« AnkstesnisTęsti »
The final move on the chess-board was opinion, very loath to see all the fine clearly Germany's, and her rulers had Liberal program of domestic reform no hesitancy about making it. At 7:10 thrown overboard in the face of a forA. M. on August 1, Count Pourtalès eign tempest, and very loath, so his again went his familiar way to the office critics insisted, to let matters come to a of Sazonof. He had a communication point where the Liberals might be which, by the errors and duplication of pushed from power and their Conservawords in the copy presented, had ob- tive rivals seize the helm of state. Enviously been prepared in great haste glishmen generally were decidedly unand apparently with the intention of willing to pour out blood and treasure declaring war on Russia whether she merely to save the independence of gave no answer to the ultimatum at all Serbia, and although they did not love or any kind of answer except one of the German kaiser, they had very little servile compliance. After reciting the enthusiasm for defending the despotgood intentions of Kaiser Wilhelm as ism of Nicholas II, many phases wherepeacemaker with Austria, and the ruin of they not unjustly hated. of all these efforts by the Russian mob- Nevertheless, the case was very difilization, the ambassador closed the ferent with France. Very many Endocument with these fateful words, glishmen realized that to have France “His Majesty, the Emperor, my august trampled over again by German armies, sovereign, in the name of the German to have Paris taken, to have France Empire, accepts the challenge and con- bled white by a tremendous indemnity, siders himself at war with Russia." even if there were no more annexations,
So the dream of the crown prince, of meant striking France from the list of Bernhardi, of all the exultant Pan-Ger- great powers and an inordinate growth mans up and down the fatherland, was of the new Teutonic colossus. The ruin about to be realized. The war-machine of France was the immediate prelimithat had stood silent, but not rusting, nary to a direct stroke at England, and for forty-three years was to resume its the majority of inteligent Englishmen appointed and glorious task. Yet the knew it. world still waited. The picture of em- But not all Englishmen were intellibattled Europe was not yet complete. gent. The laboring and the rural classes In Germany, in Austria, in Russia, and and the small tradespeople were probstill more in agonizing France, on whom ably the least military and the least all knew the first bolt was to fall, there imaginative folk in Europe. That any was one all-important question, "What summons from across the channel to would England do ?”
march forth to battle could take them
away from their firesides and their XXII. REAPING THE WHIRLWIND - - THE
toast and tea seemed one of the most SCRAP OF PAPER.
improbable things in the world. And
among Englishmen who should have England was in a position of terrible known better divers had been tempodifficulty. If the crisis had come a week rarily infected with pale pacifism and later, Ulster and the rest of Ireland its gospel of crass materialism-a goswould probably have been at one an- pel that agreed well with the hopes of other's throats in civil war. Several regular dividends and undisturbed vamembers of the cabinet up to the last cations. Never was there a people less minute refused to see the ground open- prepared for a horrid crisis than the ing at the nation's feet, and threatened good people of England. to disrupt the Liberal party in event of Since July 23 Sir Edward Grey had Grey and others pressing for action. been placed in a dilemma indescribably Mr. Asquith, the premier, seems to have difficult. He had been besought by realized that what Germany was forcing France and Russia to tell Germany that was not merely a "Balkan question" but if war did come, then England would an issue of world power in which En- surely fight against her. He knew that gland was enormously interested; but if he made this threat the chances of he vas very loath to anticipate public keeping peace were probably greatly in
creased; Germany did not want too "Belgium . . . shall form an independmany foes at once. But he also knew ent and perpetually neutral state. It that if Germany, despite everything, shall be bound to observe such neutraldrew the sword, England was involved ity towards all other states.” It was in a war as to the wisdom of which her well understood that one of the prime cabinet was divided and her people points in this neutrality was that no wholly uninstructed, and which very foreign armies were to be allowed to likely they would refuse to conduct with cross Belgium for any warlike purpose. the sacrifice and energy without which To enable Belgium to discharge this no great war can be waged. The most duty she was allowed to maintain an he could do was to warn Germany that army and to fortify certain strategic England reserved "complete liberty of points, notably Antwerp, Namur, and action," to assure France and Russia Liège. Seemingly the position of Belthat she would take an extremely gium was very secure. friendly attitude in case worst came to The resistance of any violation of her worst, and finally, on August 2, when it territories was thus a part of the duty was clear that peace between Russia
of Belgium, and ought not to have inand Germany was broken, to inform volved her in any general war. In 1907 France, after a British cabinet meeting, the Hague Conference decided that “the that, subject to approval of Parliament, resistance, even by force, of a neutral "I am authorized to give assurance that power to attempts against its neutrality if the German fleet comes into the chan- cannot be considered as acts of hosnel or through the North Sea to under- tility.” take hostile operations against French Belgium thus seemed doubly protectcoasts or shipping, the British fleet will ed, (I) by the clear sanctions which give all the protection in its power." that once reverenced thing called interThat was all for the moment, although national law afforded to all self-respectgreat interests and parties in London ing neutral countries in general; (II) called for more radical action, and ac- by the special compact of 1839 which tion was in the air. Then while En- gave Belgium a peculiar and privileged gland shook herself from her dream of place among the nations. peace, while the rumblings of the mo- After 1870 it was clear enough that bilizations drifted across the channel, France would not for a long day be in came one word “Belgium,” and the paci- a position to overrun Belgium. If there fists slunk to their caves.
was any aggression, it would be from Belgium was one of the most happy Germany. That a German invasion was and prosperous countries in the world. possible, military men long knew. The She also was not merely neutral, but case had been stated pithily in 1882 in a she was especially neutralized in Eu- quasi-official German newspaper, "Gerrope. In 1815 the Congress of Vienna many has no political motive to violate had annexed Belgium to the kingdom the neutrality of Belgium, but the miliof Holland, but this arrangement had tary advantages which might result not worked well. In 1830 the Belgians may force her to do so." The reason revolted against the Dutch. In 1831 for this military opinion is clearly exthe great powers recognized the inde- plained in the Deutsche Krieger Zeipendence of Belgium, and at the same tungl just one month after the great time determined that Belgium should war actually began: "The plan for the form “a perpetually neutral state" and invasion of France had been clearly that they should guarantee to her "per- settled for a long time. It had to be petual neutrality and also the integrity pursued with
in the north and inviolability of her territory.” This through Belgium, thus avoiding the pledge was signed by England, Austria, strong line of delaying forts which the Russia, France, and Prussia, Italy not enemy [France] had made to defend its having yet come into national existence. frontiers towards Germany, and which
In 1839 this treaty was reaffirmed by would have been extremely difficult to the powers in a still clearer treaty: break through.” Military books had
1 Official organ of the German Military Union ; Sept. 2, 1914,
discussed this desirability of "the Bel- that the neutrality of Belgium is guargian route to Paris" with the uttermost anteed by international treaty." frankness. Everybody knew that in When the crisis broke over Europe, case of war the Germans would throw the Belgians made haste to assure all away a great martial advantage if they the jangling powers of their perfect respected the treaties and tried to ad- neutrality and began taking military vance on the direct road from Lorraine precautions to protect their frontiers. via Verdun or Nancy. What, of course, Naturally they drew near diplomatically the Pan-Germans
to England, which thought about re
was obviously the specting these
one power fairly treaties was no
disinterested that enigma.
could give them Nevertheless the
real protection, and government of
England had alWilliam II did
ready stirred in not denounce the
their behalf. Her treaties, despite
honor was deeply dark suspicions.
committed to seeOn the contrary it
ing that the Belused every effort,
gian compacts apparently, to stifle
were observed, and unfriendly surmises
besides her honor in Belgium and
it is not unfair to England without
add that her naactually making a
tional safety would cast-iron statement
be obviously jeopthat the neutrality
ardized if a great pledge was in all
rival empire, uncases to be re
der the guise of spected. In 1904
attacking France, the constant build
were actually to ing of "strategic Herr von Jagow, Foreign Minister of Germany
seize upon Antrailways” near the
werp and Ostend. Belgian frontier
the began to make Brussels anxious, but chances of a general war became serinothing actually came to pass until ous, Grey began giving plain hints to 1911, when the Belgians inquired of Berlin that assurances as to Belgium Bethmann-Hollweg whether something were in order. The answers he obtained could not be done to dispel their grow- only strengthened rising suspicions. At ing anxiety. Upon this the latter “de- last, on July 31, he sent identical quesclared that Germany had no intention tions to Paris and Berlin. Would France of violating Belgian neutrality," but he and Germany respectively "engage to could not make a public declaration to respect the neutrality of Belgium that effect because then France would so long as no other power violates know she had nothing to guard against it?" on that part of the frontier. However, The answer from Paris was a clear in April, 1914, during a Reichstag de- and satisfactory affirmative.
Not so bate a Socialist deputy asked Jagow, that from Berlin. Jagow told the Britthe foreign minister, about the fears in ish ambassador that “he must consult Belgium lest her neutrality be not re- the emperor and the chancellor before spected. Jagow replied, “Belgian neu- he could possibly answer. I [the envoy] trality is provided for by international gathered from what he said that he conventions, and Germany is deter- thought any reply they might give could mined to respect those conventions." not but disclose a certain amount of Heering, the minister of war, added, their plan of campaign in the event of “Germany will not lose sight of the fact war ensuing, and he was therefore very
doubtful whether they would return any nothing indeed had come from Germany answer at all."
yet, but "we [Belgians] knew his perSuch a reply of course confirmed sonal opinion as to the feelings of securGrey's worst suspicions. The next ity which we had a right to entertain morning (August 1) he took up the towards our eastern neighbors.” At matter directly with the German am- seven o'clock in the evening Herr von bassador at London. If Germany could Below appeared again at M. Davignon's give some assurance about Belgium, “it door at the Belgian foreign office. would materially contribute to relieve The Belgians had asked for an assuranxiety and tension here (in England].” ance of peace and inviolability in a conPrince Lichnowsky blandly replied with flict in which they had not the slightest the counter question: If Germany gave interest or concern. They received insuch a promise, would England engage stead an ultimatum. to remain neutral? Grey could only tell The sum of the document was that him the future must decide British Germany had learned that French forces policy; but it was true that respect for "intend to march through Belgium Belgium would appeal very strongly to against Germany."1 Since it was unthe peace element in England.
likely that Belgium could repel such an During these days of clamor in Eu- invasion, Germany would have to “anrope Belgium had mobilized her small ticipate any such hostile attack.” Howarmy and taken precautions. She had ever, if Belgium interposed no resistsent very solemn assurances of her neu- ance to the passage of German hosts, trality to all the great powers.
Her Belgian independence would be grastatesmen of course were extremely ciously preserved, the whole country anxious, and yet the danger did not evacuated at the end of the war, and seem imminent. On the morning of payment made for any supplies taken July 31 the German minister at Brus- or damage done. If Belgium should sels had assured the Belgian foreign make the least resistance, however, office that "he was certain the senti- “Germany will to her regret be comments expressed [in 1911 by Bethmann- pelled to consider Belgium as Hollweg, to the effect that Belgium enemy”; and in that event also Gerwas not to be violated] had not been many could give no guaranty as to the changed."
future of Belgium when “left to the On August 1 it appeared that the Ger- decision of arms." Twelve hours were mans had seized the small, independent, granted in which to answer this ultiand neutralized Grand Duchy of Luxem- matum—until 7 o'clock the next mornburg. This caused a shock at Brussels, ing; that is, not enough time to hold yet the cases of Luxemburg and Bel- any real consultation as to what to do gium were not quite parallel. The good in a most awful crisis, much less suffifolk of Brabant and Flanders refused cient time to consult with the only effito take alarm. “Every one thought,” cient adviser Belgium could have, Enwrote a Belgian, looking back on the gland. causes of his exile, “ “they will not fight It is recorded that the moment the here. It will be just as in 1870.?” The Belgian Royal Council gathered at the German minister to King Albert's court palace there was not one voice upraised was indefatigable with reassurances. for submission. It was 4 A. M. when the
The Luxemburg affair, however, made council dissolved. King Albert's ministers still more anx- That morning (August 3) the Belious. When on the morning of August gian reply declared: "[The Belgians] 2, Herr von Below, the German min- refuse to believe that the independence ister, called on M. Davignon, the latter of Belgium can only be preserved at the said they had received a very firm prom- price of the violation of her neutrality. ise of inviolability from France, and yet If this hope is disappointed, the Belgian nothing had come from Germany. His Government is firmly resolved to repel Excellency the minister replied that with all the means in its power every
1 At this day there is no need of saying more of this alleged French design in Belgium than that it appears nothing but an impertinent lie.
attack upon its rights." King Albert once replied “he was sorry to say that sent a personal telegram at the same his answer must be 'No' as in consetime to King George, beseeching the quence of the German troops having diplomatic intervention of England, crossed the frontier that morning BelBelgian pride forbidding a direct ap- gian neutrality had already been viopeal for military aid.
lated.” When this telegram reached London, The German added the already standthe British cabinet was still sitting. ardized excuses that it was a “matter The appeal of the Belgians came now of life and death” to them to get into as the last decisive argument to aid France by the best roads and by the the men in the cabinet council who said least defended way. Therefore, to his that in the circumstances peace for great regret, “it was impossible for England meant alike utter dishonor and them to draw back." equally certain physical ruin. Sir Ed- Goschen had to wait until this anward Grey received the appeal of the swer could go on the wires to London King of the Belgians just as he was and he could get his reply, although he about to leave the cabinet to speak in knew what the reply would be. Almost the House of Commons. The speech he at the moment that the ambassador and delivered there on August 3 really left Jagow had been in conference, Bethno question in the minds of all decent mann-Hollweg had been addressing the Englishmen as to what their Govern- Reichstag, called in special session. ment should do. It was no longer a case, Concerning Belgium he used words, Grey plainly showed, of Serbia or of already quoted at this present time of Russia, or even of protecting France writing until they have grown threadagainst the aggrandizement of Ger- bare,
bare, yet destined assuredly to be many. All those things might be impor- quoted in many another history a thoutant, but they were swallowed up in the sand years from to-day. Speedily the one obvious duty of redeeming the Bel- chancellor was to regret his frankness, gian treaty. When Grey rose to speak but his statement could never be rein Parliament there were still many called: “Gentlemen, we are now in a pacifists in England ready to argue for state of necessity, and necessity knows peace at almost any price. When he no law. Our troops have occupied Luxfinished a plain recital of how Germany emburg, perhaps already they have enhad shuffled, twisted, and evaded on the tered Belgian territory. Gentlemen, Belgian question, with this her ulti- this is in contradiction to the rules of matum to King Albert as her finale, the international law. ... France could pacifists were beaten men. Most of wait, but we could not wait. ... So them were no longer pacifists; the rem- we were forced to set aside the just pronant were a dazed, helpless minority, tests of the Luxemburg and Belgian silenced or whimpering witnesses of governments. The wrong—I speak events over which they had not the openly—the wrong which we do now, slightest control.
we will try to make good again as soon With the conscience and high consent as our military ends have been reached. of the British Empire back of him, on When one is threatened as we are, and August 4 Grey sent another telegram all is at stake, he can only think how he to Berlin. It was to be almost the last can hack his way through.” of a long series.
Meantime the telegraph wires had Sir Edward Goschen went to the Ger- been working. Sir Edward Goschen reman foreign office and fulfilled his in- ceived his final message from London structions. He inquired of Jagow, "in so that he could deliver it to Jagow the name of his Majesty's Government, about 7 P. M. “I informed the secrewhether the Imperial German Govern- tary of state that unless the Imperial ment would refrain from violating Bel- Government could give assurance by gian neutrality. Herr von Jagow at 12 o'clock that night that they would
1 The chancellor repeated some assertions that although France had indeed promised to respect Belgian neutrality, "we knew that France stood prepared for an inroad." In other words he charged that France, besides intending to invade Belgium, intended to break a solemn pledge just given. Such assertions need not now be refuted.