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hy her armed sons, and for this purpose armed Nationalist
Catholics in the South will be only too glad to join arms
with the armed Protestant Ulstermen in the North. Is it
too much to hope that out of this situation there may
spring a result which will be good not merely for the
empire, but good for the future welfare and integrity of
the Irish nation? I ought to apologize for having inter-
vened, but while Irishmen generally are in favor of peace,
and would desire to save the democracy of this country
from all the horrors of war, while we would make every
possible sacrifice for that purpose, still if the dire necessity
is forced upon this country we offer the government of
the day that they may take their troops away, and that, if
it is allowed to us, in comradeship with our brethren in
the North, we will ourselves defend the coasts of our

These words were received with a general outburst of
enthusiasm. It seemed for the moment that the impulse
of patriotism and a common danger had fused the dis-
cordant feelings of all parts of the British Islands into a
harmonious unit.

But Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, Laborite leader, straight-
way rose to express the conviction of his associates and
himself that the position of the government was wrong.
He said that if the safety or honor of the country was in
danger they were ready to make any sacrifice, but he had not
been persuaded that the country was in danger. His party
was ready to support the government in a conflict confined
to the defense of a small nationality like Belgium, if it were
endangered. But the government was engaging in a whole
European war. His misgivings were aroused as to the
result of such a war for the power of Russia; and he
maintained that no such friendship as the foreign secretary

166 The Great War

described as existing between Great Britain and France
could ever justify one nation entering into war on behalf
of the other. "If France is really in danger," he declared,
"if as the result of this, we are going to have the power,
civilization, and genius of France removed from European
history, then let him (Sir Edward Grey) so say. But it is
an absolutely impossible conception which we are talking
about to endeavor to justify that which the right honor-
able gentleman has foreshadowed. I not only know, but I
feel, that the feeling of the House is against xis. I have
been through this before, and 1906 came as part recom-
pense. It will come again. We are going to go through
it all. We will go through it all. So far as we are con-
cerned, whatever may happen, whatever may be said about
us, whatever attacks may be made upon us, we will take
the action that we will take of saying, that this country
ought to have remained neutral, because in the deepest
parts of our hearts we believe that that was right and that
that alone was consistent with the honor of the country
and the traditions of the party that are now in office."

The sitting of the House was suspended until evening,
when the discussion was resumed upon the motion to ad-
journ. Sir Edward Grey read the following communica-
tion from the Belgian Legation in London:

"Germany sent yesterday evening at seven o'clock a
note proposing to Belgium friendly neutrality, covering
free passage on Belgian territory, and promising mainten-
ance of independence of the kingdom and possessions at
the conclusion of peace, and threatening, in case of refusal,
to treat Belgium as an enemy. A time limit of twelve
hours was fixed for the reply. The Belgians have answered
that an attack on their neutrality would be a flagrant viola-
tion of the rights of nations, and that to accept the Ger-
man proposal would be to sacrifice the honor of a nation.

Moral Impulses in the United Kingdom 167

Conscious of its duty, Belgium is firmly resolved to repel
aggression by all possible means." Sir Edward Grey said
that the government would take this information into grave
consideration; but he made no further comment upon it.

During the evening session the foreign secretary's policy
was severely censured by representatives of a minority
group of Radicals and Laborites, who clung to the doc-
trine of non-intervention in continental affairs, which had
generally prevailed throughout the country, but was on
the verge of a fatal collapse in consequence of Germany's
procedure respecting Belgium. While the speeches in
opposition to Sir Edward Grey's attitude were not of suffi-
cient importance individually to require examination in
detail, a summary of the arguments employed wall help us
to test the relevancy of the foreign minister's speech and
the soundness of his views.

His critics observed that Sir Edward Grey took as the
basis of his policy the two obligations which duty and
interest alike imposed, the protection of the northern coast
of France and of the neutrality of Belgium. But they
noted, straightway, that Germany had promised, in return
for British neutrality, to abstain from attacking the northern
coast of France and to respect Belgian integrity. The
margin between the range of the alleged obligations of
Great Britain and the scope of Germany's offer appeared
to be so slight, consisting solely in the difference between
preserving the neutrality and respecting the integrity of Bel-
gium, that the view was expressed by several speakers that
the German proposals ought to be made the basis for
further negotiation, that Sir Edward Grey ought to make
a definite proposition that Great Britain would remain
neutral in return for the two assurances required by British
honor and interests. Hesitation to adopt Sir Edward
Grey's attitude was largely due to the impression that he

168 The Great War

had not exhausted the possibilities for a satisfactory under-
standing with Germany.

Besides the causes of the failure to effect a definite agree-
ment between Great Britain and Germany in 1912, a conver-
sation between Sir Edward Grey and Prince Lichnowsky,
the German Ambassador, on August 1st, is significant in
connection with the above proposal about an offer to Ger-
many, because on that occasion the subject of possible
conditions for British neutrality was broached. Sir Edward
Grey had explained to the German ambassador that the
reply of the German government to his note of inquiry
concerning Germany's attitude with regard to Belgian neu-
trality was a matter of very great regret, because the
neutrality of Belgium affected feelings in Great Britain.
At that, Prince Lichnowsky asked him whether, if Ger-
many gave a promise not to violate Belgian neutrality,
Great Britain would engage to remain neutral. Sir Edward
Grey replied that he did not think that Great Britain could
give a promise of neutrality on that condition alone. Then
the German ambassador urged him to formulate conditions
on which Great Britain could remain neutral. He sug-
gested that the integrity of France and her colonies might
be guaranteed. But Sir Edward Grey refused to make any
promise to remain neutral on such terms.

On the basis of this interview the statement has been
made that Great Britain refused all terms of neutrality,
even the condition that Germany would respect the French
colonies. It is not irrelevant to recall the fact that earlier,
on July 29th, the Chancellor had made no promise as to
the integrity of French colonial territory in the event of
German victory. For Prince Lichnowsky's words on
August 1st were only a suggestion, not an official proposal.
It is not strictly accurate, therefore, to affirm that Great
Britain rejected all terms of neutrality, even the condition

Moral Impulses in the United Kingdom 169

that Germany would respect the integrity of tlie French
colonies. It is safe to assume, liowever, on the basis of
the interview just mentioned, that Sir Edward Grey would
have rejected such apparently liberal conditions, even if
they had really been offered.

Dr. Bernhard Dernburtr in alluding to this conversation
remarked that "it is clear that public opinion in England,
while being strongly influenced by the Belgian case, had
other grudges against Germany. That is why Sir Edward
Grey would not even formulate conditions to remain neu-
tral if Belgian neutrality were guaranteed."

It may be observed throughout the article (in the North
American Review, December, 1914) from which the above
passage was quoted that the motives of the Teutonic
powers are called "interests," while those of their oppo-
nents are "grudges." It would not be difficult to prove,
however, that the "other grudges" as motives of British
policy, to which Dr. Dernburg referred, may quite as
legitimately be classified in the more dignified category of

A comparison of the conversation of August 1st and the
debate in the House of Commons on August 3d proves
that in the opinion of the British government the security
of the French coast and the maintenance of Belgian neu-
trality were not alone sufficient as security for British
interests or as a basis for British policy. And this conclu-
sion involves the one important criticism which may be
brought against Sir Edward Grey's otherwise adequate
exposition of the fundamental features of British poHcy.
He did not emphasize the cardinal fact that the preserva-
tion of the position of France as a great power was a vital
British interest.

In commenting upon the Chancellor's proposals of July
29th, Sir Edward Grey had remarked that without being

170 The Great War

deprived of further territory in Europe, France could be
so crushed as to lose her position as a great power and
become subordinate to German policy. He might have
gone even further and declared that w^ithout losing terri-
tory anywhere, either in the colonies or at home, the vigor
and independence of France might be fatally impaired-
For history teaches by many examples that territorial
integrity alone is not an adequate guarantee for political

It is unfortunate for some reasons that the British gov-
ernment never formulated the conditions on which it
would have remained neutral, although the results would
undoubtedly have remained the same. For the conditions
required by British interests would never have been ac-
cepted by the German government. An arrangement
acceptable to the British government as a basis for neu-
trality would necessarily have contained some kind of a
provision intended to guarantee the preservation of the
strength of France against serious impairment. It would
have excluded the captivating prospect of a large indemnity
as the prize of an eventual German victory. It might very
likely have confined the Germans to a purely defensive
warfare on their western frontier.

Sensitiveness as to the fortunes of France threatened to
drag British policy into a position very difficult to defend
before the nation. It is thoroughly justifiable to assist a
friendly neighboring state in defending itself against an
unprovoked attack. Yet the solicitude on the part of
Great Britain for France was likely to involve the former
in a false position. France was associated in an alliance
with Russia, the very terms of which were unknown to the
British government. But in consequence of this alliance
France might become involved in a war originating in
some motive of Russian policy which could by no means

Moral Impulses in the United Kingdom 171

commend itself to British opinion. Nevertheless, British
interests demanded apparently that France should be
shielded from any disastrous consequences of such war-
like action, as well as of provocative conduct at her own
initiative. Great Britain virtually demanded exemption for
France without being able herself to assume any corre-
sponding responsibility for French conduct. This attitude
was manifestly illogical.

Thus as late as August 3d there was the awkward possi-
bility that, in spite of an apparently conciliatory attitude on
the part of Germany, Great Britain would be drawn into
a war which grew out of a quarrel in which she had no
concern, solely for the purpose of protecting France from
any fatal consequences of her alliance with Russia. The
British government stood face to face with the embarrass-
ing alternative of supporting France, and therefore Russia,
in a conflict with regard to which public opinion would be
dangerously divided, or of adhering to a rather ignominious
neutrality, and thus permitting her interests in the pre-
servation of France to be imperilled.

From this distressing situation British policy was rescued
by the decision of the German General Staff to invade Bel-
gium. In consequence of this measure British interests
and duty were harmonized, a commendable cause of war
was provided, and public opinion was marshalled to the
support of the government's foreign policy.

Nevertheless, two members of the cabinet, Lord Morley
and Mr. Burns, and an under-secretary, Mr. C. P. Trevel-
yan, resigned their posts, since they could not bring their
views into conformity with the attitude of the government.
Mr. Burns was the first representative of the Labor party
who had sat in a British cabinet.

The German proposals for securing British neutrality,
together with their alleged advantages, were first made

172 The Great War

known to the public of Great Britain when published in
the evening papers of August 3d, as formulated by Baron
Kuhlmann, Councillor of the German Embassy, in the
following terms:

"The maintenance of British neutrality would in no way
injure France. On the contrary, it might be argued that
by remaining neutral Great Britain could give France
exactly as much strategic assistance and a good deal more
effective diplomatic help.

"As, according to all reliable information, there is no
intention of sending British troops to the continent, and as
a few British divisions, considering the enormous numbers
engaged, could hardly alter the balance of power, all Eng-
land can do for France is to protect her North Sea coast
from invasion and to prevent the neutral ports of Belgium
and Holland being used as bases of armed aggression
against France.

"Germany would be disposed to give an undertaking
that she will not attack France by sea in the North, or
make any warlike use of the seacoast of Belgium or Hol-
land, if it appeared that Great Britain would make this
undertaking a condition of her neutrality for the time being.

"Thus England, without going to war herself, could
render to France the maximum of assistance she could give
by going to war. That England, as a neutral power, main-
taining an armed neutrality, would diplomatically be a
greater asset for France for the termination of hostilities
at an early moment than if herself involved in war, is

Like some other German statements made before the
war, the carefully studied tone of this document reminds
us somewhat of the reassuring remarks of surgeons and
nurses to patients or their friends on the eve of serious
operations. The contemplated measures of Germany were

Moral Impulses in the United Kingdom 173

an unfortunate necessity, involving a modicum of pain, it
is true, but quickly accomplished, if all those who were
indirectly concerned would only keep their heads, after
which everybody would experience a grateful sense of
relief, and the world would be a more cheerful place of
habitation for countless generations, because the civiliz-
ing, beneficent function of Germany would hereafter be

Baron Kuhlmann's version of the German offer was too
plausible in tone. For how could it be believed that Ger-
many was sincerely consulting for the eventual welfare of
France ? It may be observed that the German view ex-
pressed in this comnmnication rated the effective military
power of Great Britain on a par with that of Belgium.
The German authorities evidently did not believe that the
British would intervene in force in the continental theater
of hostilities, in the early stages of the war, at any rate,
which was about equivalent to no intervention at all, as
they viewed the situation at the time. Baron Kuhlmann's
communication confirms the view already expressed on
page 60 regarding the German forecast of British conduct.

We may remark further that Germany offered to bar-
gain away what she did not possess, namely, the right to
use the seacoast of Holland and Belgium as bases for armed
aggression against France. We need not be surprised at
such a proposal appearing, as it did, on August 3d; for
already, nearly twenty-four hours before, the German gov-
ernment had presented its ultimatum at Brussels, demand-
ing the free traverse of Belgian territory for the German

Many of the arguments in defense of Germany have
assumed that the appropriate equivalent for an engagement
on Germany's part to respect the neutrality of Belgium
would have been a promise of general neutrality by

174 The Great War

Great Britain, not simply a confirmation of Great Britain's
treaty obligation not to violate Belgian territory. Ger-
many did not at any time say to Great Britain, "I am
prepared to respect Belgian neutrality, if you will do the
same," but the German ambassador in London hinted that
Germany might be willing to respect Belgian neutrality if
Great Britain agreed to abstain altogether from hostilities
against Germany.

In the session of the House of Commons, August 5th,
the Prime Minister, Mr. Asquith, reported that the British
ambassador at Berlin had received his passports at seven, the
evening before, and that since eleven, the same night, a
state of war had existed between themselves and Germany.
He read the following communication from the British
ambassador in Brussels:

"I have just received from the (Belgian) minister of
foreign affairs a note of which the following is a literal
translation :

'"Belgian government regret to have to inform His
Majesty's government that this morning armed forces of
Germany penetrated into Belgian territory in violation of
engagements assumed by treaty,

"'Belgian government are further resolved to resist by
all means in their power.

"'Belgium appeals to Great Britain and France and
Russia to cooperate, as guarantors, in defense of her

"'There would be concerted and common action with
the object of resisting the forcible measures employed by
Germany against Belgium, and at the same time of guard-
ing the maintenance for future of the independence and
integrity of Belgium.

" ' Belgium is happy to be able to declare that she will
assume defense of her fortified places.' "

Moral Impulses in the United Kingdom 175

Mr. Asquith !j;ave notice that he would move a vote of
credit of /1 00,000.000 ($486,000,000) the next day in com-
mittee of supply.

AccordiiiLxly on August 6th, before the House of Com-
mons in committee of supply, the following resolution was
presented and discussed: '

"That a sum, not exceeding ^^ 100,000,000, be granted to
His Majesty, beyond the ordinary grants of parliament,
towards defraying expenses that may be incurred during
the year ending March 31, 1915, for all measures which
may be taken for the security of the country, for the con-
duct of naval and military operations, for assisting the food
supply, for promoting the continuance of trade, industry,
and business communications, whether by means of insur-
ance or indemnity against risk, or otherwise for the relief
of distress, and generally for all expenses arising out of the
existence of a state of war."

In opening the debate on the resolution, Mr. Asquith
referred to the terms which had been offered by Germany
on July 29th, in return for British neutrality. Germany had
been willing to promise not to make any territorial acquisi-
tions at the expense of France (but not of the French
colonies), to respect the integrity and nevitrality of Holland,
and to respect the integrity of Belgium when the war was
over, if Belgium had not sided against Germany. In return
for "a. free license to Germany to annex, in the event of
a successful war, the whole of the extra-European domin-
ions and possessions of France," and the renunciation by
Great Britain of her obligation with respect to Belgium,
they would have received "a promise — nothing more; a
promise as to what Germany would do in certain eventuali-
ties; a promise, be it observed," . . . "given by a power
which was at that very moment announcing its intention to
violate its own treaty, and inviting us to do the same."

176 The Great War

Mr. Asquith declared that Sir Edward Grey had by his
moderate reply confirmed his reputation gained in the
Balkan crisis as the Peacemaker of Europe. He had
"persisted to the very last moment of the last hour in that
beneficent but unhappily frustrated purpose."

The prime minister proceeded to emphasize the govern-
ment's realization of the incalculable calamity which a war
between the Great Powers would entail, and the cabinet's
deep feeling of responsibility as follows:

"There is no man amongst us sitting upon this bench in
these trying days — more trying perhaps than any body of
statesmen for a hundred years have had to pass through, —
there is not a man amongst us who has not, during the
whole of that time, had clearly before his vision the almost
unequalled suffering which war, even in a just cause, must
bring about, not only to the peoples who are for the mo-
ment living in this country and in other countries of the
world, but to posterity and to the whole prospects of Euro-
pean civilization. Every step we took, we took with that
vision before our eyes, and with a sense of responsibility
which it is impossible to describe. Unhappily, if in spite
of all our efforts to keep the peace, and with that full and
overpowering consciousness of the result, if the issue be
decided in favor of war, we have, nevertheless, thought it
to be the duty as well as the interest of this country to go
to war, the House may be well assured it was because we
believe, and I am certain the country will believe that, we
are unsheathing our sword in a just cause."

Great Britain was fighting, as he affirmed, "to fulfil a
solemn international obligation," and "to vindicate the
principle that small nationalities are not to be crushed, in
defiance of international good faith, and by the arbitrary
will of a strong and overmastering power. I do not be-
lieve any nation ever entered into a great controversy — and

Moral Impulses in the United Kingdom 177

this is one of the greatest history will ever know — with
a clearer conscience and stronger conviction that it is light-
ing not for aggression, not for the maintenance even of its
own selfish interest, but that it is fighting in defense of
principles the maintenance of which is vital to the civiliza-
tion of the world."

In asking for a vote of credit of ^100,000,000, the gov-
ernment had extended the traditional scope of such votes
of credit, which are usually confined to strictly naval and
military operations. On this occasion the government
asked for a free hand to employ the money generally for
all expenses arising out of the existence of a state of war.

In his capacity as secretary of state for war, a position
which he had occupied until that morning, Mr. Asquith
asked for a supplementary estimate for men for the army.
After an allusion to the conditions under which he had
undertaken the duties of the war office, and which were
now, happily, entirely altered, he announced that the state
of war made it impossible for him to continue to divide
his attention between that department and his other

"I am very glad," he continued, "to say that a very dis-
tinguished soldier and administrator in the person of Lord
Kitchener, with that great public spirit and patriotism that
everyone would expect from him, at my request stepped
into the breach. Lord Kitchener, as everybody knows, is
not a politician. His association with the government as a
member of the cabinet for this purpose must not be taken
as in any way identifying him with any set of political
opinions. He has, at a great public emergency, responded
to a great public call, and I am certain he will have with
him, in the discharge of one of the most arduous tasks
that has ever fallen upon a minister, the complete confi-
dence of all parties and all opinions."

178 The Great War

Mr. Asquith asked for power to increase the number of
men of all ranks in the army, in addition to the number
already voted, by no less than 500,000. India was prepared
to send a contingent, and the self-governing dominions had
spontaneously hiade generous offers of men and money.

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