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guttural voice which was known and loved in many strange parts, "look out! I have asked you here on my return from Germany to say to you, look out! A colossus is stretching himself. Every great muscle of his arms is taut and hard. Every little cell of his great brain reverberates with two words only, 'Der Tag.' . . . We live in a false security here. We are a democracy which tolerates a monarch. You, gentlemen, are our autocrats. Each one of you is the king of England. What are your majesties going to do? Are you going to continue to play Canute and hold up your hands to the waves and say, 'Back!? Are you going to continue to sit within the apparently impregnable walls. of your party system? Because, if so, the security of this kingdom and your little crowns is not marketable. There are no bidders. I say to you again, look out!" That man was King Edward VII of Great Britain and Ireland.
There was only one policeman outside that little, dull, unpretentious house in Downing Street in which much regrettable history has been made, and from which one generation after another has been misgoverned and misled by premiers and their satellites. On his chest were the ribbons of medals won in India and South Africa, and in his eyes there was the look of a man who fears that he is about to face unutterable disgrace.
He has watched one member after another of the British cabinet scamper up with white lips. From where he stands he can see the complicated system of wireless telegraphy on the roof of the Admiralty. He knows well, like every other man of the nation to which he belongs, that a message has been framed to be despatched from those wires to the great ships that lie waiting off the coast. He knows also that the hands of the army and navy are held by the grip of the party system, and that the agreements of his country with her allies may be broken, to her everlasting shame, by those frightened, panic-stricken men who have rushed up from their country houses to attend the cabinet meeting within.
There sat Mr. Asquith, the prime minister, with ashen face and hands shaking like a man with palsy. All round the table were seated the men who had trifled with their trust. Their teeth were chattering. They were face to face at last with the truth which they had dodged and refused to recognize.
"Why should we fight?" they stammered. "We are a peace-loving nation, unready for bloodshed. Let the others fly at one another's throats, and while they kill and devastate we will grow rich. Are we not a nation of shopkeepers?"
"Listen!" said Mr. Asquith.
From all parts of Great Britain and Ireland-yes, Ireland-there rose an everincreasing rumble of passionate protest, like the breaking of huge waves upon rocks. Bugles seemed to ring out, and from every town and hamlet there appeared to rise up millions of hands. Near by a bell was tolling.
Mr. Asquith looked up and all round, catching the troubled eyes of his hench
"Oh, my God!" he said, "our servants have become our masters. They demand that we shall fight. Gentlemen, the party system is dead."
The party system! The House of Commons is divided into two bodies. On one side of it sits the party in the majority, on the other side the party in the minority, and over them both the Irish. The House of Commons purports to represent a great country whose history gleams with the heroic results of individual effort. The constitution of all the men under the roof of that House is the same. Whether they call themselves Conservatives or Liberals, they are not there for reasons of patriotism. They have entered politics for the same reason that takes men to the stock-exchange and upon the stage-for money and for advertisement. On both sides there are men who own newspapers, run simply for the purpose of grinding their little axes, in which they may hurl sham invective at their fellow-conspirators and write columns of self-praise. On both sides there are law
yers who have tacked on politics to their profession so that they may stand in the lime-light, pick up the plums, and manipulate commerce to their own benefit. On both sides there are bankers and publicans, journalists and company-promoters, city merchants and the povertystricken relatives of the great political leaders, who will obey orders, answer the party whip, and sell their souls for a mess of pottage. On both sides there are little creatures from the back alleys who have been educated to politics as a means of livelihood, and who are perfectly willing to assert that black is white or vice versa whenever they can gain by doing so. The majority are, ipso facto, the enemy of the minority, and the Irish hate them both; but the minority, majority, and Irish are all working together for their own ends. They may call themselves Conservatives, Unionists, Radicals, Liberals, Nationalists, Fenians, Anti-Vivisectionists, Little Englanders, or any one of the dozen meaningless names which have grown into the English language, but they remain mercenaries and parasites, the manipulators of a party system which is a cunningly built-up conspiracy to mislead the country, misrepresent its voters, and provide places for the incapable sons of peers and yearly incomes for specially chosen men whose integrity has been proved to be easily bought, and whose eloquence, like that of a criminal lawyer, is as ready to be used in defense as in prosecution.
In a word, the party system of British politics is the one corrupt thing in the constitution of that nation. The House of Commons has become the happy hunting-ground of a dozen great families whose members pass into it from time to time by the same right that men pass into the business firms of their fathers. They are all partners in a great swindle, and their clerks and henchmen, hired from the law, the universities, the factories, and the streets, vary only as their masters see fit. Those masters, nearly equally divided on both sides of the House, agree from time to time to take the reins of office, paying themselves large salaries, large pensions,
giving places only to those men who have been most obsequious and most eagerly dishonest. They juggle with the votes of the country, with their tongues in their cheeks. They are past-masters in cardsharping and the three-card trick. There is not one man among them with the faintest gleam of imagination, patriotism, or understanding of the characteristics and spirit of the race whom they bluff by inheritance. Yes, there is one-the Mark Antony of the House of Commons, the little Celtic man whose name is LloydGeorge, who possesses the three gifts that go to the making of a great charlatan-a pair of wonderful eyes, a sense of impish humor, and that touch of exaltation which stirs men to hysteria. He is the Pied Piper of politics, the man whose little flute can draw from their dark places the laboring parties of the United Kingdom. He is the great democrat who has organized a bureaucracy more autocratic than anything in Russia. He is the king of charlatans.
England is a free country, a democracy which tolerates a monarch, and is governed by a royal family of hereditary politicians supported by a nation of slaves.
Let a young man enter Parliament big with a desire to get things done, imbued with honesty of purpose, honest enthusiasms, honest patriotism, and a great wish to devote his energies, abilities, and all his time to the amelioration of one or other of the evils which have been left coldly alone by the party system, and he goes into a mausoleum of broken lives over the portals of which is written the terrible legend, "Give up hope, all ye who enter here." The result of his temerity is inevitable. He has either immediately to sacrifice honesty to selfishness or to rush back into the world once more to breathe uncontaminated air and to hurl invective, unnoticed, uncared-for, at the men who year after year deliberately stand in the way of progress and with the utmost cunning lay stone after stone upon the great dam which holds back the waters of improvement and incloses in wonderful security the confidence-men who live upon the credulity of the British public.
The party system of Great Britain is responsible for the degeneracy of a great nation. It is responsible for the unemployment of its working-classes, for the tyranny of its trades-unions, for the sense. of injustice which but for Germany would have seen insurrection in Ireland. Finally, it is responsible for the unforgivable devastation of Belgium and for all the bloodshed, for all the hideous waste of life, money, material, and for the chaos. of civilization under which, in pitiful attitudes, the fathers of the next generation lie crumpled and dead.
Every widow, every orphan, every maimed man in Europe to-day; all those poor boys from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand; every Frenchman, Belgian, Indian, Russian, Italian, African; every man who has sprung to arms, left his civil work, his little patch, his quiet haven where the patter of children's feet has been the music of his life, has to thank the English party system for this war. Countries as crippled as their sons, who have crept back like whipped dogs to a kind of life, will for ten, twenty, maybe a hundred, years hence have to thank the English party system for this hideous, unnecessary, preventable war. If there is yet one spark of remorse in the little souls of the men who have sat so long at Westminster greedily taking their salaries for the non-performance of their duties, then the quiet lunatic asylums which stand among the silent poplars of English country-sides must soon be full. If not, if their long service to dishonesty has eaten into them, if they see no shame in having permitted their country to slip into unreadiness and inefficiency, these little, petty harpies, these hypocritical self-advertisers, may have the satisfaction of wallowing in a sort of triumphant pool of exaltation; may congratulate themselves on having achieved an act of incendiarism so frightful that the bloody glow of its flames. lights up every corner of Europe.
Mr. Balfour, the theorist, the gentle, gentlemanlike university professor, upon whose gravestone will be carved the words, "Nothing have I ever achieved";
Mr. Asquith, his own worst enemy, whose famous, "Wait and see," will be forgotten and forgiven only when the beautiful towns of Belgium shall have risen once more; Mr. Winston Churchill, the inefficient hustler, who breaks, like a bull in a china shop, through the work of experts, and who will be remembered by posterity only for his comic hats; Sir Edward Grey, the imitation sphinx, who has never yet in all his political life understood the very rudiments of diplomacy; Lord Haldane, whose vanity is like that of the toad and whose credulity is no less than that of the bumpkin who goes to the race-course and falls an instant victim to the confidence-man, these men, and all their satellites without one exception, have quietly, steadily, and persistently made it possible for German militarism, German chemistry, and German effrontery to cause England to be the one country on earth whose name can never be mentioned again throughout the ages without raising the bitter ire of her friends. Oh, my God! to think that the little old man, scarred and battered with the wars of his country, left alive surely by an all-pitying Deity so that his magic voice might sink into the hearts and brains of his countrymen to prevent the sacrilege of civilization, should have lived in vain! For he has lived in vain. His warnings and his appeals, which stirred the English nation from coast to coast, were scoffed at or ignored by the English politicians. The monthly reports of the secret services, all proving the criminal folly of the policy of laisser-faire, have been docketed away. The facts which have been plain to all the world, and caused France to strengthen her army and cut the terrible figures, 1870, on every one of her bullets, have been scorned by the English politicians. Instead of taking advantage of the anxious readiness of the country to subscribe to a system of compulsory service, they have steadily weakened the army and would have scuttled the navy had not their rudimentary knowledge of the nation's temper told them that such an act would have brought about a revolution. They knew
of Germany's settled intention of declaring war when armed to the teeth. They knew that the day was drawing ever nearer when the peace of Europe would be broken by the roar of artillery. Every conceivable piece of evidence that daily accumulated on their desks made that fact plain and unanswerable. How, then, did they intend to act when overtaken by the inevitable? Take one look at the journals subsidized by them and find the answer. Not caring for or appreciating the country's sense of honor and pride, they intended to break their treaties and stand aside. They were going to say: "Let them fight who care to; we are unready, unwarlike. We will provide the loans at a high rate of interest and the ammunition at a price." Therefore I cry out aloud the sentiments of all true Englishmen when I say that the English party system is responsible for the war; because, had we been able to place a great army in Belgium to resist the German assault, there would have been no war. It was only because Germany knew of England's unreadiness, and was in the counsels of England's politicians, that she sprang at Belgium's throat.
The mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small.
The germ of suicide would grow and grow in the brain of the thinking man did he not passionately believe that God does not intend this war to be just a hideous fracas, a blood-drunken orgy. The day will come when the warring countries, flung at one another by the leading villains of greed and selfishness and dishonesty, will flick the blood out of their eyes
and ask one another the meaning of it all. The maimed and broken of all sides will look to see, in compensation for their lost. limbs, the improving hand of the Master upon the churned-up earth. Out of her ruins France will rise with prayer upon her lips; Belgium, with her arms bared for the rebuilding of her smashed cities; and Russia with tears in her heart and brotherhood in her hands. In what manner Germany will be touched who can say? As for England, she, like a creature miraculously risen from the operatingtable, will look out on the future with humbler eyes and a thankful heart. The cancer of the party system will have been cut out forever.
Looking through the smoke, I can see the House of Commons occupied by a small committee of unpaid men-business men, honest men. They would shudder to be called politicians. Their ambition is to earn the title of patriots. They belong to no party. They are the servants of the nation. They will not govern the country; they will guide it. They will pursue the same principles and methods for the restoration of her commercial strength as are employed by a committee of liquidation appointed by the court of bankruptcy to a broken business concern. They will run Great Britain in the simple way in which a great railway company is run, and their shareholders, the nation, will be content to read their statements of progress and receive their dividends. Phoenixlike from the ruins there will have risen honest men, and there will be no comfortable corner on this earth for those outcasts who once gambled with a nation's soul for money.
By ERIC FISHER WOOD
Author of "The Note-book of an Attaché"
As an attaché at the American Embassy in Paris, during September, October, and November, 1914, Mr. Wood made four trips to the front. the Marne and the Aisne and the struggle for Calais.
He saw parts of the battles of Later, for two months, he was a bearer of despatches between the American embassies in France, England, Switzerland, Holland, Germany, and Austria. He saw French, British, Belgian, and German troops in action, and he has seen French, Swiss, Dutch, German, Austrian, and Hungarian troops in manoeuvers. -THE EDITOR.
NO civilian, be he editor, college presi
dent, politician, author, or legislator,
After committing myself to the verdict that no civilian is competent to give decisions in military matters, it becomes necessary to explain why I, a civilian, am hereby delivering myself of pronounced opinions on these same military subjects. In giving reasons for the immediate need of preparedness to defeat any attack upon our country, I stand on my own recent experiences in Europe, and need no outside prompting. In my mind are scenes-terrible scenes which constantly pass across my mental vision-crying out their warnings for America. When, however, we come to a discussion of the means by which such preparation can best be accomplished, or by what method we may soonest protect ourselves, I am absolutely depending upon expert military opinion. While in Europe, during the first seven. months of the great war, I diligently gathered in every country I visited, from every battle-field I studied, and from every army-officer I interviewed, all data or in- . formation which might bear upon the situation and needs of my own country. The conclusions I drew from these observations, and the plans I am now outlining, were formulated only after I had submitted the material which I had gathered to the judgment of the army and navy 1 See Mr. Wood's article, "The Writing on the Wall," in THE CENTURY for November.
is qualified to formulate plans for our national defense or to hold any high military office. Officers who fill staff positions in a modern army have a rôle to play that requires more training, experience, and skill than that needed to make an astronomer, a surgeon, or a lawyer. The profession of arms is to-day one of the most intricate and technical in existence. Moreover, its errors are far more costly than those of any other profession. A surgeon who performs unskilfully and unsuccessfully a major operation has only one victim, while a brigade-commander who through lack of training makes a serious mistake sacrifices the lives of a thousand men and places his commanding general at a tactical disadvantage that is likely to prove even more costly. The incompetent politician who without any training attempts to plan out the details of a mobilization or to pass upon the efficiency of a naval unit jeopardizes the lives and prosperity of millions of people. Politicians are just as incompetent in military science as they would be without technical education in one of the learned professions. Only the high profession of politics seems to require neither training nor experience.