The ABC Proposal for British Foreign Policy

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November, 1901
British Foreign Policy by A.B.C., etc.

Source: National Review, November, 1901. For an explanation of the background and genesis of the A.B.C. Memorandum, click here.


The events which have occurred in South Africa during the last few years cannot fail to produce consequences deeper and more far-reaching than the most penetrating observer of contemporary politics could have contemplated at the moment a too famous Raid provoked a no less famous telegram. The effect of these events upon British methods of conducting the national business, and upon our political system, are purely domestic questions which need not be discussed here. Suffice it to say that one of the obvious lessons of the crisis is the necessity of revising the relations of various Departments of Government to one another, with the object of obtaining greater efficiency and of abolishing the fatal influence of the Treasury, which, by its illegitimate interference with naval and military projects, leads to wasteful, because untimely, outlay. It is patent to every thinking Englishman that the financial affairs of our Empire must be worked on more methodical lines; but if we spend our money more wisely than under the present anti-efficient and anti-economical régime, it is by no means certain that the taxpayer will be called upon to spend more, either upon our Army or even our Navy; he will undoubtedly be ready and willing and able to spend whatever the national necessity may demand. Great Britain does not require an immense army of the approved Continental type, but she does require a splendidly equipped and highly trained force, ready for transportation at short notice to any part of her over-sea Empire which may be menaced. The British Navy should be increased so as to enable us to meet an three Powers at sea in superior numbers. The naval policy and avowed hostility of Germany, to which even the British official world can no longer remain blind, will force us to keep on a war-footing in the North Sea a fleet as powerful and efficient as the Mediterranean or Channel Squadrons. Here, again, the money required will be forthcoming; but while some of us believe that our present annual expenditure of sixty millions sterling on national defence would, in provident and efficient hands, supply us not only with the Army, but also with the Navy we need -- others are certain of it.

The lesson which foreign countries may learn from our war in South Africa is one that in their own interest each of them would do well to take to heart. We desire to avoid swagger, which is sald to be a British characteristic, and is probably in varying forms a characteristic of every great nation which believes in itself and its future; but to all interested in understanding the real strength of this nation the Boer War should serve as a useful warning. The prolonged and exasperating struggle has once more exhibited in an impressive manner the political stability of British institutions and the steadfast character of the British race. Reflecting men can see that the living generation of Englishmen have in no way degenerated from their forbears of a hundred years ago. In the earlier period there were two men who appreciated the inherent strength of this country: one was William Pitt, while the other was Napoleon Bonaparte. Pitt knew the meaning of Trafalgar. The conversation which he had in his last days with the young general who was rapidly rising to fame and who was destined to become the great Duke of Wellington, shows that his prescient inteilect grasped the fact that, in spite of Austerlitz, if England were only true to herself, Nelson's victory must inevitably drive Napoleon to a policy which would so exasperate other nations that they would ultimately turn upon him -- Spain giving the signal. His vision was fulfilled; England remained true to herself, and the steadfastness of her people extorted a remarkable tribute from Napoleon to his victorious enemies before the close of his life at St. Helena: "Had I been in 1815 the choice of the English as I was of the French, I might have lost the battle of Waterloo without losing a vote in the Legislature or a soldier from my ranks." During the last two years it has been abundantly demonstrated that the Englishmen of to-day have the same grit as their grandfathers, and the quiet, self-possessed manner in which they have faced the ignorant execration,and the political animosity of the civilised world is calculated to cause unfriendly communities to pause. They have with quiet resolution supported the Ministry -- whose half-hearted measures have not always made support easy -- simply because it was carrying on a war, and thousands and tens of thousands of men in England} who have all their lives been bitter opponents of the political party now in power, have acted with the single object of strengthening the hands of the Government. There have been hours of difficulty, and even of danger, when more than one foreign Power desired, and tentatively sought, to form a coalition against this country. It was the temper of the people of the British Empire backed by the Navy that stunned into sobriety the zealous malignity of those who were willing to wound, but afraid to strike. The details of these sinister intrigues are not only familiar to the Britlsh Foreign Office, but their existence is known to the intelligent public; and we must adrnit at the outset that such shortsighted and fatuous cabals have not rendered easier the task of those who believe that the interests of England lie in the direction of improved relations with certain foreign Powers with whom at present British relations are only "friendly" in the strictly diplomatic sense.

The efforts of certain European Powers -- because neither Japan nor the United States has at any time been remotely implicated in these intrigues, which, in passing, we may say have never received the slightest encouragement from either the Austrian Sovereign or the Italian Government -- have forced the conviction upon the British people that their national policy demands more serious attention than it has yet received. Englishmen are fully aware that the real origin of the war in South Africa was the want of a clear and definite policy in that part of the world; and our main difficulties in other places are due to the same cause. The indefiniteness of our Colonial policy in past years was due to the deplorable fact that during a great part of the reign of Queen Victoria a powerful school existed among us which desired to divorce the Colonies from the Mother Country. In the year I863 Mr. Goldwin Smith, then Regius Professor of History in the University of Oxford -- to which mirabile dictu, he had been appointed on the advice of Lord Derby, the brilliant leader of the Conservative party -- published a work called The Empire. This year (I863), as Monsieur Ollivier, au coeur léger, aptly observes, happens to mark the prominent appearance of Bismarck on the stage of history. Such was the moment chosen by the Oxford Professor to produce a book -- which was received at the time with no little approval -- not only advocating the disruption of the British Empire, but actually advising the surrender of important military positions. It is yet profitable to read the obsolete language of the learned Professor, if only to note how cruelly events hastened to stultify his prophecies and to derive entertainment from the self-opinionated insistence with which he announced the decline of conquering tendencies among nations. Within ten years of his startling discovery there followed in quick succession the annexation by Prussia of the Elbe duchies, Bismarck's assault upon Austria, and the tearing of Alsace and Lorraine from France: a series of events which not only transformed the peace-loving Continent of which the Professor dreamed into something very like a military cantonment, but created a united Germany which, having exhausted her military ambition, is now seeking new worlds to conquer on the ocean.

The gradual decay in England of the shallow and pusillanimous doctrines preached by the Manchester School, and by Professors who profess, without understanding, English history, has not been the work of English politicians. It is largely due to Colonial influence. The truer and more manly creed of national responsibility and imperial duty upheld by statesmen of sense and action like the late Sir John Macdonald, Queen Victoria's Prime Minister in Canada, made steady way throughout the Empire. Its acceptance was followed by the growth of self-consciousness amongst those free nations which, for want of a better name, we still call self-governing colonies. Our leading thinkers and public men, with the conspicuous and honourable exceptions of Lord Rosebery, Mr. W. E. Forster, and Sir John Seeley, did little or nothing to bring these communities into closer touch with one another or with the Mother Country until the day Mr. Chamberlain accepted the office of Colonial Minister. Incredible as it now seems, some of our most eminent statesmen positively desired to sever the ties between the Colonies and the Mother Country. In I873, e.g., Mr. Gladstone told one of the writers of this article that he considered it would be a grand thing for England if she could get rid of the colonies, and he quoted Sir George Cornewall Lewis, who passed for a sagacious man, as being of the same opinion. Justice compels us to recognise that the Liberals were not peculiar in their blindness and perversity on colonial affairs. There remains on record the amazing sentence which Mr. Disraeli wrote to Lord Malmesbury during this benighted period: "These wretched Colonies will all be independent in a few years, and are a millstone round our necks." Even Mr. Goschen was once a Little Englander, while Professor Parkin affirms that Lord Thring (Parliamentary counsel to successive Cabinets) at one time actually prepared a Separation Bill. But in spite of all political discouragement the Colonies clung closer to the Mother Country, and the idea of severing a sacred tie became more and more distasteful to their piety. With the spread of education and the growth of wider knowledge of English literature and English history, our kinsmen beyond the seas took increasing pride in the association of their new land with tbe old country and in their own identity with the stock of the barons of Runnymede, the yeomen of Cressy and Agincourt, the sailors of Trafalgar, and the enlightened and patrlobc stateslen to whom the Anglo-Saxon world owes the writ of Habeas Corpus and the Bill of Rights. Their imagination was no less fired and their deepest feelings of reverence were stirred when they saw the noble example of unswerving public duty which was given to the world by the Sovereign to whom they owed allegiance; and when during the royal progress through London on June 22, I897, the representatives of these splendid young nations sere seen in attendance on their revered ruler, the British Empire and, so to speak, found itself. From that moment the little Englander, who had been an anxiety, ceased to be a serious factor in English public affairs. We could therefore afford to be amused at the announcement of the Berliner Post (which is not professedly a comic paper), at the opening of the present war (October I3, I899), that in the British colonies ' a pronounced movement in favour of separation from the Mother Country is noticeable " !

The conduct of these daughter nations during our South African struggle has driven home and clenched the object-lesson of Queen Victoria's Jubilee, and the people of England most thoroughly realise that the attention of their statesmen can no longer be exclusively devoted to the domestic affairs of two little islands, but that henceforward in all questions of policy we must give a close and sympathetic consideration, not only to the interests, but also to the feelings of the people of Greater Britain.

Closely connected with the subject of inter-imperial relations is the policy which the British Empire should pursue as regards other nations and empires. We shall have to re-consider our postion with regard to them one by one; for it must be owned that some of our Ministers seem to be living under the spell of a diplomacy which the wisest of them has declared to be "antiquated." We wish to see this wisdom translated into action. We believe it to be the desire of the nation that these old-time prejudices and superstitions should be abandoned. The condition of the world has greatly changed during the past century. At the time when the " pilot who weathered the storm " was laid in his grave at the foot of his father's statue in Westminster Abbey, France was ahead of all European countries as regards population, for she numbered twenty-five million souls. When England entered upon her Titanic struggle with Napoleon, the whole European population of the British Empire did not exceed fifteen millions, while the population of the United States was not much larger than that of Australia at the present moment. To-day we are living in an entirely new world, the development and progress of which is the topic of almost every leading article, so we need not descant upon it here. Perhaps the main fact which should impress itself upon Englishmen in considering the actual international outlook is not merely the extraordinary growth of Germany -- who has achieved greatness by trampling on her neighbours -- but the fact that this formidable community is becoming increasingly dependent on a foreign food supply, as well as on foreign supplies of raw and partially manufactured articles. This necessarily involves the development of Germany as a Sea Power, and it is a matter for every European State to ponder over. She is already stronger at sea than either France or Russia. It therefore affects them as well as England, though up to a certain point they may welcome it, because it is the cause of German hostility to England. No one has brought this hostility so graphically before the British nation as the present Chancellor of the German Empire, Count von Bulow. He loses few opportunities in his highly flavoured discourses in the Reichstag of displaying his contempt for Great Britain, though both before and after more than one of these public demonstrations, private assurances have been conveyed to the British Government that the speaker need not be taken seriously as he was merely "conciliating" German Anglophobes -- usually of the Agrarian class to which he belongs. One of these utterances, however, stands by itself, and as it is quite incapable of being explained away, Count von Bulow has not attempted any explanation. In reply to an interpellation, he informed the Reichstag that the telegram sent by Kaiser Wilhelm to President Kruger in I896 was not, as had been represented in this country, the offspring of an unpremeditated impulse of resentment against the Jameson Raid, but it was a deliberate effort to ascertain how far Germany could reckon on the support of France and Russia in forming an anti-British combination. The Chancellor owned that the effort had failed, presumably because our supposed enemies were unwilling to play into the hands of Germany; he explained that, in consequence, Germah foreign policy had necessarily to take another tack, since " isolation " had been demonstrated. We doubt whether history records in the relations between great Powers a more impudent avowal of a more unfriendly act. It is galling to Englishmen to reflect that Germany was rewarded for failing to raise Europe against us by an Anglo-German.agreement securing to her the reversion to spacious territories to which she has no sort of claim, though they may have been in the Kaiser's capacious mind when he despatched his telegram.

The official advocates of the Naval Bills which have been introduced into the "Reichstag" during the last three years have made no concealment as to the objective of the modern German navy, and that portion of the German press which takes its cue from the Government has told us in language impossible to misunderstand that Germany aspires to deprive us of our position on the ocean. "Unsere Zukunft liegt auf dem Wasser"; such is the swelling phrase of the Kaiser; but, like all his rhetoric, there is serious purpose behind it. At the present time it is estimated that a substantial proportion of the food of the entire population of Germany is sea-borne. She is becoming transformed from an agricultural into an industrial community, and if the process continues for another quarter of a century, while remaining secured against actual starvation by her land frontiers, she will become no less dependent on the ocean highways for her prosperity than we are. Great Britain is therefore confronted with the development of a new sea power founded on the same economic basis as herself, and impelled by a desire to be supreme. But l'ocean ne comporte qu'un seul maître. We have secured in the past the sovereignty of the seas, and our sceptre cannot be wrested from us without a desperate and bloody struggle. Germany will not be so insane as to attempt this task single-handed, at any rate for many years to come; and it is for other Powers to consider in the interval whether it is for their advantage to support her in a joint attack on England, in which, as is evident from recent revelations, President Faure clearly foresaw that the brunt of battle would fall upon others, while the lion's share of any plunder would fall to Germany. It is by no means improbable that such a coalition might be worsted. We have before now successfully faced the world in arms on the ocean; but on the unlikely hypothesis of our fleet being crushed, it may be as well for other nations to make up their minds what they might expect to gain if the German eagle replaced the Union Jacls as the symbol of sea power.

We approach the delicate question of our relations with Russia with considerable diffidence, as the ommscient German press has declared at any time during the last twenty years that thc interests of England and Russia are as irreconcilable as their hatred is hereditary. It can hardly be denied that the "honest broker" in Berlin has exploited this assumed antagonism with much skill and no little profit to himself, but it has yet to be pointed out what bnefit has accrued to either of the traditional antagonists. There are grounds for asserting that this question has lately been asked in responsible quarters in Russia, and that to-day the Russian Government is less ready " to pull the chestnuts out of the fire," to use a favourite Teutonic metaphor, for Count von Bulow than she used to be for his illustrious predecessor, Prince Bismarck. On the other hand, the failure of the Russian Emperor to act on the amiable exhortations of the leading German journals by taking advantage of our preoccupations in South Africa has made an unmistakable impression on the public opinion of this country. The National Zeitung, one of Prince Bismarck's favoured organs, kindly informed us on October 1, I899: "If England gets into military difficulties in South Africa, if the war is protracted, or if it takes an unfavourable turn, Russia would not remain idle. The opportunity for Russian aggrandisement in Asia would be too tempting." Of all countries in the world the Power which would have most reason to rue the substitution of Germany for Great Britain as the mistress of the seas would be Russia. When Kaiser Wilhelm came on his fruitful visit to England in the autumn of I899, which produced the "graceful concession " on our part of Samoa, prominent Englishmen, who were inquisitive as to the significance of the great naval movement then under way in Germany, received the comforting assurance that German naval armaments were exclusively directed against Russia, being intended for co-operation with England in the Far East and for the maintenance of German interests in the Near East. In a sense, the latter suggestion expresses a substantially accurate fact. If once the sea power of England were overthrown, Germany would be free to execute her hostile policy towards Russia, who is not less in her way than we are. There is an idea growing steadily amongst Germans that Germany should expand into an empire branching from the Bosphorus to the Persian Gulf; thus would territories be secured enjoying an excellent climate, to which the surplus stream of German population, which now flows to the United States and to the British Empire, might be diverted, without being lost to the German flag. This is by no means a new idea; it is the revival of an old idea, and it means of course the supremacy of Germany in the Near East and the supersession of the Slav by the Teuton. Such is the objective of those ambitious dreamers known as the Pan-Germanic League, a body most tenderly regarded by the German Government, and it embodies a policy as antagonistic to Russia as the German naval programme is hostile to England.

Whatever the effect of recent developments may have been upon Russia, the attitude of the German nation and the suspicious policy of the German Government has led a continually increasing' number of Englishmen to inquire whether it wotlld not be worth while for England and Russia to discuss their differences with the object of arriving at a working understanding, and, if possible, a comprehensive settlement? Very distinguished Russians have frequently expressed an earnest desire that their country should seek an entente with England. The late Emperor Alexander openly avowed his desire for such a settlement. The present Emperor is credited with the same disposition as his father, and has more than once, though in an unostentatious manner, manifested his beneficent intentions towards this country. Had Sir Robert Morier lived, it is almost certain that an understanding would have been arrived at, but after his death the Emperor Alexander III. became convinced that it was hopeless to try and do business with this country, owing to the influence of a certain school of English politicians whose unreasoning antagonism to Russia almost amounts to a monomania. We hasten to say, however, that the fault does not lie exclusively with England. A main difficulty which confronts us whenever the subject is broached is that the central Government of St. Petersburg appears to be unable or unwilling to control the action of its more distant agents. We have had several conspicuous examples recently in China, e.g., where Russian officers have treated the property of, or pledged to, British subjects in a most high-handed and intolerable manner, in defiance of repeated assurances given to our Ambastsador at St. Petersburg. In fact, these cases were so bad that we do not care to dwell upon them. Again, a letter which appeared in the Times of September 14, signed " K.," narrated an episode in Persia illustrating the difficulty of overcoming the obsession of certain Russian officials, who appear to think that their whole duty consists in playing into the hands of the Germans by making decent diplomatic relations between England and Russia impossible. It appears that while Sir Henry Drummond Wolff was British Minister at Teheran, he endeavoured to come to an arrangement with Russia on certain Persian questions. He drew up a memorandum, which he showed confidentially to his Russian colleague, indicating how the vast material interests of Persia might be developed to the advantage of all three Powers if they worked together. The only use which the Russian Minister made of this memorandum was to ruin the British Minister's influence in Persia by giving a false account of the whole transaction to the Shah, with the object of convincing his Majesty that Great Britain desired the partition of Persia. At the same time, we in England must remember, when we complain of such conduct on the part of Russian agents, that, bad as it is,

it is not more perfidious than actions which our Government 

lappears willing to tolerate when Germany is the culprit. We doubt whether in the whole range of diplomatic intercourse it would be possible to point to the behaviour of one great Power to another more audaciously cynical in its disloyalty than the conduct of Germany to England over what Count von Bulow has been pleased to christen the "Yangtse Agreement " -- except perhaps the treason of Prussia to her allies on the occasion of the Peace of Basel.

The chief potitical obstacle to an Anglo-Russian understanding is, no doubt, due to the desire of Russia to come down to the Persian Gulf. If we are able to recognise and tolerate her ambition in that quarter our antagonism would come to an end, at least for a generation. This admittedly is a subject of great difficulty, and one not to be settled off-hand; but that is no reason, as the Times has lately pointed out, why statesmen should not be prepared to face it. It is clearly our interest, as it is our intention, to preserve intact the status quo in the Gulf unless we can come to an arrangement with Russia by which we get a quid pro quo.> That status has been lately threatened by the Sultan of Turkey at Koweit, the port at the head of the Gulf which the Germans are believed to have marked as their future naval base, and which is to be the southern terminus of the great trunk line which will cross Constantinople. The Sultan of Turkey lately made use of certain local disturbances between Mubarak, the Sheikh of Koweit and the Emir of Najd in order to assert his sovereignty over the independent sheikhs of the coast, and he counted on vindicating his pretensions over the ruler of Koweit, after that personage had been defeated by his enemies. Accordingly, the Sultan sent a corvette-full of troops to Koweit. Mubarak immediately applied for British protection, and when the Turks appeared they found one of our gunboats in the port, and the British officer informed the Turkish commander of the expedition that his troops would not be allowed to land. There the matter stands for the present, but the whole incident is illustrative of the handiwork of Germany, who was undoubtedly egging on the Sultan. The attempt was mainly directed against the British policy of upholding the present situation in the Persian Gulf, but, if successful, it might have a very considerable bearing on the future interests of Russia. ls it not idle to argue that Germany has "claims" to a port on the Persian Gulf, while we are to regard the appearance of Russia in that part of the world as a casus belli? Some acknowledged authoritics have held that the manifest aruxiety of Russia to penetrate into Southern Persia and to secure a seaport is a subject to be carefully considered by England. In this connection a thoughtful paper by Sir Richard Temple, in the July number of the Royal United Services Journal, deserves the attention of the statesmen of both countries; and it may also be remarked that the policy of endeavouring to close our controversy with Russia by an accord on the Persian Gulf was advocated at the close of his career by no less a person than Sir Henry Rawlinson. But it cannot be too often repeated that the condition precedent of such an agreement is the active goodwill of the powers that be in St. Petersburg. It is for them to reflect as to whether the co-operation of England might not be of enormous use in promoting Russian trade in the Far East. At present Russia has already a road from the Caspian to the Persian capital, which is a source of great profit to her; but she can only transport goods to and from the Persian Gulf on the backs of camels or of mules; and the cost of carriage between the Caspian and the sea-coast, even at the most favourable time of the year, is not less than twenty pounds a ton.

In another part of the world it is for the Russians to consider whether the goodwill of England might not be worth cultivating. The question of Manchuria naturally rankles in the mind of the Japanese, who can clearly see that if a Japanese pied à terre constituted a menace to the integrity of the Chinese Empire, which was the pretext on which she was ordered out of Port Arthur, then the establishment of Russia in Manchuria may become a very formidable menace to Japan. That conviction is coming home with increasing force the closer Japan views the situation; that Russia is aware of it is shown by her studied conciliation to the first-class naval and military Power lying off her most exposed flank. She feels constrained to go out of her way to the Japanese Government, to which she ostentatiously communicates the movements of her troops in Manchuria; but these courtesies do not conciliate; the burning indignation which the Russian appropriation of Manchuria raises in the breast of Japan may be concealed for a while, but she is merely biding her time and awaiting an opportunity for displaying her real sentiments. The lreystone to British policy in the Far East is a friendly understanding and co-operation with Japan but, that being recognised, there is nothing to prevent this country from supporting a settlement of the Manchurian and Corean questions on lines which would be regarded as fairly satisfactory both in St. Petersburg and in Tokio. If the Corean question were regularised, Japan would have considerably less reason than at present to apprehend Russian schemes, and Russia; on her. part, might devote herself to developing her far eastern dominions without risk of interruption from Japan.

Russian statesmen have to make up their minds whether, in the present condition of Russian industries, Russian agriculture, and Russian finance, a friendly understanding with England, which would relieve her anxieties in. the Far East, and which might result in her being able to continue her. Trans-Caucasian and Siberian railways to the .shores of the Persian Gulf, and which, last but not least, might enable her to arry out her historic mission in the Balkans, is.not worth a high price.

Whether our readers agree with the view propounded in this paper or not we do not think that those who adopt a purely negative attitude by denying the existence of any basis for an entente between the Russian and British Empires are entitled to be heard. If others have a positive policy opposed to that which we are setting forth, by all means let them produce it, and induce or compel the British Government to adopt it and execute it. But in the interval we venture to sketch in outline some suggestions for a comprehensive settlement between the two Powers with the object of demonstrating to the sceptics that at any rate the raw.material for an Anglo-Russian agreement abounds -- whatever may be the case as regards the goodwill and statesmanship requisite to evolve the finished article. We would invite the reader to note that these suggestions are calculated to compromise neither the relations between Russia and France nor those between Great Britain and Japan.

PROPOSED ANGLO-RUSSIAN UNDERSTANDING.

The understanding would naturally fall under three different heads:

I. THE NEAR EAST.
With regard to the Near East the basis would be that whilst Russia abstained from any attempt to interfere with the status quo in Egypt, we should frankly recognise that the fulfilment of what Russia regards as her historic mission in the Balkan peninsula conflicts with no vital British interests, and that in AsiaticTurkey we should abstain from favouring the development of German schemes.of expansion. <p> II. PERSIA AND CENTRAL ASIA.
With regard to Persia and Central Asia, we might offer Russia our cooperation in the development of railway communication between the Caspian and. the Persian Gulf; and in securing for her a commercial outlet on the Gulf in return for an undertaking on the part of Russia to respect the political status quo along the shores of the Gulf.<p> III.. THE FAR EAST.
With regard to the Far East the question is necessarily more complicated, as Japan would have to be taken into the counsels of the two Empires and a basis of agreement arrived at which would satisfy her as well as Russia and Great Britain.<p> As far as Japan is concerned, such a basis might be found in the recognition by Russia and England of the Japanese claim to an exclusive sphere of influence in Corea.<p> Japan would presumably, in return for this concession, have no objection to a formal agreement under which Great Britain would recognise Russia's claim to regulate her political and commercial position in Manchuria and Mongolia by direct negotiation with China, and Russia would in like manner recognise Great Britain's claim to regulate in the same wav her political and commercial position in the Yangtsze Valley, each Power binding itself to give no support in those regions to the enterprise of any other Power. With regard to all other questions in China, Great Britain, Russia, and Japan would agree to take no steps without mutual consultation.<p> The fact of Russia being a party to such an agreement would give France a guarantee that her interests would be taken into due consideration, while our participation would afford a natural safeguard to the commercial interests of the United States.<p> The effect of such an agreement, accompanied by the customary demonstrations in such cases, public declarations by the Sovereigns and their official representatives, and an exchange of visits by their respective fleets, would at once remove the danger of a sudden explosion, which must continue to hang over the whole world so long as the Far East remains the powder-magazine of international rivalries and conflicting interests which it is at present.<p> The natural consequence of this understanding would be that in the event of war between Germany and Russia, Great Britain would remain neutral, and in the event of war between Great Britain arld Germany, Russia would remain neutral. Russia would no longer give cause for suspicion that she was instigating France to make war against us, as Count Muravieff did during the Fashoda crisis, and Great Britain would cease to be suspected in St. Petersburg of encouraging Japanese hostility to Russia. Japan, on her side, would be relieved of the menace of a possible rival against her of the Triple Alliance of I895.

We need not enlarge upon other points in the European relations of Great Britain. Lord Salisbury's Government deserves credit for having strengthened the bonds between this nation; her oldest ally, Portugal, a country we should stand by on all occasions. On the other hand, have not his Majesty's Ministers shown some remissness in their dealings with Italy? At any rate, there is high authority for saying that this is the feeling at the Quirinal. Any obstacle to Anglo-ltalian friendship, whatever it may be, should be speedily removed. Italy is a country specially dear to the English people; it is the land that Byron loved and to which Palmerston was devoted. Nothing in this latter's brilliant career does him more credit than his persistent, wise, and courageous efforts to liberate Italy from thraldom. Apart from all sentiment, Italy is one of the natural allies of England, and we have not so many that we can afford to trifle with her. Italian statesmen have one and all proclaimed their desire to maintain the status quo in the Mediterranean, and any attempt to impair the supremacy of England in that sea must be looked askance at in Italy, for if we were overthrown, France -- the friend of the Vatican -- would take our place. And just as Russia has nothing to gain but everything to lose from the substitution of German for British supremacy, so Italy would have bitter cause to rue the disappearance of the White Ensign from the Mediterranean. On her side, Italy has a right to expect the material as well as the moral support of England under certain circumstances easier to conceive than to discuss. For instance, should the nightmare which haunts European statesmanship materialise and the Austrian Empire be plunged into the melting-pot, England should exert herself to secure for Italy that portion of the disjecta membra which is Italian in sympathy and feeling. Under no circumstances should we tolerate that the German flag should float over the Italian city of Trieste.

If we are to revert, as some of us desire, to the policy of Canning and Palmerston, and energetically support the cause of civil and religious liberty and popular rights in Europe, the time may not be remote when we should lift up our voices on behalf of the Czechs of Bohemia. In so doing we shall be promoting the real interests of the Austrian Empire; The question has been so persistently misrepresented that Englishmen are only beginning to realise that the Slavs of Austria are not the disintegrating force within that country. But it is the German element enrolled under the banner of the Pan-Germanic League which threatens the existence of an empire which a great Czech writer has told us would have to be created if it did not exist.

To sum up, then, the general conclusions of this paper: we should do everything in our power to promote the interests of Italy and the expansion of Italian power, while we need not conceal our sympathies for the Bohemian Slavs and the ideas they represent, and we should adhere firmly to our old policy of alliance with Portugal. We are the only great European Power which covets no European territory, and it ought not to be beyond the resources of our statesmanship to profit by this unique feature in our position. In the Far East the keystone of our policy will be the maintenance of our entente with Japan. It is our earnest desire to meet, if possible, the wlshes of Russia, particularly on the Persian Gulf; but this policy is only practicable if Russia realises that our co-operation is at least as valuable to her as hers is to us. We may, perhaps, be allowed to interject in passing that the different methods and systems of government and political institutions in the two empires need not interfere with their cordial relations, as some Russians seem inclined to apprehend. His Excellency Constantin Pobiedonostseff, Procurator of the Holy Synod, has recently published an article in the North American Review expressing his unmitigated contempt for the parliamentary machinery of France, Austria, Germany, and Italy. We cannot but suspect that he is equally hostile to the spread of English theories of government, and fears they might conceivably creep into Russia in the wake of an Anglo-Russian entente. His Excellency should be reassured on that point. Englishmen are beginning to realise that their institutions, however suitable to tilis country, are quite unsuitable even to nations whose historical development is much more similar to that of England than is the history of Russia. The Empire of the Tsars, on its side, possesses interesting and characteristic institutions which it would be disastrous to impair, but which could not be transferred to other soils.

In seeking to close our prolonged contest with Russia, we are desirous of doing something which would be for the advantage of civilisation, and, should it be effected, it would not be less welcome becausc it brought us back into friendly relations with France -- a country whose history is closely interwoven with our own, and with which we share so many political sentiments. The French are perhaps the only nation which will make sacrifices and run risks for the sake of those who enjoy their friendship. They are capable of sentimental attachment as well as sentimental hatred.

To those forcign statesmen who say, or are supposed to say, that " It is impossible to do business with England, seeing that one Government is apt to reverse the foreign policy of its predecessor," we would reply that of late years there have been various influences at work to steady public opinion in this country on questions of foreign politics, and that the break on a change of Government is practically imperceptible. The credit of this continuity is principally due to Lord Rosebery and his adherents in Parliament and the Press. No one familiar with the personnel of our politics can seriously suggest that if Lord Salisbury and Lord Lansdowne were to pursue the policy set forth in this paper their successors would fail to keep the engagements they might inherit.

But earnestly as we advocate a particular policy there should be no misunderstanding as to our motives. We are not touting for alliances. We are prepared to entertain friendly overtures, and to enter alliances on suitable terms and for practical purposes; and for the realisation of ideals beneficial to the worid at large we think Great Britain should be prepared to make considerable though reasonable sacrifices. But the people of this country will no longer tolerate a policy of "graceful concessions," and will not permit any Ministry or any personage however exalted to adopt towards any Power the attitude which has been too long followed as regards Germany. If Russia wishes to come to us, we shall meet her cordially and at least half way. If, on the other hand, Russia and France, one or both of them, elect to combine with Germany in an attempt to wrest from us the sceptre of the seas and to replace our sovereignty by that of Germany, England will know how to meet them. The Navy Bill in Germany was carried through with the avowed object of creating a navy which "would be able to keep the North Sea clear." We have no intention of clearing out of the North Sea or out of any other sea. We seek no quarrel with any Power but if Germany thinks it her interest to force one upon us, we shall not shrink from the ordeal, even should she appear in the lists with France and Russia as her allies. Germans would however, do well to realise that if England is driven to it, England will strike home. Close to the foundations of the German Empire, which has hardly emerged from its artificial stage, there exists a powder magazine such as is to be found in no other country viz, Social Democracy. In the case of a conflict with Great Britain, misery would be caused to large classes of the German population, produced by the total collapse of subsidised industries; far-reaching commercial depression, financial collapse, and a defective food-supply might easily make that magazine explode. A.B.C. etc.


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