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"THE HUSH IN EUROPE."
An historian eager to determine what the English mind thought of the prospects and tendencies of civilization about the year 1909, would find ample and luminous evidence laid before him during a single memorable week of last June. One might suppose that the average educated mind of our time had consciously determined to record its confessions. Its chosen spokesman was Lord Rosebery, a personality singularly sensitive to the floating impressions of his time, original only in his felicity of phrase, typical in all the rest of that massconsciousness which invades opposing parties, makes sport of hereditary dogmas, and carries with it in its instinctive movements all but the inveterate minority and the deliberate eccentrics. His words are already the rhythm of all our thoughts-that sentence about the condition of Europe "so peaceful but so menacing," the other about the "hush in Europe" which "forbodes peace," and the rougher phrases about the "bursting out of navies every、 where" in a continent which is "rattling into barbarism." It was no individual utterance. Sir Edward Grey, the incarnation of reticence and caution went out of his way to agree with every word of it. Mr. Balfour agreed with Sir Edward Grey, and Mr. Haldane with Mr. Balfour. Thus it is then the British people sees its own condition and in this mood it looks out across its seas at the armaments of the continent. Pessimism mingles oddly with a certain grim resolution. There are peoples who see in their navies and their armies only a panoply of strength lightly worn and gladly displayed. There are men who, like Moltke, think even of war itself as the salt of life and the last vestige of "idealism." That is not our attitude.
With rare exceptions we all think of armaments as an evil, though it be a necessary evil. War we unanimously condemn as a crime and a treason to civilization. Yet while we look before us and declare that we are "rattling into barbarism," we also delare that "we can and we will" build warships "so long as we have a shilling to spend on them." Our moral sense assents sadly to the first proposition, an innate pugnacity applauds the second. Our orators toss these contradictions at each other across our platforms, yet sometimes in the interval there sounds a deeper note, a sense that there must be somewhere a reasonable force which will break in upon the insanity of a continent, restore to it a peace that is more than a hush of foreboding, and recall it to its saner constructive purposes. But when we ask what this force may be, there is a general agreement that it is not to be sought in either of our ruling parties or in any section of the governing class. Lord Rosebery looks for it, if at all, only in that section of society which has no leisure to think and lacks the means to educate itself-among "the working men of the world." In that vision of a proletarian revolt in which the masses will say "no more of this madness and this folly," he confessed the bankruptcy of our directing caste. From a Socialist it would have seemed a natural boast. In Lord Rosebery's mouth it was a cry of despair.
It is the mischief of such an emotional commentary on our age, that it carries us too rapidly into generalities, and deflects us from the humdrum work of contemporary criticism into an attitude of prophecy which benumbs the will and the intelligence alike. Let us for a moment attempt to translate these glowing phrases into
something rather more concrete. Europe is a word. One could reckon on the fingers of two hands the few men who really count in the direction of its policy. For everywhere, alike in democratic and in conservative lands, the conduct of foreign affairs is concentrated in the brain of a single statesman, aided by a few officials. Sir Edward Grey and Prince Bülow, King Edward, the Kaiser and the Tsar, M. Isvolsky, Baron von Aerenthal, and three or four others-these men are "Europe." If it is "rattling into barbarism," human wills and conscious purposes have something to do with the steering of the course and the regulating of the pace. This hush of suspicion, this competition of armaments, they are not indefinite phenomena vaguely located in the European atmosphere. The European "atmosphere" is indeed nothing but the turmoil of surmise and suspicion, approval and criticism which plays round the doings and the sayings and the supposed purposes of these few men. Public opinion is not in foreign affairs a force which pushes the diplomatists forward. It rather follows than pushes, peering and craning, guessing and wondering, a crowd of gossips mingled with an official claque. It will tell France "to mend her manners," or enfold her in a cordial embrace; it will think of Russia as the devil whom we must meet at supper with a "long spoon," or prepare to applaud the Tsar at Cowes; it will dream of a Pan-Teutonic alliance with Germany, or brood over the inevitable war, precisely as its few recognized leaders teach it to think. The divisions of Europe which fill Lord Rosebery with pessimism are not the consequence of any deepseated popular instinct. So far as national instinct goes, the cleavage might as well have followed almost any other line. The situation which has created this general gloom is in
deed relatively simple. It is not a universal madness which has overtaken mankind, a return to a state of nature in which homo homini lupus. It is a tension and a jealousy between two closely knit groups of Powers. It is a struggle for predominance between the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente, a struggle in which the protagonists are Sir Edward Grey and Prince Bülow. It began only in 1903; it was not acute until the close of 1905. The naval competition, which is the phase of the conflict on which public opinion chiefly centres, is its symptom rather than its cause. It is not the mere fact that Germany is building a new fleet which disquiets us, but the suspicion that she may be building against us. It is not our armaments which incite the Germans to emulation so much as our new policy of concentrating our fleet in home waters. Each side represents its own armaments as purely defensive. The Germans aim at constructing such a fleet that even the strongest naval Power would not venture to attack them without grave risk to itself. Our aim is consciously to prevent another Power from acquiring what we call a predominance in Europe. Each in short suspects the other of seeking to bully or to domineer, each arms to assure its own liberty. It is this fear of being threatened and over-borne, menaced or thwarted, which is the real cause of the general malaise. We shall make no progress towards understanding the "hush" in Europe, until we realize that this fear is as vocal and as imperious in Berlin as it is in London.
The set of facts to which supporters of the view now dominant in this country can point is certainly formidable. Germans have a way of reminding us that for more than a generation they have kept the peace, while Great Britain, Russia and the United States have all been engaged
in wars with civilized states. But if there is any truth in the versions of the history of the past four years which are current in England and France, it is by no fault or omission on her part that Germany has failed to find herself at war. The incident about which our knowledge is fullest occurred at the close of 1905. Germany was urging upon France the desirability of an International Conference to regulate the affairs of Morocco, but encountered from M. Delcassé an uncompromising resistance. It is said that an ultimatum was presented, and that in consequence of this ultimatum M. Delcassé was compelled by his colleagues to resign. I have myself heard enough from a German officer concerned in the preparations for mobilization on this occasion, to have little doubt of the substantial truth of this story. Whether the dismissal of M. Delcassé was formally demanded is more doubtful, but that German diplomacy had in effect planned and effected his downfall, was the view generally taken of the incident both in Germany and in France. Two French Premiers have publicly stated that France was at this moment on the verge of war. It is also generally understood that in that war Great Britain would have been involved, both on land and at sea. The impression left by this incident cannot easily be effaced. When the Kaiser raised Herr von Bülow to the rank of Prince as a reward for bringing about M. Delcassé's fall, he triumphed as publicly as if his generals had actually banqueted at Versailles.
There were anxious moments during the earlier half of 1906. Then came the Casablanca incident which clouded the closing months of 1908 and the early months of 1909. Once more the newspapers which closely reflect the inner knowledge of diplomacy talked of the risk of war. There was at the
time a sharp controversy over the facts, and both the Times and the Temps were accused, apparently with good reason, of distorting the actual course of German diplomacy. It has not been alleged in this instance, so far as I know, that any ultimatum in the full sense of the word was served upon France. But she believed herself to be in danger, and her belief was shared in London. In discussing the results of the Imperial Press Conference, the Temps remarked parenthetically in a leading article the other day that during this Casablanca episode it was arranged that five divisions of British regulars should co-operate with the French army in case of need. Only a critic who had access to all the despatches and reports relevant to this affair could determine whether the fears of English and French statesmen were exaggerated. The fact remains that they were entertained by responsible men, that they percolated downwards to the press and the public, and that they helped to make the situation in which we find ourselves. Yet the occasion for these alarms was a sordid brawl, in which as the Hague Tribunal has since decided, each party was more or less in the wrong-a purely local quarrel in which no principle was involved and no Imperial interest was at stake. Assuming that France during this affair was even for a moment in real danger, the conclusion would follow that Germany was rather seeking a pretext to humiliate a rival than insisting on any point that seemed to her substantial. If that is a fair interpretation, it shatters the very foundations of European confidence and peace.
Lastly we come to the long Balkan crisis, which ended by a German intervention in St. Petersburg. It would be wearisome to rehearse the details or examine the merits of this prolonged and angry controversy. To a mind
by official personages who knew the whole facts. The note as it was published in the German press was not an ultimatum, but it did convey a menace when it announced that Germany would leave to her ally Austria "the choice of means." To explain the precipitate retreat of M. Isvolsky, it is reasonable to suppose that this veiled threat may have been amplified by some more definite danger signal. In this long contest over Balkan affairs, bitter though it was from the beginning, and complicated by the rattle of arms in the Balkan Peninsula itself, Germany was the first of the great Powers to carry the debate with her equals from the stage of argument to the stage of threats. Her conduct after this signal success was hardly less offensive than it had been after the defeat of M. Delcassé. Her semi-official press at once announced the fall of M. Isvolsky, and for a moment it seemed as though she were about to secure as a permanent fruit of her effort the summoning to power in Russia of a Ministry welldisposed to herself and cold towards the British connection. Her expectations have, as it happens, been falsıfied. But in the entourage of the Tsar, at least, it is probable that she has strengthened her position; the prestige of the Stolypin ministry has been shaken, and it is still possible that it may soon be succeeded by a more Germanophil and more definitely reactionary combination.
Such, in brief, is the case against German diplomacy which a student might compile who relied on French and British sources of information. Thrice at least in four years, if Germany did not explicitly threaten war, she led her opponents to believe that she contemplated an appeal to arms. In two of three instances she for the moment achieved her aim. From these facts, if they stood alone, it
which sees in nations rather than in governments the real subjects of politics, the dispute seemed somewhat superficial. The only people who had a right to complain of the annexation of the two provinces by Austria were the Bosnians themselves. But it was never suggested even by the PanSlavists that they should be consulted, or that their sanction should be sought by a plébiscite. Yet they alone had suffered a substantial violence and their daily life alone would be altered for good or ill by the fact of annexa tion. The struggle was formally about abstractions; it was really a contest for prestige. Formally and juridically no unbiassed mind could, I think, deny that Great Britain and Russia were in the right in insisting that a treaty must not be torn up by one party to it without the consent of the others. Austria chose to think that in asking her to obtain the sanction of a European Conference, the Powers of the Triple Entente were seeking to humiliate her. By way of reply she determined to humiliate little Servia, with the object presumably of demonstrating that Russia dared not intervene to protect her protégé. She achieved her end with German aid. The history of Prince Bülow's decisive intervention has been told with considerable detail in the Russian, French and English press, but none of the several versions bears the stamp of indisputable authenticity. It is only known that on receiving a German note, Russia, which had been acting with Great Britain and France, suddenly receded from all her diplomatic positions without so much as consulting her partners, and left Sir Edward Grey to soften the blow to Servia as best he could. The Times and other well-informed newspapers announced that Germany had delivered an "ultimatum" to Russia, and the same word was, to my knowledge, freely used in