in 1914. Those of us who advised at the time that the book
should be taken seriously have surely been amply justified.

It is a singular thing that Bernhardi not only indicated in a
general way what Germany was contemplating, but in his other book
upon modern warfare he gives a very complete sketch of the strategic
conception which has been followed by the Germans. He shows there
how their armies might come through Belgium, how their eastern
forces might mark time while the western, which were to consist of
the picked troops, would travel by forced marches until they reached
the neighbourhood of the coast, or at least the west of Paris, after
which the whole line should swing round into France. The chance that
by these movements the German right would come into the region of
the British expeditionary force is dismissed lightly, since he
entirely underestimated the power of such a force, while as to the
Belgian army it is hardly admitted as a factor at all. A comparison
of the opinions of this great military authority with the actual
facts as we have recently known them, must weaken one's faith in the
value of expert judgment. He is, for example, strongly of opinion
that battles will not as a rule last for more than one day. He has
also so high an opinion of the supreme fighting value of the German
soldiers, that he declares that they will always fight in the open
rather than behind entrenchments. It makes strange reading for us
who have seen them disappear from sight into the ground for a month
at a time.

In what I have said in the previous article of the naval and
military position, I find nothing to withdraw, and little to modify.
I write with the Germans at Ostend, and yet the possibility of
either a raid or an invasion seems to me as remote as it did two
years ago. I do not of course refer to an aerial raid, which I look
upon as extremely probable, but to a landing in these islands. The
submarine which has been used so skilfully against us is an
all-powerful defensive weapon in our hands. As to the submarine, I
think that I may claim to have foreseen the situation which has
actually come upon us. "No blockade," I remarked, "can hold these
vessels in harbour, and no skill or bravery can counteract their
attack when once they are within striking distance. One could
imagine a state of things when it might be found impossible for the
greater ships on either side to keep the seas on account of these
poisonous craft. No one can say that such a contingency is
impossible." It is largely true at the present moment as regards the
North Sea. But the submarine will not shake Great Britain as
mistress of the seas. On the contrary, with her geographical
position, it will, if her internal economic policy be wise, put her
in a stronger position than ever.

The whole question of the Channel Tunnel and its strategic effect,
which is treated of in the last essay, becomes entirely academic,
since even if it had been put in hand when the German menace became
clearer it could not yet have been completed. The idea of an
invasion through it has always seemed and still seems to me to be
absurd, but we should have been brought face to face at the present
moment with the possibility of the enemy getting hold of the farther
end and destroying it, so as to wreck a great national enterprise.
This is a danger which I admit that I had not foreseen. At the same
time, when a tunnel is constructed, the end of it will no doubt be
fortified in such a fashion that it could be held indefinitely
against any power save France, which would have so large a stake in
it herself that she could not destroy it. The whole operation of
sending reinforcements and supplies to the scene of war at the
present instant would be enormously simplified if a tunnel were in
existence.

There remains the fiercely debated question of compulsory national
service. Even now, with the enemy at the gate, it seems to me to be
as open as ever. Would we, under our constitution and with our
methods of thought, have had such a magnificent response to Lord
Kitchener's appeal, or would we have had such splendid political
unanimity in carrying the war to a conclusion, if a large section of
the people had started by feeling sore over an Act which caused
themselves or their sons to serve whether they wished or not?
Personally I do not believe that we should. I believe that the new
volunteer armies now under training are of really wonderful material
and fired with the very best spirit, and that they will be worth
more than a larger force raised by methods which are alien to our
customs. I said in my previous essay, "Experience has shown that
under warlike excitement in a virile nation like ours the ranks soon
fill up, and as the force becomes embodied from the outbreak of
hostilities it would rapidly improve in quality." Already those
Territorials who were so ignorantly and ungenerously criticised in
times of peace are, after nearly three months of camp-life,
hardening into soldiers who may safely be trusted in the field.
Behind them the greater part of a million men are formed who will
also become soldiers in a record time if a desperate earnestness can
make them so. It is a glorious spectacle which makes a man thankful
that he has been spared to see it. One is more hopeful of our
Britain, and more proud of her, now that the German guns can be
heard from her eastern shore, than ever in the long monotony of her
undisturbed prosperity. Our grandchildren will thrill as they read
of the days that we endure.


       *       *       *       *       *


  _Printed in Great Britain by Hazell, Watson & Viney, Ld.,_
                   _London and Aylesbury._


       *       *       *       *       *



TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES


Italic text has been denoted by _underscores_.

Characters in small caps have been replaced by all caps.

The non-printable characters have been replaced as shown below:

    'oe' ligature --> oe

This book was written in a period when many words had not become
standarized in their spelling.  Numerous words have multiple spelling
variations in the text. These have been left unchanged unless noted
below:

    p 29  - typo: missing 'the' added (in the future)

    p 75  - typo: at --> as (he exclaimed, as he gazed)

    p 86  - typo: missing 'the' added (in the future)

    p 111 - typo: missing 'the' added (in the future)





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