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Title: Where Are We Going?
Author: Lloyd George, David
Language: English
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WHERE ARE WE GOING?

by

The Right Honourable

DAVID LLOYD GEORGE

O.M., P.C., M.P.

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER 1916-1922



[Illustration: Logo]


New York
George H. Doran Company

Copyright, 1923,
by George H. Doran Company


[Illustration: Logo]


WHERE ARE WE GOING? II

Printed in the United States of America



PREFACE


The chapters collected in this book represent a running comment on the
European situation during the past ten months. Although in the haze
that covers the Continent it is difficult always to see clearly what
is happening, and still more difficult to forecast what is likely to
occur, I have not deemed it necessary to revise any of the estimates
I made from time to time in these periodic reviews on the position.
In the period covered by them peace has gone back perceptibly and
unmistakably. Of the years immediately after the end of the Great War
it may be said that up to the present year each showed a distinct
improvement over its predecessor. The temper of the warring nations
showed a gradual healing and improvement, and East and West there was a
return to reason and calm in their attitude towards each other. In the
Cannes discussions of January 1922 the atmosphere of hostility which
poisoned the Spa discussions in 1920 had largely disappeared, and the
applause which greeted Herr Rathenau's fine speech at Genoa in April
1922 was cordial and general. The electric messages from Paris failed
to provoke a thunderstorm, and one of the speakers, at the last meeting
of the Assembly, drawing an illustration from the weather outside, said
the Conference had broken up under blue skies and a serene firmament.

That was in May 1922. Those words, when used, met with cheering
approval: if used to-day they would be greeted with scoffing laughter.
The present year has been one of growing gloom and menace. The
international temper is distinctly worse all round. A peace has been
patched up with the Turkish Empire. No one believes it can endure
long. The only question is, How long? There may be other patched-up
treaties between struggling nations before the year is out. There is
only one prediction concerning them which can at this stage be safely
made--they will leave European peace in a more precarious plight than
ever. A peace wrung by triumphant force out of helplessness is never a
good peace. That is why I view with apprehension the character of the
settlement which may soon be wrung out of German despair in the Ruhr
and imposed on Greek impotence in the Adriatic. The Fiume settlement
may turn out to be more satisfactory in spite of threatening omens.
The Jugo-Slavs are a formidable military proposition to be tackled by
any Power. The War proved them to be about the best fighting material
in Europe. They are also fairly well equipped with modern weapons, and
if unhappily the need arose their deficiencies in this respect would
soon be supplied from the workshops of Czecho-Slovakia and elsewhere. I
am, therefore, still hopeful that Fiume may be remitted for settlement
to diplomatists and not to gunmen. International right in these
turbulent days seems to depend, not on justice, but on a reckoning of
chances. The Slavs are ready to defend their rights and can do so.
There is, therefore, some talk of conferences and even arbitration in
their case. Germany and Greece cannot put up a fight. Unconditional
surrender is, therefore, their lot. All the same, this is not only a
wrong but a miscalculation. Unjust concessions, extracted by violence,
are not settlements; they are only postponements. Unfortunately, the
decisions at the next great hearing of the cause are just as likely to
be provisional--and so the quarrel will go on to the final catastrophe
unless humanity one day sees the light and has the courage to follow
it. But that day must not be too distant, otherwise it will come too
late to save civilisation. The last conflict between great nations has
exposed the devastating possibilities of modern science. Henceforth
progress in the destructiveness of the apparatus of war has been, and
will continue to be, so rapid that a conflict to-morrow would spread
ten times the desolation caused by the Great War of 1914-18. There is a
concentration of much scientific and mechanical skill on strengthening
the machinery of devastation. Incredible progress--if progress be the
word--has been made within the last three or four years in perfecting
and increasing the shattering power of this kind of devilry. What will
it be like five, ten, twenty years hence!

Whilst nations are piling up, perfecting and intensifying their
explosives, they are also saturating the ground with the inflammable
passions which one day will precipitate the explosion. Injustice,
insult, insolence, distilled into the spirit of revenge, is everywhere
soaking into the earth.

I have never doubted that France could impose terms on Germany. It was
clear that she could starve Germany into submission to any conditions
dictated to her. It is astonishing that the Germans should have held
out so long. What I have steadily predicted in these articles is that
those terms will not produce as much reparation as a more conciliatory
course would have brought--that to operate them will be a source of
constant friction, and that the methods employed to impose and execute
them will rouse a spirit of patriotic wrath which will in the end bring
disaster to the victor of to-day.

When the invasion of the Ruhr was decided upon, the shortage in the
promised coal deliveries upon which default was declared was barely
10 per cent. A little better organisation of the wagon service on the
French side would have made up that deficiency in a very short time.
During the months of the occupation the French and Belgians have not
succeeded in collecting one-sixth the tonnage delivered during the
corresponding months last year. It will take weeks after passive
resistance has collapsed to restore railways and collieries to working
order. The new _régime_ will have to liquidate arrears of at least
15,000,000 tons before it begins its regular monthly deliveries. What
about cash payments? It is not too much to say that Germany is much
less able to meet her obligations in this respect than she was before
the invasion. Her credit has been blown out of sight into infinite
space. It will take a long time to pull it back from its wanderings and
set its feet once more firmly on European earth. There are only four
ways in which the huge sum due from Germany can be liquidated:--


     (1) By handing over to the Allies the gold reserves of Germany
     and of Germans either at home or on deposit abroad. The former
     is negligible; the amount of the latter is disputable. Much of
     it is essential to enable Germany to purchase abroad the raw
     material and food necessary to her existence. The worse German
     credit becomes the larger must this deposit be. As for the foreign
     securities and deposits which are not strictly necessary for
     trading, they cannot all be made available, for nothing will
     induce some of the depositors to part with the whole of these
     securities. The sum, therefore, derivable from this source would
     amount to but a small percentage of the total figure payable for
     reparations.

     (2) Deliveries of coal, timber, potash, dyes and other raw
     material. With the exception of timber, these deliveries have
     been, on the whole, satisfactory--since the Spa Agreement. It
     did not require the pressure of armed invasion to improve these
     deliveries, including the timber demands of the Allies.

     (3) A percentage levied on German exports. These are paid for in
     gold or its equivalent, and the levy would therefore be remitted
     in gold. A levy of 20 per cent. on German exports would have
     produced between £40,000,000 and £50,000,000 a year on the basis
     of last year's exports. When German trade returned to normal it
     would yield £100,000,000. This sum, added to the value of the
     material delivered, would cover interest and sinking fund on
     the £2,500,000,000 which is now the accepted maximum of German
     capacity.

     (4) The restoration of German credit with a view to the immediate
     raising of a loan on reparation account. This would help the
     Allies over their urgent financial difficulties.


These four methods of payment are the only known and knowable means of
obtaining reparations. They would have been more immediately fruitful
if so much time, money and resource had not been wasted over this
ill-judged invasion.

The apologists of French action in the Ruhr contend that France was
driven to these extremes by the refusal of Britain to co-operate
with her in bringing legitimate pressure to bear on Germany to carry
out the Treaty. Those who put forward this contention argue in
ignorance of the proposals submitted by the British Government to the
Allied Conference in August 1922. These would have exploited all the
methods above set forth to the limit of their productiveness. These
proposals were substantially accepted by all the Allies except France.
Repeated efforts have been made this year in Parliament to induce the
Government to publish this scheme. Both the present and the late Prime
Minister gave favourable if not definite answers to the request for
publication. But so far the August proceedings have not made their
public appearance. Why this reluctance to give the whole facts to the
public? The discussions at the November and January Conferences have
been published in full. These meetings were only adjournments from the
August Conference. The story of the fateful Conference is, therefore,
incomplete if August is suppressed. Ought not the world to know the
proposals which France rejected in August 1922? In the absence of
official publication I will take the responsibility now of giving a
Summary.

It was proposed:--


     (1) That Germany should be called upon to take such measures as
     the Reparations Commission should stipulate, in order to balance
     her Budget and restore her financial stability.

     (2) That the Reichsbank should be made independent of Government
     control.

     (3) That 26 per cent. of the total value of German exports
     should be collected in gold or foreign currencies and paid
     into a separate account in the Reichsbank in the name of the
     Sub-Committee of the Reparations Commission known as the Committee
     of Guarantees.

     (4) That the produce of all German import and export duties other
     than the levy should be paid monthly to a special account at the
     Reichsbank, which should be under the scrutiny of the Committee
     of Guarantees. The German Government should have the disposal
     of the sums standing to the credit of this account so long as
     the Reparations Commission was satisfied that it fulfilled the
     obligations imposed upon it. If at any time the Commission was
     not satisfied that this was the case the Committee of Guarantees
     should have the right to take over the sums standing to the credit
     of this account and to secure the payment to it of the produce of
     these duties thereafter.

     (5) There were stern provisions for supervision of German finance
     by the Committee of Guarantees and for preventing the export of
     German capital.

     (6) There were provisions for supervision over State mines and
     forests in the event of their being a failure in delivery of coal
     or timber as the case might be.


A Moratorium up to December 1922 was to be given conditionally on
the acceptance of the above terms by the German Government, and the
Reparations Commission were then to proceed to fix the further annual
payments.

Had these drastic proposals been adopted and enforced by the Allies,
what would have been the result? Deliveries of coal and timber would
have been ensured up to the full quota arranged. By means of the levy
on exports, £50,000,000 would have been already collected in gold and
paid into Allied account. The mark would have been stabilised, and
could have been made the basis of a considerable loan. As German trade
gradually recovered the export levy would bring in larger amounts. This
year would certainly have produced a yield of between £60,000,000 and
£70,000,000. This is what would have been effected for Reparations if
the plan put forward by the British Government had been accepted and
put into execution in August. By the settlement of this most troublous
question, the great cost and the still greater irritation of the
Ruhr episode would have been avoided, trade would have continued its
convalescence, and the peace of Europe would have been established.

What would have happened if Germany had refused these terms? We should
certainly have heard what objections or counter-proposals Germany had
to offer. But we were resolved to have a settlement that would put an
end to the fiscal chaos inside Germany, and having thus put her in a
position to pay we were equally resolved that she should pay up to the
limit of her capacity. We, therefore, undertook, if Germany rejected
the terms finally agreed upon, to join France and the other Allies
in any coercive measures deemed advisable to compel acceptance. M.
Poincaré refused to agree. His refusal alone rendered that Conference
fruitless. Over a year has elapsed since then. He has pursued a
different policy. So far it has brought him nothing. I am bold enough
to predict that in future it will bring France considerably less than
the August 1922 plan would have yielded.

If he is out for reparations his policy will inevitably fail in
comparison with that he so rashly threw over. But if he is out for
trouble it has been a great success, and in future it will be an even
greater triumph for his statesmanship. A permanent garrison in the Ruhr
has possibilities of mischief which it does not require any special
vision to foresee.

Enduring peace can only rest on a foundation of justice. It is just
that Germany should exert herself to the limit of her strength to
repair the damage wrought by her armies. She was the aggressor; she was
the invader. Her aggression inflicted serious hurt on her neighbours.
By the established precepts of every civilised law in the world she
ought to pay up. A peace which did not recognise that obligation
would be unjust and provoke a righteous resentment in the breasts of
the wronged. That sentiment would have been inimical to the good
understanding that is one of the essentials of peace. Moreover, it
is not conducive to good behaviour amongst nations that they should
be allowed to ravage and destroy without paying the penalty of their
misdeeds. That is why I do not agree with those who would wipe out
the claim for reparations entirely. On the other hand, civilised
jurisprudence has also advanced to the stage where it forbids the
creditor to attach his debtor's freedom and independence as security
for the payment of the debt. The law that permitted a debtor to be sold
into bondage for an unliquidated liability has now been voted barbarous
by the more humane usage and wont of the day. That is why I protest
against using armed force to occupy and control a country whilst the
scourge of starvation is being used to whip its workmen into toiling
for payment of a foreign debt. As Mr. Gladstone once said: "Justice
means justice to all." The main difficulty of a just settlement of
reparations comes from the growing disposition to take sides blindly
in this dispute. One party sees nothing but the outrage of 1914-18,
the costly vindication of right, and the just claim of the victims to
compensation for their losses. The other party sees nothing but the
harsh fury with which the victors in the cause press their verdict
to execution. Peace can only be restored by a full recognition of the
equities as well as the humanities--of the humanities as well as the
equities. I have sought in these pages to deal fairly with both.

D. LLOYD GEORGE.

_September 13th, 1923._



CONTENTS

CHAPTER                                                  PAGE
     I: THE GREAT PERIL                                    25

          POST-WAR EUROPE REVISITED--IMPOVERISHMENT
          AND TAXATION--RACE HATREDS UNCHANGED--HOW
          WAR IS BEGUN--VENGEANCE IS THE
          LORD'S--THE CHURCHES AND THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS.


    II: EUROPE STILL ARMING                                51

          MARSHAL FOCH AND THE CAUSE OF THE GREAT
          WAR--NAVIES FOR DEFENCE--STRENGTH OF EUROPE'S
          ARMIES--EUROPE MORE MILITANT THAN EVER.


   III: THE ERUPTION IN THE MEDITERRANEAN                  59

          DROPPING HOT CINDERS IN THE BALKANS--SEEING
          WAR IN PICTURES--FORCE THE ARBITER OF RIGHT
          AND WRONG--LIMITING THE ACTIVITIES OF THE
          LEAGUE--BOTTLING UP THE ADRIATIC.


    IV: IS THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS A SUCCESS?                68

          TRIUMPHS OF THE LEAGUE--ALL GREAT
          POWERS SHOULD BE IN IT--AMERICA AND
          THE LEAGUE--TREATY AND THE LEAGUE--ENDING
          THE ARBITRAMENT OF THE SWORD.


     V: THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES AND ITS CRITICS           81

          TREATY CRITICISED BUT NOT READ--AMERICA
          AND THE TREATY--LABOUR AND THE TREATY--TREATY
          AND LEAGUE OF NATIONS INTERWOVEN.


    VI: 1922                                               95

          WAR DANCE STILL IN THE WORLD--ULTIMATUM
          INSTEAD OF CONFERENCE--CANNES
          AND GENOA--ENEMIES AT COUNCIL TABLE--TALK
          OF AN AMERICAN LOAN.


   VII: WHAT IS FRANCE AFTER?                             104

          CLEMENCEAU AND THE RHINE--ANNEXATION
          AND REVENGE--ANGLO-AMERICAN GUARANTEE
          TO FRANCE--POINCARÉ AND THE RHINE.


  VIII: WHAT IS FRANCE AFTER?                             116

          VERSAILLES TREATY AND THE RHINE FRONTIER--FOCH
          AND THE POLITICAL FRONTIER--AMERICAN AND
          BRITISH PRESSURE--SHAM REPUBLIC OF THE RHINE.


   IX: WHAT IS FRANCE AFTER?                              130

          BONAR LAW AND POINCARÉ--PRODUCTIVE
          SANCTIONS AND REPARATIONS--MORATORIUM
          FOR GERMANY FAILS--BRITAIN STANDS ASIDE.


     X: REPARATIONS                                       136

          REPARATIONS AND THE TREATY--CAPACITY TO
          PAY--REPARATIONS COMMISSION CHANGED--AMERICA'S
          VACANT CHAIR--WORTHLESS "C" BONDS FOR BRITAIN.


    XI: MR. HUGHES'S NEW HAVEN SPEECH                     147

          SECRETARY HUGHES'S NEW HAVEN SPEECH,
          A TIMID DELIVERANCE--IMPARTIAL TRIBUNAL
          OF EXPERTS--OFFER OF AMERICAN HELP.


   XII: THE FRENCH INVASION OF THE RUHR                   156

          WHAT GERMANY HAS PAID--"IN TECHNICAL
          DEFAULT"--WRONG WAY TO MAKE GERMANY
          PAY--RUINING GERMAN INDUSTRY--FRANCE'S
          SECRET AIM.


  XIII: LOST OPPORTUNITIES                                167

          FRENCH FAILURE IN THE RUHR--WILD OATS
          OF REPARATION--THE RUHR AND THE LEAGUE
          OF NATIONS--THE BANKERS' CONFERENCE.


   XIV: FRENCH SCHEMES                                    175

          ITALY AND THE RUHR--IRON ORE OF LORRAINE
          AND GERMAN COAL DEPOSITS--LOUCHEUR
          AND HUGO STINNES--GERMAN WORKMEN IN BONDAGE.


    XV: THE QUICKSAND                                     183

          LOUCHEUR AND THE RUHR--LACK OF LEADER
          IN FRANCE--DISREGARD OF ALLIES--AGGRESSION
          AND SECURITY--FAILURE OF BONAR LAW.


   XVI: THE FIRST GERMAN OFFER                            191

          DOES FRANCE SEEK A SETTLEMENT?--DEMAND
          FOR SUBMISSION IN THE RUHR--GERMAN
          OFFER INADEQUATE--KEEPING AMERICA
          OUT--TREATY IDEA NOT FOLLOWED.


  XVII: THE SECOND GERMAN NOTE                            202

          GERMAN OFFER AND THE LOAN TO GERMANY--CAN
          BERLIN ASSENT TO INVASION?--REINTRODUCING
          AMERICA--WEAKENING DEBTORS ABILITY TO PAY.


 XVIII: THE NAPOLEONIC DREAM                              213

          EUROPEAN MIND UNHINGED--WHAT EVERY
          FRENCHMAN KNOWS--PICKWICK FOLLOWS
          SNODGRASS--GERMANY MAY COLLAPSE--UNDOING
          THE WORK OF BISMARCK.


   XIX: IS IT PEACE?                                      225

          STRESEMANN MAN OF ENERGY--CHAOS AHEAD
          FOR GERMANY--BRITISH UNEMPLOYMENT--FRANCE
          A SELF-CONTAINED COUNTRY--BALFOUR'S
          NOTE A GENEROUS OFFER.


    XX: WHAT NEXT?                                        234

          PEN-AND-INK JOUSTING--TORY "DIEHARDS"
          AND FRANCE--POINCARÉ AND THE DOVE OF
          PEACE--WHAT "PAY AND STAY" MEANS--FRANCE'S
          MINIMUM AND BRITAIN'S SURRENDER.


   XXI: THE BRITISH DEBT TO AMERICA                       244

          BORROWING FOR ALLIES--BRITISH TAXPAYER'S
          BURDEN--CREDITOR NATION NOW DEBTOR--BRITAIN
          MUST PAY HER WAY--HER CURRENCY
          NOT DISCREDITED--INTER-ALLIED DEBTS.


  XXII: INTER-ALLIED DEBTS                                252

          DISCOVERY OF THE MIDDLE WEST--LEGEND
          OF BRITISH WEALTH--1,400,000 UNEMPLOYED--THE
          BALFOUR NOTE--CAN BRITAIN AFFORD
          TO BE MORE GENEROUS THAN AMERICA?


 XXIII: THE BRITISH ELECTIONS                             264

          MINORITY RULE AND MORAL AUTHORITY--NATIONAL
          LIBERALS AT THE POLLS--DANGER
          OF ENGLAND'S ELECTORAL SYSTEM--LABOUR'S
          PROSPECTS--WARRING LIBERAL FACTIONS.


  XXIV: HOW DEMOCRACY WORKS                               282

          GROWTH OF BRITAIN'S ELECTORATE--WOMEN
          SUFFRAGE--NEW VOTERS WITHOUT A PARTY--ABSENTEES
          FROM THE POLLS--FREAKS OF THE GROUP SYSTEM.


   XXV: POLITICAL REALITIES                               291

          POST-WAR LEGISLATION--THE IRISH CAULDRON--LABOUR
          AND CAPITAL--AGRICULTURE AND
          INDUSTRY--SOCIALISM COURTING FASCISM.


  XXVI: SHOULD WE MAKE PEACE WITH RUSSIA?                 301

          PRE-REVOLUTIONARY RUSSIA--CORRUPTION AND
          BETRAYAL--"SHAKING HANDS WITH MURDER"--IF
          TURKEY, WHY NOT RUSSIA?--NEED FOR
          RUSSIA'S EXPORTS.


 XXVII: PALESTINE AND THE JEWS                            312

          STUPIDITY OF ANTI-SEMITISM--BLIGHTING RULE
          OF THE TURK--THE JEW AS A CULTIVATOR--RACE
          EQUALITY IN PALESTINE--ZIONIST DECLARATION.


XXVIII: THE TREATY OF LAUSANNE                            322

          TURKISH FEZZES IN THE AIR--BLOW OF PRESTIGE
          OF THE WEST--MASSACRES AND MISGOVERNMENT--FERTILE
          COUNTRY A WILDERNESS--HAD WILSON
          SUCCEEDED--LAUSANNE A MILESTONE, NOT A TERMINUS.


  XXIX: THE SIGNING OF THE IRISH TREATY                   339

          GLADSTONE'S HOME-RULE FIGHT--SCENE IN
          NO. 10 DOWNING STREET--GRIFFITH AND COLLINS--TO
          SIGN OR NOT TO SIGN--CHILDERS,
          SULLEN AND DISAPPOINTED--TREATY A PILLAR
          OF HOPE FOR FUTURE.


   XXX: PROHIBITION                                       350

          THE LESSON FROM RUSSIA--BRITAIN NOT
          CONVINCED--EXPERIMENTS DIFFICULT--PUBLIC
          UNEDUCATED--OUTLOOK NOT ENCOURAGING.


  XXXI: UNOFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF "OFFICIAL" INFORMATION  361

          JULIUS CÆSAR BEGAN IT--SELF DEFENCE AND
          SECRET INFORMATION--THE VERSAILLES
          DECISION--GENERAL RULES AND SPECIAL CASES.



WHERE ARE WE GOING?



I

THE GREAT PERIL


If a man on a bright July morning in 1914 had sailed abroad and had the
misfortune to be wrecked on a desert island, returning to civilisation
a week ago, the change which Europe presented to him would be
sufficient to induce him to believe that his long solitude had unhinged
his mind. To him it would have appeared as the stuff of which dreams
are made. He would have remembered a German empire with an august
head, ruling with autocratic sway a population striding with giant
steps into prosperity and wealth, possessing a matchless army, whose
tread terrified Europe; with a fleet that provoked articles and novels
and agitations about the invasion of England; with vast possessions
across the seas. In its place he would see Germany, instead of being a
confident, powerful, arrogant empire, a timid, nervous, and apologetic
republic presided over by a respectable and intelligent workman, her
minister issuing notes to propitiate Belgium, and having them sent
back like the stupid exercises of a backward schoolboy to be rewritten
in accordance with the pleasure of the taskmaster; the great army
reduced to a force one-half the size of that of Serbia; the menacing
fleet at the bottom of the sea; the watch on the Rhine kept by French,
British, and Belgian soldiers. He would see the Krupp works in French
occupation; not a German colony left.

Russia he would have recollected as a powerful autocracy rooted in a
superstitious belief by the peasantry in the divinity of its head.
He would find it now a revolutionary area ruled by the exiles of
yesterday, shunned by the rest of the world because of the violence
of its communistic doctrines; tsardom, with its gilded retinue of
splendour, flung into a hideous doom, and the sceptre of Peter the
Great enforcing the doctrines of Karl Marx. He would see the Austrian
empire as much a thing of the past as the empire of Nebuchadnezzar, a
poor province lifted out of beggary by the charity of her foes: new
states, which had been dead and buried for centuries, risen from the
dead, casting off their shrouds, marching in full panoply; Trieste
an Italian port; the Dolomites an Italian bastion. The Turk alone
quite unchanged, a few more amputating operations performed upon
him, but still preserving sufficient vitality to massacre Christians
irrespective of denomination or race, and to become a sore trial and
perplexity to the rest of the world.

If our returned voyager travelled through Europe he would find
even more fundamental changes in the world of finance, trade and
commerce. He would find impoverishment, dislocation; the elaborate
and finely-spun web of commerce rent to pieces, and its torn threads
floating in the wind. With a few sovereigns in his pocket, he would
expect in return 25 francs, 20 marks, and about 26 lire. Instead of
that, with a paper sovereign he would find that he could buy 70 francs,
nearly 100 lire, 250,000 German marks, 300,000 Austrian kronen, and
millions of Russian roubles. The money-changers who once prospered on
decimal fractions now earning a precarious livelihood in the flights
of the multiplication table. That would give him a better indication
perhaps of the reality of the change than even the fall of empires. On
his journeys he would travel through prosperous provinces rutted and
overturned as by a gigantic earthquake; he would pass vast cemeteries
where 10,000,000 young men fallen in the Great War were having their
last sleep; he would see on all hands signs of mutilation of men who
had been engaged in the great struggle. Taxation everywhere quintupled
with nothing but debt to show for it; industry with its back bent under
a burden of taxation which when he left existed only in the nightmares
of the dyspeptic rich. He would then be able to realise something of
the tremendous upheaval that had taken place in the world.

But what would surprise him more than all these amazing and bewildering
transformations would be the one thing in which there was no change.
He would naturally expect that after such terrifying experiences, the
world would have learnt its lesson, turned its back finally on war,
its crimes and its follies, and set its face resolutely toward peace.
It is the one thing he discovers has not changed--the world has not
learned one single syllable. Suspicions amongst nations exist just
as ever, only more intense; hatreds between races and peoples, only
fiercer; combinations forming everywhere for the next war; great
armies drilling; conventions and compacts for joint action when the
tocsin sounds; general staffs meeting to arrange whether they should
march, where they should march, how they should march, and where they
should strike; little nations only just hatched, just out of the
shell, staggering under the burden of great armaments, and marching
along towards unknown battlefields; new machinery of destruction and
slaughter being devised and manufactured with feverish anxiety; every
day science being brought under contribution to discover new methods to
destroy human life--in fact, a deep laid and powerfully concerted plot
against civilisation, openly organised in the light of the sun. And
that after his experience of four or five years ago! Man the builder,
and man the breaker, working side by side in the same workshop, and
apparently on the best of terms with each other, playing their part
in the eternal round of creation and dissolution, with characteristic
human energy. What a complex creature is man! It is little wonder that
God gave him up repeatedly in despair. He is unteachable.

I wonder whether it is realised that if war were to break out again,
the calamity would be a hundredfold greater than that of the last
experience. Next time, cities will be laid waste. Possible, and I am
sorry to say, probable enemy nations are more closely intertwined,
and the engines of havoc are becoming more and more terrible. I have
called attention repeatedly to the developments which took place during
the late War, in the variety, the range, and the power of destructive
weapons. Compare the aëroplane at the beginning of the war, and its
small bomb which could easily be manhandled, with the same machine at
the end. By the end of the war machines had been built, and but for
the armistice would have been used, the devastating power of which
was terrific. Since then the power of the machine, the weight of the
explosive, and the incendiary material it drops, have grown, and are
still growing. Science is perfecting old methods of destruction, and
searching out new methods. One day, in its exploration, it may hit on
something that may make the fabric of civilisation rock.

Can anything be done to avert this approaching catastrophe? That is
the problem of all problems for those who love their fellowmen. I warn
you that it is madness to trust to the hope that mankind, after such
an experience, will not be so rash as to court another disaster of the
same kind. The memory of the terrors, the losses, the sufferings of the
war, will not restrain men from precipitating the world into something
which is infinitely worse, and those who think so, and, therefore, urge
that it is not necessary to engage in a new crusade for peace, have
not studied the perverse, the stubborn, and the reckless nature of
man. There is the danger that the last war may even make some nations
believe in war.

I have talked to many young soldiers who were fortunate enough to have
passed unscathed through some of the worst experiences of the war, to
many who suffered mutilation in some of these experiences; they have
given me one common impression that the memory of fear is evanescent,
and that they cannot now re-create in their own minds the sensations
of terror through which they passed. If that is true of those who
went through the furnace, what of the multitudes who simply looked
on?--the multitudes of those who were too young to take part, and can
only recall the excitement produced by the conflict and the glory of
victory? The recollection of the headaches of an orgy never lasts as
long as that of its pleasures. It is useless to recall memories of the
terror and torture of the war, and expect them to crusade for peace.
Memory is a treacherous crusader. It starts with a right purpose fresh
and hot on its path, but its zeal gets fainter as the days roll past,
and it ends by handing over its banner to the foe.

You can only redeem mankind by appealing to its nobler instincts.
Fear is base, and you cannot lift mankind by using it as a lever. The
churches alone can effectively rouse the higher impulses of our nature.
That is where their task comes in.

There is another reason why we cannot regard the danger as having
passed away. You have all the elements which made for the Great War of
1914 more potent than ever to-day. The atmosphere of Europe is charged
with them.

What made the last war? Armed international dislikes, rivalries, and
suspicions. The dislikes were based on age-long racial feuds stimulated
by memories of recent wrongs. Celt and Teuton disliking each other;
Slav and Teuton suspicious of each other; the hatred of the Slav for
the Teuton intensified by the arrogance with which Germany humiliated
Russia at the moment of her weakness immediately after the Japanese
War, when she was peculiarly sensitive to insult. You will recollect
the peremptoriness and the insolence of her gesture over the Bosnian
annexation, and insolences are always more painful than wrongs and
rankle longer. They corrode the flesh, and burn into the soul of a
nation, keeping its anger aflame. I wish nations always remembered
that. There was the hatred of the Celt for the Teuton deepened by the
annexation of Alsace-Lorraine, and by the incidents inseparable from
the invasion of a foreign soil. There was Germany suspecting that
every railway constructed by Russia was aimed at her heart. There
was France convinced that Germany was only waiting her opportunity
to pick a quarrel which would enable her to deprive France of her
much-coveted colonies. There was England watching with vigilant insight
and increasing anger the growth of Germany's great fleet, which she
was convinced was aimed at her shores. There were great armies in
every continental country ready to march at a moment's notice, fully
equipped, each commander firmly persuaded that his own legions were
irresistible. You had there all the conditions that made for war. Had
it come of set purpose? I have read most of the literature concerning
the events that led up to that war, and it is full of warning as to
how wars happen. They do not come because the majority of those who
are concerned are bent upon bloodshed, not even the majority who have
the decisive voice if they exercised it in time. Had a plebiscite been
taken in every country in Europe a week before war was declared as to
whether they wished to engage in a European conflict, the proposal
would have been turned down by a majority so overwhelming as to show
that the proposition was one that no nation had the slightest idea of
entertaining. That is not the reason why it came. But you have always
in control of the affairs of nations some men who hesitate; many who
are apathetic, many who are merely inefficient and stupid; and then
most men, even in a government, have their minds concentrated on their
own immediate tasks.

I will give you an illustration of how war is begun, once you have the
predisposition to quarrel, without anybody wanting it and with the
vast majority of the people who are to be engaged in it opposed to it.
Austria issued an ultimatum to Serbia. There is nothing a big bully
likes better than to hector a little man who is near the point of his
toe. Serbia was so near the boot that Austria was constantly tempted
to give it a kick, and it did. It issued an ultimatum, which was a
very insolent one. The Serbian reply was a practical acceptance of the
Austrian demands. This is the note the kaiser wrote on it: "A brilliant
performance this. But with it disappears"--listen to this written by
the Kaiser of Germany just a few days before war was declared--"but
with it disappears every reason for war, and the Austrian minister
ought to have remained quietly in Belgrade. After that I would never
have given orders for mobilisation." In three days there was war.

Let me give another illustration. Admiral Tirpitz said he saw Von
Jagow two days after the Austrian reply. Von Jagow, the German foreign
minister, was so little interested in the Austro-Serbian conflict that
he confessed to the German ambassador to Austria on July 27th, two days
after the reply had been received, that he had not yet found time to
read the Serbian reply to Austria. Here is the document on which ten
million young men who had no responsibility for it have been slain,
homes have been desolated, and a debt of taxation, confusion and
sorrow incurred which will not be wiped out as long as this generation
lasts.

It is inconceivable, if one had not some knowledge of the carelessness
and the procrastination which are bred in official circles by long
practice. That was only three days before war was declared. This high
official in the Wilhelmstrasse, who subsequently agreed to the fateful
decision to declare war against Russia, had not even read the critical
document which ought to have averted the struggle. But there are
always the vigilant few, the very few resolute men whose whole mind
and energy and skill is engaged ceaselessly in driving forward the
chariots of war. Whilst others are asleep, they are craftily dodging
the traffic, and stealing along unawares, slowly getting their chariots
into position for the next push forward. Whilst others are asleep, they
lash the fiery steeds along their destructive course. In the press,
on the platform, in the council chambers, in the chancelleries, in
society of all kinds, high and low, they are always pressing along.
When the precipice is reached, they dash through the feeble resistance
of the panic-stricken mob of counsellors and officials, and nations are
plunged into the abyss before they know it.

This is the way most wars come.

Read the history of the war of 1870. It came about in the same
confused, clumsy, purposeless way. In all these cases there is always
in the background the sinister figure of that force for mischief which
used to be known by our Puritan fathers as the devil. Have these
hatreds and suspicions abated? Are there no rivalries to-day? Are
there no men whose one joy is in war? Was the devil numbered amongst
the slain in the last war? I have never seen his name in any casualty
list. Look around. His agents are more numerous, more active, more
pressing and efficient than ever. Europe to-day is a cauldron of
suspicions and hatreds. It is well to speak frankly. Celt and Teuton
are now interlocked in a conflict which is none the less desperate
because one of the parties is disarmed. There is a suppressed savagery
which is but ill concealed, and there are new hatreds which, if they
have not been brought into existence during the war, have at any
rate come to the surface. Mankind has learnt no lesson from the four
or five years of war, although it has been scourged with scorpions.
There was nothing that contributed more to the last catastrophe than
the annexation by Germany of Alsace-Lorraine. As long as that act
of folly remained uncorrected there was no real peace possible in
Europe. The nations concerned were just abiding their opportunity,
and the opportunity came. Now you have two Alsace-Lorraines at least.
There is the annexation of Vilna by force; there is the annexation
of Galicia by force, by violence, by the use of arms against the
will of the population. Elsewhere you have the German and the Pole
quarrelling over Silesia; the Russian and the Pole over doubtful
boundaries; the Czech and the Magyar; the Serbian and the Bulgarian;
the Russian and the Rumanian; the Rumanian and the Magyar. There is
the age-long feud between Greek and Turk. All have an air of biding
opportunity, all are armed ready for slaughter. Europe is a seething
cauldron of international hates, with powerful men in command of the
fuel stores feeding the flames and stoking the fires. It is no use
blaming the treaty of Versailles. This state of things has nothing
to do with treaties. Here it is the spirit that killeth and not the
letter. Sometimes wrongs are imaginary. Where the wrongs are imaginary
time will heal the sense of hurt, but sometimes they are real, and
time will fester the wound, but everywhere and always the hatreds are
real enough. Can nothing be done? If it can, let it be done in time.
Let it be done at once. Yet, once more I remind you that if the gun
is loaded--and it is loaded in every land--when the quarrel begins it
is apt to go off, not because the trigger is deliberately pulled, but
because some clumsy fellow in his excitement stumbles against it.

In a continent which is nominally Christian, the churches surely are
not impotent. When the West was all Catholic, and it had the good
fortune to have a high-minded and capable occupant of the throne
of St. Peter, many a struggle was averted by his intervention. Can
the churches not once more display their power? They can only do
so by moving together, not merely every denomination in Britain,
but every Christian community throughout Europe--Catholic and
Protestant--Catholics even more than Protestants, for the countries
where the peril is most imminent are more under the domination of the
Catholic churches than of the Protestant faiths. If all the heroism
of millions, their sacrifice and their sufferings, are to be thrown
away, it will be the most colossal, criminal and infamous waste ever
perpetrated in human history. Millions of men endangered their lives
willingly. Millions lost their lives for the sake of establishing peace
on earth on the basis of international right. A temple to human right
was built with material quarried out of all that is choicest in the
soul of man. But its timbers are being drenched with the kerosene of
hatred, and one day a match will be lit by some careless or malignant
hand which will set fire to this magnificent edifice; its splendour
will be reduced to black embers, and the hope of mankind will be once
more laid in ashes. The task of the churches is to put forth the whole
of their united strength to avert that catastrophe.

Peace is only possible when you introduce into the attitude of nations
towards each other principles which govern the demeanour of decent
people in a community towards their neighbours. If international
methods were introduced into the dealings of neighbours with each other
life would become intolerable--the unconcealed suspicions, distrusts
and ill-will which rule everywhere, the eternal expectancy of and
preparation for blows, the readiness of the strong to use violence,
either to enforce his will on his weaker neighbour or to deprive him of
his liberty or his possessions, or even his life, to satisfy anger,
revenge, or greed. Had this been the rule in private affairs, we should
all have to live in caves, or in castles, according to our means. As a
matter of fact, man is only half civilised. In international matters he
is still a savage, in his heart he recognises no law but that of force.
The savage has his restraints. His instinct warns him not to pounce
save when he thinks he can do so effectively and with impunity, and
for some purpose which he thinks worth his while. Whether he hates or
covets, he has no other restraint. I wish I could say that in essence
nations to-day obey any other impulse. Man must be civilised in his
international relations, otherwise wars will go on as long as mankind
remains on this earth.

I have seen a city wrenched from its people. I have seen a whole
province appropriated against the protests of its people, and
all within the last four years, since the Great War to establish
international right. There was no conceivable justification for either
of these depredations except that both the city and the province were
desirable, were at hand, were very tempting, and that the owners were
too feeble to resist their pillagers.

The lesson must be taught that larceny does not diminish in turpitude
as it increases in the scale of its operations. A nation that
feloniously steals, takes, and carries away a city or province is just
as criminal as the thief sentenced to imprisonment for robbery by
violence on the high-road. And these national felonies will assuredly
bring trouble one day. They invariably do so, and unfortunately
international trouble is never confined to the felon. Human
retribution, once it begins, is as indiscriminating and uncontrollable
as a prairie fire. The flames consume the wheat as well as the tares.
Hell fire administered by the hand of man scorches the innocent
equally with the guilty. The doom of Germany involved millions in its
tortures who were outside her gates, abominated her crimes, and did all
they could to prevent their perpetration. That is why it is written:
"'Vengeance is mine, I will repay,' saith the Lord." It is the supreme
duty of the churches to teach nations to understand that the moral law
is just as applicable to them in their corporate capacity as it is to
the individuals who compose them; to teach them that hatred is just as
unseemly between nations as it is between individuals, and far more
dangerous. Goodwill must be assiduously cultivated between nations.
It must be ingeminated in every way--in schools, in the press, in
sermons, in classes. The men who are always sowing distrust and dislike
of men of other races and lands should be picked out, condemned,
shown up, hunted by the scorn, the contempt and the wrath of their
fellowmen. They are more dangerous than the incendiary who burns down
an occasional hay-rick or habitation.

Let the best side of every nation be better known. Each nation has made
its contribution to the sum of human greatness. Dwell on that, and not
on the failings and the deficiencies, the errors, and the crimes which
are unhappily common to all nations. Name me the land that has no stain
on its record. There is no end to the resourcefulness of hate. Its
variety is infinite. I recollect, not so long ago, a time when you were
not a patriot if you were pro-French; the fact that you were pro-French
stamped you as a Little Englander. France was supposed to be a busy
and malignant foe of Britain all the world over, scheming everywhere
against British interests. She stood for all that was unpleasant and
repugnant to the British mind--in her thought, her literature, her
politics, and her manners. France heartily reciprocated our dislike.
There were at least two occasions when war between the two countries
was apprehended, was openly talked of, and was even likely. The
atmosphere of the press in both capitals was charged with brimstone.

Now it is to Germany you must not utter one word of toleration or even
fair play. I am not counselling the abandonment of the just measure of
our national rights as against either of these two countries, but they
are both great nations. They are both nations that have contributed
richly of the things that make for the elevation, for the happiness,
for the splendour of mankind. If Germany is the land of Bismarck with
its blood and iron, all Protestants will remember that she is also the
land of Luther and the Reformation. If she fought in the late war for
four years to establish a military domination in Europe, she fought
for thirty years with enduring valour and much suffering to establish
the freedom of conscience in Europe. She has given to the world great
literature, great painters, great philosophers, great explorers in
all the continents of thought. She is the land of unrivalled song.
Even in the middle of the bloody conflict with Germany, every Sunday
we praised God in our churches to the notes of German music. Let us
give credit for these things in our efforts to reconstitute the reign
of goodwill. And if we feel angry with France, let us remember her
dazzling array of great writers, her gigantic struggles for liberty,
the penetrating imagination devoted to scientific research, which has
brought incalculable blessings to humanity. Let us not judge France
by the fussy little men that give expression to her petulance in the
fits of temper that overtake every nation, but by the great men who
have given noble expression to her immortal soul. France is the land
of Victor Hugo, of Pascal, of Renan, and many another teacher who has
taken humanity by the hand along the upward road.

Everything depends on a consistent, determined, continuous inculcation
of the principles and the ideal of goodfellowship, between nations.
Goodwill on earth means to think well of and dwell on the best side
of others, and goodwill on earth and peace have been linked together.
Without the one you will not have the other. Let us, therefore,
cultivate the spirit of brotherhood amongst men. The church must
appeal to the noblest sentiments of the human heart. Mankind can
only be redeemed by an appeal to those higher instincts. Not by an
appeal to ignoble fear. War means terror, war means death, war means
anguish. That will not prevent war, and never has. Man is the most
fearless of God's creatures, and when his passions are roused there
is no fear that will restrain him. The fire of his passion burns the
restraints of self-preservation like bands of tow, so that fear will
not restrain the nations and make peace among them. War destroys trade,
it brings unemployment. Look at all the losses, reckoning them up in
cash. That will not prevent war: it never has. Selfish interests have
a means of deluding themselves. Greed has a blind side. Do not trust
to selfishness and selfish interest to ensure peace. Selfishness will
ensure nothing which is worth keeping in the world. Selfishness pays
good dividends, but it wastes capital. The nation or the individual
that makes self-love the managing-director of the soul will end in
bankruptcy--bankruptcy of respect, bankruptcy of ideals--bankruptcy of
honour--bankruptcy of friendships. What is it that Germany is suffering
from now? Her great tragedy is not her indemnity, not even her gigantic
casualties, not even the destruction of her trade. The one great
tragedy of Germany is that she has lost the respect of mankind. It
affects her trade, it affects her business, it makes it difficult for
her to climb to the pitch whence she fell. The rope is gone. She has
done things of which she herself is now ashamed. Her people--I can
see it when I meet them--are ashamed. That is the tragedy. They are a
gallant people, they are a brave people, they fought bravely, but they
are broken-spirited. Why? They have lost their self-respect because
they have done something that they know in their hearts was wrong.
These are the things that have to be taught to nations.

A public opinion must be worked up that will be strong enough to
sustain international right. No law is possible without an active
public opinion for its enforcement, least of all international law.
Without it the League of Nations is a farce. You might as well have a
wooden cannon; however splendidly mounted it may be, however imposing
its appearance, every one knows that the moment it is fired it will
burst. Unless the world is taught to respect its authority, it will
become a butt of derision. It is no use keeping up pretences. Pretences
never delude events. The League of Nations may gather together
representatives of all the great powers of the earth, and yet it may
be a futile, barren, costly nothing unless it has behind it the spirit
of the people who constitute those nations. The real danger of the
moment is lest the League of Nations should become a mere make-believe,
whilst the same old intrigues, the same old schemes, the same old
international greed and hatred, should be working their will freely
outside. The decision of the League of Nations has been, within the
last two or three years, openly flouted by a member of that league,
a member which owes its national independence to the treaty which
founded that league. Another nation, one of the principal authors of
the league, refuses to refer a question in which is it concerned, and
in which Europe is concerned, to the arbitrament of the league. Both
these nations prefer to resort to force. The rest of the world looks
on feebly with indifference, accepting the rebuff to their league in
each case. Why? Because there is no public opinion in the recalcitrant
countries to bring pressure to bear on the respective governments,
and there is no public opinion strong enough outside to exercise the
necessary insistence.

The churches alone can remedy this. There ought to be an international
movement of all the churches, Catholic and Protestant, Protestant
and Catholic. I know it is difficult to compass. The divisions in
Christendom are too often fatal to common action for the attainment of
common aims. They ought to be overcome. They must be overcome. There
was a time in the Middles Ages when religion exercised a direct as
well as an indirect influence in the domain of government and social
relations. It helped to win for Englishmen their great charter. It
gradually emancipated the serfs. It preserved the peace of Europe many
a time when it was gravely imperilled by the quarrels of kings. In
the days of Puritanism, and the days of the Covenant, the partnership
between religion and politics won for us the two great boons of
parliamentary liberty and liberty of conscience. When Methodism spurred
the conscience of England, its influence was felt in the political
movement that emancipated the slaves throughout the British Empire.

That was one of the greatest feats of disinterested righteousness ever
exhibited by a nation. The tasks awaiting religion to-day in the sphere
of government are even greater--emancipation of the worker from the
tyrannies of economic greed, the saving of the nation from the curse of
alcohol, and the spreading of the angels' message heard on the hills
of Bethlehem until the obdurate heart of man shall at last re-echo it:
"Peace on earth and goodwill amongst men."



II

EUROPE STILL ARMING


Marshal Foch once told me that he considered the German army of 1914
the finest army the world ever saw, in numbers, organisation, training,
and equipment.

What set that army in motion?

Much has been written and spoken as to the origin of the Great War, and
as to who and what was responsible for so overwhelming a cataclysm. No
one ever believed that it was the assassination of a royal archduke.
Some said it was the working out of the pan-German scheme to rule the
earth; some contended it was the German fear of the growing power of
Russia, the nervous apprehension of what looked like an encircling
movement by Russia, France and Britain.

The great French marshal's dictum is the real explanation. Unless due
weight is given to this outstanding fact the diplomatic muddle of July,
1914, becomes unintelligible.

Were it not that the German army was more perfect and more potent than
either the French or the Russian army--were it not that every German
officer was convinced that the German military machine was superior
to all its rivals--there would have been no war, whatever emperors,
diplomatists, or statesmen said, thought, or intended.

All nations have their ambitions, but they are not tempted to impose
them upon their neighbours if the hazard is too obviously great. But
a sense of overpowering force behind national aims is a constant
incitement to recklessness, to greed, and to ambitious patriotism.

The more one examines, in the growing calm, the events of July, 1914,
the more one is impressed with the shrinking of the nominal rulers
of the attacking empires as they approached the abyss, and with the
relentless driving onward of the military organisation behind these
terror-stricken dummies.

Navies are essentially defensive weapons. No capital in the world
can be captured by navies alone, and no country can be annexed or
invaded by a fleet. But armies are grabbing machines. A transcendent
army has always led to aggression. No country can resist the lure of
an easy military triumph paraded before its eyes for two successive
generations.

The inference is an obvious one. To ensure peace on earth nations must
disarm their striking forces. Without disarmament, pacts, treaties, and
covenants are of no avail. They are the paper currency of diplomacy.
That is the reason why all the friends of peace are filled with despair
when they see nations still arming and competing in armies whilst
trusting to mere words and signatures to restrain the irresistible
impetus of organised force.

A statistical survey of European armies to-day is calculated to cause
alarm. Europe has not learnt the lesson of the war. It has rather
drawn a wrong inference from that calamity. There are more men under
arms in Europe to-day than there were in 1913-14, with none of the
justification or excuse which could be pleaded in those days.

In pre-war times the statesmen of each country could make a
parliamentary case for their military budgets by calling attention to
the menace of prodigious armies across their frontiers. Germany and
Austria built up great armaments because their frontiers were open
to the attack of two great military powers who had engaged to pool
their resources in the event of war. France and Russia raised huge
armies because Germany possessed the most redoubtable army in the
world, and could rely in the case of war upon the assistance of the
not inconsiderable forces of the Austrian empire. And both Austria
and France had always the uncertain factor of Italy, with her army of
3,000,000, to reckon with.

But since the war these mutual excuses no longer exist. The two great
military empires of Central Europe have disappeared. Germany, which
before the war had a peace establishment of 800,000 men and reserves
running into millions, has to-day a total army of 100,000 men--about
one-third the size of the Polish army. The formidable German equipment
which for four years pounded the cities and villages of northern France
to dust is either destroyed or scattered for display amongst the towns
and villages of the victors. The Austrian army, which had in 1913-14
a peace establishment of 420,000 men and a reserve of two or three
millions of trained men, has to-day been reduced to a tiny force of
30,000 men.

In spite of these facts France has still an army of 736,000 men now
under arms, with a trained reserve of two or three millions more. She
is strengthening and developing her air force as if she feared--or
contemplated--an immediate invasion. In 1914 France had an air force of
400 aëroplanes; to-day she has 1,152.[1] But numbers signify little.
The size, the power, and the purpose of the machines signify much.
Amongst the 1,152 air machines of to-day will be found bombers of a
destructiveness such as was not dreamt of in 1914.

Should human folly drift once more into war these preparations are
full of evil omen as to the character of that conflict. A single bomb
dropped from one of the new bombers contains more explosive material
than one hundred of those carried by the old type. And the size of the
machine and of its bombs is growing year by year. Where is it to stop?
And what is it all for? Where is the enemy? Where is the menace which
demands such gigantic military developments? Not one of the neighbours
of France has to-day a force which reaches one-fourth the figures
of her formidable army. Germany no longer affords a decent pretext.
The population of Germany is equal to the aggregate population of
Poland, Rumania, Jugo-Slavia, and Czecho-Slovakia, but her army barely
numbers one-seventh of the aggregate peace establishment of these four
countries. Rumania alone, with a population of 15,000,000, has an army
twice the size of that allowed by the Treaty of Versailles to Germany
with her population of 60,000,000. These countries have in addition
to their standing armies reserve forces of millions of trained men,
whilst the young men of Germany are no longer permitted to train in
the use of arms. Her military equipment is destroyed, and her arsenals
and workshops are closely inspected by Allied officers lest a fresh
equipment should be clandestinely produced. An army of 700,000 is,
therefore, not necessary in order to keep Germany within bounds.

The only other powerful army in Europe is the Russian army. It is
difficult to gather any reliable facts about Russia. The mists that
arise from that unhealthy political and economic swamp obscure and
distort all vision. The statistics concerning her army vary according
to the point of view of the person who cites them. The latest figure
given by the Russians themselves is 800,000. On paper that indicates
as formidable a force as that possessed by the French. But the events
of the past few years show clearly that the Russian army is powerful
only for defence, and that it is valueless for purposes of invasion. It
has neither the transport that gives mobility nor the artillery that
makes an army redoubtable in attack. The Polish invasion of 1923 was a
comedy, and as soon as the Poles offered the slightest resistance the
Bolsheviks ran back to their fastnesses without striking a Parthian
blow at their pursuers. The state of Russian arsenals and factories
under Bolshevism is such that any attempt to re-equip these armies must
fail. The Russian army, therefore, affords no justification for keeping
up armaments in Europe on the present inflated scale. The fact is that
Europe is thoroughly frightened by its recent experience, and, like all
frightened things, does not readily listen to reason, and is apt to
resort to expedients which aggravate the evils which have terrified it.

Militarism has reduced it to its present plight, and to save itself
from a similar disaster in future it has become more militarist than
ever. Every little state bristles with guns to scare off invaders.
Meanwhile no country in Europe pays its way, except Britain, with her
reduced army and navy. But by means of loans and inflated currencies
they all, even the smallest of them, contrive to maintain larger armies
than Frederick the Great or the Grand Monarque ever commanded in their
most triumphant years. And the cost of armaments to-day has grown
vastly out of proportion to the numbers of the units that compose them.
France--in many ways the richest country in Europe--displays a gaping
and a growing rent in her national finance which has to be patched up
by paper. The deficit grows in spite of the fact that a large part of
her army is quartered on Germany to the detriment of reparations, and
that the German contribution conceals much of the cost of that large
army.

A good deal of the borrowing is attributable to the cost of repairing
her devastated area, but the burden of maintaining so huge an army is
responsible for a considerable share of the deficiency. The economic
recovery of Europe is seriously retarded by the cost of the new
militarism. The old continent is throwing to the dogs of war with both
hands the bread that should feed her children. One day those dogs will,
in their arrogant savagery, turn upon the children and rend them.

_Algeciras, December 26th, 1922._

FOOTNOTE:

[1] 1,152 refers to when this chapter was written, _i. e._, January
6th, 1923. The figure has increased since then.



III

THE ERUPTION IN THE MEDITERRANEAN


The shores of the Mediterranean have from time immemorial been the
scene of eruptions and earthquakes. They generally break out without
warning. Sometimes they are devastating in their effects, destroying
life and property over wide areas and on a vast scale. Sometimes they
provide a brilliant spectacular display, terrifying in appearance, but
not causing much destruction. To which of these two categories does the
last eruption of Mussolini belong? To drop hot cinders in the Balkans
is a dangerous experiment. The soil is everywhere soaked with naphtha
and it floats about in uncharted pools and runlets which easily catch
fire. A cinder flung from Vienna started a conflagration which spread
over continents. That was only nine years ago. The ground is still
hot--the smoke blinds and stifles. You cannot see clearly or breathe
freely. Now and again there is a suspicious ruddiness in the banks of
smoke which proves that the fire is not yet out. And yet there are
statesmen flinging burning faggots about with reckless swagger.

The temper of Europe may be gauged from the reception accorded to these
heedless pyrotechnics on the part of national leaders by their own
countrymen. Every time it occurs, whether in France, Italy or Turkey,
and whether it be Poincaré, Mussolini, or Mustapha Kemal who directs
the show, applause greets the exhibition. I remember the first days
of the Great War. There was not a belligerent capital where great and
enthusiastic crowds did not parade the streets to cheer for war. In
those days men did not know what war meant. Their conception of it
was formed from the pictures of heroic--and always victorious--feats,
hung in national galleries and reproduced in the form of the cheap
chromos, engravings, and prints, which adorn the walls in every cottage
throughout most lands. The triumphant warriors on horseback with the
gleaming eye and the flourishing sabre are their own countrymen; the
poor vanquished under the crashing hoofs are the foe. Hurrah for
more pictures! The Crown Prince denies that he ever used the phrase
"This jolly war." His denial ought to be accepted in the absence of
better proof than is yet forthcoming as to the statement ever having
been made. But the phrase represented the temper of millions in those
fateful days. It used to be said that in wars one lot cheered and
the other fought. But the cheering mobs who filled the streets in
August were filling the trenches in September, and multitudes were
filling graves ere the year was out. But when they cheered they had no
realisation of the actualities of war. They idealised it. They only saw
it in pictures.

But the cheerers of to-day know what war means. France lost well over a
million lives in the last fight. Italy lost 600,000, and there are men
in every workshop in both countries who know something of the miseries
as well as the horrors of war and can tell those who do not. What,
then, accounts for the readiness, at the slightest provocation, to rush
into all the same wretchedness over again? The infinite capacity of
mankind for deluding itself. Last time, it is true, it was a ghastly
affair. This time it will be an easy victory. Then you had to fight
a perfectly armed Germany, or Austria; now it is a very small affair
indeed--in one case a disarmed Germany which cannot fight, or, in the
other case, a miserable little country like Greece with no Army or
Navy to talk of. So hurrah for the guns! A bloodless victory, except,
of course, to the vanquished. More pictures for the walls to show our
children what terrible people we are when provoked!

This episode may end peaceably, but it was a risk to take, and quite
an unnecessary risk under the circumstances of the case. Italy was
indignant, and naturally indignant, at the murder of her emissaries
in cold blood on Greek territory and, although it took place in a
well-known murder area--on the Albanian border where comitadjis and
other forms of banditti reign--still, Greece was responsible for
giving adequate protection to all the Boundary Commissioners who were
operating within her frontiers. Italy is, therefore, entitled to demand
stern reparation for this outrage. This Greece promptly concedes. Not
merely has Greece shown her readiness to pay a full indemnity, but
she has offered to salute the Italian flag by way of making amends
for the offence involved to the Italian nation in this failure to
protect Italian officers transacting legitimate business on Greek
soil. Mussolini's answer to the Greek acknowledgment of liability
is to bombard a defenceless town, kill a few unarmed citizens, and
enter into occupation of a Greek island. Does any one imagine, if the
incident had occurred on French soil, and the French Government had
displayed the same willingness to express regret and offer reparation,
that, without further parley, he would have bombarded Ajaccio? Or,
had it been Britain, would he have shelled Cowes and occupied the
Isle of Wight? But Greece has no Navy. That, I suppose, alters the
merits of the case! Force is still the supreme arbiter of right and
wrong in international affairs in Europe. It is worth noting how a new
code of international law is coming into existence since the War. The
French armies invade a neighbour's territory, occupy it, establish
martial law, seize and run the railways, regulate its Press, deport
tens of thousands of its inhabitants, imprison or shoot down all who
resist, and then proclaim that this is not an act of war. It is only
a peaceful occupation to enforce rights under a peace treaty. Signor
Mussolini shells a town belonging to a country with whom he is at
peace, and forcibly occupies part of its territory, and then solemnly
declares that it is not an act of war, but just a reasonable measure
of diplomatic precaution. Once force decides the issue it also
settles the rules. There was a time when English and Spaniards fought
each other in the West Indies whilst their Governments at home were
ostensibly at peace. And French and English fought in India without any
diplomatic rupture between Versailles and St. James's. But in those
days these lands were very remote and the control of the centre over
events at these distances was intermittent and occasionally feeble.
And sometimes it suited Governments to ignore what was taking place on
the fringe of Empire. But even in those days an attack on the homeland
meant war, and it would mean war to-day were the attacked countries not
powerless. I have heard it said that there is one law for the rich and
another for the poor. There is no doubt one international law for the
strong and another for the weak.

What about the League of Nations? This is pre-eminently a case for
action under the Covenant. Italy and Greece are both parties. How
can they, consistently with the terms of the Treaty they so recently
signed, refuse to leave this dispute to be dealt with by the League?
Italy had a special part in drafting the Treaty and in imposing it
upon Germany and Austria. She cannot now in decency repudiate its
clauses. It is suggested in some quarters that, the dignity of Italy
being involved in the dispute, she cannot possibly consent to leave
it in the hands of the League. That surely is a fatal limitation on
the activities of the League of Nations. Every dispute involving right
implicates the national honour and as every nation is the judge of
its own honour, ultimately all differences would be ruled out of the
Covenant which it did not suit one country or the other to refer. The
League is not allowed to touch Reparations. If this quarrel also is
excluded from the consideration of the League, it is no exaggeration
to say that this valuable part of the Treaty of Versailles becomes a
dead letter. It is one of the gross ironies of the European situation
that the Treaty of Versailles is being gradually torn to pieces by the
countries which are not only the authors but have most to gain by its
provisions. France has already repudiated the first and most important
part of the Treaty by declaring that it will refer no question arising
between herself and her neighbours under the Treaty itself to the
League of Nations. She has further invaded and occupied her neighbour's
territory in defiance of the provisions of the Treaty. If Italy also
declines to respect the first part of that Treaty, then nothing is
left of it except what it suits nations to enforce or obey. And if the
framers do not owe allegiance to the Treaty they drafted, why should
those who only accepted it under duress bow to its behests? The victors
are busily engaged in discrediting their own charter. It would have
been a more honourable course for the nations to pursue if they had
followed the example of America by refusing to ratify the whole Treaty.
To sign a contract and then to pick and choose for execution the parts
of it that suit you is unworthy of the honour of great nations which
profess to lead the world towards a higher civilisation.

There are ugly rumours of possible complications arising out of this
unfortunate incident. It does not need a vivid imagination to foretell
one or two possible results of a disastrous character. In this country
they would be deplored, not only for their effect on European peace,
but for the damage they must inevitably inflict on the best interests
of Italy. She has had enough of victory. What she needs now--what we
all need--is peace. There is no country which has more genuine goodwill
for Italy's prosperity and greatness than Great Britain. It is an old
and tried friendship. The two nations have many common interests: they
have no rivalries. Hence, the deep anxiety of Britain that Italy should
not commit a mistake which will mortgage her future even if it does not
imperil her present.

There are no doubt strategic advantages for Italy in holding Corfu.
It enables them to "bottle up" the Adriatic. But it is Greek and it
menaces Slavonia, and this introduction of foreign elements into the
body of a State for strategic reasons always provokes inflammatory
symptoms injurious to the general health of a community. They tend
to become malignant and sooner or later they bring disaster. Bosnia
ultimately proved to be the death of the Austrian Empire. When the
Bosnian cancer became active the evil of Italia Irredenta broke out
once more, and between them they laid the Empire of the Hapsburgs in
the dust. Italy has played a great part in the work of civilisation,
and so has Greece. They have still greater tasks awaiting them--one on
a great and the other necessarily on a smaller scale. It would be a
misfortune to humanity if they spent their fine enthusiasm on hating
and thwarting each other.

_London, September 3rd, 1923._



IV

IS THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS A SUCCESS?


Is the League of Nations a success? It is impossible to answer the
question candidly without giving offence to rival partisans. If you
indicate successes already placed to the account of the League,
opponents deny or minimise these triumphs, and suggest that you are
blinded by attachment to a chimera. If you point to shortcomings, the
extreme zealots of the League get angry and hint that you are a secret
enemy.

I mean nevertheless to attempt an answer, for much depends on a
fearless examination of progress made or missed.

My first answer would be that it is scarcely fair to pose this question
just yet. The League was founded only three years ago--much too short
a period to afford a test of the working of a gigantic, complex, but
very delicate and sensitive human machine. There has been hardly time
enough even to catalogue and chart the myriads of nerves that thread
its system. You cannot move a finger at the councils of Geneva without
touching some hidden nerve and setting it in a condition of quivering
protest. The League has, however, been long enough in existence to
reveal its strength and its weaknesses, its power, its potentialities
and its perils.

It has already achieved triumphs of which its founders may well be
proud. The restoration of Austria to life when it seemed to have been
hopelessly submerged in the deluge of economic, financial and political
disaster which had overwhelmed it, is a notable feat of artificial
respiration. The successful effort organised by the League to stamp out
typhus in Eastern Europe and prevent its spread to the West is also a
success worthy of record. But for this intelligently conducted campaign
that terrible disease would have ravaged Russia and Central Europe
and laid low millions out of populations so enfeebled by hunger and
privation as to become easy victims to its devastating assaults.

The Labour branch of the League has also been specially active and
energetic, and its persistent endeavours to raise and co-ordinate the
standards of toil in all countries are producing marked and important
results. In addition great credit is due to the League for the splendid
work it has accomplished in alleviating the distress which prevailed
amongst the famine-stricken areas of Eastern Europe and amongst the
refugees who fled from the horrors of victorious Bolshevism in Russia,
and the still greater horrors of Turkish savagery in Asia Minor.

But these humanitarian tasks, praiseworthy though they be, were not the
primary objects of the foundation of the League. Its main purpose was
the averting of future wars by the setting up of some tribunal to which
nations would be bound by their own covenant and the pressure of other
nations to resort in order to settle their differences. Its failure or
success as an experiment will be judged by this test alone. How does it
stand in this respect?

It succeeded in effecting a settlement of a dangerous dispute between
Sweden and Finland over the possession of the Aaland Islands. That
success was on the line of its main purpose. Here the methods of the
League gave confidence in its complete impartiality.

So much can, unfortunately, not be said of another question where it
was called in and gave its decision. Its Silesian award has been acted
upon but hardly accepted by both parties as a fair settlement. That is
due to the manner adopted in reaching judgment. Instead of following
the Aaland precedent in the choice of a tribunal, it pursued a course
which engendered suspicion of its motives. It created a regrettable
impression of anxiety to retain a certain measure of control over
the decision. There was a suspicion of intrigue in the choice of the
tribunal and the conduct of the proceedings. In the Aaland case no
great power was particularly interested in influencing the conclusions
arrived at either way. But here two powers of great authority in the
League--France and Poland--were passionately engaged in securing a
result adverse to Germany. The other party to the dispute had no
friends, and was moreover not a member of the League.

Britain stood for fair play, but she was not a protagonist of the
claims of Germany. Poland had a powerful advocate on the League--a
country with a vital interest in securing a pro-Polish decision. In
these circumstances the League ought to have exercised the most
scrupulous care to avoid any shadow of doubt as to its freedom from
all bias. Had it chosen distinguished jurists outside its own body to
undertake at least a preliminary investigation as it did in the Aaland
case, all would have been well. It preferred, however, to retain the
matter in its own hands. Hence the doubts and misgivings with which
the judgment of the League has been received not only by the whole of
Germany, but by many outside Germany.

This decision, and the way Poland has flouted the League over Vilna
served to confirm the idea which prevails in Russia and Germany that
France and Poland dominate the League. The Silesian award may be just,
but the fact remains that it will take a long series of decisions
beyond cavil to restore or rather to establish German and Russian
confidence in the League.

It is unfortunate that countries which cover more than half Europe
should feel thus about a body whose success depends entirely on the
confidence reposed in its impartiality by all the nations which may be
called upon to carry out its decrees, even though these may be adverse
to their views or supposed interests. The Vilna fiasco, the Armenian
failure, the suspicions that surround the Silesian award, the timidity
which prevents the tackling of reparations, which is the one question
disturbing the peace of Europe to-day, the futile conversations and
committees on disarmament which everyone knows, will not succeed in
scrapping one flight of aëroplanes or one company of infantry. All
these disappointments arise from one predominating cause. What is it?

Undoubtedly the great weakness of the League comes from the fact that
it only represents one half the great powers of the world. Until the
others join you might as well call the Holy Alliance a League of
Nations.

The ostensible purpose of that combination was also to prevent a
recurrence of the wars that had for years scorched Europe, and to
establish European peace on the firm basis of a joint guarantee of
delimited frontiers. But certain powers with selfish ambitions dictated
its policy. They terrorised Europe into submission and called that
peace.

No historical parallel is quite complete, but there is enough material
in the occurrences of to-day to justify the reference. The League to be
a reality must represent the whole civilised world. That is necessary
to give it balance as well as authority. That was the original
conception. To ask why that failed is to provoke a bitter and a barren
controversy.

I do not propose to express any opinion as to the merits of the
manoeuvres which led to the defeat of the treaty in America. Whether
the Senate should have honoured the signature of an American President
given in the name of his country at an international conference, or
whether the commitment was too fundamentally at variance with American
ideas to justify sanction--whether the amendments demanded as the
condition of approval would have crippled the League and ought to have
been rejected, or whether they were harmless and ought to have been
accepted--these are issues which it would serve no helpful purpose for
me to discuss.

But as to the effect of the American refusal to adhere to the League,
there can be no doubt. It robbed that body of all chance of dominating
success in the immediate future. It is true that three great powers
remained in the League, but Russia was excluded, Germany was not
included, and when America decided not to go in, of the great powers,
Britain, France and Italy alone remained.

The effect has been paralysing. Where these three powers disagree on
important issues upon which action is required, nothing is done. The
smaller powers cannot, on questions where one or more of the great
powers have deep and acute feeling, impose their will; and no two great
powers will take the responsibility of overruling the third.

Hence questions like reparations which constitute a standing menace to
European peace are not dealt with by the League. Had America been in,
even with an amended and expurgated constitution, the situation would
have been transformed. America and Britain, acting in concert with an
openly sympathetic Italy and a secretly assenting Belgium, would have
brought such pressure to bear on France as to make it inevitable that
the League should act.

The success of the League depends upon the readiness of nations great
and small to discuss all their differences at the council table. But no
great power has so far permitted any international question in which
it has a direct and vital interest to be submitted to the League for
decision.

It has been allowed to adjudicate upon the destiny of the Aaland
Islands, over the fate of which Sweden and Finland had a controversy.
It has taken cognisance of disputes between Poland and Lithuania
about Vilna, although even here its decision has been ignored by the
parties. But the acute and threatening quarrel which has broken out
between France and Germany over the question of reparations the former
resolutely declines to submit to consideration by the League.

The Treaty of Versailles is so wide in its application and so
comprehensive and far-reaching in its character that it touches
international interests almost at every point. So that the French
refusal to agree to a reference of any problems in which they are
directly concerned which may arise out of this treaty has had the
effect of hobbling the League. As long as that attitude is maintained,
the League is impotent to discharge its main function of restoring and
keeping peace.

The dispute over reparations clouds the sky to-day, and until it is
finally settled it will cause grave atmospheric disturbances for
a whole generation. It is not an impossibility that it may end in
the most destructive conflict that ever broke over the earth. It is
churning up deadly passions. If ever there was an occasion which called
for the intervention of an organisation set up for the express purpose
of finding peaceable solutions for trouble-charged international feuds,
surely this is pre-eminently such a case. Not only do the French
government decline to entertain the idea of putting the covenant which
constitutes the first and foremost part of the Treaty of Versailles
into operation: they have gone so far as to intimate that they will
treat any proposal of the kind as an unfriendly act. The constitution
of the League stipulates that it will be the friendly duty of any power
to move that any international dispute which threatens peace shall
be referred to the League. Nevertheless, one leading signatory rules
out of the covenant all the questions which vitally affect its own
interests. This is the power which has invaded the territory of another
because the latter has failed to carry out one of the provisions of the
same treaty!

This emphatic repudiation of a solemn contract by one of its promoters
has been acquiesced in by all the other signatories. Repudiation and
acquiescence complete the electrocuting circuit. This limitation of
the activities of the League is the gravest check which it has yet
sustained in its career. I do not believe it would have occurred had
America, with or without Article 10, been an active member of this
body. Its great authority, added to that of Britain and Italy, would
have made the pressure irresistible, and its presence on the council
would have helped materially to give such confidence in the stability
and impartiality of the League that Germany would have accepted the
conclusions arrived at without demur and acted upon them without
chicane. A rational settlement of the reparations problem by the League
would have established its authority throughout the world. Germany,
Russia and Turkey, who now treat its deliberations with distrust and
dislike tinctured with contempt, would be forced to respect its power,
and would soon be pleading for incorporation in its councils. The
covenant would thus become a charter--respected, feared, honoured and
obeyed by all. There would still be injustice, but redress would be
sought and fought for in the halls of the League. There would still
be oppression, but freedom would be wrung from the clauses of the
covenant. Argument, debate and intercession would be the recognised
substitutes for shot, shell and sword. Wars would cease unto the ends
of the earth, and the reign of law would be supreme.

Wherein lies the real power of the League, or to be more accurate, its
possibility of power? It brings together leading citizens of most of
the civilised states of the world to discuss all questions affecting or
likely to affect peace and concord amongst nations. The men assembled
at Geneva do not come there of their own initiative, nor do they merely
represent propagandist societies engaged in preaching the gospel of
peace. They are the chosen emissaries of their respective governments.
They are the authorised spokesmen of these governments. When in doubt
they refer to their governments and receive their instructions, and the
proceedings are reported direct to the governments. They meet often and
regularly, and they debate their problems with complete candour as well
as courtesy.

It is in itself a good thing to accustom nations to discuss their
difficulties face to face in a public assembly where reasons have
to be sought and given for their attitude which will persuade and
satisfy neutral minds of its justice and fairness. It is a practice
to be cultivated. It is the practice that ended in eliminating the
arbitrament of the sword in the internal affairs of nations. It is
only thus that international disputes will gradually drift into the
debating chamber instead of on to the battlefield for settlement. Wars
are precipitated by motives which the statesmen responsible for them
dare not publicly avow. A public discussion would drag these emotives
in their nudity into the open where they would die of exposure to the
withering contempt of humanity. The League by developing the habit
amongst nations of debating their differences in the presence of the
world, and of courting the judgment of the world upon the merits of
their case, is gradually edging out war as a settler of quarrels. That
is the greatest service it can render mankind. Will it be allowed to
render that service? If not, then it will perish like many another
laudable experiment attempted by mankind in the effort to save itself.

But if it dies, the hope of establishing peace on earth will be buried
in the same tomb.

_London, April 2nd, 1923._



V

THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES AND ITS CRITICS


I have had recently special opportunities for appreciating the extent
to which the Treaty of Versailles has not been read by those who
have formed very definite opinions concerning its qualities. There
is no justification for a failure to peruse this great international
instrument. It is the most important document of modern times. It has
reshaped for better or for worse much of the geography of Europe. It
has resurrected dead and buried nationalities. It constitutes the deed
of manumission of tens of millions of Europeans who, up to the year of
victory, 1918, were the bondsmen of other races. It affects profoundly
the economics, the finance, the industrial and trade conditions of the
world; it contains clauses upon the efficacy of which may depend the
very existence of our civilisation. Nevertheless there are few who can
tell you what is in the Treaty of Versailles. You might have thought
that although men differed widely as to its merits, there would
have been no difficulty in securing some measure of agreement as to
its actual contents. Every endeavour was made to give full publicity
to the draft when it was first presented to the Germans, and to the
final document when signed. Even before the form of the draft was ever
settled, the actual decisions were reported from day to day. Never
was a treaty so reported and so discussed in every article and every
particle of its constitution, and to-day you can procure an official
copy of it from any bookseller for the moderate price of 2_s._ 6_d._ In
spite of that no two men who happen to profess diverse opinions as to
its justice or injustice can agree as to its contents.

A visitor to England in the year 1713 probably experienced the same
perplexity in seeking information from a Whig and a Tory respectively
as to the Treaty of Utrecht. So this treaty has become one of those
fiercely debated subjects, as to which the contestants deliberately
refuse to regard any testimony, or recognise the existence of any fact,
which is in the least inconsistent with their particular point of view.
It has come to pass that the real Treaty of Versailles has already
disappeared, and several imaginary versions have emerged. It is around
these that the conflict rages.

In France there exist at least two or three schools of thought
concerning the Versailles Treaty. There is one powerful section
which has always regarded it as a treasonable pact, in which M.
Clemenceau gave away solid French rights and interests in a moment of
weakness under pressure from President Wilson and myself. That is the
Poincaré-Barthou-Pertinax school. That is why they are now, whilst in
form engaged in enforcing the treaty, in fact carrying out a gigantic
operation for amending it without consulting the other signatories.
This has come out very clearly in the remarkable report from a French
official in the Rhineland which was disclosed in the London _Observer_.
It is obvious from this paper that whilst the French government have
worked their public into a frenzied state of indignation over the
failure of Germany to carry out the Treaty of Versailles, they were
the whole time deliberately organising a plot to overthrow that treaty
themselves. Their representative on the Rhine was spending French money
with the consent of the French government to promote a conspiracy for
setting up an independent republic on the Rhine under the protection
of France. It was a deliberate attempt by those who disapproved of
the moderation of the Treaty of Versailles to rewrite its clauses in
the terms of the militarist demands put forward by Marshal Foch at
the Peace conference. Marshal Foch, the soul of honour, wanted to see
this done openly and straightforwardly. What he would have done like
the gentleman he is, these conspirators would have accomplished by
deceit--by deceiving their Allies and by being faithless to the treaty
to which their country had appended its signature. That is one French
school of thought on the Treaty of Versailles. It is the one which has
brought Europe to its present state of confusion and despair.

There is the second school which reads into the treaty powers
and provisions which it does not contain, and never contemplated
containing. These critics maintain stoutly that M. Briand, and all
other French prime ministers, with the exception of M. Poincaré,
betrayed their trust by failing to enforce these imaginary
stipulations. They still honestly believe that M. Poincaré is the first
French minister to have made a genuine attempt to enforce French rights
under the treaty.

In the background there is a third school which knows exactly what
the treaty means, but dares not say so in the present state of French
opinion. Perhaps they think it is better to bide their time. That time
will come, and when it does arrive, let us hope it will not be too late
to save Europe from the welter.

In America there are also two or three divergent trends of opinion
about this treaty. One regards it as an insidious attempt to trap
America into the European cockpit, so as to pluck its feathers to line
French and English bolsters. If anything could justify so insular
an estimate it would be the entirely selfish interpretation which
is put upon the treaty by one or two of the Allied governments. The
other American party, I understand, defends it with vigour as a great
human instrument second only in importance to the Declaration of
Independence. There may be a third which thinks that on the whole it
is not a bad settlement, and that the pity is a little more tact was
not displayed in passing it through the various stages of approval and
ratification. This party is not as vocal as the others.

In England we find at least three schools. There are the critics who
denounce it as a brutal outrage upon international justice. It is to
them a device for extorting incalculable sums out of an impoverished
Germany as reparation for damages artificially worked up. Then there
is the other extreme--the "die-hard" section--more influential since
it became less numerous, who think the treaty let Germany off much
too lightly. In fact they are in complete agreement with the French
Chauvinists as to the reprehensible moderation of its terms. In
Britain also there is a third party which regards its provisions as
constituting the best settlement, when you take into account the
conflicting aims, interests, and traditions of the parties who had to
negotiate and come to an agreement.

But take all these variegated schools together, or separately, and
you will find not one in a thousand of their pupils could give you
an intelligent and comprehensive summary of the main principles of
the treaty. I doubt whether I should be far wrong in saying there
would not be one in ten thousand. Controversialists generally are
satisfied to concentrate on the articles in the treaty which are
obnoxious or pleasing to them as the case may be, and ignore the rest
completely, however essential they may be to a true judgment of the
whole. Most of the disputants are content to take their views from
press comments and denunciatory speeches. Unhappily the explanatory
speeches have been few. Some there are who have in their possession
the full text--nominally for reference; but you will find parts of
the reparations clauses in their copies black with the thumb-marks
which note the perspiring dialectician searching for projectiles to
hurl at the object of his fury. The clauses which ease and modify the
full demand are treated with stern neglect, and the remainder of the
pages are pure as the untrodden snow. You can trace no footprints of
politicians, publicists, or journalists, in whole provinces of this
unexplored treaty. The covenant of the League of Nations is lifted
bodily out of the text, and is delivered to the public as a separate
testament for the faithful so that the saints may not defile their
hands with the polluted print which exacts justice. They have now come
to believe that it never was incorporated in the Treaty of Versailles,
and that it has nothing to do with that vile and sanguinary instrument.

And yet the first words of this treaty are the following:


     "The High Contracting Parties,

     "In order to promote international co-operation and to achieve
     international peace and security,

     "By the acceptance of obligations not to resort to war,

     "By the prescription of open, just and honourable relations
     between nations,

     "By the firm establishment of the understandings of international
     law as the actual rule of conduct among Governments, and

     "By the maintenance of justice and a scrupulous respect for all
     treaty obligations in the dealings of organised peoples with one
     another,

     "Agree to this Covenant of the League of Nations."


Then follow the articles of the debated covenant.

A speaker who took part recently in a university debate on the subject
told me that the undergraduates exhibited the greatest surprise
when he informed them that the League of Nations was founded by the
Versailles Treaty. A few days ago I had a similar experience at the
Oxford Union. I was speaking against a motion framed to condemn the
principles of the treaty as unwise and unjust. In its defence I
recalled some of its outstanding features. But as most of my narrative
had no bearing on reparations it was greeted with impatience and
cries of "Question" from a group of anti-Versaillists. They honestly
thought I was travelling outside the motion in giving a short summary
of the other sections of the treaty. To them it is all condensed in
Mr. Keynes's book, and other hostile commentaries. Anything which
is inconsistent with these, or supplements the scanty or misleading
statements they make, is deemed to be tainted and biassed. To refer to
the text itself they regard as unfair, and as playing into the hands
of the defenders of a wicked and oppressive pact. The actual treaty
has been already put by them out of bounds, and you wander into its
forbidden clauses on pain of being put into the guardroom by one or
other of the intolerant factions who patrol the highways and byways of
international politics.

In all the debates on the subject in the House of Commons I have only
once heard the treaty itself quoted by a critic, and strangely enough
that was by way of approval.

I have indicated one important section of the treaty to which is
accorded something of the reverence due to Holy Writ by an influential
section of the public. This group would be shocked were they reminded
that their devotion is given to a chapter in the hateful treaty.
There is yet another large and important section which is completely
ignored by the critics--that which reconstructs Central Europe on the
basis of nationality and the free choice of the people instead of on
the basis of strategy and military convenience. This is the section
that liberated Poland from the claws of the three carnivorous empires
that were preying on its vitals, and restored it to life, liberty and
independence. It is the section that frees the Danes of Schleswig
and the Frenchmen of Alsace-Lorraine. For these oppressed provinces
the Treaty of Versailles is the title-deed of freedom. Why are these
clauses all suppressed in controversial literature? Here is another
of the ignored provisions--that which sets up permanent machinery for
dealing with labour problems throughout the world, and for raising the
standard of life amongst the industrial workers by means of a great
international effort. No more beneficent or more fruitful provision
was ever made in any treaty. It is so momentous and so completely
overlooked in general discussion, that I think it worth while to quote
at length the general principles laid down by a provision which will
one day be claimed as the first great international charter of the
worker.

"The High Contracting Parties recognise that differences of climate,
habits and customs, of economic opportunity and industrial tradition,
make strict uniformity in the conditions of labour difficult of
immediate attainment. But, holding as they do, that labour should not
be regarded merely as an article of commerce, they think that there
are methods and principles for regulating labour conditions which
all industrial communities should endeavour to apply so far as their
special circumstances will permit.


     "Among these methods and principles, the following seem to the
     High Contracting Parties to be of special and urgent importance:--

     "_First._--The guiding principle above enunciated that labour
     should not be regarded merely as a commodity or article of
     commerce.

     "_Second._--The right of association for all lawful purposes by
     the employed as well as by the employers.

     "_Third._--The payment to the employed of a wage adequate to
     maintain a reasonable standard of life as this is understood in
     their time and country.

     "_Fourth._--The adoption of an eight-hour day or forty-eight hour
     week as the standard to be aimed at where it has not already been
     attained.

     "_Fifth._--The adoption of a weekly rest of at least twenty-four
     hours, which should include Sunday wherever practicable.

     "_Sixth._--The abolition of child labour and the imposition of
     such limitations on the labour of young persons as shall permit
     the continuation of their education and assure their proper
     physical development.

     "_Seventh._--The principle that men and women should receive equal
     remuneration for work of equal value.

     "_Eighth._--The standard set by law in each country with respect
     to the conditions of labour should have due regard to the
     equitable economic treatment of all workers lawfully resident
     therein.

     "_Ninth_.--Each State should make provision for a system of
     inspection in which women should take part, in order to ensure the
     enforcement of the laws and regulations for the protection of the
     employed."


It will take long before the principles propounded in the covenant of
the league under the labour articles are fully and faithfully carried
out, but in both a good deal of quiet and steady progress have already
been attained. M. Albert Thomas is an admirable chief for the labour
bureau. He has zeal, sympathy, tact, energy and great organising
talent. He is pressing along with patience, as well as persistence. But
that is another question. It raises grave issues as to the execution of
the treaty. What I have to deal with to-day is the misunderstandings
which exist as to the character of the treaty itself. The British
public are certainly being deliberately misled on this point. Why are
those sections which emancipate oppressed races, which seek to lift
the worker to a condition above destitution and degradation, and
which build up a breakwater against the raging passions which make
for war, never placed to the credit of the Treaty of Versailles? The
type of controversialist who is always advertising his idealism has
made a point of withholding these salient facts from the public which
he professes to enlighten and instruct. There is no more unscrupulous
debater in the ring than the one who affects to be particularly
high-minded. I do not mean the man who is possessed of a really high
mind, but the man who is always posing as having been exalted by grace
above his fellows. He is the Pharisee of controversy. Beware of him,
for he garbles and misquotes and suppresses to suit his arguments or
prejudices in a way that would make a child of this world blush.

That is why I venture to put in a humble, although I fear belated, plea
for the reading of the text, the whole text, and nothing but the text,
of the Treaty of Versailles. Herein lies the only fair way of arriving
at a just conclusion on the merits of a treaty which holds in its hands
the destiny of Europe for many a generation.



VI

1922


The year nineteen hundred and twenty-two witnessed a genuine struggle
on the part of the nations to re-establish peace conditions in the
world.

During 1919-20 and 1921 "the tarantella was still in their blood." The
mad war dance was still quivering in their limbs and they could not
rest. The crackle of musketry was incessant and made needful repose
impossible. There was not a country in Europe or Asia whose troops were
not firing shots in anger at some external or internal foe.

America rang down the fire curtain until this hysterical frenzy had
burnt itself out. Was she right? It is too early yet to give the
answer. The case is but yet "part heard"--many witnessing years whose
evidence is relevant have not yet entered the box: it will, therefore,
be some time before the verdict of history as to her attitude can be
delivered.

But 1922 testifies to many striking symptoms of recovering sanity on
the part of the tortured continents. Before 1922 you had everywhere
the querulity of the overstrained nerve. The slightest offence or
misunderstanding, however unintentional, provoked a quarrel, and almost
every quarrel was followed by a blow. It was a mad world to live in.
The shrieks of clawing nations rent the European night and made it
hideous. A distinguished general declared that at one period--I think
it was the year of grace 1920--there were thirty wars, great and small,
proceeding simultaneously. Who was to blame? Everybody and nobody.
Mankind had just passed through the most nerve-shattering experience in
all its racking history, and it was not responsible for its actions.
Millions of young men had for years marched through such a pitiless
rain of terror as had not been conceived except in Milton's description
of the battle scenes when the fallen angels were driven headlong to the
deep. And when the Angel of Peace led the nations out from the gates
of hell, no wonder it took them years to recover sight and sanity.
Nineteen twenty-two was a year of restored composure.

The outward visible sign was seen in the changed character of the
international conferences held during the year. The ultimatum kind of
conference gave way to the genuine peace conference. The old method
insisted upon by French statesmen was to hammer out demands on the
conference anvil and send them in the form of an ultimatum to nations
who, in spite of peace treaties, were still treated as enemies; the new
method was to discuss on equal terms the conditions of appeasement.

Germany, having no fleet in the Pacific, was not invited to the
Washington conference, and Russia was excluded for other reasons. But
at Cannes Germany was represented, and at Genoa both Germany and Russia
had their delegates.

The Washington conference was, in some respects, the most remarkable
international conference ever held. It was the first time great
nations commanding powerful armaments had ever sat down deliberately
to discuss a voluntary limitation of their offensive and defensive
forces. Restrictions and reductions have often been imposed in peace
treaties by triumphant nations upon their beaten foes. The Versailles
treaty is an example of that operation. But at Washington the victors
negotiated a mutual cutting-down of navies built for national safety
and strengthened by national pride. The friends of peace therefore
have solid ground for their rejoicing in a contemplation of substantial
reductions already effected in the naval programmes of the most
powerful maritime countries in the world--Britain, the United States of
America, and Japan--as a direct result of the Washington negotiations.

American statesmanship has given a lead of which it is entitled
to boast, and 1922 is entitled to claim that this triumph of good
understanding has brought a measure of glory which will give it a
peculiar splendour amongst the years of earth's history.

The gatherings at Cannes and Genoa can also claim outstanding merit
in the large and growing family of international conferences. At
Washington the Allies alone foregathered. At Cannes and Genoa nations
came together which had only recently emerged out of deadly conflict
with each other. At each conference I met on both sides men who had
but just recovered from severe wounds sustained in this struggle.
At Cannes French, Belgian, Italian, Japanese, as well as British
ministers and experts, sat down in council with German ministers and
experts to discuss the vexed question of reparations without taunt or
recrimination. There was a calm recognition not only of the needs of
the injured countries, but also of the difficulties of the offending
state. Outside and beyond the German problem there was a resolve to
eliminate all the various elements of disturbance, political and
economic, that kept Europe in a ferment and made its restoration
impossible.

Here it was decided to summon all the late belligerent nations to a
great conference at Genoa to discuss reconstruction. To these were
added the neutral nations of Europe. It was a great decision. There
were three obstacles in the way of realising the programme. The first
was the stipulation of France that the specific problems raised by the
treaty of Versailles should be excluded altogether from the purview
of the conference. This was a grave limitation of its functions and
chances. Still, if the Cannes sittings had continued, an arrangement
might have been arrived at with the Germans which would have helped the
deliberations of Genoa. The second obstacle was the refusal of America
to participate in the discussions. Why did the American government
refuse? There were probably good reasons for that refusal, but the
recording angel alone knows them all fully and accurately. The third
obstacle was the fall of the Briand ministry, and the substitution
of a less sympathetic administration. In spite of all these serious
drawbacks Genoa accomplished great things. It brought together into the
same rooms enemies who had not met for years except on the battlefield.
They conferred and conversed around the same table for weeks--at
conferences, committees, and sub-committees. They broke bread and drank
wine together at the same festive boards. Before the conference came
to an end there was an atmosphere of friendliness which was in itself
a guarantee of peaceable relations, for the delegates who represented
the nations at Genoa were all men of real influence in their respective
countries.

But however important the intangible result, there was much more
achieved. The thirty nations represented in the assembly entered
into a solemn pact not to commit any act of aggression against their
neighbours. When they entered the conference there were few of them
who were not oppressed with suspicions that these neighbours meditated
violence against their frontiers. When they arrived at Genoa they
were all anxious for peace, but apprehensive of impending war. Genoa
dispelled those anxieties.

One of the most promising results of the pact and the improved
atmospheric conditions out of which it arose is the substantial
reduction in the Bolshevik army. It has already been reduced to
the dimensions of the French army, and we are now promised a
further reduction. That removes a real menace to European peace.
If the reduction of armies in the East of Europe is followed by a
corresponding reduction in the West the reign of peace is not far
distant.

This is not the time to dwell upon the important agreements effected
at Genoa on questions of exchange, credit, and transport. All the
recommendations made depend for their successful carrying out on the
establishment of a real peace and a friendly understanding between
nations. Peace and goodwill on earth is still the only healing evangel
for idealists to preach and statesmen to practise. Without it plans and
protocols must inevitably fail.

Where does peace stand? The weary angel is still on the wing, for the
waters have not yet subsided. She may perhaps find a foothold in the
Great West, and Britain is fairly safe--not yet Ireland.

But the continent of Europe is still swampy and insecure. The debate
in the French Chamber on reparations is not encouraging. The only
difference of opinion in the discussion was that displayed between
those who advocated an advance into the Ruhr, and the seizure of
pledges further into German territory, and those who preferred
"developing" the left bank of the Rhine. Occupying, controlling,
developing, annexing--they all mean the same thing; that the province
to the left bank of the Rhine is to be torn from Germany and grafted
into France.

There is no peace in this talk. It is a sinister note on which to
end the pacific music of 1922. You must interpret it in connection
with another event of 1922--the Russo-German agreement. Since then
Chicherin--a spirit of mischief incarnate--has almost made Berlin
his abode. The men who are devoting their ingenuity to devising new
torments for Germany are preparing new terrors for their own and their
neighbours' children.

The year ends with rumours of great American projects for advancing
large sums of money to all and sundry in the hope of settling the
vexed question of German reparation. The loan, it is surmised, will be
accompanied by guarantees on the part of France not to invade further
German territory. Some go so far as to conjecture that it is to be an
essential condition of participation in this Christmas bounty of Madame
Rumour that France is to reduce her armies and to undertake not to
exceed Washington limits for her navies.

Nobody seems to know, and I am only repeating the gossip of the press.
But if the £350,000,000 loan is likely to materialise, its projectors
are wise in imposing conditions that would afford them some chance
of receiving payment of a moderate interest in the lifetime of this
generation.

No prudent banker would lend money on the security of a flaming volcano.

_London, December 20th, 1922._



VII

WHAT IS FRANCE AFTER?

_1. The Rhine_


M. Clemenceau, in the remarkable series of speeches delivered in
the United States of America, implies a breach of faith on the part
of Britain in reference to the pact to guarantee France against the
possibility of German aggression. England has no better friend in
the whole of France than M. Clemenceau. Throughout a strenuous but
consistent career he has never varied in his friendship for England.
Many a time has he been bitterly assailed for that friendship. French
journalists are not sparing of innuendo against those they hate.
They hate fiercely and they hit recklessly, and M. Clemenceau, a man
of scrupulous integrity, at one period in his stormy political life
was charged by certain organs of the Paris press with being in the
pay of England. If, therefore, he now does an injustice to Britain I
am convinced it is not from blind hatred of our country, but from
temporary forgetfulness of the facts.

He states the facts with reference to the original pact quite fairly.
It was proffered as an answer to those who claimed that the left bank
of the Rhine should be annexed to France.

There was a strong party in France which urged M. Clemenceau to demand
that the Rhine should be treated as the natural frontier of their
country, and that advantage should be taken of the overwhelming defeat
of Germany to extend the boundaries of France to that fateful river.
For unknown centuries it has been fought over and across--a veritable
river of blood. If French Chauvinism had achieved its purpose at the
Paris conference the Rhine would within a generation once more overflow
its banks and devastate Europe. The most moderate and insidious form
this demand took was a proposal that the German provinces on the left
bank of the Rhine should remain in French occupation until the treaty
had been fulfilled. That meant for ever. Reparations alone--skilfully
handled by the Quai d'Orsay--would preclude the possibility of ever
witnessing fulfilment. The argument by which they supported their claim
was the defencelessness of the French frontier without some natural
barrier. France had been twice invaded and overrun within living memory
by her formidable neighbour. The German military power was now crushed,
and rich and populous provinces of the German Empire had been restored
to France and Poland, but the population of Germany was still fifty per
cent. greater than that of France and it was growing at an alarming
rate, whilst the French population was at a standstill. German towns
and villages were clamant with sturdy children.

You cannot talk long to a Frenchman without realising how this spectre
of German children haunts France and intimidates her judgment. These
children, it is said, are nourished on vengeance: one day the struggle
will be resumed, and France has no natural defence against the avenging
hordes that are now playing on German streets and with the hum of whose
voices German kindergartens resound.

We were told the Rhine is the only possible line of resistance.
Providence meant it to play that part, and it is only the sinister
interference of statesmen who love not France that deprives Frenchmen
of this security for peace which a far-seeing Nature has provided.

The fact that this involved the subjection to a foreign yoke of
millions of men of German blood, history, and sympathies, and that the
incorporation of so large an alien element, hostile in every fibre to
French rule, would be a constant source of trouble and anxiety to the
French Government, whilst it would not merely provide an incentive
to Germany to renew war but would justify and dignify the attack by
converting it into a war of liberation--all that had no effect on the
Rhenian school of French politics.

This school is as powerful as ever. In one respect it is more powerful,
for in 1919 there was a statesman at the head of affairs who had the
strength as well as the sagacity to resist their ill-judged claims.

But what about 1922? Where is the foresight and where is the strength?
There is a real danger that the fifteen years' occupation may on one
pretext or another be indefinitely prolonged. When it comes to an
end will there be a ministry in France strong enough to withdraw the
troops? Before the fifteen years' occupation is terminated will there
be a ministry or a series of ministries strong enough to resist
the demand put forward without ceasing in the French press that the
occupation should be made effective?

Upon the answer to these questions the peace of Europe--the peace of
the world, perhaps the life of our civilisation--depends. The pressure
to do the evil thing that will once more spill rivers of human blood
is insistent. The temptation is growing, the resistance is getting
feebler. America and Britain standing together can alone avert the
catastrophe. But they can do so only by making it clear that the
aggressor--whoever it be--will have the invincible might of these two
commonwealths arrayed against any nation that threatens to embroil the
world in another conflict.

There are men in Germany who preach vengeance. They must be told that
a war of revenge will find the same allies side by side inflicting
punishment on the peace-breakers. There are men in France who counsel
annexation of territories populated by another race. They must be
warned that such a step will alienate the sympathies of Britain and
America, and that when the inevitable war of liberation comes the
sympathies of America and Britain will be openly ranged on the side of
those who are fighting for national freedom.

The time has come for saying these things, and if they are not said in
high places humanity will one day call those who occupy those places to
a reckoning.

The pact was designed to strengthen the hands of M. Clemenceau against
the aggressive party which was then and still is anxious to commit
France to the colossal error of annexing territory which has always
been purely German.

M. Clemenceau knows full well that Britain has been ready any time
during the last three years up to a few months ago to take upon herself
the burden of that pact with or without the United States of America.
At Cannes early this year I made a definite proposal to that effect. It
was a written offer made by me on behalf of the British government to
M. Briand, who was then prime minister of France.

I was anxious to secure the co-operation of France in a general
endeavour to clear up the European situation and establish a real
peace from the Urals to the Atlantic seaboard. French suspicions and
French apprehensions constituted a serious difficulty in the way of
settlement, and I thought that if it were made clear to France that the
whole strength of the British Empire could be depended upon to come to
her aid in the event of threatened invasion French opinion would be in
a better mood to discuss the outstanding questions which agitate Europe.

International goodwill is essential to the re-establishment of the
shattered machinery of international commerce. With a great country
like France, to which the issue of the war had given a towering
position on the continent of Europe, in a condition of fretfulness, it
was impossible to settle Europe.

Hence the offer which was made by the British government. M. Briand was
prepared to welcome this offer and to proceed to a calm consideration
of the perplexities of the European situation. It was agreed to summon
a conference at Genoa to discuss the condition of European exchange,
credit and trade. It was also resolved that an effort should be made
to establish peace with Russia and to bring that great country once
more inside the community of nations. A great start was made on the
path of genuine appeasement. The German Government were invited to
send their chief Minister to the Cannes conference in order to arrive
at a workable settlement of the vexed question of reparations. The
invitation received a prompt response, and Dr. Rathenau, accompanied
by two or three leading ministers and a retinue of financial experts,
reached Cannes in time to take part in the discussions.

The negotiations were proceeding helpfully, and another week might have
produced results which would have pacified the tumult of suspicious
nations and inaugurated the promise of fraternity. But, alas, Satan is
not done with Europe. A ministerial crisis in France brought our hopes
tumbling to the ground. The conference was broken up on the threshold
of fulfilment.

Suspicion once more seized the tiller, and Europe, just as she seemed
to be entering the harbour of goodwill, was swung back violently into
the broken seas of international distrust. The offer made by Britain
to stand alone on the pact of guarantee to France was rejected with
disdain. We were told quite brutally that it was no use without a
military convention. This we declined to enter into. Europe has
suffered too much from military conventions to warrant the repetition
of such a disastrous experiment.

The pact with Britain lies for the moment in the waste-paper basket.
But we never flung it there. M. Clemenceau ought to have made his
complaint in Paris against men of his own race and not in New York
against Englishmen. With the pact went the effort to make peace in
Europe.

The history of Genoa is too recent to require any recapitulation of its
features. The new French ministry did not play the part of an inviting
government responsible for pressing to a successful end the objects of
Cannes, but rather that of the captious critic who had to be persuaded
along every inch of the road and who threatened at every obstacle to
turn back and leave the rest of Europe to struggle along with its
burden, amid the mocking laughter of France.

I am not complaining of M. Barthou. He did his best under most
humiliating conditions to remain loyal to the conference which his
government had joined in summoning. But his task was an impossible one.
He was hampered, embarrassed and tangled at every turn. Whenever he
took any step forward he was lassoed by a despatch from Paris. I have
good authority for stating that he received over eight hundred of these
communications in the course of the conference!

What could the poor man do under such bewildering conditions? The other
European countries were perplexed and distracted. They were anxious
that Genoa should end in a stable peace. There was no doubt about the
sincerity, the passionate sincerity, of the desire for peace throughout
Europe, but European nations could not help seeing that one of the
great powers was working for a failure. They had a natural anxiety not
to appear to take sides.

It is a marvel that in spite of this unfortunate attitude adopted
by the French Government a pact was signed which has, at any rate,
preserved the peace in Eastern Europe for several months.

Before the conference we heard of armies being strengthened along
frontiers and of movements of troops with a menacing intent from the
Baltic to the Black Sea. Genoa at least dispelled that cloud. But a
permanent peace has not yet been established and the pact with Russia
will soon expire. I am, however, hopeful that the spirit of Genoa will
stand between contending armies and prevent the clash of swords.

All this, however, is leading me away from an examination of M.
Clemenceau's suggestion that Britain did not keep faith in the matter
of guaranteeing France against German aggression.

The offer was definitely renewed at Cannes, and M. Poincaré has not
accepted it.

I have my own opinion as to why he has not done so. It is not
merely that he does not wish to set the seal of his approval upon a
predecessor's achievement. I am afraid the reason is of a more sinister
kind. If France accepts Britain's guarantee of defence of her frontier
every excuse for annexing the left bank of the Rhine disappears.

If this is the explanation, if French ministers have made up their
minds that under no conditions will they, even at the end of the period
of occupation, withdraw from the Rhine, then a new chapter opens in
the history of Europe and the world, with a climax of horror such as
mankind has never yet witnessed.

The German provinces on the left bank of the Rhine are intensely
German--in race, language, tradition and sympathies. There are seventy
millions of Germans in Europe. A generation hence there may be a
hundred millions. They will never rest content so long as millions of
their fellow-countrymen are under a foreign yoke on the other side of
the Rhine, and it will only be a question of time and opportunity for
the inevitable war of liberation to begin.

We know what the last war was like. No one can foretell the terrors of
the next. The march of science is inexorable, and wherever it goes it
is at the bidding of men, whether to build or to destroy. Is it too
much to ask that America should, in time, take an effective interest in
the development along the Rhine? To that extent I am in complete accord
with M. Clemenceau. Neither Britain nor America can afford to ignore
the manoeuvres going on along its banks. It is a far cry from the
Rhine to the Mississippi, but not so far as it used to be.

There are now graves not far from the Rhine wherein lies the dust
of men who, less than six years ago, came from the banks of the
Mississippi, with their faces towards the Rhine.

_London, December 2nd, 1922._



VIII

WHAT IS FRANCE AFTER?

_2. The Rhine_ (Continued)


The breakdown of the London conference, and especially the reason for
that breakdown, proves the warning I uttered in my last chapter was
necessary and timely.

M. Poincaré demanded the occupation of the only rich coalfield left to
Germany as a guarantee for the carrying out of impossible terms.

It is because I am profoundly convinced that the policy represented by
this project will lead to trouble of the gravest kind for Europe and
the world that I felt moved to sound a note of warning. I knew it would
provoke much angry misrepresentation. I am accustomed to that. I deemed
it to be my duty to face it.

The statement I made in my last chapter about the existence of a
strong party in France which regarded the Rhine as the natural barrier
of that country has provoked a storm of denial, repudiation and
indignation. It is denounced as a wicked invention. Some are amazed at
the impudence of the calumny. Where is the party? France knows nothing
of it. Is it not a monster which has emanated from the brain of the
enemy of France?

Repudiations have their value, especially if they come from men of
authority, and I shall bear invective with the fortitude to which all
men who wish to be happy though politicians should be hardened provided
I elicit denials which may render future international mischief
difficult.

But a further perusal of the evidence on which I based my statement has
served to deepen my apprehensions. What was the statement? Let me quote
the actual words I used:--


     "There was a strong party in France which urged M. Clemenceau to
     demand that the Rhine should be treated as the natural frontier
     of their country, and that advantage should be taken of the
     overwhelming defeat of Germany to extend the boundaries of France
     to that fateful river.

     "The most moderate and insidious form this demand took was a
     proposal that the German provinces on the left bank of the Rhine
     should remain in French occupation until the treaty had been
     fulfilled. That meant for ever. Reparations alone--skilfully
     handled by the Quai d'Orsay--would preclude the possibility of
     ever witnessing fulfilment.

     "The pact was designed to strengthen the hands of M. Clemenceau
     against the aggressive party which was then, and still is, anxious
     to commit France to the colossal error of annexing territory which
     has always been purely German."


What was the basis on which I made this assertion? It was thoroughly
well known to all those who were engaged in the operations of the Peace
conference. The Rhine was the background of all manoeuvre for weeks
and months. Whether the subject matter was the League of Nations, the
German fleet, or the status of Fiume, we knew that the real struggle
would come over the Rhine.

On one hand, How much would France demand? on the other, How much would
the Allies concede? There was a subconscious conflict about the Rhine
throughout the whole discussion, however irrelevant the topic under
actual consideration happened to be.

But unrecorded memories are of little use as testimony unless
corroborated by more tangible proofs. Do such proofs exist? I will
recall a few.

There was a party which considered the Rhine to be the only natural
frontier of France. It was a strong party, with a strong man as its
spokesman--in many ways the strongest in France--Marshal Foch. His
splendid services in the war gave him a position such as no soldier in
France or in any other country could command. The soldier who, by his
genius, leads a nation to victory, possesses a measure of influence on
the public opinion of the people he has saved from destruction such as
no other individual can aspire to--as long as his services are fresh in
the memory of his fellow-countrymen. That, I admit, is not very long.
Gratitude is like manna--it must be gathered and enjoyed quickly, for
its freshness soon disappears. But in the early months of 1919 Marshal
Foch was still sitting at the banquet table of popular favour enjoying
the full flavour of grateful recognition. His word on all questions
affecting the security and destiny of France was heard with a deference
which no other man in France could succeed in securing. He has also
a quality which is not usually an attribute of generalship: he is a
lucid, forceful and picturesque speaker. He was, therefore, listened
to for what he was, for what he said, and for the way he said it.

What did he say? He said a good deal on the subject of the Rhine
frontier and I cannot quote it all. I will take a few germane sentences
out of his numerous utterances on the subject. On the 19th day of
April, 1919, there appeared in the London _Times_ an interview with
Marshal Foch. From that interview I take these salient passages:--


     "'And now, having reached the Rhine, _we must stay there_,'
     went on the Marshal very emphatically. 'Impress that upon your
     fellow-countrymen. It is our only safety, their only safety. We
     must have a barrier. We must double-lock the door. Democracies
     like ours, which are never aggressive, must have strong _natural
     military frontiers_. Remember that those seventy millions
     of Germans will always be a menace to us. Do not trust the
     appearances of the moment. Their natural characteristics have not
     changed in four years. _Fifty years hence_ they will be what they
     are to-day.'

            *       *       *       *       *       *       *

     "From the table at the other end of the room Marshal Foch brought
     a great map, six or eight feet square, on which the natural
     features of this part of western Europe were marked. The Rhine
     was a thick line of blue. To the west of the river the Marshal
     had drawn in pencil a concave arc representing the new frontier
     that France will receive under the Peace treaty. It was clearly an
     arbitrary political boundary conforming to no natural feature of
     the land.

     "'Look at that,' said Marshal Foch. 'There is no natural obstacle
     along that frontier. Is it there that we can hold the Germans if
     they attack us again? No. Here! here! here!' and he tapped the
     blue Rhine with his pencil.

     "'Here we must be ready to face our enemies. This is a barrier
     which will take some crossing. If the Germans try to force a
     passage over the Rhine--ho! ho! But here'--touching the black
     pencilled line running north-west from Lorraine past the Saar
     valley to the Belgian frontier--'here there is nothing.'

            *       *       *       *       *       *       *

     "'No; if you are wise you insist on having your locks and your
     wall, and we must have our armies on the Rhine. Some people object
     that it will take many troops to hold the Rhine. Not so many as
     it would take to hold a political frontier. For the Rhine can be
     crossed only at certain places, whereas the new political frontier
     of France can be broken anywhere and would have to be held in
     force along its entire length.'"


He expounded his doctrine in greater detail in an official memorandum
which, as commander-in-chief of the Allied armies, he submitted to M.
Clemenceau:--


     "To stop the enterprises towards the west of this nation,
     everlastingly warlike, and covetous of the good things belonging
     to other people, only recently formed and pushed on to conquest
     by force regardless of all rights and by ways the most contrary
     to all law, seeking always the mastery of the world, _Nature has
     only made one barrier--the Rhine. This barrier must be forced on
     Germany. Henceforward the Rhine will be the western frontier of
     the Germanic peoples...._"


He repeated this demand in a subsequent memorandum. Many of us recall
his dramatic irruption into the placid arena of the Peace conference
in May, 1919, still brandishing the same theme.

It may be said that Marshal Foch is not and does not pretend to be a
statesman. He is only a great soldier. Nevertheless, his political
influence was so great that even in 1920 he overthrew the most powerful
statesman in France within a month of his triumphant return at the
polls with a huge supporting majority in the French Parliament. It
was Marshal Foch who, by his antagonism, was responsible for M.
Clemenceau's defeat at the presidential election of 1920. But for
Marshal Foch's intervention M. Clemenceau would have been to-day
president of the French republic.

Why was he beaten, at the height of his fame, by a candidate of
infinitely less prestige and power? The wrath of Marshal Foch and his
formidable following was excited against M. Clemenceau because the
latter had, under pressure from the Allies, gone back on the agreed
French policy about the Rhine. M. Tardieu, as is well known, was one of
the two most prominent ministers in M. Clemenceau's administration, and
closely associated with his chief in the framing of the Peace treaty.
He has written a book, and in that book he gives at length a document
which he handed to the Allies on March 12th, 1919, containing the
following proposal:--


     "In the general interest of peace and to assure the effective
     working of the constituent clause of the League of Nations, the
     western frontier of Germany is fixed at the Rhine. Consequently
     Germany renounces all sovereignty over, as well as any customs
     union with, the territories of the former German empire on the
     left bank of the Rhine."


There is a sardonic humour about the words "in the general interest of
peace and to assure the effective working of the constituent clause of
the League of Nations."

But it demonstrates that at that date M. Clemenceau and his minister
had become converts to the doctrine of the Rhine as the natural
boundary of Germany. American and British pressure subsequently induced
him to abandon this position and, as I said in a previous chapter, the
pact was part of the argument addressed to him. But the party of the
Rhine never forgave. Hence his failure to reach the presidential chair.
It was an honourable failure and will ever do him credit.

The reasons assigned for that defeat by the _Annual Register_,
1919-20--certainly not a partisan authority--prove that even an
unexcitable chronicler laboured then under the delusion--if it be
a delusion--which possessed me when I wrote the offending article.
Explaining the remarkable defeat the _Annual Register_ says:--


     " ... Clemenceau's supporters contended that the terms of the
     Treaty of Versailles were satisfactory from the French point
     of view; his opponents declared that he had given way too much
     to the American and British standpoints and that the peace was
     unsatisfactory, particularly in respect of the guarantees for the
     reparations due to France _and in the matter of the French eastern
     frontier. It will be remembered that a large body of French
     opinion had desired that France should secure the line of the
     Rhine as her eastern frontier._"


I can if necessary quote endless leading articles in French journals
and writings and speeches of French politicians. Men of such divergent
temperaments and accomplishments as M. Franklin Bouillon and M. Tardieu
gave countenance to this claim that Germany should be amputated at the
Rhine. One carried the theme along on the torrent of his clattering
lava and the other on the dome of an iceberg. Later on at the reception
of Marshal Foch when he was elected a member of the French Academy,
M. Poincaré, turning at one moment in his discourse to the Marshal,
said in reference to the veteran General's well-known attitude on the
Peace treaty, "Ah, Monsieur le Maréchal, if only your advice had been
listened to." Has he also gone back on an opinion so histrionically
expressed? Let us hope for the best.

I know it will be said that although the boundaries of Germany were to
end at the Rhine, the province on the left bank was not to be annexed,
but to be reconstituted into an "independent" republic. What manner of
independence and what kind of republic? All German officers were to be
expelled; it was to be detached by special provision from the economic
life of Germany upon which it is almost entirely dependent for its
existence. It was not to be allowed to associate with the fatherland.

The Rhine which divided the new territory from Germany was to be
occupied in the main by French troops: the territories of the
independent republic were to be occupied by foreign soldiers. Its young
men were to be conscripted and trained with a view to absorbing them
into French and Belgian armies to fight against their own countrymen on
the other side of the Rhine. The whole conditions of life in the "free
and independent republic" were to be dictated by an "accord" between
France, Luxemburg and Belgium, and, in the words of Marshal Foch,
"Britain would be ultimately brought in."

But I am told that these proposals did not mean annexation. Then what
else did they mean? You do not swallow the oyster. You only first give
it an independent existence by detaching it from its hard surroundings.
You then surround it on all sides and absorb it into your own system
to equip you with added strength to prey on other oysters! What
independence! And what a republic! It would have been and was intended
to be a sham republic. Had the plan been adopted it would have been a
blunder and a crime, for which not France alone but the world would
later on have paid the penalty.

In the face of these quotations and of these undoubted facts, can any
one say that I calumniated France when I said there was a powerful
party in that country which claimed that the Rhine should be treated
as the natural barrier of Germany, and that the Peace treaty should be
based upon that assumption?

Let it be observed that I never stated that this claim had the
support of the French democracy. The fact that the treaty, which did
not realise that objective, secured ratification by an overwhelming
majority in the French parliament and subsequently by an emphatic
verdict in the country, demonstrates clearly that the French people as
a whole shrank with their invincible good sense from following even
a lead they admired on to this path of future disaster. But the mere
fact that there are potent influences in France that still press this
demand, and take advantage of every disappointment to urge it forward,
calls for unremitting vigilance amongst all peoples who have the
welfare of humanity at heart.

In conclusion I should like to add that to denounce me as an enemy of
France because I disagree with the international policy of its present
rulers is a petulant absurdity.

During the whole of my public career I have been a consistent advocate
of co-operation between the French and British democracies. I took
that line when it was fashionable in this country to fawn on German
imperialism.

During the war I twice risked my premiership in the effort to place the
British army under the supreme command of a French general. To preserve
French friendship I have repeatedly given way to French demands, and
thus have often antagonised opinion in this country. But I cannot go to
the extent of approving a policy which is endangering the peace of the
world, even to please one section of a people for whose country I have
always entertained the most genuine affection.

_London, December 9th, 1922._



IX

WHAT IS FRANCE AFTER?

_3. The Paris Conference_


The third conference with M. Poincaré over reparations has ended, like
its two predecessors, in a complete breakdown.

The first was held in August, the second in December, and the third
fiasco has just been witnessed.

I congratulate Mr. Bonar Law on having the courage to face a double
failure rather than agree to a course of policy which would in the end
prove disappointing, and probably disastrous.

Agreement amongst allies is in itself a desirable objective for
statesmen to aim at, but an accord to commit their respective countries
to foolishness is worse than disagreement.

France and Britain must not quarrel, even if they cannot agree; but if
French ministers persist in the Poincaré policy, the companionship of
France and Britain over this question will be that of parallel lines
which never meet, even if they never conflict.

What is the object of this headstrong policy? Reparations?

There is no financier of repute, in any quarter of the globe, who
will agree that these methods will bring the Allies any contributions
towards their impoverished resources.

At the August conference all the experts were in accord on this
subject, but whilst these methods will produce no cash, they will
produce an unmistakable crash.

My recollections of the August discussions enable me to follow with
some understanding the rather confused reports which have so far
reached me here.[2]

It is common ground amongst all the Allies that Germany cannot under
present conditions pay her instalments.

It is common ground that she must be pressed to put her finances in
order, and by balancing her budget restore the efficiency of her
currency, so as to meet her obligations.

But M. Poincaré insisted that, as a condition of granting the
moratorium, pledges inside German territory should be seized by the
Allies.

These pledges consisted of customs already established, and of new
customs to be set up on the Rhine and around the Ruhr, so that no goods
should be permitted to pass from these German provinces into the rest
of Germany without the payment of heavy customs dues.

The other proposed pledges were the seizure of German forests, of
German mines, and of 60 per cent. of the shares in certain German
factories.

Mr. Bonar Law, judging by his official _communiqué_ after the breakdown
of the conference, seems to have raised the same objections to these
pledges as I put forward at the August conference.


     They would bring in nothing comparable to the cost of collection;

     They would provoke much disturbance and irritation and might lead
     to consequences of a very grave character.


In fact, these pledges are nothing but paper and provocation.

The customs barrier on the Rhine was tried once before, and was a
complete failure.

It was tried then as a sanction and not as a means of raising money.
For the former purpose it may have achieved some measure of success,
but from the point of view of collecting money it was a ludicrous
fiasco.

There are at the present moment hundreds of millions of paper marks
collected at these new tollhouses still locked up in the safe of the
Reparations Commission. They are admittedly worthless.

As long as these tolls lasted, they were vexatious; they interfered
with business; they dealt lightly with French luxuries working their
way into Germany, but laid a heavy hand on all useful commodities
necessary to the industry and life of the people.

They were ultimately withdrawn by consent. M. Poincaré now seeks to
revive them.

The seizure of German forests and mines will inevitably lead to even
more serious consequences. The allied control established in the far
interior of Germany would require protection.

Protection means military occupation in some shape or other.

Military occupation of these remote areas means incidents, and
incidents quickly ripen into more serious complications.

Hence the reluctance of the British government of which I was the head
to concur in this dangerous policy. Hence the refusal of Mr. Bonar
Law's government to accept the responsibility for sanctioning such a
policy. Even logically it is indefensible.

There are only two alternative points of view. One is that Germany
cannot pay under present conditions until her finances are restored,
and that a moratorium ought to be granted for a period which will
enable that financial restoration to mature. The second is that
Germany can pay, that she is only shamming insolvency, and that all
that you have to do is to apply the thumbscrew firmly and cash will be
forthcoming.

Logically I can understand either of these two alternatives, but I fail
to comprehend the reason for a proposal that will grant a moratorium
on the ground that Germany cannot pay, and at the same time apply the
thumbscrew until she pays.

I am glad the British Prime Minister has had the wisdom not to
associate himself with a policy which will bring inevitable discredit
upon those who share the responsibility of enforcing it.

Meanwhile, the prospects of Europe's recovery are once more to be
retarded by the vain stubbornness of some of her rulers.

_Ronda (Spain), January 6th, 1923._

FOOTNOTE:

[2] This chapter was written at Ronda (Spain).



X

REPARATIONS


What is the reparations problem? Why does it appear to be further from
solution than ever?

The great public in all lands are perplexed and worried by its
disturbing insolubility. It keeps them wondering what may happen next,
and that is never good for a nerve-ridden subject like postwar Europe.

The real trouble is not in solving the problem itself, but in
satisfying the public opinion which surrounds it. I do not mean to
suggest that it is an easy matter to ascertain what payments Germany
can make, or for Germany to pay and keep paying these sums once they
have been ascertained. But if the difficulty were purely financial it
could be overcome. The heart of the problem lies in the impossibility
at present of convincing the expectant, indignant, hard-hit and heavily
burdened people of France that the sums so fixed represent all that
Germany is capable of paying.

The question of compelling a country to pay across its frontiers huge
sums convertible into the currency of other countries is a new one.
At first it was too readily taken for granted that a wealth which
could bear a war debt of £8,000,000,000 could surely afford to bear an
indemnity of £6,000,000,000 provided that this smaller sum were made a
first charge on the national revenues; and it took time for the average
mind to appreciate the fundamental difference between payment inside
and transmission outside a country.

When I think of the estimates framed in 1919 by experts of high
intelligence and trained experience as to Germany's capacity to pay
cash over the border I am not disposed to complain of the impatience
displayed by French taxpayers at the efforts made at successive
conferences to hew down those sanguine estimates to feasible
dimensions. I am content to point with pride to the fact that the
common sense of the more heavily burdened British taxpayer has long ago
taught him to cut his loss and keep his temper. When his example is
followed all round, the reparations question is already solved.

When public opinion in all the Allied countries has subsided into
sanity on German reparations, as it already has in Britain, financiers
can soon find a way out, and trade and commerce will no longer be
scared periodically from their desks by the seismic shocks given to
credit every time a French minister ascends the tribune to make a
statement on reparations.

Regarding the payment of reparations solely from the point of view of
finance, the issues can be stated simply, and I think solved readily.

It is always assumed by those who have never read the Treaty of
Versailles, and the letter that accompanied it, that this much-abused
and little-perused document fixed a fabulous indemnity for payment by
Germany. The treaty may have its defects; that is not one of them, for
it fixed no sum for payment, either great or small.

It stipulated that a reparations commission should be set up in order,
_inter alia_, to assess the damage inflicted by Germany on Allied
property and the compensation for injury to life and limb in Allied
countries.

In the second place--and this is also overlooked--it was to ascertain
how much of that claim Germany was capable of paying. On both these
questions Germany is entitled to be heard before adjudication.

It is in accordance with all jurisprudence that as Germany was the
aggressor and the loser she should pay the costs. But it would be not
only oppressive but foolish to urge payment beyond her capacity.

The amount of damage was to be ascertained and assessed by May, 1921.
Capacity was to be then determined and revised from time to time,
according to the varying conditions. Even so fair a controversialist
as the eminent Italian statesman Signor Nitti has ignored the latter
provision in the Versailles treaty. No wonder that he should, for there
are multitudes who treat every alteration in the annuities fixed in
May, 1921, as if it were a departure from the Treaty of Versailles
to the detriment of the victors; whereas every modification made was
effected under the provisions and by the machinery incorporated in the
treaty for that express purpose.

But there has undoubtedly been a departure from the treaty--a
fundamental departure. It has, however, been entirely to the detriment
of the vanquished. In what respect? I propose to explain, for the
whole trouble has arisen from this change in the treaty. The treaty
provided that the body to be set up for deciding the amount to be paid
in respect of reparations should consist of a representative each of
the United States of America, the British Empire, France, Italy, and
Belgium.

With the exception of the United States of America, all these powers
are pecuniarily interested in the verdict. At best it was therefore
on the face of it not a very impartial tribunal. Still, Britain, as a
great trading community, was more interested in a settlement than in a
few millions more or less of indemnity wrung out of Germany; and Italy
also was a country which had large business dealings with Germany and
would not therefore be tempted to take a violently anti-German view on
the commission. The presence therefore of the United States of America,
Britain and Italy together on the commission constituted a guarantee
for moderation of view.

Now the only disinterested party has retired from the tribunal. The
most interested party is in the chair, with a casting vote on certain
questions. That is not the treaty signed by Germany.

If you sign an agreement to pay a sum to be awarded by A, B, C, D, and
E, trusting for a fair hearing largely to the influence of A, who is
not only very powerful but who is the only completely disinterested
referee and A then retires from the board of arbitrators, you are
entitled to claim that the character of the agreement is changed. The
representatives of France and Belgium on the Reparations Commission are
honourable men who are most anxious to do justice, but they are watched
by a jealous, vigilant and exacting opinion constantly ready to find
fault with concession and to overpower moderating judgment.

The balance of the treaty has therefore been entirely upset. What is
really needed is to restore that balance so as to secure a fair verdict
on the only question in issue--how much Germany can pay.

When you come to consider that issue you must view the claim for
reparations as you would any ordinary debt. You must make up your mind
whether you wish to ruin the debtor or to recover the cash. If there
are no sufficient realisable assets, then, if you want your money, you
must keep your debtor alive. If you want beef from your cow you must
forgo the milk. If your object is to destroy your debtor, you press
for payment of more than he can be reasonably expected to pay, and
then seize his house, his lands, and his chattels, whether they can be
disposed of or not.

On the other hand, if you want your money, you will find out what he
can pay, and then proceed judiciously, patiently, and firmly to recover
that amount. By that I do not mean what he can pay by condemning
himself to a life of servitude and poverty. No brave nation will
stand that long. That is not a method of recovering an old debt, but
of creating a new one. I mean, what a nation can be expected to pay
steadily without revolt for a whole generation.

If you scrape the butter from the bread of every German child for
thirty years you may add to the sum of your indemnity a milliard or
two of gold marks. That is not what was intended by the Treaty of
Versailles. Hungry faces make angry hearts, and the anger spreads
further than the hunger. I mean, what Germany can pay without
condemning a generation of workers to Egyptian bondage, and their
children to semi-starvation. Every oppression, if persisted in,
ultimately ends in the ruin of the Red Sea for the oppressors. Europe
has only just escaped with great loss from its waters. We do not want
to be overwhelmed in another.

How are you to arrive at the exact figure of the annuities Germany
can reasonably be expected to pay without creating these intolerable
conditions for her people? That is the question. The answer was given
in the treaty as signed: by setting up a commission to inquire and
determine. That commission has been weakened, and its character almost
destroyed by the defection of the United States of America.

Is it possible to find a substitute? I am afraid a reference of that
question to a new committee of experts would not advance matters, for
each country would demand a representative on that committee, and that
would only mean the Reparations Commission over again under another
name.

The only hope of a fair and final decision is to secure the presence of
a representative of the United States of America on the adjudicating
body, whatever it may be. Is that impossible?

I need hardly say that I am not venturing to express any opinion as to
the American refusal to ratify the treaty as a whole. I am only stating
quite frankly my view that, unless America takes a hand in reparations,
real settlement will be postponed until the hour of irreparable
mischief strikes. If for reasons of which I am not competent to judge
America cannot occupy her vacant chair on the tribunal which may decide
fateful issues for humanity, I despair of any real progress being made.

Allied ministers can accept from a body representing the leading
powers who won the war decisions they dare not take on their own
responsibility. That is the essence of the matter. It is no use blaming
politicians. If they of their own initiative attempt to ride down
public sentiment, which alone confers authority upon them, they will
inevitably fail. In every country there are plenty of itching partisans
ready to take advantage of tactical blunders committed by political
opponents or personal rivals. But the judgment of an international
tribunal is another matter, and statesmen can accept it and act upon it
without being taxed with responsibility for its conclusions.

British opinion cannot and will not accept a settlement based on the
assumption that abatements in the sum claimed for reparations, if and
when made, must be discounted by the British taxpayer alone.

France undoubtedly suffered more severely from the ravages of war
than any other belligerent. But that is recognised in the proportion
allocated to her of the reparations payments. She is to be paid 52 per
cent. of the total, _i. e._, more than all the other Allied countries
put together.

Britain comes next in the damage sustained by her people, and she is
given 22 per cent. In many respects she has suffered more heavily than
any other Allied country, especially in taxation and in trade. She is
willing to stand in with the Allies for loss as well as for profit, but
she will resent bitterly the suggestion that the loss must necessarily
be her share, whilst such profit as there is belongs to others.

The American people, who receive no part of the compensation awarded
and collected, will _a fortiori_ take the same view of their
obligations in the matter. They certainly will not see the force of a
settlement to be made at their expense, as if they had been condemned
to pay an indemnity.

The question is not what remission or indulgence shall be granted to
Germany, but what payment she is capable of making. If Germany can pay
a large indemnity France gets 52 per cent. of that, and Britain only
22 per cent. If Germany can only make a disappointing payment, France
still gets 52 per cent. and Britain 22 per cent. There is, therefore,
no ground for debiting Britain and America with the cost of reduced
expectations.

The offer to hand over the worthless "C" bonds to the British Empire in
return for her claims is an insult to the intelligence of the British
public. Let us get away from these shifts on to the straight road. Back
to the treaty--that is the real remedy. There is no need to revise
it--all that is required is to restore it.

If America reappears on the arbitrating tribunal she need not accept
the rest of the treaty. Then a fair and enduring settlement would soon
ensue, this irritating sore would rapidly heal, and the condition of
the world would steadily improve.

_Algeciras, January 1st, 1923._



XI

MR. HUGHES'S NEW HAVEN SPEECH


The preceding chapter was written at Algeciras on January 2nd, 1923.
On January 3rd there appeared in the Spanish papers a compressed
report of the speech delivered by the American Secretary of State, Mr.
Hughes, at New Haven. It made suggestions on the subject of reparations
which were obviously intended for consideration at the forthcoming
Paris conference. I knew the chairman of that conference, M. Poincaré,
would not be too anxious to bring these proposals to the notice of his
colleagues, but I had some hope that the British, Italian, and Belgian
premiers might do so. I therefore cabled the following message to the
British and American press:--


     "I have read with gladness Secretary Hughes's important speech.
     As far as I can judge from compressed report appearing in the
     local paper of this remote corner of Spain his suggestions and
     mine travel in same direction. Earnestly hope Paris conference
     will give American proposals priority of consideration. All other
     expedients will but postpone mischief which will in the end have
     to be redeemed with compound interest at usurious rates by an
     embarrassed Europe."


I constantly refer to this speech in subsequent articles, and as it has
been suggested that the interpretation I placed on it is not borne out
by the text, I append the full report which appeared in _The Times_ of
December 30th, 1922:--


     "Mr. Hughes, the Secretary of State, in a speech which he
     delivered before the American Historical Association at New Haven,
     Connecticut, to-night lifted yet another corner of the veil which
     has shrouded the immediate plans of the United States government.
     Much of his address concerned the Washington conference of 1921,
     but it ended with a discussion of economic conditions in Europe
     which are of prime importance.

     "Mr. Hughes began with the admission that 'we cannot dispose
     of these problems by calling them European, for they are world
     problems, and we cannot escape the injurious consequences of
     failure to settle them.' They were, however, European problems in
     the sense that they cannot be solved without the consent of the
     European governments, and the _crux_ of the situation lay in the
     settlement of reparations. 'There will be no adjustment of other
     needs, however pressing, until a definite and accepted basis for
     the discharge of reparations claims has been fixed. It is futile
     to attempt to erect any economic structure in Europe until the
     foundation is laid.'

     "Then followed a passage referring to the attempts to link up the
     debts owed to the United States with the question of reparations
     or with projects of cancellation, attempts which had been steadily
     resisted. It led up to a discussion of the attitude of the United
     States towards reparations, 'standing, as it does, a distinct
     question, and as one which cannot be settled unless the European
     governments concerned are able to agree.' First came a denial that
     America desired to see Germany relieved of her responsibility
     for the war, or of her just obligations, or that America wished
     that France should lose 'any part of her just claims.' On the
     other hand, America did not wish to see a prostrate Germany. Some
     Americans had suggested that the United States should assume the
     _rôle_ of arbitrator, but Mr. Hughes did not think 'we should
     assume such a burden of responsibility.'

     "From this point the speech deserves quotation in full:

     "'But the situation,' said Mr. Hughes, 'does call for a settlement
     upon its merits. The first condition of a satisfactory settlement
     is that the question should be taken out of politics. Statesmen,
     have their difficulties, their public opinion, the exigencies they
     must face. It is devoutly to be hoped that they will effect a
     settlement among themselves, and that the coming meeting in Paris
     will find a solution. But if it does not, what should be done?

     "'The alternative of forcible measures to obtain reparations is
     not an attractive one. No one can foretell the extent of the
     serious consequences which might ensue from such a course. Apart
     from political results, I believe that the opinion of experts
     is that such measures will not produce reparation payments, but
     might tend to destroy the basis of those payments, which must be
     found in economic recuperation. If, however, statesmen cannot
     agree, and such an alternative is faced, what can be done? Is
     there not another way out? The fundamental condition is that in
     this critical moment the merits of the question as an economic
     one must alone be regarded. Sentiment, however natural, must be
     disregarded; mutual recriminations are of no avail; reviews of the
     past, whether accurate or inaccurate, promise nothing; assertions
     of blame on the one hand and excuses on the other come to naught.

     "'There ought to be a way for statesmen to agree upon what Germany
     can pay, for no matter what claims may be made against her that is
     the limit of satisfaction. There ought to be a way to determine
     that limit and to provide a financial plan by which immediate
     results can be obtained and European nations can feel that the
     foundations have been laid for their mutual and earnest endeavours
     to bring about the utmost prosperity to which the industry of
     their people entitles them.

     "'If statesmen cannot agree and the exigencies of public opinion
     make their course difficult, then there should be called to their
     aid those who can point the way to a solution.

     "'Why should they not invite men of the highest authority in
     finance in their respective countries--men of such prestige,
     experience, and honour that their agreement upon the amount to
     be paid and upon the financial plan for working out payments
     would be accepted throughout the world as the most authoritative
     expression obtainable? The governments need not bind themselves
     in advance to accept the recommendations, but they can at least
     make possible such an inquiry with their approval and free the
     men who may represent their country in such a commission from
     any responsibility to foreign offices and from any duty to obey
     political instructions.

     "'In other words, they may invite an answer to this difficult
     question from men of such standing and in such circumstances of
     freedom as will ensure a reply prompted only by knowledge and
     conscience. I have no doubt that distinguished Americans would
     be willing to serve on such a commission. If the governments saw
     fit to reject the recommendation upon which such a body agreed
     they would be free to do so, but they would have the advantage
     of impartial advice and of an enlightened public opinion. The
     peoples would be informed that the question would be rescued from
     assertion and counter-assertion and the problem put upon its way
     to solution.

     "'I do not believe that any general conference would answer the
     purpose better, much less that any political conference would
     accomplish a result which prime ministers find it impossible to
     reach. But I do believe that a small group, given proper freedom
     of action, would be able soon to devise a proper plan. It would be
     time enough to consider forcible measures after such opportunity
     had been exhausted.'

     "Mr. Hughes's closing words were:

     "'There lies the open broad avenue of opportunity, if those whose
     voluntary action is indispensable are willing to take advantage
     of it. And once this is done, the avenues of American helpfulness
     cannot fail to open hopefully.'"


The argument developed by Mr. Hughes in this speech is identical with
that upon which I based my appeal in the previous chapter for an
impartial investigation into Germany's capacity, and he concludes with
a proposal which is in effect identical with mine. He does not state
categorically that the American government would be prepared to be
officially represented on the commission. But when he says, "I have
no doubt that distinguished Americans would be willing to serve on
such a commission," it means that the government would be indirectly
represented. The Allied governments would certainly have consulted the
government of the U.S.A. as to the American representative nominated
to sit on the commission, and no American expert would be appointed
without full assurance that he was acceptable to the government of his
country.

It is a misfortune that such important proposals should have been put
forward so timorously that those who wished to ignore them could easily
pretend they had never heard them made. Speeches delivered even by
Secretaries of State at an academic function in a small provincial town
might very well be overlooked in foreign chancelleries, whose postbags
bulge with weighty despatches from many lands, without any suggestion
of studied neglect. It was clear from Mr. Bonar Law's subsequent
attitude in the course of the debate in the House of Commons on the
Ruhr invasion that he at any rate had not seen Mr. Hughes's New Haven
deliverance. Timid diplomatic flutterings make no impression in a great
situation, and so lead to nothing. This is an excellent example of how
not to speak if you wish to be heard, and of how to speak if you have
no desire to be heeded.

_London, July 4th, 1923._



XII

THE FRENCH INVASION OF THE RUHR


France has once more jumped on the prostrate form of Germany, and
the sabots have come down with a thud that will sicken the hearts of
multitudes on both sides of the Atlantic whose friendship for France
stood the losses and griefs of a four years' war.

Germany having been overthrown and disarmed after a prodigious effort,
involving a strain upon the combined strength of America, Italy, and
the whole British Empire, as well as France, and her arms bound with
the thongs of a stern treaty, the process of dancing upon her while she
is down can at any time now be performed with complete impunity by any
one of these powers alone.

The spectacle every time it is repeated, provides much satisfaction to
those who indulge in the barren delights of revenging the memory of
past wrongs. There is no doubt some joy for the unsportsmanlike mind
in kicking a helpless giant who once maltreated you and who, but for
the assistance of powerful neighbours, would have done so a second time.

But what good will it bring devastated France or her overtaxed Allies?
The additional coal and timber that will be wrung out of Germany will
barely cover the direct cost of collection. Although Germany bears the
extra cost, the expense of these punitive measures must all in the end
diminish the means of reparation, and therefore fall on the victor.

How many students of the problem of reparations have ever taken the
trouble to ascertain the extent to which the maintenance of Allied
armies of occupation has already drained the resources of Germany?
Between direct cash payments, the cost of supplies, and outlay in
labour and material for building huge barracks, these armies have
already cost Germany 6,000,000,000 gold marks--roughly 1,200,000,000
dollars, or over £300,000,000.

How much better it would have been if most of this money had gone
towards rebuilding the devastated area!

It is not without significance, now that war is being waged against
Germany for what the American representative in Paris termed her
technical default, to recollect that, between the expense of the army
of occupation and contributions already made towards reparations,
Germany has already paid to the Allies over three times the amount of
the total indemnity exacted by Bismarck in 1871.

This is without making any allowance for the vast and highly developed
colonies which she surrendered. Let, therefore, no one approach this
problem as if he were dealing with a recalcitrant country that is
deliberately refusing to acknowledge any of her obligations under a
treaty which she has signed.

The costs of the last war are acknowledged to be irrecoverable. It is
difficult enough to find the means for payment of damages. Who will pay
the growing cost of this new war?

So far I have referred only to the direct outlay upon these aggressive
measures. The indirect cost to victor and vanquished alike will be
crushing.

It is already accumulating. The mere threat has depreciated the value
of the franc, and thus reduced its purchasing capacity abroad. This
loss must be borne by the French consumer. There may be a rally; but I
shall be surprised if the improvement is more than temporary.

All that is obvious for the moment to the untrained eye is the way in
which the mark is dragging the French and Belgian franc slowly along
its own downward course.

As the distance between them lengthens and the invisible cord which
ties them together becomes more and more attenuated, it may ultimately
snap and the franc be released from this dangerous association. That I
doubt, for a bankrupt Germany means a country to which even the most
hopeful cannot look as a means of redeeming French deficits.

Once that is clear to the French peasant he will not so readily part
with his savings, and the real difficulties of French finance will
begin at that stage. A policy, therefore, which demoralises the German
currency is one which is also fatal to the solvency of French finance.

Let us follow the probable sequence of events. The terrified German
mark is rushing headlong to the bottom of the pit where the Austrian
krone is already lost beyond rescue.

As long as reparation coal is dug out by bayonets, and reparation
timber is cut down by swords, it is idle to talk of restoring the mark
by putting German finance in order.

No tariff, however nimble, can keep pace with the runaway mark. It
would baffle the most resourceful finance minister to adapt his budget
to a currency which disappears beyond the horizon while he is sitting
at his desk to pen his proposals.

If the mere threat of force has produced such a panic, what will be the
effect of the actual measures? It is safe to predict that the advance
of French troops into Germany will not restore the composure of the
frightened mark and arrest its flight.

What, then, becomes of the hope of renewed payments of the annuity? At
best Germany could only be expected to pay when her foreign trade was
so improved that she could provide a margin out of her exports with
which to pay her annuities. Her foreign trade is largely dependent
upon her foreign exchanges. These are now destroyed beyond prospect of
recovery for years.

Britain proposed a voluntary moratorium for a short term of years in
order to place Germany in a position where she could at the end of that
term pay a reasonable annuity. The French government have in effect
substituted a compulsory moratorium for an indefinite period with no
prospect of payment in sight.

The only chance of securing an early instalment of reparation payments
was by pressing Germany to put her finances in order and giving her
fair time in which to do so. The only chance of negotiating a loan
on German security to assist France to pay for the repair of her
devastated provinces, and to enable her to put her own finances in
order, was by restoring the stability of German currency.

French statesmen have deliberately thrown both these chances away. The
effect on the value of their own currency must be grave, and Frenchmen
will have to pay in increased cost of living for a venture dictated by
short-sighted and short-tempered statesmanship.

When one thinks of the consequences one is driven to ask whether French
politicians are really seeking reparations or are pursuing another
purpose quite incompatible with the recovery of money payments under
the treaty.

This is the wrong road to reparations. It leads in exactly the opposite
direction.

Whither, then, does it lead? There is no doubt that its effect will
be ruinous as far as German industry is concerned. I have already
dealt with its disastrous influence upon German currency, and with the
indirect effect of a rapidly depreciating currency upon German foreign
trade. The seizure of the Ruhr mines will have another serious effect.

Even now the result of the compulsory alienation of so much of
Germany's coal supply in the Ruhr, in Silesia, and the Saar, from
German industry, has diminished German productiveness. The fuel
deficiency thereby created inside Germany has been partially supplied
by purchases of coal from outside sources. The necessity for providing
gold to pay for foreign coal has added considerably to Germany's
financial difficulties.

A still larger foreign purchase will be the inevitable result of the
forcible diversion of large quantities of Ruhr coal to France and
Italy, with further financial embarrassments as a consequence.

That is bad enough. But I fear worse. Will the German miner work with
the same regularity and efficiency for a foreign master as he does for
a German employer? Is there the least possibility of the production
being maintained at its present level?

The influence of this added muddle on world trade is incalculable.
Nobody gains; everybody is a loser by the move. How is a Germany whose
embarrassed finances are made still more involved--how is a Germany
whose industry becomes more and more difficult--how is a Germany
reduced to despair to be of the slightest use to France, Belgium,
Italy, or anybody else?

The feather-headed scribes who have advocated this rash policy assume
that France will be helped because Germany will thus be reduced to
impotence. For how long?

The disintegration of Germany is not an unlikely consequence of this
move. I know that is the expectation. Frenchmen still hanker after
the days when Saxons and Bavarians and Wurtembergers were allies, and
almost vassals, of France against Prussia. It was the lure that led the
Third Napoleon to his ruin. It is the attraction which is now drawing
France once more to a sure doom. The policy will bring no security to
France in the future. It deprives her of all hope of reparations in the
immediate present. There will no longer be a Germany to pay. It would
be too hopeless a task to attempt recovery from each of the severed
states.

But what of increased security? Nothing can keep Germans permanently
apart. They will, at the suitable moment reunite under more favourable
conditions, freed from external as well as internal debt. France will
have lost her reparations and only retained the hatred of an implacable
foe become more redoubtable than ever.

How would Europe have fared in the interval whilst France was learning
from events what every other country can see now? There is no knowing
what will happen when a brave people of 60,000,000 find themselves
faced with utter ruin. Whether they turn to the left or to the right
will depend on questions of personal leadership, which are not yet
determined. All we can be sure of is that they can hardly go on as they
are, maintaining an honest struggle for ordered freedom and democratic
self-government. The French proclamation, with its threat of "severest
measures in case of recalcitrancy," is ominous of much that may happen.
No people accustomed to national independence have ever been able long
to tolerate a foreign yoke.

Chancellor Cuno's action is the first manifestation of the spirit of
revolt. It will certainly grow in intensity. The lash will then fall,
sooner or later, and Germany will be inevitably driven to desperate
courses. A Communist Germany would infect Europe. European vitality
is so lowered by exhaustion that it is in no condition to resist the
plague. Would a reactionary Germany be much better--brooding and
scheming vengeance?

Russia, with her incalculable resources of men and material, is at
hand, needing all that Germany can best give and best spare. The
Bolshevik leaders only require what Germany is so well fitted to supply
in order to reorganise their country and convert it into the most
formidable state in Europe or Asia.

Nations hard pressed on the East have in the past moved forward
irresistibly to the West. In obedience to the same law a people hard
pressed on the West will look to the East.

When the French troops marched on Essen they began a movement the most
far-reaching, and probably the most sinister in its consequences, that
has been witnessed for many centuries in Europe. And these are the
people who, after fifty years of patient and laborious waiting, have
demonstrated to the world in 1918 the stupidity of abusing victory in
1871.

If the teacher so soon forgets his own special lesson the pupil is not
likely to remember when fury overcomes terror.

_Algeciras, January 15th, 1923._



XIII

LOST OPPORTUNITIES


The French government, having conspicuously failed to win its
anticipated coup, is doubling the stakes each time it loses. When will
it end? And where will it end? It is ill gambling with human passions.
They are all engaged in this wild venture--on both sides of the
table. Pride, greed, vanity, obstinacy, temper, combativeness, racial
antagonisms, but also patriotism, love of justice, hatred of wrong and
high courage. Each side draws from the same arsenal of fiery human
emotions. Unless some one steps in to induce a halt I fear the result
will be devastating.

France has now abandoned all hope of being able to run the mines,
railways, and workshops of the Ruhr by military agencies. In these
days you cannot shoot every worker who fails to excavate so many
hundredweights of coal per diem, or who refuses to fill a wagon or
drive a locomotive when and by whomsoever he is told to do so. France
cannot provide the necessary complement of miners and railwaymen from
outside to fill vacancies created by sulky workers. And even if she
could it would take many months ere they become sufficiently accustomed
to their new conditions to work without peril to themselves. So a
new policy has been improvised. It is nothing less than the siege of
Germany. Sixty millions of Germans are to be starved into surrender.
That is a long business, as every one knows who has been engaged on
the difficult operations of strike breaking. We have often witnessed
workers with little support or sympathy from the rest of the community
hold out for weeks after their funds have been exhausted. In Germany
all classes are united in resistance. The national pride fortifies
endurance and incites to sacrifice. And the ports are still open.
Meanwhile incidents may happen, developments may occur which will
create a situation that will baffle all the resources the invaders can
command.

It is very little use looking backward. But there are many who are
disposed to say that the invasion of the Ruhr was bound to come and
the sooner the safer. The Ruhr coal mines were the wild oats of
reparation. Get it over quickly. The headache will bring repentance
and France will then settle down to a quiet life. That is the argument.
I must enter an emphatic protest against this view. If this ill-judged
enterprise had been put off for a few more months I do not believe
any French government would have embarked upon it. There is no French
statesman of any standing who, in his heart, believes in its wisdom.
Now that the credit of France is involved in its success they will all
support it. But French opinion, as a whole, was moving with startling
rapidity from this policy. The Parisian pulse was still feverish,
but the provinces had completely calmed down. Vacancies occurring in
the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies and the provincial assemblies
during several months have afforded an opportunity of testing real
French opinion and the results have been sensational. At election
after election, fought in typical constituencies all over France, the
champions of Ruhrism have been beaten by emphatic majorities. Masses of
French workmen have always opposed this policy. The peasant in every
land always moves slowly. But there can be no doubt that the French
peasant has had enough of military adventures. His sons were never
numbered amongst the "exempts," and the losses in the peasant homes
of France were appalling. Driving through the villages in agricultural
France you find yourself asking, "Where are the young men?" The answer
invariably comes, "This village suffered severely in the war." You
will receive the same answer in the next village, and the next. We
cannot wonder, therefore, that by-elections in rural as well as in
urban France display an unmistakable weariness of plans which involve
the marching of armed Frenchmen into hostile territory. The sorrowing
people of France have good reason to shrink from any course of action
that leads to further shedding of blood.

For these reasons I have steadily favoured every scheme that had the
effect of postponing decision as to the Ruhr. Delay meant ultimate
defeat for the Chauvinists. That is why they strove so hard to rush
their government into this precipitate action. The abrupt termination
of the Paris conference was their opportunity and they seized it with
tingling fingers. Until then there had never been a clean break on
which violence could be founded. The friends of moderation both here
and on the continent had seen to that. There had been reference of
questions for the scrutiny of experts and calming adjournments to
await their report. When it arrived there were endless suggestions and
counter-suggestions to meet difficulties. In the end Europe was saved
from the catastrophe of once more handing over its destinies to the
guidance of blind force. Unhappily, weariness or impatience induced
the Paris negotiators in a few hours to drop the reins which had for
at least four years held the furies from dashing along their career of
destruction. There were many alternative plans that might have been
discussed. There was the proposal to refer the whole question to the
League of Nations. It is true that when I suggested it in August last
M. Poincaré summarily rejected it. But the Allies also rejected M.
Poincaré's proposals by a majority of four to one at that conference.
That did not prevent his repeating them in January--and this time he
succeeded in winning over the majority to his view. A little more
persistence and less pessimism might have persuaded Belgium, Italy and
Japan to aid our appeals to France to trust rather to the League of
Nations than to the uncertainties of war.

What is still more inexplicable is the failure of the conference to
take any note of Mr. Secretary Hughes's New Haven speech. Neglected
opportunities litter the path of this troublesome question. There
were the Cannes conversations, broken off just as they were reaching
fruition. Had they been continued another week they would have ended in
a helpful settlement which would have brought reparations to France,
confidence to Germany, and peace to Europe. They struck on one of the
many sunken reefs which bestrew the French political seas, and it will
not surprise me to find that the whole cargo of reparations disappeared
then beyond salvage into the deep with these shipwrecked negotiations.

Again, Germany threw away a great opportunity at Genoa when all
the nations of Europe came together for the first time to discuss
their troubles in the spirit of equality and amity. It is true that
reparations were excluded at the instance of France from the programme
of the conference. But the spirit engendered by a friendly settlement
of all other outstanding questions would have rendered a reasonable
and temperate consideration of reparations inevitable. Germany, by its
foolish staging of its Russian agreement, made all that impossible.
Resentment and suspicion were once more equipped with a scourge and
they used it relentlessly to drive out all goodwill for Germany from
the purlieus of that great congress. Another lost opportunity.

Then there was the bankers' committee, appointed to consider the
question of raising an international loan to help France to finance
the repair of her devastated area and also to assist Germany to
restore her demoralised currency. I remember how eager poor Rathenau
was to float that loan and how sanguine he was that it would succeed.
He was confident that the German nationals who have invested their
gold in other lands could be induced to subscribe heavily to the
loan. The bankers concerned--all were of the highest reputation in
the financial world--were confident that if German reparations were
fixed at a reasonable sum investors throughout the world would gladly
put their money into a great international loan which would help to
restore Europe. The French government testily declined to consider
the essential conditions indicated by the bankers. Another lost
opportunity, and Europe once more lumbered along its dreary way to seek
another.

It came with Mr. Hughes's famous speech. It was clearly the result
of prolonged consideration. For weeks there had been rumours of
much consultation in Washington on the state of Europe, and we were
encouraged to hope that America meant business. The result was Mr.
Secretary Hughes's offer. It was made four days before the Paris
conference and was obviously intended to be discussed by the Allies
there. An endeavour has been made to minimise the importance of this
American approach to Europe, but it is incomprehensible to me how so
momentous a pronouncement has been treated as if it were merely the
casual utterance of a politician who had to find some topic of more or
less interest with which to illuminate a discourse. Another opportunity
lost--perhaps the greatest--perhaps the last. Never has luck striven so
hard to save stupidity. But luck loses its temper easily and then it is
apt to hit hard.

_London, February 15th, 1923._



XIV

FRENCH SCHEMES


"French troops occupying fresh German territory." "Further advance into
Germany." "Reinforcements." "French cut off the British bridgehead on
the Rhine." "Proposals for new coinage in the Ruhr." What is it all
leading to? Is it really reparations? Signor Nitti, who has made a
thorough study of all the documents bearing on French designs against
Germany, has come definitely to the conclusion that these measures
have no reference to the recovery of damages for the devastated area,
but that they are all taken in the execution of a vast project for
securing French control over all the coal and iron of continental
Europe. He supplies chapter and verse for his theory. Something has
undoubtedly roused the suspicions of Signor Mussolini. They come rather
late in the day to be effective. He naturally does not relish the idea
of an Italy whose coal and steel supplies are placed at the mercy of
a gigantic trust directed from Paris. Italy has no coal and iron of
her own. Her interest is, therefore, in a free market. Hence Signor
Mussolini's alarm. Is there any ground for it? Let those who imagine
that Italian statesmen are unnecessarily disturbed read the discussions
in the French press leading up to the speeches recently delivered by M.
Millerand, M. Barthou, and M. Poincaré.

With regard to M. Barthou's intervention, I feel I must, as one of
the founders of the Reparations Commission, say a word. There were
important questions of amount, method, and time which could not be
determined before the signature of the peace treaty and could not be
settled at all without giving Germany a full opportunity of being
heard. Hence the appointment of the Reparations Commission. It was
called into existence to settle these questions after hearing evidence
and deliberating on its effect. Of this commission M. Barthou is now
chairman. He, therefore, presides over a body which has committed
to its charge judicial functions of a momentous character. He has
to adjudicate from time to time on the case presented by Germany
under a multitude of different heads. Inflammatory speeches on the
very subjects upon which he has to preserve judicial calm are quite
incompatible with his position. When he occupied the same post M.
Poincaré ultimately recognised that he could not continue to write
controversial articles on questions which might come before him
for decision as a judge. He, therefore, very properly resigned his
commissionership.

But to revert to the speeches delivered by these eminent statesmen.
If they mean what the actual words convey, then France means to stick
to the Ruhr. Not by way of annexation. Oh, no. That, according to M.
Barthou, is a "foolish, mendacious and stupid" lie. But France means
to hang on to the _gages_ until reparation is paid. What are the
_gages_? The industries of the Ruhr. If the French government is to
control the industries which represent the life of this prosperous
area for thirty years it assumes greater authority over the district
than it exercises over the mining area of the Pas de Calais. In its
own mining districts no government takes upon itself--except during a
war--to give directions as to the destination and distribution of the
coal produced. But there are indications that the control over the Ruhr
industries is to be of a much more far-reaching character than this.
And this is where the hints--broad hints--thrown out by the French
press come in. France, in order to secure the payment of the reparation
instalments in future, is to be given shares in these great mines and
industries. What proportion of shares? Amongst the _gages_ demanded by
M. Poincaré in August of last year were sixty per cent. of the shares
in certain pivotal German industries in the Rhine area. Now the Ruhr
industries are clearly to be included within the scope of the demand.
France has the iron ore of Lorraine and the coal of the Saar valley.
Her financiers have been engaged in buying up coal mines in Silesia. If
she can secure the controlling interest in the Ruhr mines and Belgium
and Poland can be persuaded to join in the deal, then the continent of
Europe will be at the mercy of this immense coal and iron combine.

I said in the previous chapter that the ports were still open. As long
as they are, Central Europe can protect itself to a certain extent
against this gigantic trust, for the products of Britain and America
will be available. But that possibility is to be provided against.
Nothing is to be left to chance. One of the _gages_ is to be control
over German customs. How can Germany balance her budget without a
revenue? How can she raise a revenue without a tariff? What more
productive tariff than a duty on foreign coal and metal manufactures?
And thus all competitive products will be excluded from the German
markets. The combine will be supreme.

It is true that if this cynical scheme comes off there is an end of
reparations--for the independence of German industry is strangled and
its life will soon languish. But there are signs that French enterprise
has abandoned all idea of recovering reparations and that it is now
brooding upon loot--on an immense scale. For the discussions in the
French press contemplate even wider and more far-reaching developments
than those involved in the control of German industries. Italy, Poland,
and even Russia are to be brought in. The high line taken for years
by the Parisian papers about "no traffic with murder" is being given
up. Instead we have much sentimental twaddle about restoring the
old friendly relations between France and Russia--of course, for a
consideration. Russia is to buy; Germany is to manufacture; France is
to profit.

These proposals, which have for some time been in the air, are now
actually in type. Now the type is ordinary black--later on it may be
red. Twenty lives have already been lost over the preliminaries of
execution. I fear there will be many more as the difficulties become
more apparent.

It is not without significance that the terms which Germany is to be
called upon to accept in the event of her submission have never been
formulated. No ultimatum was issued before invasion. If Germany were
to-morrow to throw up her hands what conditions would she have to
comply with? Who can tell? Germany clearly does not know. The British
government does not know. They were never discussed at the Paris
conference. M. Poincaré has only asserted with emphasis that he "will
not accept promises." If the Ruhr is to be evacuated promises must be
accepted at some stage, for Germany cannot deliver ten years' coal
instalments in advance, and she cannot pay fifty milliards of gold
marks over the counter. So, if M. Poincaré's statement means anything,
then the control of Ruhr industries must be vested in France until the
whole of the mortgage has been redeemed. Hence the vast plan for the
exploitation of Germany, and through Germany of Europe.

A pretty scheme, but--like most plans which make no allowance for
human nature--bound to fail. How long would Italy and Russia consent
to be exploited for the enrichment of French capitalists? Italy has
already made it clear that she has no intention of walking into the
trap. Russia may or may not have been approached. It is not improbable
that there have been informal soundings. It is not easy to reckon what
the Bolshevists may or may not do in any circumstances. But one can be
fairly assured that they will not place their heads in the jaws of a
rapacious capitalistic crocodile of this character. Brigands are not
made of that simple stuff.

Will German statesmen consent to sell their country into political
and economic bondage for an indefinite period? It is incredible. No
doubt there had been feelers between French and German capitalists for
some time before the Ruhr invasion. M. Loucheur and Herr Stinnes are
credited with having had conversations on the subject of amalgamating
the interests of Lorraine iron ore and Ruhr coal. But the Ruhr invasion
has awakened the patriotism of Germany from its stupor. A potent
new element has therefore been introduced into the calculation.
This element does not mix well with international finance. It may be
depended upon to resist to the last any effort to put German industry
under foreign control, and without control the _gage_ is worthless.

Then there is the German workman who must be taken into account. The
miner and the engineer in all countries are proverbially independent.
They take no orders even from their own governments. During the war
they had to be reasoned with before they could be persuaded to take a
course urged upon them by the government of the day in the interests
of their own country. They will view the commands of a syndicate
controlled by foreign governments with suspicion and repugnance. Should
disputes arise--and they are more likely than ever to arise constantly
under these conditions--who will be responsible for the protection of
life, liberty, and property? Will foreign troops operate? Or will the
German army and police act practically under orders given from Paris?
The popular sympathy will be with the strikers.

It is a fantastic idea born of failure and, therefore, bound itself to
be a failure.

_London, March 1st, 1923._



XV

THE QUICKSAND


When you have walked some distance into a quicksand, and are sinking
deeper and deeper with every step you take, it is always difficult to
decide whether you are more likely to reach firm ground by pressing
forward or by going backward. You must do one or other. You cannot just
stand fast, for that is inevitable destruction. The French government
clearly are of opinion that safety lies in marching further into
the quagmire. So three more German cities have been occupied, more
burgomasters and officials expelled, more men and boys shot in the
streets, more black troops imported, more regulations and more decrees
issued; there are more depressions of French, Belgian and Italian
exchanges, more confusion in everybody's business in Central Europe--in
a sentence, everywhere there is more quaking sand and less solid
coal. The total shortage in deliveries as compared with the promises
of Spa was only eight per cent. Had it not been for this fatuous
invasion, France during the past six or seven weeks would have already
received from the Ruhr nearly 3,000,000 tons in coal and in coke.
France has actually received 50,000 tons during this period. A swarm
of engineers, railwaymen, bargemen, officials of all kinds, and hotel
waiters, supported by a formidable army have in six weeks produced this
ridiculous output. No doubt the amount will later on be increased by
further pressure and by pouring in more railwaymen, but it will be a
long time ere France receives her Spa quota minus eight per cent., and
then there will be some months' arrears to make up.

No wonder that M. Loucheur stated flatly in the French Chamber that he
did not approve of the Ruhr enterprise. He has one distinct advantage
over the Ruhr plungers--he does know something about business. He can
boast also of another gift, the possession of which is not without
significance when you consider his present attitude. He is an admirable
judge of to-morrow's weather. That is a rare endowment amongst
politicians. Any simpleton can tell you which way the wind is blowing
to-day, but it requires a man of special insight and experience in
these matters to forecast the direction of the wind to-morrow. M.
Loucheur is one of those exceptionally well-equipped weather prophets.
So he satisfies the opinion of to-day by giving his support to M.
Poincaré, and he safeguards his position against the morrow's change
by stating clearly that he does not approve the policy he supports. I
have read no declaration from any French statesman of eminence--with
the doubtful exception of M. Barthou--indicating a belief in the wisdom
of the venture. And yet French courage, French pride, French loyalty,
French patriotism--and maybe French blood and treasure--are committed
irretrievably to a reckless gamble which most of the responsible
statesmen who led France by their wisdom through her great troubles
regard with doubt, anxiety and apprehension.

Will the French government try to extricate themselves from the
difficulties into which they have precipitated their country and
Europe? I fear not. Heedlessness rushes a man into danger; it needs
courage to get out. And when getting out involves an admission of
blame there are few men who possess that exalted type of courage.
There are other reasons why the present government of France will
flounder further into the quicksand. When governments make mistakes in
England, the threat of a Parliamentary defeat or a couple of adverse
by-elections pulls them out roughly but safely, and the governments
start on a new course amid the general satisfaction of friend and foe.
The Willesden, Mitcham, and Liverpool elections rescued the government
from one of the most hopeless muddles into which any administration has
ever contrived to get its affairs. In similar circumstances in France a
change of government is negotiated with amazing dexterity and celerity.
But you cannot arrange the preliminary overthrow of an existing
government unless there is some one in the background ready and willing
to form the next. There are generally two or three outstanding men
of high repute prepared to serve their country in any emergency. The
trouble to-day in France is that every alternative leader disapproves
of this enterprise and believes it must ultimately fail. On the other
hand, there is no prominent figure in French politics prepared to take
upon himself the odium of sounding the retreat. It would always be
said that success was in sight, and that had it not been for the new
minister's cowardice and perfidy France would have emerged triumphantly
out of all her financial worries. The _drapeau_ would have been
lowered and betrayed. No French statesmen dare face that deadly
accusation. So the present French government is tied to the saddle of
its charger and is forced to go on.

Another explanation of the difficulty of withdrawing is to be found
in the increasing fury of the original fomenters of this rashness.
The more fruitless the enterprise the greater the energy they display
in spurring the government further into its follies. In the previous
article I gave a summary of the ambitious plans they had conceived for
syndicating European resources under French control. The industries
of Europe controlled from Paris--that is their magnificent dream.
Now they propound a new treaty which is to supersede the treaty of
Versailles. Boundaries are to be revised, rich provinces and towns
practically annexed, the Ruhr coal is to be harnessed to Lorraine
coal, and Germany, having been further mutilated and bound, is to be
reduced to a state of complete economic subjection. There has been
nothing comparable to these ideas since the Norman conquest, when
the Saxons, having first of all been disarmed, were reduced to a
condition of economic thraldom for the enrichment and glorification
of their new masters. Needless to say Britain and America are not
to be invited to attend this new peace conference. They are to be
graciously informed of the conditions of the new peace when finally
established by French arms. The British Empire, which raised millions
of men to liberate French soil from the German invaders and which lost
hundreds of thousands of its best young lives in the effort, is not
even to be consulted as to the settlement which its losses alone make
possible. America, who came to the rescue with millions of its bravest,
is barely worth a sentence in these ravings of brains intoxicated
with an unwholesome mixture of hatred, greed and military arrogance.
The French government are not committed by any overt declarations
to these schemes; but it is ominous that they issue from the pens
whose insistent prodding has driven this government on to its present
action. Up to the present no repudiation has come from the head of the
government or from any of his subordinates. The very vagueness of his
published aims would leave him free to adopt any plans. Pledges for
reparation and security will cover a multitude of aggressions.

The British government have just issued as a Parliamentary paper
a full report of the proceedings of the Paris conference. It is an
amazing document. As far as I can see no real endeavour was made by any
of its members to prevent a break-up. At the first failure to secure
agreement the delegates threw up their hands in despair and sought
no alternatives. They agreed about nothing except that it was not
worth while spending another day in trying to agree. Even M. Theunis,
the resourceful Belgian premier, had nothing to suggest. A blight of
sterility seems to have swept over the conference. On this aspect of
the fateful and fatal conference of Paris I do not now propose to
dwell. I wish to call attention to it for another purpose. I have
perused the Blue Book with great care. I was anxious to find out
exactly what M. Poincaré proposed to demand of Germany as a condition
of submission to the French will. What was Germany to do if she was
anxious to avert the fall of the axe? I have read his speeches and
annexes in vain for any exposition of these terms. It is true he was
never asked the question. That sounds incomprehensible. But every one
engaged was in such a hurry to break up the conference and thus put an
end to disagreeable disagreements that it never seems to have occurred
to them to ask this essential question. And the party principally
concerned was not represented. The result is that no one knows the
terms upon which the French army is prepared to evacuate the Ruhr. Mr.
Bonar Law could not explain when questioned in the House of Commons. I
am not surprised, for no one has ever told him and he never asked. I am
sure that by this time M. Poincaré has quite forgotten why he ever went
into the Ruhr. For that, amongst other reasons, he will remain there
until something happens that will provide us with an answer.

Most human tragedy is fortuitous.

_London, March 10th, 1923._



XVI

THE FIRST GERMAN OFFER


The French and Belgian governments have slapped another opportunity
in the face. To make that slap resound as well as sting, they have
accompanied their rejection of the German offer by a savage sentence
of fifteen years' imprisonment on the head of the greatest industrial
concern in the Ruhr, if not in Europe. What for? Because he ordered the
works' syren to sound "cease work" for one day when the French troops
occupied the place. There is a swagger of brutality about that sentence
which betokens recklessness. It came at a moment when the German
government had just made an offer of peace, and when that ally of
France who had made the deepest sacrifices in the war to save her and
Belgium from ruin was urging the French government to regard that offer
at least as a starting-point for discussion. The answer was to treat
the German note as an offence, to promulgate that penal sentence which
outrages every sense of decency throughout the world, and to refuse
to permit an ally, who had been so faithful in the time of trouble for
France and Belgium, even the courtesy of a discussion on the tenor
of the reply to be given to a note that so vitally concerned the
interest of all the Allies without exception. Prussian arrogance in its
crudest days can furnish no such example of clumsy and short-sighted
ineptitude. It gives point to Lord Robert Cecil's observation in the
House of Commons that it is very difficult to reconcile the French
attitude with a conception that the French government, with the opinion
behind it, desires a settlement.

What is the German offer? It proposes to limit the total obligations
of Germany in cash and in kind to thirty milliards of gold marks
(£1,500,000,000) to be raised by loans on the international money
markets at normal conditions in instalments of:--


     20 milliards up to July 1, 1927.
      5 milliards up to July 1, 1929.
      5 milliards up to July 1, 1931.


There are provisions for payment of interest from July, 1923, onward,
and the agreements entered into for delivery of payments in kind on
account of reparations are to be carried out in accordance with the
arrangements already made. Then comes this important provision. After a
paragraph in which it is argued that the above figures would strain the
resources of Germany to the utmost it adds:--


     "Should others not share this opinion, the German government
     propose to submit the whole reparations problem to an
     international commission uninfluenced by political considerations,
     as suggested by State Secretary Hughes."


They further state that the German government are prepared to devise
suitable measures in order that the whole German national resources
should participate "in guaranteeing the service of the loan."
Guarantees are also offered for deliveries in kind. In order to
ensure a permanent peace between France and Germany they propose an
agreement that all contentious questions arising between them in future
should be referred to arbitration. The note finally stipulates that
the evacuation of the Ruhr "within the shortest space of time" and
the restoration of treaty conditions in the Rhineland constitute "an
essential leading up to negotiations on basis of above ideas." The
above represents the substance of the German proposals.

The French and Belgian governments in their reply stand by the May,
1921, schedule of payments and decline to forego even the very
problematical "C" bonds of £4,250,000,000. Hitherto it has been
common ground that £2,500,000,000 is the figure which Germany can be
expected to pay. The French and Belgian governments are now insisting
on the full measure of the £6,600,000,000 award. The Hughes proposal
they scoff at and treat its putting forward by Germany as part of "an
expression of a systematic revolt against the Treaty of Versailles."
The real temper and purpose of this intransigeant attitude is to be
found in two sentences. Here is the first. Alluding to the resistance
offered in the Ruhr to the French attempt to exploit its resources
the note says: "The Belgian and French governments cannot take into
consideration any German proposal whilst the resistance continues."
That is, however complete and satisfactory a proposal may be in itself,
it would be rejected unless preceded by abject surrender to French
designs in the Ruhr. Then later on comes this significant sentence
emphasising the moral of the first:--


     "The Belgian government and the French government have decided
     that they will only evacuate the newly occupied territories
     according to the measure and in proportion to the payments
     effected. They have nothing to alter in this resolution."


An impossible payment is to be insisted upon--costs of occupation are
to be added to that, and until both are liquidated French armies are
to remain in possession of the richest areas in Germany. Meanwhile the
British Empire and the United States of America, who, at a prodigious
cost in life and treasure, saved France from a similar humiliation
to that which she is now inflicting on Germany, are practically told
when they venture to offer suggestions to mind their own business. No
interference will be tolerated from meddlers of any sort.

The sum offered by Germany in settlement of reparations is no doubt
inadequate. It cannot be accepted by any of the Allies in discharge of
the German obligations under the treaty. The German government must
make a very substantial advance on that offer before they can hope to
come to terms with the Allied governments. I have no doubt the German
government fully realise that fact, and I am sure they did not put
forward these figures as their final tender. They meant them to be
taken as a beginning and a basis for negotiation. In fact they say so.
When you enter into negotiations your lawyer, if he knows his business,
never starts with the figure he is authorised ultimately to propose.
Nor does the client always communicate to his advocate the last figure
he would be prepared to pay if he had to decide between that and a
continuation of the struggle, with its costs and its complications.
Once pourparlers begin the original figure disappears, and disappears
quickly. That is the history of all negotiation, private and public. A
refusal to meet in conference until the figure proposed is acceptable
rules out discussion between parties as a means of coming to terms on
the main question in a dispute.

I have taken part in the settlement of probably more industrial
differences than most politicians. In every case I have started with
an _impasse_. The first meeting of the parties always revealed an
apparently unbridgeable chasm between their respective positions; but
perseverance and an honest endeavour on both sides to find a solution
usually ends in agreement. Goodwill can bridge any abyss. Unconditional
surrender if insisted upon between independent bodies is a sure prelude
to fresh disputes. The mere fact, therefore, that Germany put forward
a proposal which falls short of the needs and equities of the case is
not a sufficient reason for declining to meet her representatives at
a conference to determine what the right sum should be, and the best
method of liquidating it.

But there is another and a stronger reason why the German offer
should not have been so peremptorily rejected. It did not end with a
submission of an inadequate amount in discharge of reparations claims.
Had it done so the French government might perhaps contend that Germany
must make up her mind, before she is allowed to confer, to raise that
figure to something which at least approximates to the region of
acceptability. But even if the French contention in that respect were
reasonable, it is ruled out by the circumstance that in this note the
German government have proposed an alternative if the figure they
offer is considered unacceptable. That alternative changes the whole
character of the note, when you come to judge of the question of its
_bona fides_. This proposition consists in the complete and categorical
acceptance by the German government of Mr. Secretary Hughes's famous
New Haven suggestions. It will be recollected that, as a way out of
the reparations entanglement, he proposed that an international expert
commission should be set up to inquire into the question of the amount
which Germany is capable of paying, and the best method of discharging
her obligations once they were fixed. Mr. Hughes made it clear that the
United States of America were prepared to assist in such an inquiry.
It is this that lent such significance and importance to his speech.
When I first read that speech I thought it of such moment that I cabled
from Spain to the British and American papers my earnest hope that the
Allies, about to sit in conference in Paris, would immediately consider
its terms, and act upon it. It seemed to me the supreme opportunity
for placing the vexed question which is fretting Europe almost into
nervous paralysis on a pathway which must inevitably lead to a real
settlement. The more I think of that proposal, the more am I convinced
that it was right, and the more am I perplexed by the rude indifference
with which it was treated by the Allied governments. To this hour I am
baffled to explain why those who are anxious for a conclusion never
brought this momentous declaration of American readiness to take a hand
to the notice of the conference. I can suggest explanations, but none
which is not a grave reflection on the way in which the proceedings
of that conference were handled. I can understand those who wish to
exploit reparations for ulterior purposes being anxious to keep America
out of the business. But why did Britain, Italy and Belgium neglect
this chance of securing the association of the one power which could
be helpful to the Allies in reaching a fair and sound decision, and
what is equally important, helpful in all subsequent operations for
cashing that decision? Now Germany states categorically that, if her
cash tender is unacceptable to the Allies, she is willing to leave the
question of the amount she is capable of paying to an international
tribunal on which America is represented, and to abide by the decision
of that tribunal, whatever it may be. That is in substance Mr.
Secretary Hughes's suggestion. How can a note containing so reasonable
a proposal, and a proposal originally emanating from so powerful and so
friendly a quarter, be treated as if it were an insult to the dignity
of France--and of Belgium! To declare--as the French note does--that
the Hughes proposition is an abrogation of the Treaty of Versailles is
to ignore the provisions of that treaty. As a matter of fact it would
be a restoration of the treaty. As I have repeatedly pointed out,
that treaty delegated the question of the amount which Germany has to
pay in respect of reparations to an Allied commission on which the
United States of America was to be represented. The function of this
commission was to assess the amount of the damages for which Germany is
responsible under the treaty, and then to adjudicate on the capacity of
Germany to pay those damages in whole or in part.

The commission was authorised to fix the amount of the annual
payments to be demanded of Germany on the double basis of liability
and capacity. The withdrawal of the only country which had no direct
interest in reparations from the treaty left the commission a lop-sided
and highly prejudiced tribunal. The reparations commission no longer
carries out the treaty idea. Its character has completely changed.
It is essential in order to adhere to the Treaty of Versailles that
America should have a representative on the tribunal that fixes the
payments to be exacted from Germany. The German government now offer
to submit the fate of their country to the unaltered clauses of the
treaty which was signed in the Galerie des Glaces in June, 1919.
France and Belgium have no right in honour to demand submission to any
other. Because they insist on enforcing something which is entirely
different from the contract entered into by them with Germany in
1919, Europe is disquieted and international relations are saturated
with the inflammable spirit of resentment, hatred, and revenge. No
wonder Marshal Foch is touring Central Europe to put the Allied armies
in order! He seems to me to be the one man in France who has an
understanding of what all this is leading up to.

_London, May 14th, 1923._



XVII

THE SECOND GERMAN NOTE


The Germans have tried another note. Inasmuch as all the Allied press
without exception are agreed in describing it as a great improvement
over the first, it is hardly worth while taking up time and space
to demonstrate how the essentials of this more favoured document
were contained in its reprobated predecessor. Psychologically it is
a decided advance on the first note. It is crisp and condensed, and
does not indulge in the irritating processes of an argument. You
should never attempt to argue with an angry man who is brandishing a
bludgeon--unless you are at a safe distance from him. Germany is in
this case at his feet. The second German note therefore is wise in
avoiding the provocation of an appeal to reason. It makes its offer
simply and uncontentiously.

It also suggests a number of substantial guarantees for the payment of
interest on the loans to be raised for reparations purposes. I cannot
pretend to assess the value that would be attached to these _gages_ by
prospective borrowers. I have no doubt they would add materially to the
security of the investment. But this array of securities standing alone
will not entice the investor to risk his money on a German reparations
loan. He will look at Germany as a whole, and not in parts. He will
want to know what is likely to happen to that great country during
the coming years, and to its industry, its finance, its politics, and
its people. A railway which collects its rates and fares in a corrupt
currency is of no use as a security for any loan--a customs revenue
collected in a fugitive coin is equally worthless. The only reliable
basis for a loan is a stable Germany. You can have no stable Germany
until you settle reparations. That is, therefore, the first essential
preliminary to all discussions on _gages_ be they _productifs_ or
otherwise.

Hence the propositions that really matter in the German note are not
those which give a schedule of guarantees, but those which bear on
the fixation of the amount which Germany is to be called upon to pay.
On this question the note does not increase the sum which the first
note estimated as the limit of German capacity. But it reaffirms the
readiness of the German government to submit the consideration of the
capacity of Germany to pay to an impartial tribunal. It offers to place
at the disposal of this body all the material which is necessary to
enable it to arrive at a just conclusion. It proceeds to suggest that
all further discussion on the subjects at issue between the parties
should take place at a conference rather than by interchange of notes.
How can any unprejudiced person refuse to recognise the essential
reasonableness of this part of the offer? It is common ground that
the annuities imposed upon Germany in May, 1921, demand modification.
Even M. Poincaré proceeds on that assumption. There is, therefore, a
most important and highly difficult figure to be ascertained. What
annuity can Germany pay? And when will she be in a position to pay?
Is it unreasonable to propose that this question which involves a
most searching examination into German assets should be referred to
a tribunal which would be capable of giving it calm and judicial
consideration? And what objection can there be to discussing the
matter at a conference where Germany as well as all the Allies would
be represented? If this were a business or a trade dispute these two
proposals would be regarded as eminently sensible and fair, and the
party that rejected them would be condemned by public opinion.

What are the objections to acceptance formulated by the French press?
Up to the date of writing this article the French government have not
officially expressed their views on the German note. But one may safely
assume from past experience that Parisian journalists consulted the
Quai d'Orsay before writing their critical articles.

The first is that the French government will discuss no proposals
emanating from Germany until the latter withdraw its passive resistance
to French and Belgian exploitation of the Ruhr. What does this exactly
mean? If it imports--as a preliminary condition to conference or
consideration of terms--an acquiescence by Germany in the occupation
and exploitation by France and Belgium of the Ruhr valley until
reparations be fully paid, then the position is hopeless. A German
government may submit to such an occupation because it has no force
at its command to offer resistance. But no German government can
give assent to such an invasion of its territories. A peace signed
on such terms would inevitably be repudiated at the first favourable
opportunity. Meanwhile there would be constant friction and trouble in
the Ruhr. I can hardly believe that this is what the French government
mean to insist upon, in spite of an article in the _Temps_ which bears
that interpretation. But they may only ask that whilst terms are being
discussed an armistice shall be concluded, the first condition of which
will be that all obstacles now interposed in the way of supplying
France, Belgium, and Italy with reparation coal and coke shall be
withdrawn. An armistice on those terms ought not to be difficult to
arrange, especially if the French and Belgian authorities withdraw the
ban they have placed on the export of Ruhr products to the unoccupied
parts of Germany. Unless the terms are mutually accommodating, I
surmise that the German government will experience an insurmountable
difficulty in persuading the stubborn miners and railway operatives
of the Ruhr to assist in furnishing to France the products of their
labour which are denied to their own fellow-countrymen. It is too
readily taken for granted that the Ruhr workmen will obey any behest
that comes from Berlin. Governments in Germany have ceased to receive
that kind of obedience. It is one of the indirect consequences of the
great disaster that the decrees of Wilhelmstrasse no longer command
the respect which attached to them in pre-war days. Still, a conference
at which all the interests concerned were represented would experience
no difficulty in fixing up stipulations which would make it possible
for France to enter a conference on reparations without any suspicion
being attached to her ministers that they had lowered the national flag
on entering the room. I trust that good sense will prevail over temper
and exaggerated pride--on both sides.

Should this preliminary point of honour be disposed of, then what
remains? The fixation of the annuities and the guarantees for their
payment. What are the objections to accepting the method put forward in
the German note for these two points? It is not the German method--it
is the American method adopted by the German government. A conference
with an impartial tribunal if conference fails. I know of no other way
except a resort to blind force.

It is objected that the Treaty of Versailles has already provided such
a tribunal in the reparations commission for the specific purpose of
adjudicating upon Germany's liability and Germany's capacity, and that
to set up another for exactly the same purpose would be to supersede
that treaty. There are two answers to this contention. The first is
that the reparations commission as at present constituted is not the
body to which Germany agreed to refer these questions so vital to
her existence. It is not the body which Britain and the other Allies
contemplated. The withdrawal of America from the commission--after
Germany had already signed the treaty--has completely changed the
balance and therefore the character of this tribunal. No man in his
senses can pretend that in its mutilated form it is either impartial
in its composition or judicial in its methods. M. Poincaré does not
conceal the fact that the French government issues orders to its
representative on that "judicial" body. The chairman is an eminent
French deputy who has played and still plays a conspicuous and
influential part in French politics, and is looking forward to pursuing
his career as a politician whithersoever it may lead. Ever since he has
been chairman he has delivered speeches in public denouncing the party
of whose case he is supposed to be the chief judge. All his colleagues
represent powers who have a direct pecuniary interest in the result of
their decisions. The only disinterested power has retired from the
commission. The American proposal is very moderate. It implies the
restoration of the treaty by reintroducing America to the body that
settles reparations. If France objects to the appointment of a separate
commission why should it not be agreed between the Allies that their
representatives on the body of experts to be set up shall be the men
who now constitute the reparations commission? To these the American
government could add their nominee. Germany has a right under the
treaty to present her case. The whole question of capacity could then
be gone into in the light of the experience acquired during the last
four years, and a settlement could thus be effected on a sound basis.
Such settlement would have a much better chance of being workable, and
therefore more durable than terms imposed by force on a people who only
accept under duress.

But whatever the French view may be of the suggested annuities or
guarantees, or of the impartial commission, it is inconceivable
that they should reject the conference. It is the surest road to
reparations. At Spa the method of pelting the bewildered Reich with
demand notes was for a time abandoned, and that of conference at the
same table was substituted. The results were admirable. The process of
disarmament made immediate strides towards satisfactory completion,
and the coal deliveries became fuller and steadier. At Cannes last
year the Allies once more started to confer with German ministers. All
those who were present at those discussions--without exception--admit
that satisfactory progress was being made towards a comprehensive
settlement when the conferees were scattered by a bomb. It is too
early yet to estimate the loss which inured to Europe through that
explosion. But all idea of discussion between the parties has since
been loftily and petulantly dismissed as an exhibition of pernicious
weakness. What has been substituted for it? For twelve months we had
rather a ridiculous display of feather-rustling about the farmyard to
inspire terror. Threatening speeches full of ominous hints of impending
action were delivered at intervals in different parts of France. These
produced nothing but increased confusion and incapacity to pay. Every
speech cost France milliards in postponed reparations. French opinion
not unnaturally insisted on some action being taken. Hence this rash
invasion. At Cannes a two-year moratorium would have been accepted as a
settlement. Already a year and a half of that period would by now have
elapsed. German finances would, under the strict Allied supervision
which was conceded, by now have been restored to soundness--the mark
would have been stabilised, and a loan could have been negotiated which
would have provided the Allies with substantial sums towards lightening
the burdens they are all bearing. Confidence would have been restored
in Europe, and for the first time there would have been real peace.
One can see what the alternative has produced. Whatever the final
terms may be, Germany is not in a financial position to pay what she
was able to offer then. These eighteen months have been devoted to
reducing assiduously German capacity to pay Allied debts, and the value
of the German security for such payment. At Cannes the mark stood at
770 to the pound sterling. It now stands at 500,000. Germany will need
an extended moratorium to recover from the clumsy mishandling of the
past year and a half. The mark has to be picked up out of the abyss
into which it has been thrown by those whose interest it was to lift
it out of the depression wherein it lay. A debtor on whose restored
health and nerve payment entirely depends has been violently pushed
down several flights of stairs. It will take him a long time to recover
from the bruises, the shake, and the loss of blood. What an achievement
in scientific debt collecting! If reparations are ever to be paid the
Allies must retrace their steps and get back to conference. Once the
parties--all the parties--sit round the table I feel assured that the
common sense of most will in the end prevail. We shall never get back
what has been lost during 1922-23, but we shall get something that will
help. It will take some time to set up the tackle for hoisting the mark
out of the crevass and some to do the winding. But the sooner a start
is made the less winding there will be to do. So for everybody's sake
it is high time to stop the strutting and get back to business.



XVIII

THE NAPOLEONIC DREAM


What a muddle it all is! France and Germany are both anxious to settle
in the Ruhr, but are too proud to admit it. The struggle, therefore,
goes on, and will continue to the detriment of both. Belgium is sorry
she ever entered the Ruhr, but cannot get out of it. Every time she
tries to get away France pulls her back roughly by the tail of her
coat, so she has to do sentry-go at Essen whilst her franc is leading
a wild life at home. Italy has forgotten that she ever sanctioned
the occupation, and her moral indignation is mounting rapidly,
although it has not yet risen to a height which is visible across
the Alps. Great Britain is growling futile notes of dissatisfaction
with everybody--France and Germany alike. The confusion of tongues is
deafening and paralysing, and no one is quite happy except the spirit
of mischief who is holding his sides with ghoulish laughter. He never
had such a time--not since the Tower of Babel. And this time it may
end in a second deluge.

The horror of the Great War seems to have unhinged the European mind.
Nations do not think normally. The blood pressure is still very high.
The excitement over the Ruhr does not tend to improve it. When some
of the articles written and speeches delivered to-day come to be read
by the diligent historian a generation hence, he will recognise there
the ravings of a continent whose mental equilibrium has been upset
by a great shock. The real issue involved in all this struggle is a
comparatively simple one. How much can Germany pay and in what way
can she pay? America, Britain, Italy and Germany are all agreed that
the only way to settle that question is to appoint competent experts
to investigate and report upon it. The Pope also has blessed this
reasonable suggestion. France, on the contrary, says it is a question
to be determined by guns and generals--both equally well fitted for
that task. Germany must present her accounts to the mitrailleuse and
argue her case before the soixante-quinze. It is a mad world.

Every one is interested in one question--or perhaps two. How will
it all end and how soon is that end coming? Although I have nothing
to fear from recalling the predictions of my early articles on this
subject, I hesitate to hazard a fresh forecast. But one may review the
possibilities and note the drift of the whirling currents. In assessing
the chances, you must begin with some knowledge of the man who will
decide the event. M. Poincaré is possessed of undoubted ability and
patriotism, but he is also a man who lives in a world of prejudices so
dense that they obscure facts. You have but to turn to one statement
in his last note where he says the conferences and ultimatums of the
past four years secured nothing from Germany. What are the facts?
During the three and a half years that preceded the Ruhr invasion,
Germany paid to the Allies in cash and in kind over ten milliards of
gold marks,--£500,000,000 in sterling, 2,000,000,000 in dollars--a
considerable effort for a country which had but lately emerged out of
the most exhausting of wars and whose foreign trade was down sixty to
seventy per cent. You might imagine that a man who had taken the grave
step of ordering armies to invade a neighbour's territories would also
have taken the trouble to ascertain the elementary facts of his case.
Part of this gigantic sum went to pay for Armies of Occupation; part
for Reparations, but it all came out of German assets. Will the next
three and a half years bring anything approximating that figure to the
Allied coffers?

It is a safe statement to make that no one in charge of the French
movements anticipated a resistance approaching in its stubbornness to
that which they have encountered. The friendly Press, both in France
and in England, foretold a speedy collapse of the German opposition,
and on this assumption all the French plans were based. During the
first days of the occupation an Englishman asked a French officer
how long he thought it would take. The answer is indicative of the
spirit in which the venture started: "Optimists think it will take
a fortnight," he said; "pessimists think it may take three weeks."
A reference to the January telegrams from Paris and Düsseldorf will
show that this officer accurately expressed the general sentiment of
those who were responsible for the Ruhr invasion. Soldiers estimate
the chances of resistance in terms of material and trained men, and
statesmen too often build their hopes on the same shallow foundation.
They never allow for the indomitable reserves of the human heart,
which do not figure in Army Lists or Statesmen's Annuals. The
resistance of Paris in 1870 was as confounding to Bismarck as the
stubbornness of the Ruhr miners is to Poincaré to-day. The last regular
army had been destroyed, all docketed food stores exhausted, and still
the struggle of the devoted citizens went on for months. There were
few men in England who thought the Boer peasants could continue their
resistance for more than three months after our armies reached South
Africa. The three months ran into three years and only then capitulated
on honourable terms. The Northern States of America never contemplated
the possibility of a five years' struggle with a blockaded, starved
and overwhelmed Confederacy. The War of 1914-18 is littered with
miscalculations attributable to the blind refusal of rulers and their
advisers to recognise the moral element as a factor in the reckoning.
The Ruhr tragedy is not the first, nor indeed may it be the last, to
be initiated by facile memoranda framed by General Staffs and civilian
functionaries, drawing their inspiration from pigeonholes.

Whatever may transpire in the Ruhr it is already clear that the
estimates of military men, of transport officials, of intelligence
departments, and of presiding Ministers, have been hopelessly
falsified. Many more soldiers have been sent into the Ruhr than had
been thought necessary: a great deal less coal has come out of the
Ruhr than had been confidently expected. There are already as many
Frenchmen in the Ruhr as Napoleon commanded at Waterloo; and they
have succeeded in sending across the frontier in six months only as
much coal as the Germans delivered in one month during the period of
"default" which provoked the invasion. Desperate efforts have been
made at great cost to increase the yield with a view to satisfying
French and foreign opinion that resistance is gradually breaking down.
Rubbish is shovelled into wagons in order anyhow to swell the quota.
Coal is seized anywhere, even in the streets. And Monsieur Trocquer,
the bluff and genial Breton in charge of the transport arrangements,
breezily challenges all the critics to look at the mounting pyramids of
his dustcart collection and rejoice with him in the triumph of French
organisation under his control. Alas, the Celtic fire of Monsieur
Trocquer, even when fed by the sweepings of the Ruhr, cannot keep
going the blast furnaces of Lorraine! So we find disappointment and
discontent amongst the forge-masters of France.

But there is a limit to human endurance. Either France or Germany must
give way in the end. Which will it be, and when will it come--and how?
In answering these questions one must remember that for France the
honour of her flag is involved in success. Failure would irretrievably
damage her prestige. Every Frenchman knows that. That is why French
statesmen who disapprove of the invasion support the Government in
all their proposals for bringing it to a successful end. And here
France has a legitimate complaint against her Allies. It is useless
for Italy now to counsel wisdom. Signor Mussolini was present at the
"hush Conference" which sanctioned the invasion. He fixed the price of
assent in coal tonnage. That price has been regularly paid. Belgium
is now becoming scared at the swelling magnitude of the venture. But
she committed her own honour as well as that of France to carrying it
through. I regret to think that Britain is not free from responsibility
in the matter. It is true that her representatives disapproved of the
enterprise, but not on grounds of right or justice. On the contrary,
whilst expressing grave doubt as to the ultimate success of the
invasion they wished the French Government well in the undertaking on
which they were about to embark. Not one of the Allies is in a position
with a clean conscience to urge France to haul down her flag. There is
only one course which could be urged on the French Government as being
consistent with French honour, and that is the reference of the dispute
to the League of Nations. Such a reference would be an enforcement of
the Treaty of Versailles. That suggestion the British Government have
refused to press on France. The struggle must, therefore, proceed to
its destined end.

It may be assumed that the British Government will not intervene
effectively. How about the ministerial declarations? Surely these
strong words must be followed by strong action! Those who rely on that
inference know nothing of the men who use the words or of the forces
upon which they depend for their ministerial existence. It is true
that some weeks ago Mr. Snodgrass took off his coat and proclaimed
cryptically, but fearlessly, that unless peace was restored on his
terms something would happen. The French Government, unperturbed,
replied that they meant to persist in their course. So last week Mr.
Snodgrass takes off his waistcoat. But do not be alarmed: there will
be no blows: his friends will hold him back. Meanwhile, Mr. Winkle
has left for Paris in order to lunch with one of the combatants. Next
week he will be followed by Mr. Pickwick, who will call on another,
and the week after Mr. Tupman proposes to pay another propitiatory
visit. It will be an incalculable advantage to M. Poincaré that they
each represent a different and conflicting point of view. The French
have accurately taken the measure of the mind and muscle of those
who indulge in these spectacular exhibitions of ball punching in
Westminster with cakes and ale at Rambouillet. We may therefore assume
that whatever conversations take place at these general gatherings or
ensue from them, the French will not be talked out of the Ruhr.

From the emphatic declarations made by the head of the French
Government it is gathered that France will insist at all costs on
enforcing her will. She has put forward two demands. The first is that
Germany shall abandon passive resistance as an essential preliminary to
negotiation. The second is that her forces should remain in the Ruhr
until the last payment is made. Will the German Government accept
these conditions? A settlement on these terms is only possible on two
assumptions. The first is that a German Government can be found strong
enough to accept them and to survive their acceptance. The second
is that there is a French Government wise enough to give a liberal
interpretation to these demands. The first depends to a large extent on
the second.

The events of the past few months have added immeasurably to the
difficulties of negotiation. Incidents inseparable from a foreign
occupation in any land have exasperated German opinion and reached
depths of hatred which had never been stirred even by the Great
War--the deportation of 75,000 Germans from their homes in the Ruhr
area, the repression, the shooting, the starving, the holding up
of food trains until essential supplies rot. The myriad insolences
of unchallengeable force, the passions which make French policy so
intractable are entirely attributable to the German occupation of
France. Frenchmen are now sowing the same seeds of anger in the German
breast. Hatreds are bad negotiators. That is why I despair of a real
settlement.

But Germany may collapse. She might even break up, temporarily. The
authority of the Central Government has already largely disappeared.
There is practically no collection of taxes. The mark has gone down
in a little over a week from 1,000,000 to the £ to 27,000,000.[3] How
can any Government collect taxes in such a fugitive and attenuated
currency? You might as well try to collect land taxes on the tail of
a comet. The state of the currency is but a symptom of the general
disintegration. Berlin has ceased to wield any influence in Bavaria,
and the Monarchy might be restored in that Province at no distant
date. There is a movement in the Rhineland to set up a Republic freed
from the dominion of Prussia. This movement is fostered by French
agencies and financed by French subventions. If it is declared Prussia
will not be allowed to suppress it. We may, therefore, soon witness
a Rhineland Republic whose glorious freedom and independence will be
jealously guarded against internal as well as external foes by the
coloured warriors of Senegal and Cochin-China. Saxony might be captured
by Communists and Prussia be torn between Monarchist and Communist.
These are not unlikely happenings. Is it too much to say they are
not altogether out of the computation of French statesmanship? If
Germany dissolves, then the Rhineland and the Ruhr would remain under
the dominion of France. France would not secure reparations, but she
would enjoy security, and she would, so it is conjectured, enormously
enhance her power in the world. An old French dream would be realised.
The work of Bismarck would be undone and the achievement of Napoleon
would be restored and perpetuated. There is an old Welsh adage which
says that it is easy to kindle a fire on an old hearthstone. This
idea of a Rhineland under French domination is the old hearthstone
of Charlemagne. Mazarin sought to relight its flames. Napoleon the
First kindled on it a blaze that scorched Europe. Napoleon the Third
had hopes of warming his chilling fortunes at the glow of its embers,
and now the great victory of 1918 has set French ambitions once more
reviving the fires on the old hearthstone of a Rhineland ruled by the
Frank.

Altogether it is a bad look-out for Europe.

_London, August 6th, 1923._

FOOTNOTE:

[3] Since this was written the mark has fallen far beyond.



XIX

IS IT PEACE?


The Charleville speech[4] and M. Poincaré's reply to Lord Curzon's
despatch[5] leave things exactly where they were. Rumour said the reply
would be long and logical. For once rumour hath not lied. M. Poincaré
regards this exchange of bolstered notes as a pillow fight which he
is quite prepared to prolong in order to gain time whilst the real
struggle is developing to its destined end. The prominence given in the
press to the fact that this rigid reply is "courteous" is significant
of the pitiable condition to which the Entente has been brought by
these maladroit negotiations.

What will Mr. Stanley Baldwin and Lord Curzon do next? Much depends
for Europe on that next step, and something for them also hangs upon
their action or inaction. One is reminded of the answer given by Émile
Ollivier to the question addressed to him as to his opinion of one of
Napoleon the Third's experiments in constitutional government: "Si
c'est une fin, vous êtes perdu; si c'est un commencement, vous êtes
fondé." That sage comment is equally applicable to the Curzon note.

We can only "wait and see," first for the French official reply, and
second for the decision of the British Government upon that note.
The only new factor in the situation that may have a determining
influence on events is the accession of Herr Stresemann to the German
Chancellorship.[6] I know nothing of him beyond newspaper report,
but he is generally supposed to be a man of energy, courage and
resource. If that be true, his appointment to the official leadership
of the German people may be an event of the first magnitude. We shall
soon know what he is made of. Germany has suffered more from weak
or misguided leadership in recent years than any great country in
the world. It blundered her into the War, it blundered through the
War, it blundered into the armistice, it blundered during the peace
negotiations, and it has blundered her affairs badly after the peace.
But no one can predict what Germany is capable of with a wise and
strong leadership. Herr Stresemann has a responsibility cast upon him
and an opportunity afforded him such as have not been given to any
statesman since the days of Stein and his coadjutors for regenerating
his country and lifting her out of the slough of despond in which she
has been sinking deeper and deeper. Those who ignore the effect which
powerful and magnetic personalities may have upon the fortunes of
nations in despair must have forgotten their history books. The fall of
Dr. Cuno and the rise of Herr Stresemann may well turn out to be a more
decisive event than the despatch or the publication of the Curzon note.
But if he lacks those rare qualities which alone can inspire a people
in an emergency to heroic action and endurance, then there is nothing
but chaos ahead of Germany. For the moment it is more important to keep
a discerning eye on Herr Stresemann than to watch this endless fencing
between Downing Street and the Quai d'Orsay.

It is not often I find myself in agreement with M. Poincaré, but
when he states that British unemployment is not attributable to the
occupation of the Ruhr I am substantially in accord with him. In
July last[7] I called the attention of the House of Commons to world
conditions which injuriously affected our export trade and made
unemployment on a large scale inevitable in the British labour market
for some time to come. We are more dependent on our overseas trade,
export, entrepôt, shipping and incidental business than any country in
the world. Almost half our industrial and commercial activities are
associated with outside trade in all its forms. That is not a full
statement of the case, for if this important section of our business
were to languish, the home trade would also necessarily suffer by the
consequential diminution in the purchasing capacity of our people.
Before the French ever entered the Ruhr our overseas trade was down
to 75 per cent. of its pre-war level. Our population has increased
by two millions since 1913; our taxation has increased fourfold; our
national debt tenfold; but our business is down 25 per cent. To what
is this fall in our outside sales and services attributable? It is
the direct consequence of the War. Our customers throughout Europe
are impoverished. What is just as bad, our customers' customers are
impoverished. So that neither can buy at our stalls the quantities or
the qualities which they could be relied upon to purchase before the
War. Until Europe can buy, Australia, Canada, India and China cannot
pay, as the Prime Minister pointed out in his last speech in the House
of Commons. Germany, before the War, bought Australian wool, Canadian
grain, Indian jute and tea, and the proceeds as often as not went to
pay for goods bought by those countries in British markets. The same
observation applies to Russia, Austria, and the Levantine countries.
The purchasing capacity of Europe must, therefore, be replenished,
a process which will, at best, take years of patient industry. The
mischief of the Ruhr lies not in the creation of bad trade, but in
retarding the process of recovery. It has undoubtedly had that effect.

Before the French entered the Ruhr trade was gradually if slowly
improving all round. The prices of 1922 were lower than those of 1921;
therefore, the contrast in sterling was not as apparent as it became
on the examination of weights and measures. The export figures,
notably in manufactured goods, show a decided increase on those of
the preceding year. This advance is reflected in the statistics of
unemployment. During the first ten months of 1922 there was a reduction
of over 500,000 in the numbers of the registered unemployed. The
succeeding ten months give only a slight improvement. Something has
happened to arrest the rate of progress towards better times. This
is where the Ruhr comes in. Even if it is not, to quote the Prime
Minister, a penknife stuck in the watch and stopping the works, it is
certainly more than a grain of dust which has perceptibly slowed the
action of the sensitive machinery of trade.

The effect of the Ruhr disturbance would continue for some time if the
penknife were removed now. For the moment M. Poincaré is wedging it in
more deeply and firmly. Even if he withdrew it now, the works would not
recover their normal steadiness for a long while. During these last
disturbing months Germany has become appreciably poorer. Her wealth
production has been depressed throughout most of her industrial areas.
To a certain extent Lorraine and Belgium have also been affected
adversely. The reservoir of wealth upon which industry draws has not
been filling up as it ought if the world is ever to recover.

These things are hidden from France. She is a more self-contained
country than Britain--perhaps also a more self-centred country. Even
after the Napoleonic wars, which drained her best manhood and exhausted
her fine nervous virility, she suffered from no interval of economic
depression. Her great and victorious rival across the Channel lumbered
painfully through fifteen years of misery, poverty and distress. Her
own population, basking in the sunshine of prosperity, regarded across
the narrow waters, with a natural contentment, the dark fogs that
enveloped and drenched their old enemies. Commiseration or sympathy
from them at that time was not to be expected. We had fought them for
twenty years with an inveterate pertinacity and at last beaten them
to the ground and occupied their capital. To-day we suffer because we
helped to save their capital from foreign occupation and their country
from being humbled to the dust by a foreign foe. Neither in French
speeches, notes, nor articles is there any appreciation shown of that
cardinal fact in the situation.

All that is clear at the moment is the stubbornness of the French
attitude. M. Poincaré has not so far receded one millimetre from his
original position. Threats and cajoleries alike are answered by a
repetition of the same formulæ, with the slight variations in word or
phrase which one would expect from a practised writer. But the theme
is always the same and the application is identical to the point
of monotony. He is not winning much coal out of his discourses and
literary exercises, but to do him justice he is getting something for
his country. Last year Lord Balfour, in the note he sent to the Allies
on behalf of the British Government, offered to forego all claims
for debts and reparations if Britain were secured against payment of
the American debt. That meant a surrender of claims aggregating over
£3,000,000,000 in return for an assured £1,000,000,000. A very handsome
and generous offer. The Curzon note proposes to surrender all our
claims for a precarious return of £710,000,000. The Ruhr occupation
has already brought down the British claim against the Allies by
£290,000,000. M. Poincaré may not be able to extract reparations out of
Germany, but in seven months he has succeeded in forcing £290,000,000
out of Great Britain. He will certainly ask for more--and probably
receive it.

Mr. Bonar Law was right when he said that under certain conditions
Great Britain would be the only country to pay a war indemnity. Those
conditions have arisen under his successors.

_Criccieth, August 20th, 1923._

FOOTNOTES:

[4] M. Poincaré's speech at Charleville on August 19th, on the subject
of French policy in the Ruhr.

[5] The British note was sent to France, August 13th, 1923, and M.
Poincaré's reply was received on August 23rd.

[6] The German Government fell on August 13th, 1923, and Herr
Stresemann succeeded Dr. Cuno as Chancellor.

[7] House of Commons, July 16th, 1923.



XX

WHAT NEXT?[8]


The pen-and-ink joust is suspended for a fortnight, whilst the figures
of British unemployment are leaping upwards. When the exhausted British
knights have been reinvigorated by French waters they will once more
charge full tilt at the French champion--at least, they will have made
up their minds by then whether they will shiver another fountain-pen
against his blotting-pad.

This is the advice ponderously and pompously tendered them in inspired
articles. So far, the French nation is jubilant that M. Poincaré has
scored heavily on points. He is a defter penman, and, moreover, he
does not delegate his draughtsmanship to a Committee of Ministers, all
holding irreconcilable views as to how to proceed, when to proceed, and
whither to proceed, and amongst whom there is no agreement except on
one point--that no one quite knows what action to propose.

Up to this last reply they cherished the vain delusion that the
French could be shelled out of the Ruhr by reproaches which were both
querulous and apologetic. That is not the way to shift continental
statesmanship from its purpose. The French Foreign Office is better
informed as to Cabinet divisions in this country than are the British
public. It knows that the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary dare not
take measures which will hamper French action in the Ruhr.

When the Tory Diehards placed co-operation with France in the forefront
of their programme they honestly meant it. For them it was not a mere
manoeuvre to unhorse the Coalition. They cannot, therefore, support an
attitude of resistance to French pressure on Germany. A refusal to join
France in squeezing Germany is to them a continuation of the evil of
the Coalition they overthrew with the help of Mr. Stanley Baldwin and
Lord Curzon. They will not tolerate it.

That explains the impotence of British diplomacy in a situation which
is so critical to our existence as a great commercial people. The
Cabinet can agree on wordy notes; they are hopelessly divided as to
action. They have, therefore, dispersed far and wide to search for
fortuitous guidance hither and thither--some in the tranquillity of
their English country houses; some in the healing springs of France;
some in the mists of Scottish moorlands. Mayhap one of them will bring
home a policy acceptable to his colleagues. It is all very humiliating
to the Empire that raised ten millions of men and spent £10,000,000,000
of its treasure to win the War. The net result of the voluminous
correspondence on which our rulers have concentrated months of anxious
wisdom and unwearying hesitancy is that the Allies whom we saved from
destruction refuse to move one inch out of their road to secure our
friendly companionship. They are marching resolutely in one direction,
whilst we are shambling along in another.

We have travelled long distances from each other since January last,
and we are now altogether out of sight of the position we held in
common when we met the Germans at Cannes early last year.[9] The
Entente has never been more cordial than it was then--it has never
shown more promise of hopeful partnership for the peace of the world.
We were on the point of securing an amicable and businesslike
arrangement with Germany for the payment of reparations and of
concluding an agreement for protecting the frontiers of France and
Belgium against the possibility of future invasion.

From these starting-points it was proposed that Britain, France,
Italy, and Belgium should advance together to a general settlement of
European problems in East and West--political, financial, economic and
transport. This we had agreed to do and, with the unity and goodwill
which then prevailed, could have accomplished.

But M. Poincaré had no use for the dove of peace. He wanted to fly
his falcon. He had trained and bred it in the French farmyard, and
there it had brought down many a domestic bird successfully. When his
chance came he flew it at the wounded German eagle. It is poor sport,
and somewhat cruel, but it evidently gives great joy to Frenchmen of
a sort. The best are ashamed of it, but their voices are drowned in
the clamour of the unthinking. If the helpless bird is torn to pieces,
there is nothing in that for French or Belgian larders.

Quite unintentionally the hawk has brought down the Entente also.
It may not be dead, but it has made its last flight. Henceforth
international arrangements will be on a less exclusive basis. France
is irrevocably committed to the exploitation of the Ruhr by force.
That is what "pay or stay" means. To that policy the majority in this
country are definitely opposed. If the Diehards in the Cabinet were by
any chance to win, and either Mr. Baldwin surrendered or resigned in
favour of a Poincarist administration in this country, neither he nor
any possible successors could carry the country along into the Ruhr
venture.

Some of them around the Prime Minister who have so suddenly assumed
pro-French sentiments as the shortest cut to higher altitudes than
those to which they have yet succeeded in climbing, know full well
that, although they may use the Diehards for their own ends, if they
succeeded in their somewhat sinister purpose they could not carry out
the Diehard policy.

They are, therefore, endeavouring to provide for contingencies by
negotiating on their own a fresh understanding with France. But British
Premiers are not appointed at Rambouillet nor do they draw their
authority from the Quai d'Orsay. Whatever may be thought of Mr. Bonar
Law or of Mr. Stanley Baldwin by political partisans, no one suggests
that they derived their promotion from other than purely British
sources.

But for a fortnight nothing is to happen--except the spread of
unemployment in Britain and of despair in Germany. At the end of the
fortnight will there be a surrejoinder to M. Poincaré's rejoinder? Or
will there be another conference?

Both M. Poincaré and the present Parliamentary régime in Britain came
into power on the cry of "Enough of these eternal conferences; let
us return to the good old diplomatic methods that prevailed before
the War"--and, they might add, "which helped to make it possible."
Nevertheless, Mr. Bonar Law's administration during its short tenure of
six months participated in four European conferences, and M. Poincaré,
during his eighteen months' official career, has found it necessary to
take part, directly, in five conferences, and directly and indirectly
in eight. The French Press are urging him on to add another to a record
which already beats that of M. Briand in the matter of "joy-riding"--to
quote the contemptuous Diehard name for international conferences
during Coalition days.

It is a suspicious circumstance that those who were once resentful
and scornful of conferences should now be clamouring for one both here
and in France. The reason is scarcely concealed by ardent advocates of
the resumption of "picnic diplomacy." At the old conferences, so it is
contended, France was invariably forced to give way. Now she can and
will command the situation.

There is a new note of confidence ringing through French despatches and
echoed in the French Press. France must get what she wants; Britain
must take what she is given. The French share of reparations must
first be assured--debts due to Britain can come out of what is left.
It is rather greedy, but characteristic, of the British that they
should expect to be paid what is owing to them! With their smug and
hypocritical Puritan temperament and outlook they insist that contracts
should be respected! France, for the sake of the Entente, will make
a concession even to British cupidity and pharisaism. It will permit
the British Empire to collect--not the whole of what is due to her,
but a much-reduced claim out of Germany once the French demand for
reparations is cashed or as good as cashed!

To me this is a new France. During my years of discussion with French
statesmen I never heard this voice. I had three or four talks with M.
Poincaré, and I never heard him speak in these supercilious tones.
Impunity has developed them since to their present pitch of stridency.

Belgium is to suggest a meeting of the Premiers. When it comes the
French minimum terms are to be rigid and unequivocal. Here they are:--


     1. France must be paid her irreducible minimum of £1,300,000,000
     in respect of reparations, whatever happens to any one else.

     2. Belgium is also to have her priority of £100,000,000.

     3. As Germany cannot raise these huge sums immediately, France
     and Belgium are to hold the Ruhr until they are paid. Hints have
     been thrown out by the more conciliatory French journals that the
     French Government might consider an early retirement from the
     Ruhr if the payment of reparations were made the subject of an
     international guarantee. That implies Britain and America becoming
     sureties for payment of the German indemnity!

     4. As to the rest, France and Belgium have no objection, subject
     to the above conditions, to Great Britain collecting £700,000,000,
     _i.e._, about 23 per cent., of her international claims (debts and
     reparations) from Germany. But this munificent concession is to
     be made on the distinct understanding that she forgoes entirely
     the remaining 77 per cent. of her bonds. The Allies and Germany
     between them owe Great Britain £3,000,000,000. The French and
     Belgian governments are willing that Great Britain should collect
     £700,000,000 of that amount from Germany, provided the remaining
     £2,300,000,000 is for ever cancelled--and always provided that the
     £1,400,000,000 due to France and Belgium has been satisfactorily
     guaranteed.

     5. These handsome terms can only be propounded if Germany first
     of all withdraws all passive resistance in the Ruhr. That is an
     essential preliminary.


The French government have stated these terms with such precision and
such emphasis, and repeated them with such undeviating insistence,
that any departure from them on the French side seems impossible. The
hope of a conference rests entirely on the confidence in a British
surrender. There is a dismal "joy-ride" in prospect for the British
Prime Minister and his Foreign Secretary. Is it conceivable they
can contemplate such a capitulation? I do not see how the present
Government, after all it has said and written, can so far submit to
French dictation as to make it likely that further discussions would
lead to agreement.

What is the alternative? Herr Stresemann can alone answer that
question. It is not yet clear what he means to do. Perhaps he is
feeling his way to a decision.

_London, August 27th, 1923._

FOOTNOTES:

[8] London, August 27th, 1923.

[9] The Cannes Conference, January, 1922.



XXI

THE BRITISH DEBT TO AMERICA


As I roll homeward along the coast of Spain a wireless message
announces that the British government have accepted the American debt
terms.

The details which I have received are not sufficient to enable me
to form an opinion regarding the character of those terms, or their
bearing on Allied indebtedness to Britain as to the terms of payment.
I know nothing of the steps taken by Mr. Baldwin and the government
of which he is a member to make this the first step in an all-round
settlement of inter-Allied debts. That is a matter of infinite moment
to us, and I assume that this is somewhere--and effectively--in the
arrangement.

As to the payment of our own debt, the government represent the real
sentiment of the nation as a whole. The British taxpayer is no doubt
fully alive to the fact that this heavy debt was incurred by him
during the war in the main in order to finance American supplies to
our Allies. We could have paid for all the supplies we required for
our own use without resort to any loan from the American government.
Nevertheless, the money was advanced by the lender on our credit and
our signature.

Our credit as a nation, therefore, demands that we should pay. Whether
we can collect enough money from our own debtors to meet this charge
becomes increasingly doubtful, as it is becoming increasingly needful.

Britain is alone in thinking she is under any moral obligation to pay
the external liabilities incurred for the effective prosecution of
the war. The attitude of the late and of the present government is
identical in this respect.

Why have the British public taken a different view of their national
obligations towards external war debts from that adopted by other
Allies? In giving the answer I do not wish to dwell on obvious ethical
considerations which must weigh whenever you consider whether you will
carry out an engagement which you have entered into with another who
has already performed his part of the engagement on the strength of
your promise.

These ought to be conclusive; but to urge them might be deemed to be
an unworthy reflection on the honour of those who take a different view
of their national duty.

I have no desire to offer censure or criticism upon their decision.
They, no doubt, have their reasons for the course they are adopting. We
have certainly overwhelming reasons for showing an honest readiness to
pay our debts.

The settling up of accounts is always an unpleasant business,
especially amongst friends. Strangers expect it and prepare for it--and
there is no resentment when the bill arrives. But a man hates reminding
his friend at the end of a business in which both have been engaged
in warm amity that there is "a little balance" to be paid up. He has
been expecting the friend to mention the matter to him. So he puts off
introducing the unpleasant topic from year to year. But the friend
disappoints his expectations. Not a hint comes from that quarter of any
realisation that there is anything due. It soon looks as if it had been
forgotten altogether.

The friend is most insistent on collecting the business accounts due
to himself. He is angry at all delays in payment of his own bills.
But his conscience is blind on the side of the debts he himself owes.
It is not an uncommon experience, and we are suffering from it to-day.
The war left us a creditor nation to the extent of over 2,000 million
pounds, and a debtor nation to the extent of about half that amount.
We readily accepted an invitation from our creditor to discuss the
repayment of the debt we owe. Our debtors have displayed an invincible
reluctance to enter into a similar discussion with us.

That ought not to influence our final decision. Britain is the greatest
of all international traders, and her credit rests on the reputation
she has well earned--that her bond is a sacred trust which her people
always honour and redeem without counting the cost in toil and
treasure. I remember when war broke out the panic which seized bankers
and brokers as they contemplated the obligations incurred by British
firms with their support to finance world trade. These liabilities ran
into hundreds of millions sterling, and the only security for repayment
was represented by a bundle of flimsy paper, criss-crossed with the
signatures of men most of whom no British banker had ever seen, many
of them dwelling in countries with whom we were actually at war.

There was one signature, however, on each paper which was known to
bankers and carried with it the good name of Britain throughout the
world; and it was that of some well-known British firm. Traders in
far-distant lands parted with their produce on the credit of that
signature and of the country with which it was associated.

It is true that the government had no responsibility for any of these
transactions; but the honour of Britain was involved in seeing that the
foreign merchants should not suffer ruin because they put their trust
in British commercial integrity. For that reason the British government
of the day shouldered the burden, took all the risk, and although it
meant a liability of between four hundred and five hundred millions
sterling, not a voice was raised in protest.

The action then taken, though quite unprecedented, was not only
honourable; it was wise. It saved British pride from a reproach; it
also saved British credit from a blow from which it would not have
recovered for a generation. During that generation this lucrative
business would have passed into other hands.

As soon as the war was over the people of Britain, with an instinctive
impulse that required no persuasion to stimulate its activity, set
about the task of restoring their war-battered credit. Government,
bankers, merchants, brokers, manufacturers, and workers of all kinds
were of one mind; borrowing must come to an end; Britain must pay her
way--whatever the sacrifice. Expenditure was ruthlessly cut down. The
army and navy were reduced below pre-war dimensions. Other services
were curtailed. Heavy taxation was imposed--taxation such as no
other country bears. The budget at home must balance. Debts to other
countries must be paid off. Already large sums have been paid abroad.
It required courage and constancy to pursue such a policy; but the
endurance of the nation was beyond praise. It is now calmly facing the
liquidation of this heavy debt to the United States of America; but no
party has yet arisen, or is likely to arise, to demand that the hand of
the negotiators should be arrested. Britain means to pay the last of
her debts without a murmur.

We are already reaping some of the reward. The purchasing value of our
currency has already risen under its burdens, and, as a consequence,
the cost of living has fallen steadily, while other countries who have
pursued a different policy find the cost of living for their people
ascending month by month.

A short time ago we were taunted in the French Chamber of Deputies by
the president of the council that our unsound financial policy had
been responsible for our unemployment. It is true that if we had gone
on borrowing instead of paying our way--if we had defied our foreign
creditors instead of paying them--we also, like many other European
countries, might have fostered an artificial prosperity by means of a
discredited currency. But British credit would have rapidly disappeared
beyond recovery and British trade would soon have followed. Meanwhile,
the cost of living in Great Britain would have been double what it is
to-day. We all therefore dismissed that policy from our minds without
paying it the tribute of a discussion.

Trust is the only soil in which credit flourishes. Had that trust been
forfeited British buyers and consequently British consumers would
to-day have been paying more for their wheat, their meat, their
cotton, and their wool. The burden of repayment to the United States
will be infinitely less than that of the indirect burden involved in
large purchases with a discredited currency.

The government are therefore right in arranging with the American
treasury without loss of time for the liquidation of a debt incurred by
this country. I am taking for granted that they have made every effort
to see that the agreement shall form a part of an all-round settlement
of inter-Allied debts. But as to our own debt the moral obligation
must remain whatever our Allies do or fail to do. Why it was incurred,
the circumstances in which it was entered into, the purposes for which
the money was advanced, were open to the consideration of the American
government in arranging terms. That, however, was their privilege; ours
is to honour our signature.



XXII

INTER-ALLIED DEBTS


A cold shiver ran down the back of England when it was announced
officially that the British government had definitely agreed to pay
over £30,000,000 a year for sixty years to the United States in respect
of debts incurred by us on behalf of our Allies without seeking a
contribution from our debtors to protect the taxpayers of this country.
It is not that anyone dreamt the evil dream of repudiation. That was
never woven into the texture even of the worst nightmare out of the
many that have disturbed our repose since the greatest nightmare of all
left the world a quivering nervous wreck.

Nor did we expect remission of our debts. Whenever we were tempted
to exaggerate the bounds of human charity paragraphs appeared that
reminded us of the attitude of the "Middle West." America was
discovered by Europe centuries ago, but the "Middle West," as a
political entity, is to untutored Europeans a discovery of the war.
We were then told by returning explorers that it was the seat of the
American conscience--inexorable, intractable, but irresistible when
engaged in any enterprise. How potent this conscience was, as a world
force, the war demonstrated. From the heights it hurled an avalanche
of force against Germany that overwhelmed the last hope of resistance.
Unfortunately for us when it came to debts we struck against the hard
side of the Middle West conscience.

Our hope was therefore not in remission. There were, however, many
other possibilities. We were not the only debtors of the American
government. Other Allies had borrowed not merely indirectly through
us, but directly from America. We had every confidence that the United
States government would not mete out to Britain severer treatment
than it was prepared to accord to our Allies. We had to contend, it
is true, with legends of our inexhaustible wealth. Apart from our
great coal deposits, and a climate which leaves those who endure it
no alternative but activity, we have no treasure except the industry,
the resources and the inherited skill of our people. We have nothing
like the rich plains and the fertilising and ripening sunshine of
France, which maintain sixty per cent. of its population. Our sources
of wealth--apart from coal--are precarious, for they depend more
largely than any other country on conditions outside our own. We are
international providers, merchants and carriers. A sixty-year contract
to pay large sums across the seas is in many respects a more serious
consideration for us than for countries whose riches are inherent in
their soil and are, therefore, more self-contained. The demoralised
condition of the world markets has left us with a larger proportion
of our industrial population unemployed than any other European
country. I hear tales of unemployment in the United States of America,
but the reports that reach us here on American unemployment are so
contradictory that I can build no argument upon them. But, as to the
gigantic dimensions of our unemployed problem there can be no doubt. We
have 1,400,000 workmen on the unemployed register drawing unemployment
pay in one form or another. The annual cost to the nation of feeding
its workless population runs to over £100,000,000--almost the figure of
the annuity demanded from Germany as a war indemnity.

Although there are signs of improvement the omens point to a prolonged
period of subnormal trade. Continuous depression for years will mean
that Britain will suffer more from the devastation to her trade caused
by the war than France from the devastation of her provinces. Our
country, anxious about its means of livelihood, with a million and a
half of its workmen walking the streets in a vain search for work, has
to bear the heaviest burden of taxation in the world. Why? Because it
has not only to pay interest on its own heavy war debts, but also on
£3,000,000,000 which it either advanced to the Allies or incurred on
their behalf. That is why we felt hopeful that the United States would
not discriminate against a nation so situated.

When I talk of debts the Allies owe to us, I want to emphasise the
fact that these debts are not paper myths nor tricks of accountancy.
They are onerous facts representing a real burden borne at this hour
by the bent and panting taxpayer of Britain. If these loans had never
been made the weight on his shoulders to-day would have been lighter by
over two shillings in the pound. He is every year paying to the actual
lenders--some British, some American--that proportion of his income.
It is a weight he undertook to carry for his Allies during the war on
the sacred pledge of those Allies that they would take it over after
the war. The American government borrowed from their public to make
advances to Great Britain, and have called upon the British taxpayer to
redeem his pledge. We make no complaint, for the demand is a mitigation
of the strict letter of the bond. But that amount is in substance part
of the debt owing by the Allies to Britain. And the British taxpayer
naturally feels it is hard on him to have to bear not only his own
legitimate burdens but that he should in addition have to carry the
debts of his less heavily taxed brethren in continental countries. He
naturally inferred that if equal pressure had been administered on all
debtors alike it would have forced an all-around consultation which
would have terminated in an all-round settlement.

That was the real purport of the Balfour note. The true significance
of that great document has been entirely misunderstood--sometimes
carelessly, sometimes purposely, sometimes insolently. I guarantee
that not one per cent. of its critics if confronted suddenly with an
examination on its contents would secure one mark out of a hundred.
It has suffered the same fate as the treaty of Versailles. Opinion
is sharply divided as to both between those who rend without reading
and those who read without rending. Most men have received their
impressions of the Balfour note from denunciatory phrases penned
by writers who received their ideas about it from men who gave
instructions to condemn it without ever reading it. The men who really
understood both the Versailles treaty and the Balfour note have been
too busy to find time to inform, to interpret, and to explain.

But the time has come when the public attention should be once more
drawn to the remarkable and far-reaching proposals of the Balfour note.
They constitute an offer on the part of Britain to measure the amount
of her claims against her Allies by the extent of her obligations to
the United States of America. The British government even offered to
include the claim of their country against Germany in this generous
concession. What does that mean in reference to present conditions?
That if the Allies and Germany between them found the £30,000,000 a
year which Britain has undertaken to pay America, she would forgo her
claim to the £3,300,000,000 due to her under contract and treaty.
It was a great offer and if accepted would have produced results
beneficent beyond computation. Britain, which would have been the
heaviest direct loser, would have profited indirectly through the world
recovery that would have ensued.

How was it received? Some criticised it because it asked too
little--some because it demanded too much. Many criticised because
they were determined to approve nothing that emanated from such a
government, but most of its censors condemned it because they never
took the trouble to understand it, and the shrillest among the street
cries happened to denounce it. The government that propounded it soon
after left the seat of authority, and the administration that succeeded
put forward a new scheme which attracted even less acceptance. So this
great project which would have settled for ever the question which
above all others is vexing peace and unsettling minds in Europe was
pigeon-holed where it was not already basketed.

But surely this is not the end of all endeavours to reach a settlement
of the question of inter-Allied debts. We cannot rest satisfied with an
arrangement which effectively binds us to pay without prospect of the
slightest contribution from our debtors. What America cannot indulge
in we cannot afford. The gold of Europe now lies in its coffers.
Who are we--plunged in the mire of debt up to our nostrils--to give
ourselves airs of generosity superior to the only golden land left in
this war-stripped earth?

If there is to be a general jubilee in which all alike participate in
order to give the world a new start, then I feel sure Britain will play
her part bravely and nobly. But a jerry-mandered jubilee which frees
France, Italy and Belgium from all their debts whilst leaving Britain
sweating to pay off debts incurred for her Allies on the strength of
their bond--that we cannot bear.

I trust the government will insist on an arrangement with our Allies
which, even if it is not a replica of our contract with the American
government, will at any rate ensure us a contribution that will
safeguard us against loss under that contract. It is I fear hopeless
to expect that we should be recouped the 2_s._ in the pound which
interest on Allied debts costs our taxpayers, but at any rate we
might be guaranteed against the 6_d._ in the pound which the American
instalments involve. I feel the effort is beset with difficulties
and that the outlook is not hopeful. There have of late been a few
discouraging symptoms. One is the reception accorded at the recent
Paris conference to the British prime minister's liberal offer
regarding inter-Allied debts. It was a tactical error to open the
conference with such a scheme and the effect was singularly unfortunate.

Had I been disposed to press my criticisms on the conduct of the recent
negotiations in Paris it would have been that they were so managed that
for the first time since the war Britain has been completely isolated
at a European conference. That is a misfortune, for it encouraged the
French government to rash action. Up to the last conference Britain and
Italy had remained in substantial accord even when France and Belgium
took a different view, and Belgium had never before quitted any of the
gatherings in complete disagreement with Great Britain. So France,
always tempted as she was to occupy the Ruhr, hesitated to do so in the
face of so formidable an Allied resistance. What is relevant, however,
to the subject of this article is the cause of our unwonted isolation
on the occasion of the last conference. The British premier started
the negotiations by tabling proposals which promised forgiveness of
most of the indebtedness of these countries to Britain, but which
implied immediate arrangements for beginning repayment of the rest.
This suggestion of repayment instantly consolidated opposition to the
whole of the British plan. It became clear that existing governments
on the continent had no intention, unless firmly pressed, of paying
the smallest percentage of the debt they incurred on the faith of a
solemn engagement to repay the loan when that was possible, and to pay
interest meanwhile. If we point to the fact as we did in the Balfour
note, that we have undertaken to repay the United States of America
the heavy debt incurred by us on behalf of the Allies, they simply
shrug their shoulders and say in effect: "That is your affair. We repay
neither Britain nor America, and there is an end of it."

The other unpleasant incident is a speech delivered by M. Poincaré
in the French Chamber in the course of which he dealt casually with
the subject of inter-Allied indebtedness. The French prime minister
then announced categorically that France had no intention of paying
her debts until she has first received her share of reparations from
Germany. What does that mean in effect? That the France represented
by M. Poincaré has no intention of ever paying her debts. When
the colossal figure of German reparations is taken into account
thirty years is a moderate estimate of the period required for its
liquidation. Is the French debt to lie dormant carrying no interest
meanwhile? If it is, then the debt is practically wiped out, for the
present value of £500,000,000 debt payable thirty years hence is
insignificant. The present government of France have therefore declared
they do not mean to pay what France owes. Surely the time to dictate
the conditions of your repayment of a loan--when you propose to pay,
how much you propose to pay, or whether you mean to pay at all--is when
you are borrowing and not after you have spent the money.

And yet in the same speech in which M. Poincaré serves up hot
platitudes for senatorial palates about the sanctity of national
obligations, he dismisses France's faithful ally with the cold comfort
that France is too busy collecting the accounts due to her to attend
to the debts she owes. I believe in my heart that there is a France
of which he is not the spokesman--a great France which will not treat
shabbily a faithful friend who stood by her in the hour of despair
and who is now staggering under unparalleled burdens incurred in the
discharge of the obligations of friendship.

All this makes it more necessary that the situation should be cleared
up without undue delay. Having just completed negotiations for
liquidating our own war indebtedness to America we are in a position
to insist on a settlement with those on whose behalf we incurred that
indebtedness. If nothing is done the conditions will harden against us.
We shall be assumed to have accepted the Poincaré repudiation. I do not
know what conditions the government have made with the United States
government as to the marketability of the securities to be created in
funding our debt. If they are to be placed on the market the chance of
any future deal is destroyed. Ere that be done we must know where we
are in reference to our own claims. I trust the government will act
promptly. Delay was justifiable so long as we were in the same position
in reference to what we owed as what we claimed. The Baldwin settlement
has altered all that. If we do not insist on an arrangement now the
British taxpayer will have the fate of Issachar--that of the poor beast
between two burdens--his own and that of the Allies.



XXIII

THE BRITISH ELECTIONS


It is the duty of every patriotic citizen, in view of the difficulties
with which the country is confronted, to assist the government of
the day by every means at his disposal. Factious criticism disturbs
judgment and tends to unnerve. Governments to-day require full command
of mind and nerve to enable them to arrive at sound decisions and to
persevere in them. Faction is, therefore, treason to the country.

That does not, however, preclude a calm survey of the elections and
their meaning. Quite the contrary, for we must think of the future and
prepare for it.

The result of the elections has fully justified those who maintained
that no party standing alone could hope to secure the measure of public
support which will guarantee stable government. It is true that the
Conservatives have succeeded in obtaining the return of a majority of
members to the new Parliament. But the most notable feature of the
elections is the return of a decisive majority of members by a very
definite minority of the electors.

I observe that the prime minister, in returning thanks to the nation,
claims that he has received a vote of confidence from the people of
this country. Out of a total poll of fifteen millions his candidates
secured less than six million votes. Making full allowance for
uncontested seats, this figure cannot be stretched out to a height much
above six millions.

That means that only two-fifths of the electorate voted confidence
in the administration, whilst three-fifths voted confidence in other
leaders or groups. A party which has a majority of three millions
recorded against it on a national referendum can hardly claim to have
received a national vote of confidence.

It might be argued that when the question of confidence or no
confidence comes to be stated, the National Liberals having promised
co-operation, the votes recorded by them ought not to be placed on the
debit side of the confidence account. The basis of the appeal made by
the National Liberal candidates for support is practically that stated
by me in my Manchester speech:

"The supreme task of statesmanship at this hour is the pacification of
the nations, so that the people shall have leisure to devote themselves
to the peaceful avocations of life, to fill up the depleted reservoirs
from which we all draw.

"My course is a clear one. I will support with all my might any
government that devotes itself and lends its energy to that task
with single-mindedness, fearlessness, and with resolution--provided
it does not embark upon measures which inflict permanent injury upon
the country, whether these measures be reactionary or revolutionary.
That does not mean that I pledge myself to support inefficiency,
vacillation, or infirmity in any government or in any party. But any
government that does not pursue that course I will resist with all my
might. That is my policy."

I have perused the addresses of many National Liberal candidates and I
have addressed many meetings in their constituencies, and I find that
their attitude towards the government is defined in these terms, with
purely verbal variations. The address of Mr. J. D. Gilbert, who won
Central Southwark, is a very fair sample taken out of the bulk:


     "If you honour me again with your confidence I will support any
     progressive measures brought forward by the present government or
     any other government. I shall not offer factious opposition or
     nagging criticism while our country is in difficulties at home or
     abroad."


There may be one or two who went further, but none expressed confidence.

I have made some inquiries as to the number of Conservative votes
polled by National Liberal candidates. I am informed that on an average
it represents less than one-third of the total. At the last election
167 National Liberal candidates were put up. They polled an aggregate
of 1,652,823 votes, that is, an average of 9,897 per candidate. What
proportion of this vote was Conservative? There is a good practical
method of testing this question. In sixty-two seats National Liberals
were fought by Conservative as well as by other candidates. In
these cases the average vote polled by National Liberals was 6,820.
That means that where the Conservatives supported National Liberal
candidates their votes would represent about 30 per cent. of the
poll for these candidates. On the other hand, the number of Liberal
votes polled by Conservatives, where a compact existed, at least
balances this account, for although the total in each constituency
does not equal the figures of the Conservative support in National
Liberal constituencies, still, that support was spread over many more
constituencies.

The prime minister and his chief electioneering manager both
emphatically repudiated the suggestion that there was any pact between
Conservatives and National Liberals, and urged that there were only
local arrangements made between the candidates of the two parties for
their mutual convenience.

As the head of the National Liberal group I expressed grave doubts as
to the composition of the ministry, and much apprehension as to the
language in which its policy was defined. That represents the general
attitude of the National Liberals toward the government. Their support,
therefore, cannot be claimed in totalling the votes recorded for the
government.

The fact, therefore, remains that those who voted confidence in the
government represent only forty per cent. of those who went to the poll
and twenty-five per cent. of the total electorate.

I place this fact in the forefront, because it is bound to have a
profound effect upon the course of events during--maybe beyond--the
lifetime of this parliament. It is the first time, certainly since the
Reform Act, that a pronounced minority of the electorate has succeeded
in securing the control of parliament and the government of the country.

It would be idle to pretend that in a democratic country like ours,
thoroughly imbued with the spirit of representative government, this
does not weaken the moral authority of the government of the day.
Therefore, if the government is wise it will bear that fact in mind and
will not commit itself to policies which challenge the nine millions
who between them represent a majority of the people of this country.

It is not a very good beginning to claim these striking figures as a
vote of confidence. I sincerely trust it does not indicate a resolve to
ignore, if not to defy, what is an obvious and ought to be a governing
factor in the policy of the government.

A corollary to this curious working of our electoral system is to be
found in the under-representation of the other parties in the present
parliament, and unless representative government is to be discredited
altogether, the present parliament ought at once to devote its mind and
direct its energies to the discovery of some method and machinery which
will avert the danger which clearly arises from the working of the
present system.

The parliament of 1918 undoubtedly gave a larger majority to the
government than the figures warranted. But the majority of votes cast
for government candidates was so overwhelming that under any system
of voting there would have been a larger working majority for the
government than that which the present government can command. So when
trouble arose it was not open to any section of the community to object
that the government had no authority because it did not represent the
electorate of this country.

We are faced with a new danger to constitutional government. What
has happened at this election may be repeated at the next--but not
necessarily in favour of the same party.

If we are to be governed by a succession of administrations who rule
in spite of the protest of a majority of the people, the authority of
government will be weakened beyond repair.

The luck of the electoral table has this time favoured the
Conservatives. Next time it may turn in favour of the Labour Party.
They have at this election secured 55 seats out of a total of 141 by a
minority of votes.

The conditions were, in many respects, against them. Their funds were
exhausted by the prolonged period of heavy unemployment. The trade
union movement was passing through an ebb tide in its prosperity, both
in funds and in members. There was a good deal of discontent with the
trade union leaders. Many workmen felt they had been let down badly by
some of their activities in industrial disputes.

Moreover, Labour has been committed by visionaries to a rash experiment
which handicapped it severely in the election. Next time may be the
spring tide of Labour. They have learnt their lesson at the polls, and
are not likely to repeat the blunder of November, 1922.

This time the votes cast for them have attained the gigantic aggregate
of four millions and a quarter. Supposing under those conditions they
add another two millions to their poll. Although the other groups may
secure between them nine millions of votes, Labour may have the same
luck as the Conservatives at the last election and be placed in power
by a decisive majority of members elected by a minority of votes.

I am not going to speculate as to what may happen under those
conditions; the kind of legislation that may be proposed; the action
of the House of Lords in reference to it, provoking, as it undoubtedly
will, a fierce class conflict; or the turn given to administration in
the various departments of government.

Of one thing I am, however, certain. That is, that as a minority
administration in 1922 and onwards will help to discredit government
with certain classes of the community, a minority Labour administration
would weaken the respect of other classes for representative
government, and between them an atmosphere will be created inimical to
the moral authority of all government in this country.

I have many a time warned the public that, in spite of
appearances, this country is in many respects very top-heavy. It
is over-industrialised. Its means of livelihood are in some ways
precarious, and depend on conditions over which we have very little
control, and once something happens which may have the effect of
causing a lean-over either in one direction or in the other, it will be
more difficult to recover than in lands where the population depends in
the main for its livelihood upon the cultivation of the soil and the
development of the natural resources of the country.

I therefore earnestly trust that in the interests of stability and good
government, which must be based on the goodwill and co-operation of the
community as a whole, this parliament will apply its mind seriously to
finding some means of preventing a repetition either in one direction
or another of this freak of representative government.

Another feature of the election is the heavy vote polled by Liberal
candidates in spite of untoward circumstances.

Whatever the difficulties of the Labour Party might be in this election
they were not comparable to those under which Liberalism fought the
campaign. It was divided by bitter internecine conflicts. The leaders
of one section seemed to be more intent on keeping representatives of
the other section out of parliament than on fighting for the common
cause. The bulk of their speeches was devoted to attacks on the leaders
of the other Liberal group, and there was not much room left for a
statement of the Liberal case.

What happened in Manchester is typical. Here the rank and file took the
matter in hand and enforced agreement. Lord Grey was brought down to
bless it. But the whole of his benedictory speech consisted of a thin
and dreary drip of querulous comment on the leaders of the other group,
with a distinct hint that the return of a Conservative government would
be by no means a bad thing in the interests of the country.

The speech was hailed by a Tory journal with the heading "Lord Grey
Supports Mr. Bonar Law." He then went straight to support Mr. McKinnon
Wood as candidate with a repetition of the same speech. Thence he
rushed off to reiterate the same performance at Bedford in support
of Lady Lawson, and he finished off by reciting it for two days at
meetings in support of Mr. Walter Runciman.

No wonder that he succeeded in damping Liberal enthusiasm to such an
extent that his unfortunate protégés surprised even their opponents in
the poverty of the support given them at the polls.

As soon as the coalition broke up the leaders of this Liberal section
met to consider the situation. The one positive result of their
deliberations was not the issue of a ringing appeal for unity on the
basis of Liberal principles, but a peevish intimation through the press
that efforts at unity were to be discouraged at the election. It was
clearly ordained that the Coalition Liberals should be crushed out. The
Conservatives spurned them, and the Independent Liberals gave notice
that they had no use for them. They were destined for extinction. Lord
Crewe's speech proceeded on the same lines. May I say how sincerely I
rejoice in the tribute to the "amateur diplomatist" which is implied
in the conferring by a Conservative government of the blue ribbon of
diplomacy upon the leader of the Independent Liberals in the House of
Lords?

This precipitate and lamentable decision lost at least forty Liberal
seats, gave to the Conservatives their majority, and what is equally
important established the Labour Party as His Majesty's official
Opposition in the House of Commons. The latter is much the most
serious practical result of the decisions of the Independent leaders
to debar united action at the last election. If Liberals had united
when the Coalition came to an end, Liberalism might have polled five
million votes. It would have now held a powerful second position in
parliament, and the country and the nation would have looked to it in
the future as it has hitherto done in the past for the alternative to
"Toryism." Instead of that it is a poor split third. How could they
expect to win at the polls? The National Liberals were pursued into
their constituencies. Thirty-five National Liberal seats were assailed
by Independent Liberal candidates. I am not making a complaint, but
offering an explanation. Whatever the views of the National Liberal
leaders might have been on the subject of Liberal unity they were given
no chance to effect it, and although they entered into no national
compact with the Conservatives their followers in certain areas had no
option but to negotiate local arrangements with the Conservatives for
mutual support. The implacable attitude of the Independent Liberals
left them no choice in the matter.

What was the inevitable result? No real fight was put up for Liberal
principles on either side. The Independent Liberals were tangled by
the personal preoccupation of their leaders. They had accumulated
enormous dumps of ammunition for the day of battle on the assumption
that the main attack would be on the Coalition Liberals, and, although
the Conservatives now lined the opposite trenches, anger dominated
strategy, and the guns were still fired at their old foes, whilst the
Tory government was only bombarded with bouquets. On the other hand,
the National Liberal leaders were embarrassed by the engagements into
which their followers had been driven by the action of the Independent
Liberal leaders and the two warring factions.

The National Liberals, in spite of their enormous difficulties, have
not been exterminated. I am not going to enter into a barren inquiry
as to whether their numbers are or are not greater than those of Mr.
Asquith's followers. Let it be assumed that they are equal. The marvel
is that under these fratricidal conditions so many Liberals of any
complexion have been returned.

I am not setting forth these unhappy facts in order to prolong the
controversy which has poisoned Liberalism for years, but in order to
call attention to the vitality which, in spite of these depressing
conditions, can bring up 4,100,000 voters to the polls. Electorally
Liberalism is the balancing power, and if it casts its united strength
against either reaction or subversion its influence must be decisive,
whatever the composition of this parliament may be.

It is common knowledge that the Independent Liberals confidently
anticipated the return of at least 120 members of their group. The
fact that they only succeeded in securing the return of about fifty is
naturally to them a source of deep disappointment.

If the failure of high hopes leads to contemplation of the real causes
of that failure and a sincere desire is manifested to substitute
co-operation for conflict my colleagues and I will welcome it. We
cannot force our society on an unwilling company.

During the campaign I repeatedly expressed the hope that one outcome of
this election would be to bring moderate men of progressive outlook in
all parties to see the wisdom of acting together.

But progressive minds are by no means confined to the Liberal party.
I have met and worked with them in the Conservative party, and the
election will have taught many men and women in the Labour party that
violent and extravagant proposals impede progress. If the limits are
not too narrowly drawn, this parliament may witness the effective
association of men of many parties who are genuinely concerned in the
advancement of mankind along the paths of peace and progress for the
attainment of their common ideals. If that end is achieved, the coming
years will not be spent in vain.

One word as to the National Liberals. When the dissolution came no
party was ever placed in a more embarrassing and even desperate
situation.

The Conservatives have at their disposal a great political machine. The
Labour party could command the support of all the trade unions, with
their elaborate machinery for organising the wage-earning population.
The Independent Liberals had in England and in Scotland captured the
Liberal machine almost in its entirety, and had spent six years in
perfecting it, their leaders having no other occupation.

The National Liberal leaders inherited no political machinery, and were
too preoccupied with great world affairs to be able to devote any time
to the improvisation of an effective new organisation.

Conservatives, Independent Liberals, and Labour all alike attacked
National Liberal seats where they thought any advantage might be gained
for their respective parties by doing so. The Conservatives only
refrained from attack in cases where they thought there was more to be
gained by arrangement. There was a great volume of popular sentiment
behind our group. I visited Britain, north, south, east, west, and I
have never witnessed such crowds nor such enthusiasm at any electoral
contest in which I have ever taken part; but there was no organisation
to convert acclamation into electoral power, and you could not build
up a vast political machine in three weeks. Our supporters were not
provided with an opportunity to test their strength in two-thirds of
the constituencies. In nearly three hundred constituencies they could
not do so without impairing the chances of Liberal candidates. A
compact with Conservatives ruled them out of others.

It is a wonder that, in spite of these adverse and even paralysing
conditions our numbers are twice those of the Independent Liberals in
1918.

We have now for the first time full opportunity for placing our case
and point of view before the country and organising support for them.
It is our duty to do so.

Every month will contribute its justification for the course we have
hitherto pursued, and for the counsel we have steadfastly given to a
country struggling through abnormal difficulties.

_London, November 20th, 1922._



XXIV

HOW DEMOCRACY WORKS


The startling English by-elections of the last few weeks have called
attention to the working of the new electorate in Great Britain and
set men pondering about its possibilities in a way a general election
failed to make them think. Democracy in the sense of government of a
great state by the absolute and unfettered authority of the majority of
its own citizens of all ranks and conditions is a modern experiment.
The United States of America are the oldest democracy in the world
to-day.

How many realise that Britain became a democracy for the first time in
1917? Until then the majority of its adult population had no voice in
the making or administration of the laws that ruled their lives.

The United States of America, France and Italy have adopted universal
suffrage as the basis of authority for many a year. So have the
British Dominions, but Britain herself, the pioneer of representative
institutions, until recently shrank from the experiment of adult
suffrage. Before the Reform Act of 1832 the total electorate of this
country numbered only 3 per cent. of the population. The distribution
of power amongst this small percentage was so arranged that even the 3
per cent. represented in effect no more than at best 1 per cent.

A generation of turmoil and agitation, almost culminating in
revolution, succeeded in forcing through a measure which increased
the 3 per cent. to 4.5 per cent. of the population! It is true that
the distribution of votes was more equitable, but even with that
improvement to call this ridiculous percentage a democracy would be
absurd. Another generation of growing agitation ensued. This also ended
in violence. Then Mr. Disraeli, one of the boldest and most venturesome
of British statesmen, in 1867 doubled the electorate. His measure
increased the number of voters to 9 per cent. of the population.

Disraeli's audacious plunge horrified some of his aristocratic
supporters and shocked many Whigs. "Bob" Lowe had already foretold
calamities that would follow Gladstone's more cautious proposals. Seven
years later saw the election of the first Tory parliament since 1841.
So much for the prophecies of the men who always fear evil must flow
from justice.

Fifteen years after the Disraeli measure the Gladstone administration
added another 7 per cent. to the electorate. The Gladstone proposals,
which raised the number of voters to 16 per cent., were so vehemently
contested that they nearly precipitated a Constitutional crisis of the
first magnitude. Ultimately, however, they were carried, and there the
franchise remained until the war.

The electorate that, through its representatives, accepted the German
challenge in 1914, and was therefore responsible for involving
the country in the most costly and sanguinary war it ever waged,
represented one-sixth of the population and about one-third of the
adults. The conscription act converted the country to the injustice of
this state of things. Millions of men were forced to risk their lives
for a policy which they had no share in fashioning. Millions of women
faced anxieties and tortures worse than death in pursuit of the same
policy, and yet no woman was allowed to express any opinion as to the
selection of the rulers who led them to this sacrifice.

It was felt to be so unjust that in the exaltation of war, which lifted
men to a higher plane of equity, this obvious wrong was redressed.
Hence the greatest of all the enfranchisement acts, the Act of 1917,
that for the first time converted the British system of government into
a democracy.

How has it worked? It is too early to speak of its results. Mr. Austen
Chamberlain in a letter[10] has called attention to one aspect of its
operation. He emphasises a fact which is already known to every man who
has passed through the experience of a contested election, that nearly
one-half the new electorate is unattached to any political party.

If you deduct out of the total the numbers of the old electorate which
had already formed ties of a party character, you will find from the
result of the elections that more than half the new electorate is free
and floating about without any anchor or rudder and ready to be towed
by the first party that succeeded in roping them. Millions of the new
electors are too indifferent or too undecided about political issues to
take sides at the polling booths.

In the hotly contested election of January, 1910, 92 per cent. of the
voters went to the poll. At the second election which took place in
the same year the percentage was 89. The slight difference between the
two elections would be accounted for by the fact that in the second
election the register was old. Compare these results with the two
elections which have occurred since the 1917 enfranchisement. At the
1918 election 64 per cent. only of the voters could be induced to make
the acquaintance of the ballot-boxes. This might be explained by the
inevitable political apathy which follows a great war. The pulse of
party beat feebly and irregularly. The old party organisations had,
through five years of neglect, fallen into complete disrepair--the new
party had not yet had time to perfect its machinery. Hence the failure
of competitive effort to induce at least 6,000,000 of the new voters to
take a sufficient interest in their new privileges to exercise them at
the election.

The next four years were a period of growing political activity.
The new party was especially energetic. Their chief organiser, Mr.
Arthur Henderson, M.P., is one of the most gifted party managers of
this generation, and his achievement is an outstanding feature of
political organisation in this country. The old parties also had time
to repair their machinery; by the time the election was called their
organisations were in full working order. The only party which had no
organisation worth speaking of was the National Liberal party. The
others were ready for the struggle.

Nevertheless, when the election came in November nearly 5,000,000 of
the electors were not sufficiently interested in the contest to take
the trouble to record their votes. It showed an improvement of 10 per
cent. on the previous election, but there still remained nearly 20 per
cent.--making allowance for death, sickness, removals, etc.--who stayed
at home, and could not be persuaded by personal or public appeal or
pressure exercised by three or four great organisations, to walk a few
hundred yards out of their way in order to place a simple cross on the
ballot paper that was awaiting them.

The municipal elections tell a still more dismal story of apathy. But
that is an old story. It was with difficulty that the old electorate,
with all its long training, could be cajoled to visit the polling
booths where the good government of the towns in which they breathed,
lived, toiled, enjoyed themselves, and rested was being determined.
At their worst, however, they made a better show than the newly
enfranchised voters.

How does the record compare with democracy in other lands? France is
no better. On the whole, I understand it is worse. The voting in the
United States of America fluctuates according to the interest excited
by the particular election. In this respect America does not differ
from Britain. I cannot lay my hand on the percentage of the poll at the
last presidential election, but I gather it was higher than ours at
the general election. The Germans polled at their last election 89 per
cent. of their electorate; in Italy the percentage was much lower.

With an unpolled and unticketed electorate of over 4,000,000 anything
may happen. They have clearly no interest in the ordinary political
conflicts that engage the minds of their fellow-citizens; otherwise,
the excitement of two general elections would have roused them to such
faint exhibition of partisanship as is implied in the choosing of a
candidate out of the two or three who have taken the trouble to send
along their pictures.

But one day an issue may arise which will wake up the most lethargic.
What will it be? And what view will they take of it when it comes? And
who will succeed in catching the eye of the slumbering multitude when
it opens? Much depends on the answer to these questions. They may rally
to the defence of property menaced by rapacious creeds. They may rush
to the protection of their homes threatened by avaricious wealth.

Even those who have already voted are liable to sudden and devastating
changes of opinion. Witness Mitcham, Willesden, and Edgehill. These
three seats were regarded as being amongst the safest in England, and
were selected for that very reason.

Amongst many disquieting factors there is one which ought to be dealt
with ere another election arrive. Under the present system a minority
of electors may usurp absolute dominion over the fortunes of this
kingdom for fully five years.

This is one of the freaks of the group system. The present
parliamentary majority has been elected by an aggregate vote which
represents something a little better than one-fourth of the total
electorate and one-third of those who recorded their votes. If Mitcham
and Edgehill are a foretaste of what is to happen at the "General,"
Labour will be the lucky third. A similar turnover of votes in every
constituency would place them easily in that position.

America has brought its vast electorate under what seems to us to be
a perfect discipline. But in the process it has passed through much
tribulation, including the furnace of a terrible civil war. Italy has
been impelled to correct the working of democratic institutions by a
display of force. Britain may mobilise and drill its electoral forces
with less trouble. But it has a Socialist party, which has grown by
millions within less than a decade--and is still growing. This week its
most eloquent member has proposed, in the House of Commons, a solemn
motion for the abolition of private property. Deputies chosen by four
and a quarter million of British electors will vote for this proposal,
and if, four years hence, they add another million and a half to their
poll, they will be in a position to place that motion on the statute
book. Their increase between 1918 and 1922 was greater than that.

FOOTNOTE:

[10] See the _Times_, March 14, 1923.



XXV

POLITICAL REALITIES


A few weeks ago I predicted that the comparative calm which has
prevailed in the political seas of Britain during the past few years
was coming to an end. Recent parliamentary scenes leave no doubt that
the prolonged political depression is to be followed by a period of
storms--it may be hurricanes.

No amount of organisation or propaganda can excite real feeling in
an electorate over trivial and unreal issues. Why did the coalition
of 1915 fall? And why did the Liberal party split in 1916? Who was
responsible? Should the general election have taken place in 1918
or 1919? Ought open and declared opponents of the government of the
day to have then received government support or at least government
neutrality? These are questions which agitate a few who are personally
interested, but they leave the nation cold.

The war was real enough. But the war was supported by men of
all parties, and, therefore, provoked no political controversy.
The minority which opposed it was negligible, and challenged no
parliamentary discussion on the question. The treaty of peace was,
on the whole, accepted by all parties when it was first submitted to
Parliament. The leaders of the opposition parties in the Lords and
Commons at the time of its presentation offered no serious criticism of
its provisions.

The legislation proposed by the Coalition, although in ordinary seasons
much of it would have aroused angry passions, coming as it did after
the war had exhausted emotion, passed with no more than a feeble murmur
of protest. Take, for instance, such controversial topics as adult
suffrage, the enfranchisement of women, the wholesale reductions in
hours of labour, representative government in India, and notably the
conferring upon Ireland of a measure of Home Rule more complete than
any proposed by Gladstone.

Any one of these measures proposed before the war would have led to
heated discussion throughout the land. The case of Ireland is perhaps
the most significant of the changed temper of the nation immediately
after the great war. The conflict over Irish Home Rule has now
culminated in a treaty accepted by the nation as a whole and acquiesced
in by the most violent amongst its opponents.

But fiercer political passions were stirred up by the struggle between
parties over Ireland than by any political question of modern times.
The causes underlying the conflict dealt with two of the most powerful
motives which make the human heart throb--race and religion. There
was the old feud between Saxon and Gael extending over at least seven
centuries. It drenched the moors of Ireland with the blood of both
races before a keener edge was given to its hatreds by the introduction
of an acute religious quarrel.

After the Reformation the religious differences which rent Europe
with fratricidal wars added fresh fury to the racial enmities which
made poor Ireland a cauldron of perpetual strife. When Mr. Gladstone
proposed to settle this raging tumult by wresting supremacy from a race
which had been dominant in that island for 700 years and a faith which
had been supreme there for 400 years and transferring it to the race
and religion which all that time had been in a condition of servitude,
and when in order to attain his ends he had to secure the adhesion of
men of the ruling blood and creed to his proposals, the passions raised
were deeper and angrier than any witnessed in British politics for many
a day. It led for the first time in the history of parliament to scenes
of physical violence on the floor of the House. It shows what we may
expect when there are genuine divisions of opinion which profoundly
move masses of men and women in a democracy. Those who recall the
tropical heat of parliamentary debates in 1893 naturally regard their
voyage through the frigid proceedings of the last parliament as they
would a sail through Arctic seas. That voyage is now over, and there
are signs that the waters will soon be lashed into fury.

For years political controversy between parties has been suspended
in the presence of a common danger. Reaction was inevitable, and the
greater the suppression the more violent the rebound. That does not,
however, altogether account for the visible omens of a coming struggle
unprecedented in its gravity. Fundamental issues have been raised of
such moment to millions that they cannot be settled without a struggle
that will rock society.

The scene enacted in the Commons a few days ago was by no means as
exciting as that which some of us witnessed in 1893. But it gave me an
uneasy feeling that the period of calm is definitely over, and that
Parliament henceforth must expect gusts and gales--and worse. Emotions
are once more welling up, and there are signs of a great stir coming in
British politics.

The cause is easily explained. The sense of exhaustion is passing
away, and issues containing a serious challenge to the privileges and
rights of powerful classes in the community and vital to the interests
of all classes have been raised by one of the great political parties
that divide Britain. The momentous character of that challenge may be
gathered from the terms of the motion submitted by Mr. Philip Snowden
to the judgment of the House of Commons:--


     "That in view of the failure of the capitalist system to
     adequately utilise and organise natural resources and productive
     power, or to provide the necessary standard of life for vast
     numbers of the population, and believing that the cause of this
     failure lies in the private ownership and control of the means of
     production and distribution, this House declares that legislative
     effort should be directed to the gradual supersession of the
     capitalist system by an industrial and social order based on the
     public ownership and democratic control of the instruments of
     production and distribution."


This motion will receive the full support of every member of the Labour
party. A few men outside the Socialist party who have acquainted
themselves with the publications of that party were quite prepared
for this demand of a complete change in the organisation of society.
And as they saw that party grow with startling rapidity they knew we
should not have long to wait before these subversive ideas would be
formulated in the House of Commons. Still, even for the students of
Socialist literature, the actual tabling of the resolution on behalf
of the second largest party in the State came as a surprise and a
shock. Too much credit was given to the restraining influence of the
trade union section of the party. Sir Lynden Macassey, in his informing
book on "Labour Policy, False and True," points out that it was in
1885 that the avowed advocates of this proposal for the abolition of
private property and for the nationalisation of all the means of
production and distribution first stood for Parliament. There were
only two candidates standing on this platform, and they polled 32 and
29 votes respectively. Last election the aggregate Socialist poll
reached the imposing figure of 4,251,011 votes. The party that secured
a majority of members in the House of Commons only polled 5,457,871
votes. Mr. Ramsay MacDonald states categorically that he knows that
the Independent Liberal members--exclusive of their leaders--favour
nationalisation and the capital levy. If that be an accurate statement
of the views of the majority of these gentlemen, and of those who elect
them, nearly one-half the British electorate are already prepared to
assent to Socialism by easy stages--which is the purport of Mr. Philip
Snowden's motion.

On that assumption we are on the eve of greater and more fundamental
changes affecting the lives of every class and condition of men and
women than have yet been seen in this country. Hence the new sense of
struggle with which the political atmosphere is palpitating. Capitalism
is to be arraigned before the Supreme Court of the Nation, condemned,
sentenced, and executed by instalments--Chinese fashion. The
composition of that court is not to-day favourable to the prosecution.
But who will be the judge after the next general election? It is
customary in political controversy to state that the election which
is for the moment impending will be the most epoch-making in history.
Without exaggeration, the next British election may well turn out to be
so. The British people, with their inherited political instinct, are
beginning to realise that grave decisions must then be taken. Hence the
greater keenness shown by the voters at by-elections--hence the new
interest taken by the public in the proceedings of Parliament. There is
still a good deal of apathy and indifference. The average comfortable
citizen is still inclined to think these Socialist schemes so crazy as
to be impossible. They cannot believe that 21,000,000 of sane people
can possibly contemplate giving their sanction to such fantasies.

There are two cardinal facts which are constantly overlooked by the
complacent. The men and women who have no property for the State to
seize constitute an overwhelming majority of the electors of the
country. The second fact to note is the great preponderance of the
industrial population over the steadier and more stolid agricultural
population. America, in spite of its gigantic manufacturing and
distributing industries, still retains 60 per cent. of its population
on the land. The same proportion of the French and Italian populations
is agrarian. Barely 10 per cent. of the British workers are engaged
in cultivating the soil. Most of our workers breathe and have their
being in the crowded and excitable atmosphere of factories, workshops,
and mines. The air is filled with germs of all kinds, and isolation in
these thronging areas is impossible. Hence the rapidity with which the
fever has spread.

Can it be arrested? Nothing will be done until the danger is visible to
every eye. To vary the metaphor, no one will believe in the flood until
it is upon us. Trained weather prophets who forecast its coming will
be laughed at or told they have a personal or party interest in ark
building. It is an old tale--as old as the dawn of history. "As in the
days before the flood, they were eating and drinking and knew not until
the flood came and took them all away."

The trouble can only be averted in two ways. One is the systematic
inculcation of sound doctrines of economic truth into the minds of the
working people of this country. The second, and the more important, is
the rooting out of the social evils which furnish the revolutionary
with striking and indisputable object-lessons of the failure of the
capitalistic system as an agent of human happiness. Without the latter
the former effort will be futile. Arguments in favour of the existing
order will be refuted by glaring and painful facts. Meanwhile, let
the champions of that order take note of the efforts put forth by the
Socialists to advertise their eagerness to redress the wrongs of the
ex-service men and to soften the asperities of discipline for the
soldier. The Socialist leaders have shrewdly taken note of the causes
that produced the overthrow of their Italian brethren, and they mean to
take such steps as will ensure that if Fascism comes in Britain it will
be an ally, and not a foe.

_London, April 16th, 1923._



XXVI

SHOULD WE MAKE PEACE WITH RUSSIA?


I am frankly delighted that negotiations between Lord Curzon and the
Soviet government seem to indicate a genuine desire on the part of both
parties to establish a more satisfactory understanding between this
country and Russia. The Bolshevist episode, like all revolutionary
terrors, has been at times a shrieking nightmare which has made the
world shudder. It did render one supreme service to civilisation--it
terrified democracy back into sanity just at the time when the
nervous excitability that followed the war was bordering on mental
instability. In our attitude towards the Soviet government we must,
however, constantly bear in mind one consideration. What matters to us
is not so much the Russian government as the people of Russia, and for
the moment the Bolshevist administration represents the only medium
for dealing with that mighty nation. As long as it remains the only
constituted authority in Russia, every act of hostility against it
injures Russia. As we discovered in 1919, you cannot wage war against
the government for the time being of a country without devastating
the land and alienating its people. You cannot refuse to trade with
it now without depriving its people of commodities--and especially of
equipments--essential to their well-being. It is the people, therefore,
who would suffer, and it is the people who would ultimately resent that
suffering. Governments come and go, but the nation goes on for ever.

The Russian people deserve--especially at the hands of all the Allied
nations--every sympathetic consideration we can extend to them. Not
only because they have to endure the sway of a tyrannical oligarchy
imposing its will by ruthless violence, but even more for the reasons
that led to the establishment of that tyranny. If the fruit is bitter
we must bear in mind how the tree came to be planted in the soil. It
may sound like quoting ancient history to revert to the events of eight
or nine years ago, but no one can understand Russia, or do justice to
its unhappy people, without recalling the incidents that led to the
great catastrophe.

Those who denounce any dealings with the existing order seem to have
persuaded themselves that pre-revolutionary Russia was governed by
a gentle and beneficent despotism which conferred the blessings of
a tolerant and kindly fatherland upon a well-ruled household. In no
particular is this a true picture of the _ancien régime_. The fortress
of Peter and Paul was not erected, nor its dungeons dug, by the
Bolshevists. Siberia was not set up as a penal settlement for political
offenders for the first time--if at all--by the Bolshevists. In 1906
alone 45,000 political offenders were deported to endure the severities
of Siberia. Persecution of suspected religious leaders was not started
by the Soviets. To them does not belong the discredit of initiating the
methods of Pogromism. Under the "paternal" reign of the Tsars dissent
from the Orthodox faith was proscribed and persecuted, and the Jews
were hunted like vermin.

Let us not forget also that beyond all these circumstances the
revolution was rendered inevitable by the ineptitude and corruption
of the old system, and especially by the terrible suffering and
humiliation which that state of things inflicted on Russia in the Great
War.

Any one who has read the _Memoirs of an Ambassador_, by M. Paléologue,
will find a complete explanation in its pages of the savage hatred with
which the Russian revolutionaries view all those who were associated
in any degree with the old order. He tells the story of how the
gallant army found itself at the critical hour without ammunition,
rifles, transport, and often without food. No braver or more devoted
men ever fought for their country than the young peasants who made up
the Russian armies of 1914-15-16. With little and often no artillery
support, they faced without faltering the best-equipped heavy artillery
in the world. They were mown down by shell fire and machine guns by
the million. Their aggregate casualties up to September, 1916, even
according to the reluctant admissions of the Tsarist generals of the
day, were five millions. In reality they were much heavier. Often they
went into action with sticks, as the Russian War Office had no rifles
with which to arm them. They picked up as they advanced rifles dropped
by fallen comrades. There is nothing in the war comparable to the
trustful heroism of these poor peasants. We know now why there were no
rifles, or shells, or wagons. The wholesale corruption of the _régime_
has been exposed to the world by irrefutable documentary evidence.

Here are a few extracts from M. Paléologue's interesting book. One
extract from his diary reads:--


     "The lack of ammunition means that the rôle of the artillery
     in battle is necessarily insignificant. The whole burden of
     the fighting falls on the infantry and the result is a ghastly
     expenditure of human life. A day or two ago one of the Grand
     Duke Sergius's collaborators, Colonel Englehardt, said to Major
     Wehrlin, my second military attaché: 'We're paying for the crimes
     of our administration with the blood of our men.'"


About the same date talking about the deplorable state of things, the
Grand Duke Sergius, who was Inspector-General of Artillery, said to the
French ambassador, "When I think that this exhibition of impotence is
all that our aristocratic system has to show, it makes me want to be a
Republican."

When a Grand Duke talked like that early in 1915, what must a peasant
soldier have thought by the spring of 1917, after many more millions of
his comrades had been slaughtered as a result of the same "exhibition
of impotence."

It is no use pointing to the fact that our army was also short of
ammunition at that date. The British army was a small army organised
on the basis of a maximum expeditionary force of six divisions. The
Russian army was a great conscript force organised on the basis of a
hundred divisions in the field.

I recollect well our own military reports from the Russian fronts. They
provided much distressing reading. They filled you with compassion for
the millions of gallant men who were the victims of corruption and
stupidity in high places. I recall one statement made to our general
which betrays the callous indifference with which men in authority
seemed to treat the appalling sacrifice of life amongst loyal soldiers
who were facing death without a murmur, because the "Little Father"
willed it. Whenever anxious inquiries were directed by our officer as
to the gigantic losses in men which filled him with dismay as well
as horror, the usual reply was, "Don't worry yourself. Thank God, of
men at all events we have enough." An answer which sends a thrill of
horror through you when you read it. That is why at the end of two
and a half years the patient men in the field at last mutinied. That
is why their parents and brothers in the fields supported them. The
"Little Father" had failed them, and his minions had betrayed them. It
is a sordid and horrid tale of peculation, maladministration, and cruel
treachery. Millions of British and French money went in shameless and
open bribery, whilst the soldiers in the field, for need of what the
money could buy, were opposing bare breasts covering brave hearts to
the most terrible artillery in the world. If the rest of the money had
been well spent, what was left after providing for profuse graft would
still have sufficed to save that gallant army from destruction. But
unhappily no real interest was taken in anything beyond the amount and
the payment of the pocket-money. That seemed to be the main purpose of
the transaction. Nothing was well managed except the inevitable bribe.
There were honourable and upright men who did their duty by their
distracted and plundered country, but they were helpless in the torrent
of corruption.

No wonder a great Russian industrialist engaged in the ministry of
war, in dwelling on the sad failure of tsarism and its probable
results in June, 1905, predicted a revolution with "ten years of
the most frightful anarchy." "We shall," he added, "see the days of
Pugatchef[11] again and perhaps worse"--a striking prophecy verified
with appalling accuracy.

It is not pleasant to recall these dreadful episodes, which reveal the
betrayal of a devotion faithful unto death. But this story is essential
to the right appreciation of events. There is no savagery like that of
a trustful people which finds that its trust was being imposed upon the
whole time. Here the retribution has been hideous in all its aspects.
But the provocation was also revolting from every point of view. To
judge Russia fairly that must be taken into account.

I think the government are, therefore, taking the right view of
their responsibilities when through their foreign secretary they
open negotiations with the representative of the Soviet government
in this country. You can easily evoke resounding cheers amongst the
thoughtless by declaring melodramatically that you will never "shake
hands with murder." In practice this policy has always been a failure.
Mr. Pitt in a famous passage declined to assent to that doctrine when
he was attacked for trying to open negotiations with the "assassins"
of the French Revolution. He was driven out of this calm and rational
attitude by the inflammable rhetoric of Burke, aided by the arrogance
of the victorious revolutionaries. Nevertheless, the sequel proved he
was right. French Bolshevism was not defeated by foreign armies, nor
starved out by the British blockade. But it was driven into the arms of
Napoleon, and Europe suffered bitterly for the folly of the hotheads
on both sides. It would have been better for that generation had it
listened to the wise counsel of William Pitt.

If you decline to treat with Russia as long as its present rulers
remain in power, then you ought to place Turkey in the same category.
The military junta that governed Turkey has been guilty of atrocities
at least as vile as any committed by the Bolshevists. But at Lausanne
we ostentatiously stretched the friendly hand of Britain to the authors
of the Armenian massacres. And France, Italy--yes, and America
also--tendered the same warm handshake. I am not criticising the offer
of amity made as a condition of peace. We must make peace in the world,
and you cannot do so if you put whole nations off your visiting list
because of the misconduct of those who govern them. Once you begin you
are not quite sure where it will end.

In these cases the innocent suffer the most. A refusal to trade with
Russia would not deprive the Soviet commissaries of a single necessity
or comfort of life. The Communists are quite strong enough to take care
of themselves. But the peasants--who are not Communists--would continue
to suffer, and their sufferings would increase as their reserves of
clothing and other essentials became completely exhausted. And the
people of this country who need the produce of Russia for their own use
would also suffer to a certain extent. America can afford this exalted
aloofness. She does not need the Russian grain and timber. She is an
exporter of those commodities. But we cannot do as well without them,
and we also sadly need Russian flax for our linen industries, which are
languishing for the want of it. Last year there were quite considerable
imports of Russian produce into this country. This year owing to the
prospects of an improved harvest these imports will be much larger.
They are greatly needed here for our own consumption, and they pay
for exports of machinery and textiles which the Russian on his part
urgently requires.

But beyond and above all these material considerations, the world needs
peace. In the old days conveyancing attorneys in this country kept a
property transaction going by interminable requisitions on the title
of the other party. They exercised all their ingenuity and invoked the
added ingenuity of trained counsel to probe for defects in the right of
the vendor to deal. Those were leisurely days, and men could afford to
dawdle. Even then these exercises often ended in ruinous litigation.
To-day time presses and the atmosphere is dangerous for the plying of
irritating interrogatories. It is time we made up our minds that the
Soviets have come to stay, whether we like it or no, and that one or
other of the formidable men who rule Russia to-day are likely to rule
it for some time to come. The sooner we have the courage to recognise
this fact, the sooner will real peace be established.

FOOTNOTE:

[11] Pugatchef was the Pretender who led a revolt of the peasants
in the reign of Catherine and spread rapine and carnage through the
provinces bordering the Volga and Ural.



XXVII

PALESTINE AND THE JEWS

     "What's his reason? I am a Jew."
                     _The Merchant of Venice._


Of all the bigotries that savage the human temper there is none so
stupid as the anti-Semitic. It has no basis in reason; it is not
rooted in faith; it aspires to no ideal; it is just one of those dank
and unwholesome weeds that grow in the morass of racial hatred. How
utterly devoid of reason it is may be gathered from the fact that it
is almost entirely confined to nations who worship Jewish prophets and
apostles, revere the national literature of the Hebrews as the only
inspired message delivered by the deity to mankind, and whose only hope
of salvation rests on the precepts and promises of the great teachers
of Judah. Yet in the sight of these fanatics the Jews of to-day can do
nothing right. If they are rich they are birds of prey. If they are
poor they are vermin. If they are in favour of a war it is because they
want to exploit the bloody feuds of the Gentiles to their own profit.
If they are anxious for peace they are either instinctive cowards
or traitors. If they give generously--and there are no more liberal
givers than the Jews--they are doing it for some selfish purpose of
their own. If they do not give--then what could one expect of a Jew
but avarice? If labour is oppressed by great capital, the greed of
the Jew is held responsible. If labour revolts against capital--as
it did in Russia--the Jew is blamed for that also. If he lives in a
strange land he must be persecuted and pogrommed out of it. If he wants
to go back to his own he must be prevented. Through the centuries
in every land, whatever he does, or intends, or fails to do, he has
been pursued by the echo of the brutal cry of the rabble of Jerusalem
against the greatest of all Jews--"Crucify Him!" No good has ever come
of nations that crucified Jews. It is poor and pusillanimous sport,
lacking all the true qualities of manliness, and those who indulge in
it would be the first to run away were there any element of danger in
it. Jew-baiters are generally of the type that found good reasons for
evading military service when their own country was in danger.

The latest exhibition of this wretched indulgence is the agitation
against settling poor Jews in the land their fathers made famous.
Palestine under Jewish rule once maintained a population of 5,000,000.
Under the blighting rule of the Turk it barely supported a population
of 700,000. The land flowing with milk and honey is now largely a stony
and unsightly desert. To quote one of the ablest and most far-sighted
business men of to-day, "It is a land of immense possibilities, in
spite of the terrible neglect of its resources resulting from Turkish
misrule. It is a glorious estate let down by centuries of neglect. The
Turks cut down the forests and never troubled to replant them. They
slaughtered the cattle and never troubled to replace them." It is one
of the peculiarities of the Jew-hunter that he adores the Turk.

If Palestine is to be restored to a condition even approximate to
its ancient prosperity, it must be by settling Jews on its soil. The
condition to which the land has been reduced by centuries of the most
devastating oppression in the world is such that restoration is only
possible by a race that is prepared for sentimental reasons to make and
endure sacrifices for the purpose. What is the history of the Jewish
settlement in Palestine? It did not begin with the Balfour Declaration.
A century ago there were barely 10,000 Jews in the whole of Palestine.
Before the war there were 100,000. The war considerably reduced these
numbers, and immigration since 1918 has barely filled up the gaps. At
the present timorous rate of progress it will be many years before it
reaches 200,000. Jewish settlement started practically seventy years
ago, with Sir Moses Montefiore's experiment in 1854--another war year.
The Sultan had good reasons for propitiating the Jews in that year,
as the Allies had in 1917. So the Jewish resettlement of Palestine
began. From that day onward it has proceeded slowly but steadily. The
land available was not of the best. Prejudices and fears had to be
negotiated. Anything in the nature of wholesale expropriation of Arab
cultivators, even for cash, had to be carefully avoided. The Jews were,
therefore, often driven to settle on barren sand dunes and malarial
swamps. The result can best be given by quoting from an article written
by Mrs. Fawcett, the famous woman leader. She visited Palestine in 1921
and again in 1922, and this is her account of the Jewish settlements:


     "So far from the colonies and the colonists draining the country
     of its resources they have created resources which were previously
     non-existent; they have planted and skilfully cultivated desert
     sands and converted them into fruitful vineyards and orange
     and lemon orchards; in other parts they have created valuable
     agricultural land out of what were previously dismal swamps
     producing nothing but malaria and other diseases. The colonists
     have not shrunk from the tremendous work and the heavy sacrifices
     required. Many of the early arrivals laid down their lives over
     their work; the survivors went on bravely, draining the swamps,
     planting eucalyptus trees by the hundred thousand so that at
     length the swamp became a fruitful garden, and the desert once
     more blossomed like the rose."


Everywhere the Jew cultivator produces heavier and richer crops than
his Arab neighbour. He has introduced into Palestine more scientific
methods of cultivation, and his example is producing a beneficent
effect on the crude tillage of the Arab peasant. It will be long ere
Canaan becomes once more a land flowing with milk and honey. The
effects of the neglect and misrule of centuries cannot be effaced by
the issue of a declaration. The cutting down of the trees has left
the soil unprotected against the heavy rains and the rocks which were
once green with vineyards and olive groves have been swept bare. The
terraces which ages of patient industry built up have been destroyed
by a few generations of Turkish stupidity. They cannot be restored in
a single generation. Great irrigation works must be constructed if
settlement is to proceed on a satisfactory scale. Palestine possesses
in some respects advantages for the modern settler which to its ancient
inhabitants were a detriment. Its one great river and its tributaries
are rapid and have a great fall. For power this is admirable. Whether
for irrigation, or for the setting up of new industries, this gift of
nature to Palestine is capable of exploitation only made possible by
the scientific discoveries of the last century. The tableland of Judea
has a rainfall which if caught in reservoirs at appropriate centres
would make of the "desert of Judea" a garden. If this be done Arab and
Jew alike share in the prosperity.

There are few countries on earth which have made less of their
possibilities. Take its special attractions for the tourist. I was
amazed to find that the visitors to Palestine in the whole course of a
year only aggregate 15,000. It contains the most famous shrines in the
world. Its history is of more absorbing interest to the richest peoples
on earth, and is better taught to their children, than even that of
their own country. Some of its smallest villages are better known to
countless millions than many a prosperous modern city. Hundreds of
thousands ought to be treading this sacred ground every year. Why are
they not doing so? The answer is: Turkish misrule scared away the
pilgrim. Those who went there came back disillusioned and disappointed.
The modern "spies" on their return did not carry with them the luscious
grapes of Escol to thrill the multitude with a desire to follow their
example. They brought home depressing tales of squalor, discomfort,
and exaction which dispelled the glamour and discouraged further
pilgrimages. Settled government gives the Holy Land its first chance
for 1900 years. But there is so much undeveloped country demanding the
attention of civilisation that Palestine will lose that chance unless
it is made the special charge of some powerful influence. The Jews
alone can redeem it from the wilderness and restore its ancient glory.

In that trust there is no injustice to any other race. The Arabs have
neither the means, the energy, nor the ambition to discharge this duty.
The British Empire has too many burdens on its shoulders to carry this
experiment through successfully. The Jewish race with its genius,
its resourcefulness, its tenacity, and not least its wealth, can
alone perform this essential task. The Balfour Declaration is not an
expropriating but an enabling clause. It is only a charter of equality
for the Jews. Here are its terms:


     "His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in
     Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people, and will
     use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this
     object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done
     which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing
     non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political
     status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."


The declaration was subsequently endorsed and adopted by President
Wilson and the French and Italian foreign ministers.

The Zionists ask for no more. It has been suggested by their enemies
that they are seeking to establish a Jewish oligarchy in Palestine
that will reduce the Arab inhabitant to a condition of servitude to a
favoured Hebrew minority. The best answer to that charge is to be found
in the memorandum submitted by the Zionist Association to the League of
Nations.


     "The Jews demand no privilege, unless it be the privilege of
     rebuilding by their own efforts and sacrifices a land which, once
     the seat of a thriving and productive civilisation, has long been
     suffered to remain derelict. They expect no favoured treatment
     in the matter of political or religious rights. They assume, as
     a matter of course, that all the inhabitants of Palestine, be
     they Jews or non-Jews, will be in every respect on a footing of
     perfect equality. They seek no share in the government beyond that
     to which they may be entitled under the Constitution as citizens
     of the country. They solicit no favours. They ask, in short, no
     more than an assured opportunity of peacefully building up their
     national home by their own exertions and of succeeding on their
     merits."


It is a modest request which these exiles from Zion propound to the
nations. And surely it is just that it should be conceded, and if
conceded then carried out in the way men of honour fulfil their bond.
There are fourteen millions of Jews in the world. They belong to a
race which for at least 1900 years has been subjected to proscription,
pillage, massacre, and the torments of endless derision--a race that
has endured persecution, which for the variety of torture, physical,
material and mental, inflicted on its victims, for the virulence and
malignity with which it has been sustained, for the length of time it
has lasted, and more than all for the fortitude and patience with which
it has been suffered, is without parallel in the history of any other
people. Is it too much to ask that those amongst them whose sufferings
are the worst shall be able to find refuge in the land their fathers
made holy by the splendour of their genius, by the loftiness of their
thoughts, by the consecration of their lives, and by the inspiration of
their message to mankind?



XXVIII

THE TREATY OF LAUSANNE[12]


The vanquished have returned to their spiritual home at Angora throwing
their fezzes in the air. The victors have returned with their tails
well between their legs. All tragedies have their scenes of comedy, and
the Lausanne Conference is one of those amusing episodes interpolated
by fate to relieve the poignancy of one of its greatest tragic
pieces--the Turk and civilisation.

The Turk may be a bad ruler, but he is the prince of anglers. The
cunning and the patience with which he lands the most refractory fish
once he has hooked it is beyond compare. What inimitable play we have
witnessed for six months on the shores of Lake Leman! Once the fish
seemed to have broken the tackle--that was when the first conference
came to an abrupt end. It simply meant, however, that the wily
Oriental was giving out plenty of line. Time never worries him, he can
sit and wait. He knew the moment would come when they would return
with the hook well in their gullets, and the play begin once more--the
reeling in and the reeling out, the line sometimes taut and strained
but never snapping. Time and patience rewarded him. At last the huge
tarpon are all lying beached on the banks--Britain, France, Italy,
and the United States of America--high and dry, landed and helpless,
without a swish left in their tails, glistening and gasping in the
summer sun.

It is little wonder that Ismet had a smile on his face when all was
over. Reports from Angora state that the peace is hailed there as
a great Turkish triumph; and so it is. The Turk is truly a great
fisherman. If he could govern as well as he angles, his would be the
most formidable Empire in the world. Unfortunately he is the worst of
rulers, hence the trouble--his own and that of those who unhappily have
drawn him as governor in the lottery of life.

The able correspondent of the _Daily Telegraph_ at the Lausanne
Conference has supplied us from time to time with vivid pen pictures
of the four greatest Powers of the world struggling in the toils of the
squalid and broken remains of an Empire with an aggregate population
equal to that of a couple of English counties that I could name. This
is what he wrote about this conference, which constitutes one of the
most humiliating incidents in the history of Western civilisation:--


     "The records of the present Conference present an even more
     marvellous series of concessions and surrenders. What was frayed
     before is threadbare now. The Allies have whittled away their
     own rights with a lavish hand in the cause of peace. They have
     also--and this is a graver matter, for which it seems they will
     have to give an account in the not distant future--gone back on
     their promises to small races, which are none the less promises
     because the small races have not the power to enforce their
     performance. The figure that the European delegates are cutting in
     Lausanne, and the agents of the _concessionnaires_ in Angora--all
     alike representatives of the West--has been rendered undignified
     as much by the manner as the matter of their worsting."


Since those distressing words were written the Powers have sunk yet
deeper into the slough of humiliation.

_The Times_ correspondent wiring after the agreement writes in a strain
of deep indignation at the blow inflicted on the prestige of the West
by this extraordinary Treaty. In order to gauge the extent of the
disaster to civilisation which this Treaty implies it is only necessary
to give a short summary of the war aims of the Allies in Turkey.

They were stated by Mr. Asquith with his usual succinctness and clarity
in a speech which he delivered when Prime Minister at the Guildhall on
November 9th, 1914:--


     "It is not the Turkish people--it is the Ottoman Government that
     has drawn the sword, and which, I venture to predict, will perish
     by the sword. It is they and not we who have rung the death-knell
     of Ottoman dominion, not only in Europe but in Asia. With their
     disappearance will disappear as I, at least, hope and believe, the
     blight which for generations past has withered some of the fairest
     regions of the earth."


In pursuance of the policy thus declared by the British Premier on
behalf of the Allies a series of Agreements was entered into in the
early months of 1915 between France, Russia, and ourselves, by which
the greater part of Turkey, with its conglomerate population, was to be
partitioned at the end of the War. Cilicia and Syria were allocated to
France; Mesopotamia to Britain; Armenia and Constantinople to Russia.
Palestine was to be placed under the joint control of Britain and
France. Arabia was to be declared independent and a territory carved
largely out of the desert--but including some famous cities of the
East, Damascus, Homs and Aleppo--was to be constituted into a new Arab
State, partly under the protection of France and partly of Britain.
Smyrna and its precincts were to be allotted to Greece if she joined
her forces with those of the Allies in the war. The Straits were to be
demilitarised and garrisoned. When Italy came into the war later on in
1915, it was stipulated that in the event of the partition of Turkey
being carried out in pursuance of these agreements, territories in
Southern Anatolia should be assigned to Italy for development.

What was the justification for breaking up the Turkish Empire? The
portions to be cut out of Turkey have a population the majority of
which is non-Turkish. Cilicia and Southern Anatolia might constitute a
possible exception. In these territories massacres and misgovernment
had perhaps succeeded at last in turning the balance in favour of the
Turk. But in the main the distributed regions were being cultivated
and developed before the war by a population which was Western and not
Turanian in its origin and outlook. This population represented the
original inhabitants of the soil.

The experiences, more especially of the past century, had demonstrated
clearly that the Turk could no longer be entrusted with the
property, the honour, or the lives of any Christian race within his
dominions. Whole communities of Armenians had been massacred under
circumstances of the most appalling cruelty in lands which their
ancestors had occupied since the dawn of history. And even after the
war began 700,000 of these wretched people had been done to death
by these savages, to whom, it must be remembered, the Great Powers
so ostentatiously proffered the hand of friendship at the first
Lausanne conference. Even while the conference was in session, and the
handshaking was going on, the Turks were torturing to death scores
of thousands of young Greeks whom they deported into the interior.
As "a precautionary measure" 150,000 Greeks of military age, of whom
30,000 were military prisoners, were last year driven inland to the
mountains of Anatolia. On the way they were stripped of their clothes,
and in this condition were herded across the icy mountains. It is not
surprising that when an agreement was arrived at for the exchange
of military prisoners, the Turks found the greatest difficulty in
producing 11,000, and of the total 150,000 it is estimated that
two-thirds perished. The Allied Powers had every good reason for
determining, as they hoped for all time, that this barbarian should
cease to shock the world by repeated exhibitions of savagery against
helpless and unarmed people committed to his charge by a cruel fate.

Apart from these atrocities the fact that great tracts of country,
once the most fertile and populous in the world, have been reduced by
Turkish misrule and neglect to a condition which is indistinguishable
from the wilderness, alone proves that the Turk is a blight and a
curse wherever he pitches his tent, and that he ought in the interests
of humanity to be treated as such. When a race, which has no title to
its lands other than conquest, so mismanages the territories it holds
by violence as to deprive the world of an essential contribution to
its well-being, the nations have a right--nay, a duty--to intervene
in order to restore these devastated areas to civilisation. This same
duty constitutes the reason and justification for the white settlers of
America overriding the prior claims of the Indian to the prairies and
forests of the great West.

On the shores of the Mediterranean are two races with a surplus
population of hard-working, intelligent cultivators, both of them
belonging to countries which had themselves in the past been
responsible for the government of the doomed lands covered by the
Turkish Empire. Greece and Italy could claim that under their rule
this vast territory throve and prospered mightily. They now pour
their overflow of population into lands far away from the motherland.
Yet they are essentially Mediterranean peoples. The history of the
Mediterranean will for ever be associated with their achievements on
its shores and its waters. The derelict wastes of Asia Minor need them.
Valleys formerly crowded with tillers are now practically abandoned
to the desert weeds. Irrigation has been destroyed or neglected. The
Italian engineers are amongst the best in the world, and once they
were introduced into Asia Minor would make cultivation again possible.
There is plenty of scope in the deserts of Anatolia for both Italian
and Greek. I was hoping for a peace that would set them both working.
Had such a settlement been attained, a generation hence would have
witnessed gardens thronging with happy men, women, and children, where
now you have a wilderness across which men, women, and children are
periodically hunted down into nameless horror.

Yet another reason for the Allied decision was the bitter resentment
that existed at the ingratitude displayed by the Turk towards Britain
and France. They were naturally indignant that he should have joined
their foes and slammed the gate of the Dardanelles in their face,
and by that means complicated and prolonged their campaign and added
enormously to their burdens, their losses, and their dangers. But he
had not the thankfulness even of the beast of prey in the legend
towards the man who had cured his wounded limb. France and Britain
had many a time extracted the thorn from the Turkish paw when he was
limping along in impotent misery. They had done more. They had often
saved the life of that Empire when the Russian bear was on the point of
crushing it out of existence; and yet without provocation, without even
a quarrel, he had betrayed them to their enemies.

I have set out shortly what the war policy of the Allies was in
reference to Turkey. The Treaty of Sèvres considerably modified that
policy in many vital aspects. By that Treaty, Constantinople, Cilicia,
and Southern Anatolia were left to the Turk; Armenia was created into
an independent State. There were many objections which could be raised
to the original proposals of 1915, as it might be argued that they
contemplated handing over in Cilicia and Southern Anatolia populations
which in the main were Turkish and Moslem to Christian rulers. But in
substance the modified plan of Sèvres was sound, and if carried out
would have conduced to the well-being of the millions to be liberated
by its terms for ever from Turkish rule. The world at large also
would have benefited by the opportunity afforded to the industrious
and intelligent Armenian and Greek populations of Turkey to renew the
fertility of this land, once so bountiful in its gifts, thus enriching
man's store of good things. The barbarian invasion which withered that
fertility was pushed back into the interior by the Treaty of Sèvres.
The Treaty of Lausanne has extended and perpetuated its sway from the
Black Sea to the Mediterranean. I have explained the why and wherefore
of Sèvres. But why Lausanne? It is a long and painful story--a compound
of shortsightedness, disloyalty, selfishness, and pusillanimity amongst
nations and their statesmen. And more than all, Fate happened to be
in its grimmest mood when dealing with this problem. The Russian
Revolution eliminated that great country from the solution of the
problem on the lines of protection for the oppressed races of Turkey,
and instead cast its might on the side of the oppressor. President
Wilson was inclined to recommend that the United States of America
should undertake the mandate for the Armenians. Had he succeeded, what
a different story would now have been told! What a different story the
generations to come would also tell! But his health broke down at the
vital moment and America would have none of his humanitarian schemes.
Then came the departure of Sonnino from the Quirinal. With him went
for a momentous while the old dreams of Italian colonisation, which in
the past had done so much to spread civilisation in three continents.
His successors were homelier men. I have still my doubts as to whether
they served Italy best by the less adventurous and more domesticated
policy they pursued. The future may decide that issue. But whatever the
decision, the time for action passed away, and unless and until there
is another break up in Turkey, the chance Italy has lost since 1919
will not be recovered. Will it ever come back?

There followed the French check in Cilicia, and the negotiations
at Angora with Mustapha Kemal, which were both single-handed and
under-handed; for the Allies were not even informed of what was going
on. This was a fatal step, for it broke up the unity which alone would
enable the Western Powers to deal effectively with the Turk. This
unity was never fully re-created. There can be no reunion without
confidence. There can be no trust in the West that is broken in
the East. Much of the recent mischief in the Entente came from the
clandestine negotiations at Angora.

The last fatal change was the Greek revolt against Venizelos. It is
often said that he is the greatest statesman thrown up by that race
since Pericles. In all he has undertaken he has never failed his
people. Disaster has always come to them when they refused to follow
his guidance. When King Alexander was killed by a monkey, the Greeks
were called upon to decide between Constantine and Venizelos. Their
choice was ruinous to their country. No greater evil can befall a
nation than to choose for its ruler a stubborn man with no common
sense. Before the advent of Constantine, Greece, with no aid and
little countenance from the Powers, was able to hold the forces of
Mustapha Kemal easily at bay and even to drive him back into the
fastnesses of Anatolia. In encounter after encounter the Greek army,
led by men chosen for their military gifts and sufficiently well
equipped, inflicted defeat after defeat on the armies of Angora. But
with Constantine came a change. In the Greek army, courtiers were
substituted for soldiers in the high command. French, British and
Italian public opinion, with the memory of Constantine's treachery
during the war still fresh in their minds, altered their attitude
towards the Greeks who had elevated him to the throne in defiance of
Allied sentiment. Indifferent Powers became hostile; hostile Powers
became active. The final catastrophe began with the heroic but foolish
march of the Greek army into the defiles of Asia Minor, followed
by the inevitable retreat. It was consummated when Constantine for
dynastic reasons appointed to the command of the troops in Asia Minor
a crazy general whose mental condition had been under medical review.
The Greeks fight valiantly when well led, but like the French, once
they know they are not well led, confidence goes, and with confidence
courage. Before the Kemalist attack reached their lines the Greek
army was beaten and in full retreat. With attack came panic, with
panic the complete destruction of what was once a fine army. With the
disappearance of that army vanished the last hope for the salvation of
Anatolia. That the history of the East, and probably the West, should
have been changed by the bite of a monkey is just another grimace of
the comic spirit which bursts now and again into the pages of every
great tragedy.

All that could be done afterwards was to save the remnants of a great
policy. Western civilisation put up its last fight against the return
of savagery into Europe, when in September and October of last year
British soldiers and sailors, deserted by allies and associates alike,
saved Constantinople from hideous carnage. The Pact of Mudania was
not Sèvres, but it certainly was better than Lausanne. From Sèvres to
Mudania was a retreat. From Mudania to Lausanne is a rout.

What next? Lausanne is not a terminus, it is only a milestone. Where
is the next? No one claims that this Treaty is peace with honour. It
is not even peace. If one were dealing with a regenerated Turk, there
might be hope. But the burning of Smyrna, and the cold-blooded murders
of tens of thousands of young Greeks in the interior, prove that the
Turk is still unchanged. To quote again from the correspondent of _The
Times_ at Lausanne:--


     "All such evidence as can be obtained here confirms the belief
     that the new Turk is but the old, and that the coming era of
     enlightenment and brotherly love in Turkey, for which it is the
     correct thing officially to hope, will be from the foreigners'
     point of view at best a humiliating, and at worst a bloody, chaos."


The amazing legend that the Turk is a gentleman is dying hard.
That legend has saved him many a time when he was on the brink of
destruction. It came to his aid in October last when the policy of
this country was changed by the revolt of the Turcophile against the
Coalition. The Turk has massacred hundreds of thousands of Armenians,
and dishonoured myriads of Christian women who trusted to his
protection. Nevertheless the Turk is a gentleman! By his indolence,
his shiftiness, his stupidity, and his wantonness, he has reduced a
garden to a desert. What better proof can there be that he is a real
gentleman? For a German bribe he sold the friends who had repeatedly
saved his wretched life. All the same, what a gentleman he is! He
treated British prisoners with a barbarous neglect that killed them off
in hundreds. Still, he is such a gentleman! He plunders, he slays, and
outrages those who are unable to defend themselves. He misgoverns,
cheats, lies, and betrays. For all that, the Turk is a gentleman! So an
agitation was engineered with perverse tenacity to save this fine old
Oriental gentleman from the plebeian hands that sought his destruction.
Hence the black Treaty of Lausanne.

_London, July 25th, 1923_

FOOTNOTE:

[12] London, July 25th, 1923. The Treaty of Lausanne, between the
Allies and the Turks, was signed on July 24th, 1923.



XXIX

THE SIGNING OF THE IRISH TREATY


When a few days ago I was half-way through the speech I delivered in
the House of Commons on the land system the faithful Commons were
summoned in the manner consecrated by centuries of tradition to the bar
of the House of Lords to hear the royal assent being given to the bill
for the constitution of the Irish Free State. Notwithstanding a natural
preoccupation with my interrupted speech two scenes came to my mind
during my short journey to and from the upper chamber.

The first was the spectacle of a crowded House of Commons nearly
thirty years ago. When the doors were opened for prayers there was the
unwonted sight of a throng of hustling M.P.'s pressing through the
swing doors to secure seats. I need hardly say this was not the symptom
or the outcome of any religious revival amongst our legislators. It
was entirely due to the ancient custom that confers upon a member
occupying a seat at prayers the unchallengeable right to that seat
for the rest of the sitting. Rows of chairs were arrayed on the floor
of the House. That was an innovation never since followed. What was it
all about? There sat in the middle of the Treasury bench huddled up and
almost hidden by more stalwart and upright figures an old man of 83
years, to all appearances in the last stage of physical decrepitude and
mental lassitude. His name was William Ewart Gladstone, the greatest
parliamentary gladiator of all time. The lifelong champion of oppressed
nationalities was to-day to inaugurate his final effort to give freedom
to the Irish race trodden for centuries by ruthless force. The last
remnant of his strength was to be consecrated to the achievement of
Irish liberty, and hundreds of eager legislators to whom Peel and
Russell, Palmerston and Disraeli were but historical names, were avid
competitors for seats from which they could better listen to a man who
had sat in governments with the first three and crossed swords with the
fourth. It was a memorable sight.

The preliminary questions which precede all parliamentary business were
by common consent postponed, and a deep and solemn silence thrilling
with expectancy fell upon the humming assembly as Mr. Speaker Peel
in his sonorous voice called out "the Prime Minister." The inert heap
which was the centre of all gaze sprang to the table an erect and
alert figure. The decrepitude was cast off like a cloak--the lassitude
vanished as by a magician's wand, the shoulders were thrown back, the
chest was thrown forward, and in deep, ringing tones full of music and
force the proposed new Irish charter was expounded for three unwearying
hours by the transfigured octogenarian rejuvenated by the magic of an
inspired soul. I had a seat just opposite the great orator. I was one
of the multitude who on that occasion listened with marvel to that
feat of intellectual command and physical endurance. It was more than
that. It was an unrivalled display of moral courage, rare in political
conflict. Mr. Gladstone had only just emerged out of a general election
where, in spite of six years of his eloquent advocacy, the voice of
Great Britain had declared emphatically against his Irish policy, and
the poor parliamentary majority at his back was made up out of the
preponderating Irish vote in favour of Home Rule. He was confronted
with the most formidable parliamentary opposition ever ranged against
a minister, redoubtable in debating quality, still more redoubtable in
its hold on British pride. He was eighty-three years of age, but he
never quailed, and through the sultry summer months of 1893 he fought
night by night with mighty strokes the battle of Irish emancipation. He
did not live to carry the cause through to victory, but he planted the
banner so firmly in the soil that no assault could succeed in tearing
it down, and on the day when I stood with Mr. Bonar Law at the bar of
the House of Lords I saw this banner flourished in triumph from the
steps of the throne by a Unionist Lord Chancellor. That was the first
memory that flashed through my brain.

The next was of a dreary December night just one year ago when on one
side of the Cabinet table in 10 Downing Street sat four representatives
of Great Britain and on the other five Irish leaders. It was the famous
room wherein British cabinets have for generations forged their Irish
policies. Coercion and concession alike issued from that chamber.
Pitt's Act of Union was discussed there, and so were Gladstone's
Home Rule bills, the decision to use British soldiers to throw Irish
tenants out of their houses with battering ram and torch and equally
the bill which made every Irish tenant lord and master of his home at
the expense of the British treasury--all issued forth from this simple
and unadorned council chamber. And now came the final treaty of peace.
Would it be signed? It was an anxious moment charged with destiny for
the two great races who confronted each other at that green table.

The British representatives who were associated with me on the occasion
were Mr. Austen Chamberlain; [I recall now how he sat by the side of
his doughty father, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, in 1893, during the famous
nightly duel between him and Mr. Gladstone. How strangely little thirty
arduous years have changed his personal appearance!] Lord Birkenhead,
who, in 1893 was carving for himself a brilliant career as a student
at Oxford and as a debater in the Union; Mr. Winston Churchill who was
then a cadet at Sandhurst whilst his father was engaged in the last
great parliamentary struggle of his dazzling but tragic career; Sir
Gordon Hewart, now Lord Hewart, the man who has risen on the pinions of
a powerful intelligence to the height of Lord Chief Justice of England.
My recollection is that the other two British delegates--Sir Laming
Worthington-Evans and Sir Hamar Greenwood--were stricken with illness
and were unable to be present. After weeks of close investigation the
climax of decision had been reached. Britain had gone to the limit of
concession. No British statesman could have faced any assembly of his
countrymen had he appended his signature to a convention that placed
Ireland outside that fraternity of free nations known as the British
Empire or freed her from that bond of union which is represented by a
common fealty to the sovereign. It is not easy to interpret the potency
of this invisible bond to those who are brought up to venerate other
systems. It is nevertheless invincible. Would the Irish leaders have
the courage to make peace on the only conditions under which peace was
attainable--liberty within the Empire?

Opposite me sat a dark, short, but sturdy figure with the face of a
thinker. That was Mr. Arthur Griffith, the most un-Irish leader that
ever led Ireland, quiet to the point of gentleness, reserved almost
to the point of appearing saturnine. A man of laconic utterance, he
answered in monosyllables where most men would have considered an
oratorical deliverance to be demanded by the dignity of the occasion.
But we found in our few weeks' acquaintance that his yea was yea and
his nay meant nay. He led the Irish deputation. He was asked whether he
would sign. In his abrupt, staccato manner he replied, "Speaking on my
own behalf I mean to sign."

By his side sat a handsome young Irishman. No one could mistake his
nationality. He was Irish through and through, in every respect a
contrast to his taciturn neighbour. Vivacious, buoyant, highly strung,
gay, impulsive, but passing readily from gaiety to grimness and back
again to gaiety, full of fascination and charm--but also of dangerous
fire. That was Michael Collins, one of the most courageous leaders ever
produced by a valiant race. Nevertheless he hesitated painfully when
the quiet and gentle little figure on his left had taken his resolve.
Both saw the shadow of doom clouding over that fateful paper--their own
doom. They knew that the pen which affixed their signature at the same
moment signed their death-warrant. The little man saw beyond his own
fall Ireland rising out of her troubles a free nation and that sufficed
for him. Michael Collins was not appalled by the spectre of death, but
he had the Irishman's fear of encountering that charge which comes
so readily to the lips of the oppressed--that of having succumbed to
alien wile and betrayed their country. Patriots who cheerfully face
the tyrant's steel lose their nerve before that dread accusation. It
was the first time Michael Collins ever showed fear. It was also the
last. I knew the reason why he halted, although he never uttered a
word which revealed his mind, and I addressed my appeal to an effort
to demonstrate how the treaty gave Ireland more than Daniel O'Connell
and Parnell had ever hoped for, and how his countrymen would be ever
grateful to him not only for the courage which won such an offer, but
for the wisdom that accepted it.

He asked for a few hours to consider, promising a reply by nine
o'clock. Nine passed, but the Irish leaders did not return. Ten.
Eleven, and they were not yet back. We had doubts as to whether we
should see them again. Then came a message from the secretary of the
Irish delegation that they were on their way to Downing Street. When
they marched in it was clear from their faces that they had come to
a great decision after a prolonged struggle. But there were still
difficulties to overcome--they were, however, difficulties not of
principle but of detail. These were discussed in a businesslike way,
and soon after one o'clock in the morning the treaty was complete. A
friendly chat full of cheerful goodwill occupied the time whilst the
stenographers were engaged in copying the draft so disfigured with the
corrections, interpolations and additions, each of which represented so
many hours of hammering discussion.

Outside in the lobby sat a man who had used all the resources of an
ingenious and well-trained mind backed by a tenacious will to wreck
every endeavour to reach agreement--Mr. Erskine Childers, a man whose
slight figure, whose kindly, refined and intellectual countenance,
whose calm and courteous demeanour offered no clue to the fierce
passions which raged inside his breast. At every crucial point in the
negotiations he played a sinister part. He was clearly Mr. de Valera's
emissary, and faithfully did he fulfil the trust reposed in him by that
visionary. Every draft that emanated from his pen--and all the first
drafts were written by him--challenged every fundamental position to
which the British delegates were irrevocably committed. He was one of
those men who by temperament are incapable of compromise. Brave and
resolute he undoubtedly was, but unhappily for himself he was also
rigid and fanatical. When we walked out of the room where we had sat
for hours together, worn with tense and anxious labour, but all happy
that our great task of reconciliation had been achieved, we met Mr.
Erskine Childers outside sullen with disappointment and compressed
wrath at what he conceived to be the surrender of principles he had
fought for.

I never saw him after that morning. Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith
I met repeatedly after the signature of the treaty, to discuss the
many obstacles that surged up in the way of its execution, and I
acquired for both a great affection. Poor Collins was shot by one of
his own countrymen on a bleak Irish roadside, whilst he was engaged
in restoring to the country he had loved so well the order and good
government which alone enables nations to enjoy the blessings of
freedom. Arthur Griffith died worn out by anxiety and toil in the cause
he had done so much to carry to the summit of victory. Erskine Childers
was shot at dawn for rebellion against the liberties he had helped to
win.

Truly the path of Irish freedom right up to the goal is paved with
tragedy. But the bloodstained wilderness is almost through, the
verdant plains of freedom are stretched before the eyes of this
tortured nation. Ireland will soon honour the name of the Green Isle,
and I am proud to have had a hand in erecting the pillar which will for
ever mark the boundary between the squalor of the past and the hope of
the future.

_London, December 16th, 1922._



XXX

PROHIBITION


Four years ago the United States of America, by a two-thirds majority,
voted prohibition of the sale of alcoholic liquors. The British
House of Commons have just voted down a bill for the same purpose by
a majority of 236 to 14. America treats prohibition as one of its
greatest moral triumphs. Britain treats it as a joke.

What accounts for this remarkable disparity in the attitude of the two
great English-speaking communities towards one of the most baffling
and elusive problems civilisation has to deal with? It cannot be a
fundamental difference in temperament or in moral outlook. The men who
engineered prohibition in America are of our own race and kind, bred in
the Puritan traditions that came originally from our shores.

If the evils of excessive drinking had been more apparent in America
than in Britain I could understand the States of the Union deciding
to take more drastic action than has been thought necessary in our
country. But the facts are exactly the reverse. The consumption of
alcohol in the United Kingdom some years before the war per head of
the population was higher than that of the United States. The poverty,
disease, and squalor caused by alcohol was much greater in Britain than
in America.

What, then, accounts for the readiness of America to forbid the sale
and the reluctance of Britain even seriously to restrict it?

I would not care to dogmatise on the subject, but I will hazard two or
three possible explanations.

I set aside the suggestion that property owners are frightened by
the sequel to prohibition in Russia. I have heard it argued that
the prohibition ukase of the tsar was responsible for the Russian
revolution. That is probably true, for a people stupefied by alcohol
will stand anything. The inefficiency and corruption of the tsarist
régime was so appalling that no sober nation could have tolerated it
without rebellion for a single year, and when the fumes of vodka ceased
to muddle and blind the _moujik_, he rebelled against the autocracy
that had betrayed his country into disaster. The Russian experiment in
drink, therefore, contains no warning against prohibition, except a
very limited one, that those who wish to misrule a country in safety
must first of all drench it with alcohol.

There is, of course, the ready explanation that old countries are very
conservative, and do not take kindly to change. Their joints are stiff
with age, and they creak along well-worn paths slowly and painfully,
but they lack the suppleness of limb that tempts younger communities
to sprint across untrodden country. That is the argument. I am afraid
this explanation will not hold. Old countries when thoroughly moved can
leap like the hart. The French Revolution demonstrated how vigorously
one of the oldest nations of Europe could tear along unbroken tracks
when impelled by a new passion. And I saw Britain spring to arms in
1914, when five millions of men joined the colours without the lash
of compulsion to stir their blood. England renewed her youth, and her
movements had the energy, the audacity, and the endurance of a people
untired by a march of centuries. This people, if stirred by a call
which reaches its heart or conscience, is capable of action as bold
as that which wrested Magna Charta out of a despot in the twelfth
century, overthrew an ancient religion in the fifteenth century, led
a king to the scaffold in the seventeenth century, or challenged
the greatest military empires in the world in the sixteenth, the
nineteenth, and the twentieth centuries. And if they were convinced
that the liquor traffic must be destroyed, they would execute it with
as little compunction or hesitation as they displayed in suppressing
the mass or in decapitating Charles I.

At the present moment the British people are not in the least persuaded
that the evils of alcohol for a minority of the population cannot be
dealt with effectively without resorting to the very drastic expedient
of forbidding its consumption by the majority who use it in moderation.
Are they likely to be convinced? That depends on the failure or success
of all other expedients to exterminate the evil of alcoholism.

That brings me to another explanation. America reached prohibition by
the path of experiment. The federal system lent itself to the trial
of every form of remedy, including prohibition. For well over half a
century you have had almost every form of temperance expedient ever
suggested in actual working in some State or other of the American
republic.

When I was a lad I heard debates and addresses in Welsh about the
comparative merits of the "Maine Law" and high license. High license,
reduction of licenses, local option, prohibition, have all been
tried. They have all been in operation quite long enough to enable
the American public to form a judgment on their merits. Statistical
results over long periods constitute a reliable basis for inference.
American federalism furnished the opportunity, and the States took full
advantage of it. Hence the prohibition law.

To the practical man the figures in the prohibition States looked
attractive from a business point of view. He hesitated, but the moral
wave that swept over America carried him over the bar. But without the
experience at his door I doubt whether the American business man would
have assented to prohibition.

The British constitution does not lend itself to these valuable
experiments. Otherwise, London might have tried one experiment,
Lancashire another, Yorkshire a third, Scotland a fourth, and Wales a
fifth. The whole legislative power of the United Kingdom was until
quite recently vested in the imperial Parliament. Ireland has now a
legislature of its own. In theory, what suited one part of the kingdom
must do for the whole, and what did not suit the more populous parts
could not be permitted to others.

As far as Scotland, Ireland, and Wales are concerned, there was in
practice a certain relaxation of this rule. But as far as the liquor
laws went, any serious alteration in any part of the kingdom was
difficult to secure if it offended the prejudices or damaged the
interests of the rest. It took years to get it through Parliament even
in a mutilated condition.

There was no real freedom of experiment. The Scottish local veto act is
a compromise modified to suit English sentiment. Even as it is, it took
thirty years of Scottish insistence to carry. Wales has been unable to
secure local option, although it has been demanded by four-fifths of
its representatives for over a generation. We have, therefore, in this
country been denied the practical experience which has guided America
to so dramatic a conclusion.

In the absence of such experience it has been found impossible to
educate and organise public opinion throughout Britain to the point of
concentrating attention and pressure on this one issue. Other issues
always cut across and jam the current.

You cannot secure unanimity of action on temperance reform even amongst
the religious forces. If they were united in their demand, and prepared
to enforce it at elections, nothing could resist their power. Between
elections they seem agreed in their policy; but no sooner does the
party bugle sound than they all fall into rank in opposite armies, and
the temperance banner is hurriedly packed into the cupboard for use
after the polls have been declared. It is then once more brought out to
wave over the tabernacle, and its wrinkles are straightened out in the
breeze.

I have seen the fiercest champions of local option supporting brewers
at elections because they were the official opponents of Irish Home
Rule in the contest. I remember being told by an eminent Scottish
divine, who was a strong temperance advocate, but who had hitherto
supported anti-temperance candidates because of his inveterate
opposition to Gladstone's Home Rule, that, unless his party carried a
measure of local option for Scotland soon, he would have to abandon
them, home rule or no home rule. He died without redeeming his
promise. The time never came for him. The Irish issue dominated
elections for nearly a generation. Free trade played a great part also.

If the exigencies of party conflict had permitted the same consistent
propaganda work, extending over the same number of years, to be devoted
to the drink problem as was given to the wrongs of Ireland or free
trade, no doubt public opinion could have been educated up to the point
of supporting drastic reform. But this has not been found practicable
by political parties owing to the distraction of other issues.

This is the main reason why British opinion is so far behind American
opinion on the temperance question. In America the battle of sobriety
was fought on the State platform, whilst the national platform was left
free for other conflicts.

The war, however, enabled the British government to effect reforms
which have materially reduced the consumption of alcohol in this
kingdom. These results have been achieved by an enormous increase in
the taxation of alcoholic liquors, and by a considerable reduction in
the hours of sale. The taxation of beer was raised from £13,000,000
in 1913 to £123,000,000 in 1921. The duty on spirits in 1913 yielded
£22,000,000, in 1921 it gave the revenue £71,000,000.

One of the effects has been an appreciable reduction in the alcoholic
strength of the beverage sold. The hours of sale in the morning and
afternoon have been curtailed appreciably. By this measure the workman
is prevented from starting his day by drinking alcohol, and the
afternoon break prevents the drinker from soddening all day.

The effect of these combined measures has been highly beneficial. The
quantity of beer sold fell from 34,152,739 barrels of 36 gallons at
standard gravity of 10.55 in 1913, to 23,885,472 standard barrels in
1921. Spirits fell from 30,736,088 proof gallons in 1913 to 20,162,395
in 1921. These figures represent a remarkable and almost sensational
reduction in the quantity of alcohol consumed by the population.
Convictions for drunkenness fell from 188,877 in 1913 to 77,789 in
1921. Deaths from alcoholic diseases were more than halved during the
same period. This is the most distinct advance in the direction of
effective temperance reform hitherto taken by the British Parliament,
and the effect is striking in its encouragement.

It would be a serious national misfortune if the admirable results
attained by these war measures were lost by relaxations. Most of
the pressure exerted upon Parliament has up to the present been in
the direction of easing the grip of the state on the traffic. Most
candidates in all parties at the last election were forced to pledge
themselves to support reduction in the beer duty. Clubs, even more than
"pubs," have urged extensions in drinking hours. The beer duty has
already been reduced. It is anticipated that the reduction will have
the effect of increasing consumption. This is regrettable, for it means
so much reclaimed land once more sinking into the malarial swamp.

There is one consolation, however, that the women will claim the
next turn in reduction of taxation. Sugar and tea will then provide
effective barriers in the way of a further cheapening of alcoholic
liquors just yet. But all this is a long, long way off prohibition.
A majority of 20 to 1 against Mr. Scrymgeour's prohibition bill, and
a majority of 4 to 1 in favour of cheaper beer--both recorded in the
same parliamentary week--is not encouraging to those who would suppress
alcohol in Britain.

Temperance reformers here are, therefore, watching the progress of
America's bold bid for sobriety with hopeful, if anxious, eyes, and
with longing hearts. What Britain does next will depend entirely on the
success or failure of what America is doing now.



XXXI

UNOFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF "OFFICIAL" INFORMATION


A storm is working up over the publication by public servants of
information which came into their possession in the course of their
official careers. The immediate occasion is Mr. Winston Churchill's
story of the war. Angry questions are being asked in parliament, and it
is publicly announced that the Cabinet have appointed a committee of
its members to consider the whole problem.

It is rather late in the day to make all this fuss about the
publication of war documents, for generals, admirals, and ministers
in all lands, including ours, have during the last three years
been inundating the European and American public with a flood of
reminiscences, explanations, criticisms, attacks and defences on the
conduct of operations, either of the Great War or the Great Peace, in
which they were engaged. Warriors on land and on sea have displayed an
unprecedented eagerness to inform the public as to their own share
in the great victory, and as to how much more brilliant that share
would have been but for the wrongheadedness or stupidity of some
collaborator. Like Julius Cæsar, they mean to live in history not
merely through their battles, but also through their commentaries upon
them. On the other hand, statesmen have been engaged in disclaiming
responsibility for particular parts of the Treaty of Versailles,
and where blame has been attached to them, either by opponents or
supporters, for the form in which those parts were cast, they have
striven hard to prove that it was attributable to pressure which
they were unable to resist from other actors in the drama. In each
case highly confidential information is disclosed, secret documents
are used, cabinet and council proceedings are published, without the
slightest regard to precedent. One disclosure has led to another, one
revelation has rendered another inevitable.

A general, admiral or minister criticises on the strength of
half-disclosed minutes or documents some other public functionary,
military, naval, or political. What is the latter to do? His
reputation is at stake. Is he not to be allowed to repair the
omission or to correct the misquotation? Take the case of ministers
who played an important part in the conduct of the war or the peace,
and whose actions have been subjected to malignant and persistent
misrepresentation. In attacking these ministers statements are made
which, if accepted by the public, would irretrievably damage or even
destroy their reputation. In formulating the attack a document is
partially quoted, or the report of a council or cabinet meeting is
misquoted. The minister knows that a full and fair quotation would
clear his good name of the imputation sought to be cast upon it. Is
he not to be allowed, in those circumstances, to publish it? A mere
denial would carry no weight. A full revelation would settle the
dispute in his favour. The publication cannot conceivably affect any
public interest, it would supply no information which could serve any
possible enemy of his country. Is he not to be allowed to use the only
means available to redeem his credit from the ruin of accepted calumny?
His critic has been allowed to disclose secret information without
protest. Is he to be forbidden to do so in self-defence? He claims that
he served his country faithfully to the best of his powers in time
of crisis and peril. For that he is defamed by men who had access
to secret information and use it freely without criticism, censure
or demur. Why should his country deny him the same privilege for his
protection? That is the case which the cabinet committee will have to
consider. Whatever general rules may be laid down they must in all
fairness take into account these exceptional circumstances. Those who
are now taking a prominent part in emphasising the enormity of giving
to the public documents which were acquired in the public service
had not a word to say when portions of those documents were used for
purposes with which they were in sympathy. Is it not rather late for
them to protest now? There is such a thing as fair play even when
politicians are attacked.

So far as the British are concerned the writing of the books of the
type alluded to was started, I think, by Field-Marshal Lord French of
Ypres, in his book, _1914_. This work is of the nature of an apologia;
and the writer, to assist in establishing his case, alludes to
discussions with the cabinet and does not hesitate to quote textually
secret memoranda and dispatches written by himself and others. The late
Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Fisher, gives in his book, _Memories_,
examples of his own intervention at the war council meetings. In his
autobiography, _From Private to Field-Marshal_, which appeared some
time later, Field-Marshal Sir William Robertson, who was for over two
years the confidential adviser of the cabinet and as such attended
all war councils and most war cabinet meetings, when it suits his
argument gives to the public his version of what passed at these highly
secret conclaves. Though he does not quote secret documents textually,
he describes the proceedings and deliberations of the supreme war
council, inter-Allied conferences and the war cabinet, and refers to
the opinions of individuals. In his recent speeches he has gone even
further. A still more recent work, _Sir Douglas Haig's Command_, is
the result of collaboration by two authors of whom one, at least,
held an official position during the war, being Sir Douglas Haig's
private secretary when he was Commander-in-Chief of the British army
in France. This book is even less reticent. It, also, is essentially
an apologia and justification of an individual. To establish their
case, the writers not only summarise some of the secret proceedings of
the supreme war council and war cabinet, but give extracts of their
decisions. These extracts are freely used as the basis of animadversion
on the council and cabinet of that day. It is true that some of
the quotations are stated to be taken from French books previously
published, but others are not, which arouses curiosity as to the source
of the knowledge displayed.

In addition there have been endless articles in magazines and
newspapers, some signed, some written anonymously, all attacking either
ministers, generals or admirals, and most of them clearly supplied with
secret information by men who must have acquired it in their official
capacity. As to all these disclosures protest has hitherto been silent.
But when it is indicated that replies are forthcoming and that these
replies will reveal the real nature of the misquoted documents or
proceedings, the wrath of the assailants and their sympathisers knows
no bounds.

What happened in reference to the consultations held in connection
with the framing of the peace treaty affords an illustration of the
way these revelations occur. The question of the publication of
these proceedings was definitely discussed at Versailles, after the
signature of the peace treaty with Germany on the 28th June, 1919, by
President Wilson, representing the United States, M. Clemenceau and M.
Simon, representing France, M. Sonnino, representing Italy, M. Makino,
representing Japan, and myself. This is what occurred on that occasion.
For the first time I quote from my own notes written at the time:


     "President Wilson was strongly of opinion that these documents
     ought to be treated as purely private conversation, and he
     objected to the communication of the accounts given in the Notes
     of the private conversations, in which all present had spoken
     their minds with great freedom, as improper use might afterwards
     be made of these documents. On the other hand, he did not object
     to the Notes being communicated to special individuals in the
     personal confidence of members of the Council. Though he looked
     upon certain statements, the conclusions and the actions as being
     official, and therefore available in the appropriate offices, the
     actual conversations were private. In the United States no one
     had the right to claim documents of this kind. President Wilson's
     view was that each government should take the course traditional
     in its own country with the clear and distinct understanding that
     no one should under any circumstances make the _procès verbal_
     public. M. Clemenceau did not think that such documents should be
     regarded as private property, whilst M. Sonnino thought they need
     not be considered as official documents.

     "For my own part I was anxious to know what the precedents were. I
     also felt bound to enter a caveat that if attacks should be made
     on the political heads I might be forced in particular cases to
     refer to these Notes, and I gave warning that I might have to do
     so unless a protest was then made. M. Clemenceau agreed so far,
     that it might be impossible to refuse extracts from the _procès
     verbaux_ to prove particular facts."


It will be observed from this record that I was the first to safeguard
the interest of persons who, I felt certain, would be attacked for
their share in the treaty. I am the last to take advantage of the
proviso.

What followed? M. Clemenceau was bitterly attacked by his political
opponents for surrendering French rights to the treaty. President
Wilson was also attacked by his political opponents for his assent to
other provisions of the treaty. In self-defence they authorised the
publication of the secret reports of the Paris meeting.

M. Clemenceau entrusted his defence to M. Tardieu. M. Tardieu, in
his book _The Truth About the Treaty_, gives most of his attention
to the drawing up of that international instrument, but deals with
the last portion of the war period and quotes from the proceedings
of inter-allied conferences, and also of the supreme war council,
giving the opinions of individuals. He does the same with the
deliberations of the peace conference. In fact the whole book is
based on international proceedings of a secret nature. M. Poincaré,
in maligning his rivals, has not refrained from making full use
of information which came to his knowledge as President of the
Republic. For example, in his article, _Souvenirs et Documents_, in
the _Temps_ of the 12th September, 1921, he quotes _in extenso_ a
letter of April, 1919, from himself as President of the Republic to
the President of the Council, M. Clemenceau, and a letter from me in
reply to the President of the Council. My consent was not even asked
to the publication of my letter. This correspondence referred to the
period proposed to be placed on the occupation by the Allies of the
left bank of the Rhine. According to Signor Nitti, M. Poincaré makes
somewhat similar disclosures in his articles published in the _Revue
des Deux Mondes_. All these disclosures were partial, truncated and,
therefore, misleading. They did not give the public a complete account
of what occurred. The impression created was, therefore, unfair to the
other actors in that great drama. That is undoubtedly what impelled
ex-President Wilson to hand over his documents to Mr. Ray Baker
with a view to the presentation of the case from the standpoint of
the American delegation. Hence his book, _Woodrow Wilson and World
Settlement_. It is mostly based on the secret minutes of the supreme
war council, numerous extracts from which are given. Signor Nitti,
the late Italian premier, on the other hand, expressly states that he
does not publish any document which was not intended for publication.
Nevertheless, he prints a memorandum written by myself for the peace
conference in March, 1919, under the title of _Some Considerations
for the Peace Conference before they finally Draft their Terms_, and
also M. Clemenceau's reply, both of which are secret documents. But he
excuses his action in this case because extracts from this memorandum
had already been published.

I only mention these matters, not by way of arraignment of these
various distinguished men for divulging secrets they ought to have kept
under lock and key. That is not in the least my object. I do so in
order to point out that general rules as to the conditions under which
confidential material can be used are not applicable to circumstances
of the Great War and the peace that ensued. Disclosures already made
largely for purposes of criticism and aspersion upon individuals
or bodies of individuals have given the assailed parties a special
position which cannot in justice be overlooked.

_London, March 17th, 1923._





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