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gentlemen who then foregathered in Berlin represented every
branch of trade and industry in the German Empire. The
demonstration that was then enacted was not by the official
world, but was marshalled by the representatives of the
commercial intelligence of the land, the chief manufacturers
and the chief merchants, whose action was only warmly
approved and supported by the Government. There was no
gush about it. The whole series of receptions was characterised
by dignity and solidity befitting the present independent
condition of German trade and industry.

" On February 15 the banquet, to which the Associated
Chambers had invited Sir Thomas Barclay, was held. He
delivered his speech in German, and touched the chief chord
at once by saying that the two peoples did not know one
another well enough. This want of knowledge of one another
was one of the chief causes of misunderstanding between

" ' I need not tell you,' said Sir Thomas Barclay, ' that the
present strained relations between Germans and Englishmen
react very unfavourably on trade. Every pin-prick in the
Press is accepted as emanating from responsible sources, and,
despite the efforts of the two Governments, mutual ill-will
is engendered, rendering the future uncertain and discouraging
every kind of enterprise. Let us join hands and declare that
it is our joint interest to further good relations between the
two countries. The world is large enough for both of us,
and our industrial rivalry is a manly struggle, that develops
and hardens our manly force. Let us, if possible, lessen our



mutual distrust, which is the cause for increasing our arma-
ments against one another. I trust the movement will meet
with support all over Germany, and that my fellow-country-
men and you will be convinced that it is our common interest
to show patience towards one another, and to bring about a
close union among the Western Powers for the purpose of
maintaining good and pacific relations.'

" In response to this speech, which was received with
unanimous, loud, and lasting applause from all sides, the
president of the Associated Chambers of Commerce, Geheimer-
Commerzienrat Frentzel, rose to reply. He said : —

" ' I am entitled to speak on behalf of the representatives
of German trade and German industry who are here assembled,
and on behalf of those who sent them, and in their name to
endorse the views just expressed. And I think I am not
wrong in saying chat the other professions, and amongst
them I include all the educated classes of our Fatherland,
are of the same opinion, and isolated utterances to the contrary
that may be found in individual organs of the Press do not
meet with real support in Germany.

" ' Is it not quite natural that we should always have seen
in England a nation that stands in close and congenial rela-
tions to ourselves, especially as the political history of the
last centuries show that in this field also the two countries
have almost always followed similar aims ; while statistics
demonstrate that as regards exports and imports each is
amongst the other's best customers ?

" ' We wish that relations of honest friendship may exist
between the two countries, such as are characteristic of manly
and energetic natures, each side allowing for the peculiarities
of the other, and each ready to give the other his due. . . .
I again thank Sir Thomas Barclay very cordially for coming
to-night and for giving us an opportunity for exchanging our
thoughts ; and I trust that what we have said will be gladly
re-echoed in the minds of our fellow-countrymen on both

" If Sir Thomas Barclay's visit to Berlin has attained
nothing else — and pessimists will not be wanting to see nothing
in it but an interchange of phrases — it has at least demon-
strated beyond the power of denial the ponderous fact that
the manufacturers and merchants of Germany have
unanimously declared at their this year's meeting in Berlin
that they have no sympathy whatever with those who foment
enmity between Germany and England, and that they desire



to see the two countries living on amicable terms whilst
continuing their competitive struggle in their respective
fields of labour."

If England had responded at the time to the
German tender of friendship instead of treating it
with scornful indifference there might have been no
German rivalry to-day in naval armaments. It is a
great mistake to try to deal with international ques-
tions on abstract, historical or geographical principles
only. Even the most undemocratic of Governments
would feel very uneasy, if public opinion did not
move with it, and the feelings of a nation, as only
too many recent instances show, are apt to outrun

t.y. 273


The following month a great change came over
German policy. People still speak of the mystery of
the Emperor's visit to Tangiers.

In subsequent recrimination the German Govern-
ment complained that the Anglo-French Agreement
with reference to Morocco had not been notified to
Germany. Yet Count von Bulow had deliberately
stated that he saw nothing in the Agreement detri-
mental to German interests. Nor in fact, was there
anything to complain of in an Agreement the opera-
tion of which was confined to the parties to it and
which undertook to respect the independence and
integrity of the Sultanate. That it secured the " open
door" for only thirty years between them did not, as
Professor Schiemann pointed out at the time, bind
Germany. What then happened to disaffect the
Government at Berlin ?

That something was " in the wind " became evident
as early as March 19, when the well-informed Times
correspondent at Tangiers telegraphed his appre-
hension about coming complications in Morocco.
The French mission had made the fatal mistake of
" intentionally or unintentionally " giving the im-
pression that it spoke in the name of Europe. " Ger-
man commercial interests in Morocco," wired this
correspondent, " are of great importance, and it is
vital to these interests that the status qud should be



maintained. Doubtless, it is the French intention
equally to maintain the status qud, but delicate
negotiations in a fanatical Mahometan country, at a
long distance from the coast, might any day reach a
pitch when diplomacy must make way for more
serious forces, while, in any case, Germany has no
desire to court effacement and see French influence
exclusively predominant in Morocco." x

That an Imperial visit was projected, I may
mention, was known at Tangiers on March 19. The
Emperor landed at Tangiers, I may also remind the
reader, on March 31. In connection with this
announcement, the Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung
on March 20 recalled the assurance given by the
Emperor to the King of Spain at Vigo in 1904 that
Germany was not seeking to gain any territorial
advantages in Morocco, but would confine herself to
standing up for equal commercial rights. 2

In his famous Bremen speech of March 22 the
Emperor described the German Empire as a quiet,
honest, and peaceful neighbour ; and added that if
ever history should come to speak of a German world-
wide Empire, or a world-wide dominion of the Hohen-
zollerns, this empire, this dominion, would have been
founded upon conquests gained not by the sword but
by the mutual confidence of those nations which press
towards the same goal." 3

This speech, far from seeming to portend any
aggressive tendencies on the part of the Emperor's
Government, was referred to at the time as the
Emperor's " pacific speech."

Nor do I think that the Emperor's visit to Tangiers

1 The Times, March 20, 1905.
a The Times, March 21, 1905.
* The Times, March 24, 1905.

275 T 2


was intended to do more than prevent a sort of pre-
scription, based on the notoriety of the Anglo-French
barter of interests in Egypt and Morocco, from being
set up at some later date against Germany. This,
moreover, was quite consistent with the attitude

Professor Schiemann had forecast.

# # # * #

As it is still currently supposed in both England
and France that Germany's brusque entry upon the
scene was more or less gratuitous and that she inter-
vened in view of possible interests to come, I may
mention as explanatory facts that Germany had con-
siderable interests in Morocco, in some respects
greater interests than France. In 1901 the tonnage of
ships calling at Morocco ports was 434,000 for Great
Britain, 260,000 for Germany, 239,000 for France,
and 198,000 for Spain. At all the ports, except
San, England is an " easy first," but as between
France and Germany the latter is ahead at Casablanca,
much ahead at Mazagan, and overwhelmingly ahead
at Safi. At Mogador Germany shows a tonnage of
44,000 against France with 24J000. 1 As regards
imports into Morocco, Great Britain in 1901 stood first
with 24,ooo,ooof., against France with io,ooo,ooof.,
and Germany and Belgium with 3,ooo,ooof. each.
Spain could only show 6oo,ooof. Of exports from
Morocco Great Britain received i2,ooo,ooof., France
6,ooo,ooof., Spain 5,ooo,ooof., and Germany 4,ooo,ooof.

Germany's interest, it is seen, was substantial, and
among Morocco ports Mazagan and Mogador were
places at which Germany was developing a consider-
able Morocco trade. Agadir only came to the front
because the Mannesmarms, an important German

1 Great Britain's figure is 63,000-


house, had interests there. That the German carrying
trade looked forward to possession of a coaling station
on the western coast of Morocco was well known, and,
if at the Algeciras Conference she did not obtain one,
it was not for want of an earnest effort on her part to
that end.

I remember at the time of the Conference discussing
the subject with Sir Charles Dilke at dinner at Mrs.
Trower's. He took the view that there was no danger
involved for Gibraltar in Germany having a coaling
station at Mogador. On the contrary, the more
Germany depended on her own coaling stations, the
more vulnerable she would be in contending with a
Power which had the means of closing them. This
might also be said of colonial settlements. The sub-
ject was one which lent itself to considerable and even
warm argument.

But that is by the way. Germany undeniably had
quite enough important interests in Morocco to
justify her insisting that the integrity and indepen-
dence of Morocco should be respected, and, seeing
that the Anglo-French Agreements of April, 1904,
gave a solemn assurance that neither Power had any
intention to the contrary, the Imperial visit in itself
was only a way of giving notice to Morocco and the
rest of the world that a fait accompli or a secret under-
standing between Great Britain and France would
not be allowed to alter Germany's relations to Morocco.

Now, among the inconveniences of secret clauses,
the greatest of all seems never, so far as I am aware,
to have been insisted upon : it is very difficult to keep
them secret for long.



In the case of the Anglo-French secret clauses they
were known not only in the British and French
Foreign Offices, but were communicated to the
Russian Government, as allies entitled to know to
what international engagements France was com-
mitting herself, and to the Spanish Government,
whose consent to the possible partition was one of
their conditions. Thus four Foreign Offices were
acquainted with the secret clauses in question. Does
anybody in the least familiar with diplomacy and
foreign affairs suppose that, with so many persons
" in the know," the existence of a secret treaty could
long remain hidden from the knowledge of any well-
trained diplomatic service ?

The object of secrecy being to conceal an ultimate
purpose from the knowledge of others whose interests
might lead them to raise objections, merely to have
good reason to suspect the existence of secret clauses,
though their precise character be unknown, would
account for action calculated to defeat their probable

Thus, who knows whether possible secret trans-
actions between the French and German Govern-
ments with a view to compensation to be given to
Germany, which at the time excited the suspicion of
the Portuguese Cabinet, did not, at the same time,
excite suspicion in the Italian Cabinet and precipitate
a war which has opened up the whole Near Eastern
Question, and given rise to two other murderous
and disastrous wars, the consequences of which are
perhaps not yet final even for Western Powers ?

Now, while the published agreements declared that
no modification as regards the integrity and indepen-
dence of Morocco was meditated, and M. Delcasse



again and again insisted upon this in his diplomatic
correspondence and public declarations, these secret
agreements were based on the assumption that a
change affecting the political status qub of Morocco was
not a remote contingency, and that a partition of the
country in view of this contingency would necessarily

■JF -jp ^P ^F tF

The fait accompli, again, as every student of
diplomatic history knows, plays a deciding part in
international affairs out of all proportion to that of
considerations of justice or propriety. To dislodge a
defiant Power in possession implies war or reprisals
to which modern States hesitate to resort, except
in cases involving the most vital issues, or where a
wave of uncontrollable popular feeling breaks loose
from its original causes and carries a Government off
its feet. The Morocco question, in itself involving
only economic interests, before the month of June had
expanded into a general question in which all Germany
had the impression that the honour and prestige of
the country were at stake. When M. Bihourd, the
French Ambassador in Berlin, wrote to Paris on
June 23 : — " I found the Prince von Biilow very
courteous, but he came back several times to the
necessity of not allowing this ' unfortunate, most
unfortunate question ' to drag and of not tarrying on
a road beset with ' precipices and chasms,' " these
were no vain words. I happen to know how strong
the feeling was. Perhaps Count von Biilow had not
foreseen the dangerous vehemence to which German
popular feeling would be roused, and I believe he
endeavoured with genuine alarm, after he saw the
danger, to stem the torrent his attempt to prevent



a fait accompli in Morocco from being sprung on
Europe had let loose.

# # # # *

Great Britain could not in view of the Agreement
of April 4, 1904, and the reciprocal compensation of
interests in Egypt and Morocco resulting from it, enjoy
her share of the bargain without helping France to
get hers. British " national honour " in its proper
sense was pledged to support France, and, as a fact,
Great Britain did honestly and completely fulfil
her engagement. She stood loyally by France in
the tribulations of 1905, throughout the Conference of
Algeciras, during the Agadir affair, and, if peace in
1905 and 191 1 was preserved, in spite of the heated
state of public opinion in both France and Germany,
it was due to England's standing resolutely beside
France as she did till arrangements with Germany
were completed and France obtained the quid pro quo
which fell to her in the bargain of 1904. In the crisis
of 1905, German public opinion left England com-
pletely out of the question, and even a strong pro-
English agitation was being carried on in Germany
as well as a pro-German one in England all the time.
During the second crisis England came into the oper-
and declared her intention to stand by France.

It is no longer of much importance whether France
was justified in undertaking the expedition to Fez
which brought about the crisis, or whether German
diplomacy was " brutal " or not in its methods.
England was pledged to support France and she
did so, and provoked a revulsion of public feeling
■in Germany against her which quite overshadowed
any feeling against France which had survived the
crisis of 1905.



But all this Western fever is over now. In con-
nection with the settlement in the Near East, Great
Britain and Germany, on the one hand, have been
working together to secure a permanent settlement
in the Balkans, and France and Germany, on the
other, are adjusting their interests in Asia Minor.

As regards the future, the view that there is no
public opinion in Germany or that the Emperor and
his Government can engineer it as they choose must
be dismissed from diplomatic calculations as no longer
trustworthy. German public opinion may not have
the experienced self-reliance of English public opinion,
but that it is stronger than the will of even a popular
Emperor and a powerful and well-organised Govern-
ment is now beyond doubt.

The late German ambassador to this country, Baron
Marschall von Bieberstein, by the by, took a different
view of public opinion. I met him several times at
the Hague Conference in 1907 and in the winter of
1908-9 at Constantinople. The Baron had the
greatest contempt for public opinion. It was what
the newspapers chose to make it, he told me, and a
Government that could not control the newspapers
was not worth its salt. I asked him how a Govern-
ment could bring a prosperous newspaper under
control. " By banging the door in its face," said
the Baron.

A war between the two great Continental Powers of
the West would be a calamity out of all proportion
to any result conceivable. Defeat of one or the other



could only shift the spirit of revanche from one side
of the frontier to the other. Are they suffering
already from old age and unable to throw off their
grievances and place their permanent interests and
those of generations to come above their amour
propre? Besides, France has had her revanche in
Morocco. Nobody who thinks dispassionately over
the events of the last six years can fail to see that
Germany was defeated in one of the keenest diplo-
matic contests in current history. I have recently
had an opportunity of seeing with what bitterness
Germans, from the highest to the lowest, feel how little
influence the possession of a magnificent army and
pride-inspiring navy was able to exercise in the
denoument of the diplomatic drama which added a
magnificent province to the colonial empire of
France. What other European State during the last
forty years has added to its dominions such fields for
immediate enterprise, situated at her very door, as
Tunis and Morocco ? Yet she has no overflowing
population, no economic problems of intense urgency,
no vital political anxieties, and is still unsatisfied.
While their insane wrangling has been occupying the
attention of the three Powers concerned, their com-
mercial and industrial interests in the Near, Middle
and Far East have been allowed to drift, and others
have reaped the benefit which generally accrues to
their pacific neighbour from the wrangling of nations.
The wrangling of France and Germany, as England's
immediate neighbours, however, involves considera-
tions under which she can never be tertius gaudens.
England's greatest interest is that they join her in
the preservation of their common interests through-
out the world and the securing of that European



peace which was and still is the object of the Entente


# * # * #

An old friend, editor of a leading Northern paper,
wrote me in the autumn of 191 2 : — " Do you not
sometimes mourn at the frightful perversion of the
Entente Cordiale from an instrument of peace into
the greatest menace now existing of European war ?
Nobody has written the history of the change. Have
you ever thought of doing it ? "

The events which have been used to pervert the
character of the entente are too recent for me to venture
to present them in a trustworthy perspective. The
change itself shows how difficult it has become for
any Foreign Minister or Foreign Office to keep con-
trol of all the varied interests of a composite State
like the British Empire.

That the entente was perverted is beyond question,
that on many sides for purposes which may have been
patriotic, but were certainly misguided, it was
deliberately made to appear as an anti-German move-
ment is a notorious fact. Fortunately wiser counsels
have again prevailed. A few months ago I should
still have followed my friend's suggestion. To-day
it would serve no useful object to denounce the
fomentors of international strife. They now see the
folly of the agitation which sapped the foundations
of the European concert. Until then it had preserved
us from wars which immediately followed its




With the last chapter terminated the thirty years
of my Anglo-French career.

I had seen the Republic grow up — the effects of the
war of 1870 evolve into distrust, jealousy, and hatred
of England ; France ally herself with England's
declared foe; even the two enemies of 1870 draw
closer in their common opposition to their island
neighbour ; then, the reversal of this insensate Anglo-
French hostility, due to a movement which stirred
the live subsoil of modern democracy ; then, again,
underhand scheming which gave reaction its chance,
and anti-German movements started in both England
and France, which after a fitful success in some parts
of England and absolute failure in others, have nearly
died out on this side of the Channel.

In defence of my Anglo-French work, in 1905 I em-
barked on a new campaign of resistance to this new re-
action, and with the development of this campaign my
reminiscences cease in 1907 to be mainly Anglo-French.

TT TV" ■%? ^F 7t*

Has the entente come to stay ?

If we glance back over the nineteenth century to
its outset we shall find that in 1801 London received
with enthusiasm Colonel de Lauriston, A.D.C. to the
First Consul, who came as bearer of the ratification
of the Peace Preliminaries ; that public rejoicing
greeted Marshal Soult in 1838 as Envoy of Louis
Philippe to Queen Victoria's coronation ; that a



" cordial spirit " prevailed at the interview of Eu in
1843, when the Queen of England and the King of the
French " kissed each other with tenderness " ; that
under Napoleon III. royal visits were exchanged at
Paris and Cherbourg and at Windsor and Osborne
amid the booming of cannon and enthusiastic leading
articles ; and that there was a great deal of semi-
official talk about an " entente cordiale " in 18 14, 1850,
1853, and i860.

In none of these successive revivals of Anglo-French
friendliness did the people of either country take any
part save that of standing on the pavement and
cheering the passing monarchs.

There was one exception, due to popular effort
on both sides ; the recent visit of Anatole France to
London and his reception at a meeting of the
Fabian Society reminded me of it. It was so in-
teresting that I venture on a digression. It was the
now forgotten meeting of the French Possibilists and
British Trade Union leaders in Paris in 1883, which was
a sort of Anglo-French rapprochement of working men.
From the point of view of its immediate object it was
a failure. But it brought out vividly the difference
of character in their attitude towards questions of
the distribution of property between the Englishmen
and Frenchmen who attended it. The latter called
themselves Socialists. The special theory which dis-
tinguished the Possibilists from other Socialists was
that they sought the achievement of their aims
rather by legislative pressure than by revolutionary
methods. For " whole-hog " Socialism, as in the case
of German Social Democracy, in the sense of investing
the State with the power to absorb the citizen energies,



however, the French have no real vocation. They are
by nature individualists. The strong attachment to
the principle of private as distinguished from public
property, and of equality in the distribution of private
property as distinguished from its centralisation which
characterises the institutions of France, are but mani-
festations of this individualism. In practice it works
out in the compulsory subdivision of the parental
estate among the children in equal shares, in diffi-
culties placed by fiscal legislation in the way of realty
changing hands, in restraints provided to prevent
spendthrifts from dissipating their patrimony, etc.

Online LibraryThomas BarclayThirty years, Anglo-French reminiscences (1876-1906) → online text (page 20 of 29)