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Title: Britain at Bay

Author: Spenser Wilkinson

Release date: January 1, 2004 [eBook #10629]
Most recently updated: December 20, 2020

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Afra Ullah and PG Distributed Proofreaders




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Chapters XIV. to XX. have appeared as articles in the Morning Post and are by kind permission reproduced without substantial change.


"I do not believe in the perfection of the British constitution as an instrument of war ... it is evident that there is something in your machinery that is wrong." These were the words of the late Marquis of Salisbury, speaking as Prime Minister in his place in the House of Lords on the 30th of January 1900. They amounted to a declaration by the British Government that it could not govern, for the first business of a Government is to be able to defend the State of which it has charge, that is, to carry on war. Strange to say, the people of England were undisturbed by so striking an admission of national failure.

On the 16th of March 1909 came a new declaration from another Prime Minister. Mr. Asquith, on the introduction of the Navy Estimates, explained to the House of Commons that the Government had been surprised at the rate at which the new German navy was being constructed, and at the rapid growth of Germany's power to build battleships. But it is the first duty of a Government to provide for national security and to provide means to foresee. A Government that is surprised in a matter relating to war is already half defeated.

The creation of the German navy is the creation of means that could be used to challenge Great Britain's sea power and all that depends upon it. There has been no such challenge these hundred years, no challenge so formidable as that represented by the new German fleet these three hundred years. It brings with it a crisis in the national life of England as great as has ever been known; yet this crisis finds the British nation divided, unready and uncertain what leadership it is to expect.

The dominant fact, the fact that controls all others, is that from now onwards Great Britain has to face the stern reality of war, immediately by way of preparation and possibly at any moment by way of actual collision. England is drifting into a quarrel with Germany which, if it cannot be settled, involves a struggle for the mastery with the strongest nation that the world has yet seen—a nation that, under the pressure of necessity, has learnt to organise itself for war as for peace; that sets its best minds to direct its preparations for war; that has an army of four million citizens, and that is of one mind in the determination to make a navy that shall fear no antagonist. A conflict of this kind is the test of nations, not only of their strength but also of their righteousness or right to be. It has two aspects. It is first of all a quarrel and then a fight, and if we are to enter into it without fear of destruction we must fulfil two conditions: in the quarrel we must be in the right, in the fight we must win. The two conditions are inseparable. If there is a doubt about the justice of our cause we shall be divided among ourselves, and it will be impossible for us to put forth the strength of a united nation.

Have we really a quarrel with Germany? Is she doing us any wrong? Some of our people seem to think so, though I find it hard to say in what the wrong consists. Are we doing her any wrong? Some Germans seem to think so, and it behoves us, if we can, to find out what the German grievance is.

Suppose that there is a cause for quarrel, hidden at present but sooner or later to be revealed. What likelihood is there that we shall be able to make good our case in arms, and to satisfy the world and posterity that we deserved to win?

Germany can build fleets as fast as we can, and although we have a start the race will not be easy for us; she has the finest school of war that ever existed, against which we have to set an Admiralty so much mistrusted that at this moment a committee of the Cabinet is inquiring into its efficiency.

Is it not time for us to find the answer to the question raised by Lord Salisbury nine years ago, to ascertain what it is that interferes with the perfection of the British constitution as an instrument of war, and to set right what is wrong with our machinery?

The truth is that we have ceased to be a nation; we have forgotten nationhood, and have become a conglomerate of classes, parties, factions, and sects. That is the disease. The remedy consists in reconstituting ourselves as a nation.

What is a nation? The inhabitants of a country constituted as one body to secure their corporate being and well-being. The nation is all of us, and its government is trusteeship for us all in order to give us peace and security, and in order that in peace and security we may make each other's lives worth living by doing each the best work he can. The nature of a nation may be seen by distinguishing it from the other nations outside and from the parties within. The mark of a nation is sovereignty, which means, as regards other nations, the right and the power to make peace with them or to carry on war against them, and which means, as regards those within, the right and the power to command them.

A nation is a people constituted as a State, maintaining and supporting a Government which is at once the embodiment of right and the wielder of force. If the right represented by the Government is challenged, either without or within, the Government asserts it by force, and in either case disposes, to any extent that may be required, of the property, the persons, and the lives of its subjects.

A party, according to the classical theory of the British constitution, is a body of men within the State who are agreed in regarding some measure or some principle as so vital to the State that, in order to secure the adoption of the measure or the acceptance of the principle, they are willing to sink all differences of opinion on other matters, and to work together for the one purpose which they are agreed in regarding as fundamental.

The theory of party government is based on the assumption that there must always be some measure or some principle in regard to which the citizens of the same country will differ so strongly as to subordinate their private convictions on other matters to their profound convictions in regard to the one great question. It is a theory of permanent civil war carried on through the forms of parliamentary debate and popular election, and, indeed, the two traditional parties are the political descendants of the two sides which in the seventeenth century were actually engaged in civil war. For the ordinary purposes of the domestic life of the country the system has its advantages, but they are coupled with grave drawbacks. The party system destroys the sincerity of our political life, and introduces a dangerous dilettantism into the administration of public business.

A deliberative assembly like the House of Commons can reach a decision only by there being put from the chair a question to which the answer must be either Yes or No. It is evidently necessary to the sincerity of such decisions that the answer given by each member shall in every case be the expression of his conviction regarding the right answer to the question put. If every member in every division were to vote according to his own judgment and conscience upon the question put, there would be a perpetual circulation of members between the Ayes to the right and the Noes to the left. The party system prevents this. It obliges each member on every important occasion to vote with his leaders and to follow the instruction of the whips. In this way the division of opinion produced by some particular question or measure is, as far as possible, made permanent and dominant, and the freedom of thought and of deliberation is confined within narrow limits.

Thus there creeps into the system an element of insincerity which has been enormously increased since the extension of the franchise and the consequent organisation of parties in the country. Thirty or forty years ago the caucus was established in all the constituencies, in each of which was formed a party club, association, or committee, for the purpose of securing at parliamentary elections the success of the party candidate. The association, club, or committee consists, as regards its active or working portion, of a very small percentage of the voters even of its own party, but it is affiliated to the central organisation and in practice it controls the choice of candidates.

What is the result? That the affairs of the nation are entirely given over to be disputed between the two organised parties, whose leaders are compelled, in shaping their policy and in thinking about public affairs, to consider first and foremost the probable effect of what they will do and of what they will say upon the active members of the caucus of their own party in the constituencies. The frame of mind of the members of the caucus is that of men who regard the opposite caucus as the adversary. But the adversary of a nation can only be another nation.

In this way the leaders of both parties, the men who fill the places which, in a well-organised nation, would be assigned to statesmen, are placed in it position in which statesmanship is almost impossible. A statesman would be devoted solely to the nation. He would think first, second, and third of the nation. Security would be his prime object, and upon that basis he would aim at the elevation of the characters and of the lives of the whole population. But our leaders cannot possibly think first, second, and third of the nation. They have to think at least as much of the next election and of the opinions of their supporters. In this way their attention is diverted from that observation of other nations which is essential for the maintenance of security. Moreover, they are obliged to dwell on subjects directly intelligible to and appreciable by the voters in the constituencies, and are thereby hindered from giving either the time or the attention which they would like to any of those problems of statesmanship which require close and arduous study for their solution. The wonder is in these conditions that they do their work so well, and maintain undiminished the reputation of English public men for integrity and ability.

Yet what at the present moment is the principle about which parties are divided? Is there any measure or any principle at issue which is really vital to Great Britain? Is there anything in dispute between the parties which would not be abandoned and forgotten at the first shot fired in a war between England and a great continental nation? I am convinced that that first shot must cause the scales to fall from men's eyes; that it must make every one realise that our divisions are comparative trifles and that for years we have been wasting time over them. But if we wait for the shock of war to arouse us to a sense of reality and to estimate our party differences at their true value, it will be too late. We shall wring our hands in vain over our past blindness and the insight we shall then have obtained will avail us nothing.

The party system has another consequence which will not stand scrutiny in the light of reality; it is dilettantism in the conduct of the nation's principal business. Some of the chief branches of the executive work of government are the provinces of special arts and sciences, each of which to master requires the work of a lifetime. Of such a kind are the art of carrying on war, whether by sea or land, the art of conducting foreign relations, which involves a knowledge of all the other great States and their policies, and the direction of the educational system, which cannot possibly be properly conducted except by an experienced educator. But the system gives the direction of each of these branches to one of the political leaders forming the Cabinet or governing committee, and the practice is to consider as disqualified from membership of that committee any man who has given his life either to war, to foreign policy, or to education. Yet by its efficiency in these matters the nation must stand or fall. By all means let us be chary of lightly making changes in the constitution or in the arrangements of government. But, if the security and continued existence of the nation are in question, must we not scrutinise our methods of government with a view to make sure that they accord with the necessary conditions of success in a national struggle for existence?

I am well aware that the train of thought to which I have tried to give expression is unpopular, and that most people think that any modification of the traditional party system is impracticable. But the question is not whether the system is popular; it is whether it will enable the country to stand in the hour of trial. If the system is inefficient and fails to enable the nation to carry on with success the functions necessary for its preservation and if at the same time it is impracticable to change it, then nothing can avert ruin from this country. Yet I believe that a very large number of my countrymen are in fact thinking each for himself the thoughts which I am trying to express. They are perhaps not the active members of the caucus of either party, but they are men who, if they see the need, will not shrink from exertions or from sacrifices which they believe to be useful or necessary to the country. It is to them that the following pages are an appeal. I appeal with some confidence because what I shall try to show to be necessary is not so much a change of institutions as a change of spirit; not a new constitution but a return to a true way of looking at public and private life. My contention is that the future of England depends entirely upon the restoration of duty, of which the nation is the symbol, to its proper place in our lives.







Great Britain is drifting unintentionally and half unconsciously into a war with the German Empire, a State which has a population of sixty millions and is better organised for war than any State has ever been in modern times. For such a conflict, which may come about to-morrow, and unless a great change takes place must come about in the near future, Great Britain is not prepared.

The food of our people and the raw material of their industries come to this country by sea, and the articles here produced go by sea to their purchasers abroad. Every transaction carries with it a certain profit which makes it possible. If the exporter and the manufacturer who supplies him can make no profit they cannot continue their operations, and the men who work for them must lose their employment.

Suppose Great Britain to be to-morrow at war with one or more of the Great Powers of Europe. All the sailing vessels and slow steamers will stop running lest they should be taken by hostile cruisers. The fast steamers will have to pay war rates of insurance and to charge extra freights. Steamers ready to leave foreign ports for this country will wait for instructions and for news. On the outbreak of war, therefore, this over-sea traffic must be greatly diminished in volume and carried on with enormously increased difficulties. The supply of food would be considerably reduced and the certainty of the arrival of any particular cargo would have disappeared. The price of food must therefore rapidly and greatly rise, and that alone would immediately impose very great hardships on the whole of the working class, of which a considerable part would be driven across the line which separates modern comfort from the starvation margin. The diminution in the supply of the raw materials of manufacture would be much greater and more immediate. Something like half the manufacturers of Great Britain must close their works for want of materials. But will the other half be able to carry on? Foreign orders they cannot possibly execute, because there can be no certainty of the delivery of the goods; and even if they could, the price at which they could deliver them with a profit would be much higher than it is in peace. For with a diminished supply the price of raw material must go up, the cost of marine insurance must be added, together with the extra wages necessary to enable the workmen to live with food at an enhanced price.

Thus the effect of the greater difficulty of sea communication must be to destroy the margin of profit which enables the British capitalist to carry on his works, while the effect of all these causes taken together on the credit system upon which our whole domestic economy reposes will perhaps be understood by business men. Even if this state of things should last only a few months, it certainly involves the transfer to neutrals of all trade that is by possibility transferable. Foreign countries will give their orders for cotton, woollen, and iron goods to the United States, France, Switzerland, and Austro-Hungary, and at the conclusion of peace the British firms that before supplied them, if they have not in the meantime become bankrupt, will find that their customers have formed new connections.

The shrinkage of credit would bring a multitude of commercial failures; the diminution of trade and the cessation of manufactures a great many more. The unemployed would be counted by the million, and would have to be kept at the public expense or starve.

If in the midst of these misfortunes, caused by the mere fact of war, should come the news of defeat at sea, still more serious consequences must follow. After defeat at sea all regular and secure communication between Great Britain, her Colonies, and India comes to an end. With the terrible blow to Britain's reputation which defeat at sea must bring, what will be the position of the 100,000 British in India who for a century have governed a population of nearly 300,000,000? What can the Colonies do to help Great Britain under such conditions? For the command of the sea nothing, and even if each of them had a first-rate army, what would be the use of those armies to this country in her hour of need? They cannot be brought to Europe unless the British navy commands the sea.

These are some of the material consequences of defeat. But what of its spiritual consequences? We have brought up our children in the pride of a great nation, and taught them of an Empire on which the sun never sets. What shall we say to them in the hour of defeat and after the treaty of peace imposed by the victor? They will say: "Find us work and we will earn our bread and in due time win back the greatness that has been lost." But how are they to earn their bread? In this country half the employers will have been ruined by the war. The other half will have lost heavily, and much of the wealth even of the very rich will have gone to keep alive the innumerable multitude of starving unemployed. These will be advised after the war to emigrate. To what country? Englishmen, after defeat, will everywhere be at a discount. Words will not describe, and the imagination cannot realise, the suffering of a defeated nation living on an island which for fifty years has not produced food enough for its population.

The material and spiritual results of defeat can easily be recognised by any one who takes the trouble to think about the question, though only experience either at first hand or supplied by history can enable a man fully to grasp its terrible nature. But a word must be said on the social and political consequences inseparable from the wreck of a State whose Government has been unable to fulfil its prime function, that of providing security for the national life. All experience shows that in such cases men do not take their troubles calmly. They are filled with passion. Their feelings find vent in the actions to which their previous currents of thought tended. The working class, long accustomed by its leaders to regard the capitalists as a class with interests and aims opposed to its own, will hardly be able in the stress of unemployment and of famine to change its way of thinking. The mass of the workmen, following leaders whose judgment may not perhaps be of the soundest but who will undoubtedly sincerely believe that the doctrines with which they have grown up are true, may assail the existing social order and lay the blame of their misfortunes upon the class which has hitherto had the government of the country in its hands and has supplied the leaders of both political parties. The indignation which would inspire this movement would not be altogether without justification, for it cannot be denied that both political parties have for many years regarded preparation for war and all that belongs to it as a minor matter, subordinate to the really far less important questions relying upon which each side has sought to win sufficient votes to secure a party majority.

Why do I discuss the hypothesis of British defeat rather than that of British victory? Because it is the invariable practice of the masters of war to consider first the disagreeable possibilities and to make provision for them. But also because, according to every one of the tests which can be applied, the probability of defeat for Great Britain in the present state of Europe is exceedingly great. Rarely has a State unready for conflict been able to stand against a nation organised for war. The last of a long series of examples was the war between Russia and Japan, in which the vast resources of a great Empire were exhausted in the struggle with a State so small as to seem a pigmy in comparison with her giant adversary. On the 10th of February 1904, the day when the news reached England that the Russo-Japanese war had begun, I gave as follows my reasons for thinking that Japan would win:—

"The hypothesis of a considerable Japanese success, at any rate at first, is considered rather than its opposite, because Japan has at present all the marks of a nation likely to do great things in war. It is not merely that she has transformed her government and her education, has introduced military institutions on the German model, especially compulsory training and that vivifying institution, a general staff. The present quarrel arises from the deliberate policy of Russia, pursuing aims that are incompatible with every Japanese tradition and every Japanese hope. The whole Japanese nation has for years been burning with the sense of wrongs inflicted by Russia, and into this war, as into the preparation for it, the whole people throws itself, mind, soul, and body. This is the condition which produces great strategical plans and extreme energy in their execution. The Japanese forces are well organised, armed, and equipped. They are intelligently led and follow with intelligence.

"Of Russia there is hardly evidence to show that the cause for which she is fighting has touched the imaginations or the feelings of more than a small fraction of the population. It is the war of a bureaucracy, and Russia may easily fail to develop either great leading, though her officers are instructed, or intelligent following of the leaders by the rank and file. But the Russian troops are brave and have always needed a good deal of beating."

Substitute Great Britain for Russia and Germany for Japan in this forecast, which has been proved true, and every word holds good except two. We now know that Russia's policy was not deliberate; that her Government bungled into the war without knowing what it was doing. In just the same way British Governments have drifted blindly into the present difficult relations with Germany. Those in England who would push the country into a war with Germany are indeed not a bureaucracy, they are merely a fraction of one of the parties, and do not represent the mass of our people, who have no desire for such a war, and are so little aware of its possibility that they have never even taken the trouble to find out why it may come. A larger section of the other party is steeped in the belief that force, violence, and war are wicked in themselves, and ought therefore not to be thought about. It is a prejudice which, unless removed, may ruin this country, and there is no way of dissipating it except that of patient argument based upon observation of the world we live in. That way I shall attempt to follow in the next chapter.






    "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and
    a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but
    whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other
    also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy
    coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee
    to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and
    from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have
    heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and
    hate thine enemy: but I say unto you, Love your enemies."
    (Matt. v. 38-44).

If there are any among us who adopt these words as the governing rule of their lives they will certainly cause no difficulty to the State in its military policy whatever that may be, and will find their natural places even in time of war to the public good. If the whole population were of their way of thinking and acting there would be no need to discuss war. An invader would not be resisted. His troops would be hospitably entertained and treated with affection. No opposition would be made to the change of Government which he would introduce, and the taxes which he imposed would be cheerfully paid. But there would be no State, except that created by the invader; and the problem of conduct for those living the life described would arise when the State so set up issued its ordinances requiring every able-bodied man to become a competent soldier.

There are those who believe, or fancy they believe, that the words I have quoted involve the principle that the use of force or of violence between man and man, or between nation and nation, is wicked. To the man who thinks it right to submit to any violence or to be killed rather than to use violence in resistance, I have no reply to make. The world cannot conquer him and fear has no hold upon him. But even he can carry out his doctrine only to the extent of allowing himself to be ill-treated, as I will now convince him. Many years ago the people of South Lancashire were horrified by the facts reported in a trial for murder. In a village on the outskirts of Bolton lived a young woman, much liked and respected as a teacher in one of the Board schools. On her way home from school she was accustomed to follow a footpath through a lonely wood, and here one evening her body was found. She had been strangled by a ruffian who had thought in this lonely place to have his wicked will of her. She had resisted successfully and he had killed her in the struggle. Fortunately the murderer was caught and the facts ascertained from circumstantial evidence were confirmed by his confession. Now, the question I have to ask of the man who takes his stand on the passage I have quoted from the Gospel is: "What would have been your duty if you had been walking through that wood and come upon the girl struggling with the man who killed her?" This is a crucial instance which, I submit, utterly destroys the doctrine that the use of violence is in itself wrong. The right or wrong is not in the employment of force but simply in the purpose for which it is used. What the case establishes, I think, is that to use violence in resistance to violent wrong is not only right but necessary.

The employment of force for the maintenance of right is the foundation of all civilised human life, for it is the fundamental function of the State, and apart from the State there is no civilisation, no life worth living. The first business of the State is to protect the community against violent interference from outside. This it does by requiring from its subjects whatever personal service and whatever sacrifice of property and of time may be necessary; and resistance to these demands, as well as to any injunctions whatever laid by the State upon its subjects, is unconditionally suppressed by force. The mark of the State is sovereignty, or the identification of force and right, and the measure of the perfection of the State is furnished by the completeness of this identification. In the present condition of English political thought it may be worth while to dwell for a few moments upon the beneficent nature of this dual action of the State.

Within its jurisdiction the State maintains order and law and in this way makes life worth living for its subjects. Order and law are the necessary conditions of men's normal activities, of their industry, of their ownership of whatever the State allows them to possess—for outside of the State there is no ownership—of their leisure and of their freedom to enjoy it. The State is even the basis of men's characters, for it sets up and establishes a minimum standard of conduct. Certain acts are defined as unlawful and punished as crimes. Other acts, though not criminal, are yet so far subject to the disapproval of the courts that the man who does them may have to compensate those who suffer injury or damage in consequence of them. These standards have a dual origin, in legislation and precedent. Legislation is a formal expression of the agreement of the community upon the definition of crimes, and common law has been produced by the decisions of the courts in actions between man and man. Every case tried in a civil court is a conflict between two parties, a struggle for justice, the judgment being justice applied to the particular case. The growth of English law has been through an endless series of conflicts, and the law of to-day may be described as a line passing through a series of points representing an infinite number of judgments, each the decision of a conflict in court. For seven hundred years, with hardly an interruption, every judgment of a court has been sustained by the force of the State. The law thus produced, expressed in legislation and interpreted by the courts, is the foundation of all English conduct and character. Upon the basis thus laid there takes place a perpetual evolution of higher standards. In the intercourse of a settled and undisturbed community and of the many societies which it contains, arise a number of standards of behaviour which each man catches as it were by infection from the persons with whom he habitually associates and to which he is obliged to conform, because if his conduct falls below them his companions will have nothing to do with him. Every class of society has its notions of what constitutes proper conduct and constrains its members to carry on their lives, so far as they are open to inspection, according to these notions. The standards tend constantly to improve. Men form an ideal of behaviour by observing the conduct of the best of their class, and in proportion as this ideal gains acceptance, find themselves driven to adopt it for fear of the social ostracism which is the modern equivalent of excommunication. Little by little what was at first a rarely attained ideal becomes a part of good manners. It established itself as custom and finally becomes part of the law.

Thus the State, in co-operation with the whole community, becomes the educator of its people. Standards of conduct are formed slowly in the best minds and exist at first merely in what Plato would have called "the intellectual sphere," or in what would have been called at a later date in Palestine the "kingdom of heaven." But the strongest impulse of mankind is to realise its ideals. Its fervent prayer, which once uttered can never cease, is "on earth as it is in heaven," and the ideals developed in man's spiritual life gradually take shape in laws and become prohibitions and injunctions backed by the forces of the State.

The State, however, is not an abstraction. For English people it means the United Kingdom; and if an Englishman wants to realise what he owes to his country let him look back through its history and see how all that he values in the character of the men he most admires and all that is best in himself has gradually been created and realised through the ceaseless effort of his forefathers, carried on continuously from the time when the first Englishman crossed the North Sea until the present day. Other nations have their types of conduct, perhaps as good as our own, but Englishmen value, and rightly value, the ideals particularly associated with the life of their own country. Perhaps two of the commonest expressions convey peculiarly English views of character. We talk of "fair play" as the essence of just dealing between man and man. It is a conception we have developed from the national games. We describe ideal conduct as that of a gentleman. It is a condensation of the best part of English history, and a search for a definition of the function of Great Britain in the moral economy of the world will hardly find a better answer than that it is to stamp upon every subject of the King the character implied in these two expressions. Suppose the British State to be overthrown or to drop from its place among the great Powers of the world, these ideals of character would be discredited and their place would be taken by others.

The justification of the constraint exercised by the State upon its own citizens is the necessity for security, the obligation of self-defence, which arises from the fact that outside the State there are other States, each endowed like itself with sovereignty, each of them maintaining by force its conception of right. The power of the State over its own subjects is thus in the last resort a consequence of the existence of other States. Upon the competition between them rests the order of the world. It is a competition extending to every sphere of life and in its acute form takes the shape of war, a struggle for existence, for the mastery or for right.







To some people the place of war in the economy of nations appears to be unsatisfactory. They think war wicked and a world where it exists out of joint. Accordingly they devote themselves to suggestions for the abolition of war and for the discovery of some substitute for it. Two theories are common; the first, that arbitration can in every case be a substitute for war, the second that the hopes of peace would be increased by some general agreement for disarmament.

The idea of those who regard arbitration as a universal substitute for war appears to be that the relations between States can be put upon a basis resembling that of the relations between citizens in a settled and civilised country like our own. In Great Britain we are accustomed to a variety of means for settling disagreements between persons. There are the law courts, there are the cases in which recourse is had, with the sanction of the law courts, to the inquiry and decision of an arbitrator, and in all our sports we are accustomed to the presence of an umpire whose duty it is impartially to see that the rules of the game are observed and immediately to decide all points that might otherwise be doubtful.

The work of an umpire who sees that the rules of the game are observed is based upon the consent of the players of both sides. Without that consent there could be no game, and the consent will be found to be based upon the fact that all the players are brought up with similar traditions and with like views of the nature of the game. Where this unity does not exist, difficulties constantly arise, as is notoriously the case in international sports. The attempt has been made, with constantly increasing success, to mitigate the evils of war by the creation of institutions in some way analogous to that of the umpire in a game. The Declaration of London, recently published, is an agreement between the principal Powers to accept a series of rules concerning maritime war, to be administered by an International Prize Court.

The function of an arbitrator, usually to decide questions of fact and to assess compensation for inconvenience, most commonly the inconvenience occasioned to a private person by some necessary act of the State, also rests upon the consent of the parties, though in this case the consent is usually imposed upon them by the State through some legislative enactment or through the decision of a court. The action of a court of law, on the other hand, does not rest upon the consent of the parties. In a civil action the defendant may be and very often is unwilling to take any part in the proceedings. But he has no choice, and, whether he likes it or not, is bound by the decision of the court. For the court is the State acting in its judicial capacity with a view to insure that justice shall be done. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant has done him some wrong either by breach of contract or otherwise, and the verdict or judgment determines whether or not this is the case, and, if it is, what compensation is due. The judgment once given, the whole power of the State will be used to secure its execution.

The business of a criminal court is the punishment of offenders whom it is the function of the State to discover, to bring to trial, and, when convicted, to punish. The prisoner's consent is not asked, and the judgment of the court is supported by the whole power of the State.

In the international sphere there is no parallel to the action either of a civil or of a criminal court. Civil and criminal jurisdiction are attributes of sovereignty, and over two independent States there is no sovereign power. If, therefore, it is desired to institute between two States a situation analogous to that by which the subjects of a single Government are amenable to judicial tribunals, the proper way is to bring the two States under one sovereignty. This can be effected, and is constantly effected, by one of two methods. Either the two States federate and form a united State, or one of them conquers and annexes the other. The former process has been seen in modern times in the formation of the United States of America: the latter formed the substance of the history of civilisation during the first three centuries before Christ, when the Roman State successively conquered, annexed, and absorbed all the other then existing States surrounding the basin of the Mediterranean.

The history of no State justifies the belief that order and justice can successfully be maintained merely by the action of umpires and of arbitrators. Every State worth the name has had to rely upon civil and criminal courts and upon law enforced by its authority, that is, upon a series of principles of right expressed in legislation and upon an organisation of force for the purpose of carrying those principles into practical effect.

It appears, then, that so far from the experience of States justifying the view that it is wrong to employ force, the truth is that right or law, unless supported by force, is ineffective, that the objection in principle to any use of force involves anarchy, or the cessation of the State, and that the wish to substitute judicial tribunals for war as a means of settling disputes between State and State is a wish to amalgamate under a single Government all those States which are to benefit by the substitution.

The reasonable attitude with regard to arbitration is to accept it whenever the other side will accept it. But if the adversary refuses arbitration and insists upon using force, what course is open to any State but that of resisting force by force?

Arbitration has from the earliest times been preferred in most of those cases to which it was applicable, that is, in cases in which there was a basis of common view or common tradition sufficient to make agreement practicable. But wherever there has been a marked divergence of ideals or a different standard of right, there has been a tendency for each side to feel that to submit its conscience or its convictions of right, its sense of what is most sacred in life, to an outside judgment would involve a kind of moral suicide. In such cases every nation repudiates arbitration and prefers to be a martyr, in case of need, to its sense of justice. It is at least an open question whether the disappearance of this feeling would be a mark of progress or of degeneration. At any rate it is practically certain that the period when it will have disappeared cannot at present be foreseen.

The abolition of war, therefore, involves the abolition of independent States and their amalgamation into one. There are many who have hoped for this ideal, expressed by Tennyson when he dreamed of

    "The Parliament of man, the Federation of the world."
That it is the ultimate destiny of mankind to be united under a single Government seems probable enough, but it is rash to assume that that result will be reached either by a process of peaceful negotiation, or by the spread of the imperfect methods of modern democratic government. The German Empire, with its population of sixty millions, educated by the State, disciplined by the State, relying on the State, and commanded by the State, is as potent in comparison with the less disciplined and less organised communities which surround it as was, in the third century before Christ, the Roman State in comparison with the disunited multitude of Greek cities, the commercial oligarchy of Carthage, and the half-civilised tribes of Gaul and Spain. Unless the other States of Europe can rouse themselves to a discipline as sound and to an organisation as subtle as those of Prussia and to the perception of a common purpose in the maintenance of their independence, the union of Europe under a single Government is more likely to be brought about by the conquering hand of Germany than by the extension of democratic institutions and of sentimental good understandings.

Proposals for disarmament stand on an entirely different footing from proposals to agree to arbitration. The State that disarms renounces to the extent of its disarmament the power to protect itself. Upon what other power is it suggested that it should rely? In the last analysis the suggestion amounts to a proposal for the abolition of the State, or its abandonment of its claim to represent the right. Those who propose agreements for disarmament imagine that the suggestion if adopted would lead to the establishment of peace. Have they considered the natural history of peace as one of the phenomena of the globe which we inhabit? The only peace of any value is that between civilised nations. It rests either upon the absence of dispute between them or upon an equilibrium of forces. During the last few centuries there has usually been at the end of a great European war a great European congress which has regulated for the time being the matters which were in dispute, and the treaty thus negotiated has remained for a long time the basis of the relations between the Powers. It is always a compromise, but a compromise more or less acceptable to all parties, in which they acquiesce until some change either by growth or decay makes the conditions irksome. Then comes a moment when one or more of the States is dissatisfied and wishes for a change. When that has happened the dissatisfied State attempts to bring about the change which it desires, but if the forces with which its wish is likely to be opposed are very great it may long acquiesce in a state of things most distasteful to it. Let there be a change in the balance of forces and the discontented State will seize the opportunity, will assert itself, and if resisted will use its forces to overcome opposition. A proposal for disarmament must necessarily be based upon the assumption that there is to be no change in the system, that the status quo is everywhere to be preserved. This amounts to a guarantee of the decaying and inefficient States against those which are growing and are more efficient. Such an arrangement would not tend to promote the welfare of mankind and will not be accepted by those nations that have confidence in their own future. That such a proposal should have been announced by a British Government is evidence not of the strength of Great Britain, not of a healthy condition of national life, but of inability to appreciate the changes which have been produced during the last century in the conditions of Europe and the consequent alteration in Great Britain's relative position among the great Powers. It was long ago remarked by the German historian Bernhardi that Great Britain was the first country in Europe to revive in the modern world the conception of the State. The feudal conception identified the State with the monarch. The English revolution of 1688 was an identification of the State with the Nation. But the nationalisation of the State, of which the example was set in 1688 by Great Britain, was carried out much more thoroughly by France in the period that followed the revolution of 1789; and in the great conflict which ensued between France and the European States the principal continental opponents of France were compelled to follow her example, and, in a far greater degree than has ever happened in England, to nationalise the State. It is to that struggle that we must turn if we are to understand the present condition of Europe and the relations of Great Britain to the European Powers.







The transformation of society of which the French Revolution was the most striking symptom produced a corresponding change in the character of war.

By the Revolution the French people constituted itself the State, and the process was accompanied by so much passion and so much violence that it shortly involved the reconstituted nation in a quarrel with its neighbours the Germanic Empire and Prussia, which rapidly developed into a war between France and almost all the rest of Europe. The Revolution weakened and demoralised the French army and disorganised the navy, which it deprived of almost all its experienced officers. When the war began the regular army was supplemented by a great levy of volunteers. The mixed force thus formed, in spite of early successes, was unable to stand against the well-disciplined armies of Austria and Prussia, and as the war continued, while the French troops gained solidity and experience, their numbers had to be increased by a levy en masse or a compulsory drafting of all the men of a certain age into the army. In this way the army and the nation were identified as they had never been in modern Europe before, and in the fifth year of the war a leader was found in the person of General Bonaparte, who had imbued himself with the principles of the art of war, as they had been expounded by the best strategists of the old French army, and who had thus thought out with unprecedented lucidity the method of conducting campaigns. His mastery of the art of generalship was revealed by his success in 1796, and as the conflict with Europe continued, he became the leader and eventually the master of France. Under his impulse and guidance the French army, superior to them in numbers, organisation, and tactical skill, crushed one after another the more old-fashioned and smaller armies of the great continental Powers, with the result that the defeated armies, under the influence of national resentment after disaster, attempted to reorganise themselves upon the French model. The new Austrian army undertook its revenge too soon and was defeated in 1809; but the Prussian endeavour continued and bore fruit, after the French disasters in Russia of 1812, in the national rising in which Prussia, supported by Russia and Austria and assisted by the British operations in the Peninsula, overthrew the French Empire in 1814.

After the definitive peace, deferred by the hundred days, but finally forced upon France on the field of Waterloo, the Prussian Government continued to foster the school of war which it had founded in the period of humiliation. Prussian officers trained in that school tried to learn the lessons of the long period of war which they had passed through. What they discovered was that war between nations, as distinct from war between dynasties or royal houses, was a struggle for existence in which each adversary risked everything and in which success was to be expected only from the complete prostration of the enemy. In the long run, they said to themselves, the only defence consists in striking your adversary to the ground. That being the case, a nation must go into war, if war should become inevitable, with the maximum force which it can possibly produce, represented by its whole manhood of military age, thoroughly trained, organised, and equipped. The Prussian Government adhered to these ideas, to which full effect was given in 1866, when the Prussian army, reorganised in 1860, crushed in ten days the army of Austria, and in 1870 when, in a month from the first shot fired, it defeated one half of the French army at Gravelotte and captured the other half at Sedan. These events proved to all continental nations the necessity of adopting the system of the nation in arms and giving to their whole male population, up to the limits of possibility, the training and the organisation necessary for success in war.

The principle that war is a struggle for existence, and that the only effective defence consists in the destruction of the adversary's force, received during the age of Napoleon an even more absolute demonstration at sea than was possible on land. Great Britain, whether she would or no, was drawn into the European conflict. The neglect of the army and of the art of war into which, during the eighteenth century, her Governments had for the most part fallen, made it impracticable for her to take the decisive part which she had played in the days of William III. and of Marlborough in the struggle against the French army; her contributions to the land war were for the most part misdirected and futile. Her expeditions to Dunkirk, to Holland, and to Hanover embarrassed rather than materially assisted the cause of her allies. But her navy, favourably handicapped by the breakdown, due to the Revolution, of the French navy, eventually produced in the person of Nelson a leader who, like Napoleon, had made it the business of his life to understand the art of war. His victories, like Napoleon's, were decisive, and when he fell at Trafalgar the navies of continental Europe, which one after another had been pressed into the service of France, had all been destroyed.

Then were revealed the prodigious consequences of complete victory at sea, which were more immediate, more decisive, more far-reaching, more irrevocable than on land. The sea became during the continuance of the war the territory of Great Britain, the open highway along which her ships could pass, while it was closed to the ships of her adversaries. Across that secure sea a small army was sent to Spain to assist the national and heroic, though miserably organised, resistance made by the Spanish people against the French attempt at conquest. The British Government had at last found the right direction for such military force as it possessed. Sir John Moore's army brought Napoleon with a great force into the field, but it was able to retire to its own territory, the sea. The army under Wellington, handled with splendid judgment, had to wait long for its opportunity, which came when Napoleon with the Grand Army had plunged into the vast expanse of Russia. Wellington, marching from victory to victory, was then able to produce upon the general course of the war an effect out of all proportion to the strength of the force which he commanded or of that which directly opposed him.

While France was engaged in her great continental struggle England was reaping, all over the world, the fruits of her naval victories. Of the colonies of her enemies she took as many as she wanted, though at the peace she returned most of them to their former owners. Of the world's trade she obtained something like a monopoly. The nineteenth century saw the British colonies grow up into so many nations and the British administration of India become a great empire. These developments are now seen to have been possible only through the security due to the fact that Great Britain, during the first half of the nineteenth century, had the only navy worth considering in the world, and that during the second half its strength greatly preponderated over that of any of the new navies which had been built or were building. No wonder that when in 1888 the American observer, Captain Mahan, published his volume "The Influence of Sea Power upon History," other nations besides the British read from that book the lesson that victory at sea carried with it a prosperity, an influence, and a greatness obtainable by no other means. It was natural for Englishmen to draw the moral which was slumbering in the national consciousness that England's independence, her empire, and her greatness depended upon her sea power. But it was equally natural that other nations should draw a different moral and should ask themselves why this tremendous prize, the primacy of nations and the first place in the world, should for ever belong to the inhabitants of a small island, a mere appendage to the continent of Europe.

This question we must try to answer. But before entering upon that inquiry I will ask the reader to note the great lesson of the age of Napoleon and of Nelson. It produced a change in the character of war, which enlarged itself from a mere dispute between Governments and became a struggle between nations. The instrument used was no longer a small standing army, but the able-bodied male population in arms. Great Britain indeed still retained her standing army, but for the time she threw her resources without stint into her navy and its success was decisive.







We have seen what a splendid prize was the result of British victory at sea, supplemented by British assistance to other Powers on land, a century ago. We have now to ask ourselves first of all how it came about that Great Britain was able to win it, and afterwards whether it was awarded once for all or was merely a challenge cup to be held only so long as there should be no competitor.

The answer to the first question is a matter of history. England was peculiarly favoured by fortune or by fate in the great struggles through which, during a period of three hundred years, she asserted and increased her superiority at sea until a century ago it became supremacy. She rarely had to fight alone. Her first adversary was Spain. In the conflict with Spain she had the assistance of the Dutch Provinces. When the Dutch were strong enough to become her maritime rivals she had for a time the co-operation of France. Then came a long period during which France was her antagonist. At the beginning of this epoch William III. accepted the British crown in order to be able to use the strength of England to defend his native country, Holland. His work was taken up by Marlborough, whose first great victory was won in co-operation with the Imperial commander, Prince Eugene. From that time on, each of the principal wars was a European war in which France was fighting both by sea and land, her armies being engaged against continental foes, while Great Britain could devote her energies almost exclusively to her navy. In the Seven Years' War it was the Prussian army which won the victories on land, while small British forces were enabled by the help of the navy to win an Empire from France in Canada, and to lay the foundations of the British Empire in India. In the war of American Independence, Great Britain for once stood alone, but this was the one conflict which contributed little or nothing towards establishing the ascendency of the British navy. Great Britain failed of her object because that ascendency was incomplete. Then came the wars of the French Revolution and Empire in which the British navy was the partner of the Austrian, Prussian, Russian, and Spanish armies.

These are the facts which we have to explain. We have to find out how it was that so many continental nations, whether they liked it or not, found themselves, in fighting their own battles, helping to bring about the British predominance at sea. It must be remembered that land warfare involves much heavier sacrifices of life than warfare at sea, and that though Great Britain no doubt spent great sums of money not merely in maintaining her navy but also in subsidising her allies, she could well afford to do so because the prosperity of her over-sea trade, due to her naval success, made her the richest country in Europe. The other nations that were her allies might not unnaturally feel that they had toiled and that Great Britain had gathered the increase. What is the explanation of a co-operation of which in the long run it might seem that one partner has had the principal benefit?

If two nations carry on a serious war on the same side, it may be assumed that each of them is fighting for some cause which it holds to be vital, and that some sort of common interest binds the allies together. The most vital interest of any nation is its own independence, and while that is in question it conceives of its struggle as one of self-defence. The explanation of Great Britain's having had allies in the past may therefore be that the independence of Great Britain was threatened by the same danger which threatened the independence of other Powers. This theory is made more probable by the fact that England's great struggles—that of Queen Elizabeth against Spain, that of William III. and Marlborough against Louis XIV., and of Pitt against Napoleon—were, each one of them, against an adversary whose power was so great as to overshadow the Continent and to threaten it with an ascendency which, had it not been checked, might have developed into a universal monarchy. It seems, therefore, that in the main England, in defending her own interests, was consciously or unconsciously the champion of the independence of nations against the predominance of any one of their number. The effect of Great Britain's self-defence was to facilitate the self-defence of other nations, and thus to preserve to Europe its character of a community of independent States as opposed to that which it might have acquired, if there had been no England, of a single Empire, governed from a single capital.

This is, however, only half of the answer we want. It explains to some extent why England could find other nations co-operating with her, and reveals the general nature of the cause which they maintained in common. But let us remember the distinction between a quarrel in which the main thing is to be in the right, and a fight in which the main thing is to win. The explanation just sketched is a justification of England's policy, an attempt to show that in the main she had right on her side. That is only part of the reason why she had allies. The other part is that she was strong and could help them.

She had three modes of action. She used her navy to destroy the hostile navy or navies and to obtain control of the seaways. Then she used that control partly to destroy the seaborne trade of her enemies, and partly to send armies across the sea to attack her enemies' armies. It was because she could employ these three modes of warfare, and because two of them were not available for other Powers, that her influence on the course of events was so great.

The question of moral justification is more or less speculative. I have treated it here on a hypothesis which is not new, though since I propounded it many years ago it has met with little adverse criticism. But the question of force is one of hard fact; it is fundamental. If England had not been able to win her battles at sea and to help her allies by her war against trade and by her ubiquitous if small armies, there would have been no need for hypotheses by which to justify or explain her policy; she would have long ago lost all importance and all interest except to antiquarians. Our object is to find out how she may now justify her existence, and enough has been said to make it clear that if she is to do that she must not only have a cause good enough to gain the sympathy of other Powers, but force enough to give them confidence in what she can do to help herself and them.

We are now ready to examine the second question, whether or no Great Britain's position, won a century ago, is liable to challenge.







The great event of the nineteenth century in the history of Europe is the union of Germany into a Federal State. The secret of Prussia's success in accomplishing that union and in leading the federation so created, has been the organisation of the national energies by a far-seeing Government, a process begun as a means of self-defence against the French domination of the period between 1806 and 1812. The Prussian statesmen of those days were not content merely to reorganise the army on the basis of universal service. They organised the whole nation. They swept away an ancient system of land tenure in order to make the peasants free and prosperous. They established a system of public education far in advance of anything possessed by any other nation. They especially devoted themselves to fostering industry, manufacture, and commerce. The result of this systematic direction of the national energies by a Government of experts, continuously supported by the patient and methodical diligence of the people, has been a constant and remarkable advance of the national prosperity, a wonderful development of the national resources, and an enormous addition to the national strength. For the last forty years it has been the settled policy of the German Government that her organised military forces should be strong enough in case of need to confront two enemies at once, one on either frontier. Feeling themselves thus stronger than any other European state, the Germans have watched with admiration the growth of the British Colonies and of British trade. It is natural that they should think that Germany too might expect to have colonies and a great maritime trade. But wherever in the world German travellers have gone, wherever German traders have settled, wherever the German Government has thought of working for a site for a colony, everywhere they have met British influence, British trade, the British flag.

In this way has been brought home to them as to no other people the tremendous influence of sea-power. Their historians have recalled to them the successive attempts which have been made in past times by German States to create a navy and to obtain colonies, attempts which to our own people are quite unknown, because they never, except in the case of the Hanseatic League, attained to such importance as to figure in the general history of Europe. In the period between 1815 and 1870, when the desire for national unity was expressed by a host of German writers, there were not wanting pleas for the creation of a German navy. Several attempts were made in those days to construct either a Prussian or a German fleet; but the time was not ripe and these attempts came to nothing. The constitution of the Empire, promulgated in 1871, embodied the principle that there should be a German navy, of which the Emperor should be commander-in-chief, and to the creation of that navy the most assiduous labour has been devoted. The plan pursued was in the first instance to train a body of officers who should thoroughly understand the sea and maritime warfare, and for this purpose the few ships which were first built were sent on long voyages by way of training the crews and of giving the officers that self-reliance and initiative which were thought to be the characteristic mark of the officers of the British navy. In due time was founded the naval college of Kiel, designed on a large scale to be a great school of naval thought and of naval war. The history of maritime wars was diligently studied, especially of course the history of the British navy. The professors and lecturers made it their business to explore the workings of Nelson's mind just as German military professors had made themselves pupils of Napoleon. And not until a clear and consistent theory of naval war had been elaborated and made the common property of all the officers of the navy was the attempt made to expand the fleet to a scale thought to be proportionate to the position of Germany among the nations. When it was at length determined that that constructive effort should be made, the plan was thought out and embodied in a law regulating the construction for a number of years of a fleet of predetermined size and composition to be used for a purpose defined in the law itself. The object was to have a fleet of sufficient strength and of suitable formation to be able to hold its own in case of need even against the greatest maritime Power. In other words, Germany thought that if her prosperity continued and her superiority in organisation over other continental nations continued to increase, she might find England's policy backed by England's naval power an obstacle in the way of her natural ambition. After all, no one can be surprised if the Germans think Germany as well entitled as any other State to cherish the ambition of being the first nation in the world.

It has for a century been the rational practice of the German Government that its chief strategist should at all times keep ready designs for operations in case of war against any reasonably possible adversary. Such a set of designs would naturally include a plan of operation for the case of a conflict with Great Britain, and no doubt, every time that plan of operations was re-examined and revised, light would be thrown upon the difficulties of a struggle with a great maritime Power and upon the means by which those difficulties might be overcome. The British navy is so strong that, unless it were mismanaged, the German navy ought to have no chance of overcoming it. Yet Germany cannot but be anxious, in case of war, to protect herself against the consequences of maritime blockade, and of the effort of a superior British navy to close the sea to German merchantmen. Accordingly, the law which regulates the naval shipbuilding of the German Empire lays down in its preamble that—"Germany must possess a battle-fleet so strong that a war with her would, even for the greatest naval Power, be accompanied with such dangers as would render that Power's position doubtful." In other words, a war with Great Britain must find the German navy too strong for the British navy to be able to confine it to its harbours, and to maintain, in spite of it, complete command of the seas which border the German coast. As German strategists continuously accept the doctrine that the first object of a fleet in war is the destruction of the enemy's fleet with a view to the consequent command of the sea, the German Navy Act is equivalent to the declaration of an intention in case of conflict to challenge the British navy for the mastery. This is the answer to the question asked at the beginning of the last chapter, whether the command of the sea is a permanent prize or a challenge cup. Germany at any rate regards it as a challenge cup, and has resolved to be qualified, if occasion should arise, to make trial of her capacity to win it.







What has been the effect upon Great Britain of the rise of Germany? Is there any cause of quarrel between the two peoples and the two States? That Germany has given herself a strong military organisation is no crime. On the contrary, she was obliged to do it, she could not have existed without it. The foundations of her army were laid when she was suffering all the agonies of conquest and oppression. Only by a tremendous effort, at the cost of sacrifices to which England's experience offers no analogy, was she able to free herself from the over-lordship of Napoleon. King William I. expanded and reorganised his army because he had passed through the bitter humiliation of seeing his country impotent and humbled by a combination of Austria and Russia. Whether Bismarck's diplomacy was less honourable than that of the adversaries with whom he had to deal is a question to which different answers may be given. But in a large view of history it is irrelevant, for beyond all doubt the settlements effected through the war of 1866 and 1870 were sound settlements and left the German nation and Europe in a healthier condition than that which preceded them. The unity of Germany was won by the blood of her people, who were and are rightly resolved to remain strong enough and ready to defend it, come what may. It is not for Englishmen, who have talked for twenty years of a Two-Power standard for their navy, to reproach Germany for maintaining her army at a similar standard. Had she not done so the peace of Europe would not have been preserved, nor is it possible on any ground of right or justice to cavil at Germany's purpose to be able in case of need to defend herself at sea. The German Admiral Rosendahl, discussing the British and German navies and the proposals for disarmament, wrote in the Deutsche Revue for June 1909:—

"If England claims and thinks permanently necessary for her an absolute supremacy at sea that is her affair, and no sensible man will reproach her for it; but it is quite a different thing for a Great Power like the German Empire, by an international treaty supposed to be binding for all time, expressly to recognise and accept this in principle. Assuredly we do not wish to enter into a building competition with England on a footing of equality.... But a political agreement on the basis of the unconditional superiority of the British Fleet would be equivalent to an abandonment of our national dignity, and though we do not, speaking broadly, wish to dispute England's predominance at sea, yet we do mean in case of war to be or to become the masters on our own coasts."

There is not a word in this passage which can give just cause of offence to England or to Englishmen.

That there has been and still is a good deal of mutual ill-feeling both in Germany and in England cannot be denied. Rivalry between nations is always accompanied by feeling which is all the stronger when it is instinctive and therefore, though not unintelligible, apt to be irrational. But what in this case is really at the bottom of it? There have no doubt been a number of matters that have been discussed between the two Governments, and though they have for the most part been settled, the manner in which they have been raised and pressed by German Governments has caused them to be regarded by British Ministers, and to a less extent by the British people, as sources of annoyance, as so many diplomatic "pin-pricks." The manners of German diplomacy are not suave. Suavity is no more part of the Bismarckian tradition than exactitude. But after all, the manners of the diplomatists of any country are a matter rather for the nation whose honour they concern than for the nations to which they have given offence. They only partially account for the deep feeling which has grown up between Great Britain and Germany.

The truth is that England is disturbed by the rise of Germany, which her people, in spite of abundant warnings, did not foresee and have not appreciated until the moment when they find themselves outstripped in the race by a people whom they have been accustomed to regard with something of the superiority with which the prosperous and polished dweller in a capital looks upon his country cousin from the farm.

Fifty years ago Germany in English estimation did not count. The name was no more than a geographical expression. Great Britain was the one great Power. She alone had colonies and India. She as good as monopolised the world's shipping and the world's trade. As compared with other countries she was immeasurably rich and prosperous. Her population during the long peace, interrupted only by the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny, had multiplied beyond men's wildest dreams. Her manufacturers were amassing fortunes, her industry had no rival. The Victorian age was thought of as the beginning of a wonderful new era, in which, among the nations, England was first and the rest nowhere. The temporary effort of the French to create a modern navy disturbed the sense of security which existed and gave rise to the Volunteer movement, which was felt to be a marvellous display of patriotism.

There were attempts to show that British self-complacency was not altogether justified. The warnings of those who looked below the surface were read and admired. Few writers were more popular than Carlyle, Ruskin, and Matthew Arnold. But all three held aloof from the current of public life which flowed in the traditional party channels. There was no effort to revive the conception of the nation as the organised state to which every citizen is bound, the source and centre of all men's duties. Accordingly every man devoted himself to his own affairs, of which the first was to make money and the second to enjoy life; those who were rich enough finding their amusement in Parliament, which was regarded as the most interesting club in London, and in its debates, of which the charm, for those who take part in them, lies in the fact that for success not knowledge of a subject, but fluency, readiness, and wit are required.

The great events taking place in the world, the wars in Bohemia, in France, and in Turkey, added a certain, interest to English life because they furnished to the newspapers matter more exciting than any novelist could produce, and in this way gratified the taste for sensation which had been acquired both by rich and poor. That these events meant anything in particular to the British nation was not likely to be realised while that nation was, in fact, non-existent, and had resolved itself into forty million individuals, each of them living for his own ends, slightly enlarged to include his family, his literary or scientific society, perhaps his cricket club, and on Sunday morning his church or chapel. There was also a widespread interest in "politics," by which was meant the particular fads cherished by one's own caucus to the exclusion of the nation's affairs, it being more or less understood that the army, the navy, and foreign policy were not to be made political questions.

While forty million English people have thus been spending their lives self-centred, content to make their living, to enjoy life, and to behave kindly to their fellows, there has grown up in Germany a nation, a people of sixty millions, who believe that they belong together, that their country has the first call on them, whose children go to school because the Government that represents the nation bids them, who go for two years to the army or the navy to learn war, because they know that if the nation has to fight it can do so only by their fighting for it. Their Government thinks it is its business to be always improving the organisation of its sixty millions for security, for knowledge, for instruction, for agriculture, for industry, for navigation. Thus after forty years of common effort for a common good Germany finds itself the first nation in Europe, more than holding its own in every department of life, and eagerly surveying the world in search of opportunities.

The Englishman, while he has been living his own life and, as I think, improving in many respects, has at the same time been admiring the British Empire, and discovering with pride that a number of new nations have grown up in distant places, formed of people whose fathers or grandfathers emigrated from Great Britain. He remembers from his school lessons or reads in the newspapers of the greatness of England in past centuries, and naturally feels that with such a past and with so great an Empire existing to-day, his country should be a very great Power. But as he discovers what the actual performance of Germany is, and becomes acquainted with the results of her efforts in science, education, trade, and industry, and the way in which the influence of the German Government predominates in the affairs of Europe, he is puzzled and indignant, and feels that in some way Great Britain has been surpassed and outdone.

The state of the world which he thought existed, in which England was the first nation and the rest nowhere, has completely changed while he has been attending to his private business, his "politics," and his cricket, and he finds the true state of the world to be that, while in industry England has hard work to hold her own against her chief rival, she has already been passed in education and in science, that her army, good as it is, is so small as scarcely to count, and that even her navy cannot keep its place without a great and unexpected effort.

Yet fifty years ago England had on her side all the advantages but one. She was forgetting nationhood while Germany was reviving it. The British people, instead of organising themselves as one body, the nation, have organised themselves into two bodies, the two "political" parties. England's one chance lies in recovering the unity that has been lost, which she must do by restoring the nation to its due place in men's hearts and lives. To find out how that is to be done we must once more look at Europe and at England's relations to Europe.







It has been seen how, as a result of the struggle with Napoleon, England, from 1805 onwards, was the only sea power remaining in Europe, and indeed, with the exception of the United States, the only sea power in the world. One of the results was that she had for many years the monopoly of the whole ocean, not merely for the purposes of war, but also for the purposes of trade. The British mercantile marine continued through the greater part of the nineteenth century to increase its preponderance over all others, and this remarkable, and probably quite exceptional, growth was greatly favoured by the Civil War in America, during which the mercantile marine of the United States received from the action of the Confederate cruisers a damage from which it has never recovered.

In the years immediately following 1805, Great Britain in self-defence, or as a means of continuing the war against France, in regard to which her resources for operations on land were limited, had recourse to the operations of blockade, by which the sea was closed, as far as possible, to enemy merchantmen while Great Britain prohibited neutral ships from carrying enemy goods. Napoleon replied by the attempt to exclude British goods from the Continent altogether, and indeed the pressure produced by Great Britain's blockades compelled Napoleon further to extend his domination on the Continent. Thus the other continental States found themselves between the devil and the deep sea. They had to submit to the domination of Napoleon on land and to the complete ascendency of Great Britain on the waters which surrounded their coasts. The British claims to supremacy at sea were unanimously resented by all the continental States, which all suffered from them, but in all cases the national resentment against French invasion or French occupation of territory was greater than the resentment against the invisible pressure exercised by the British navy. In the wars of liberation, though Great Britain was the welcome ally of all the States that were fighting against France, the pressure of British sea power was none the less disagreeable and, in the years of peace which followed, the British monopoly of sea power, of sea-carriage, of manufacturing industry, and of international trade were equally disliked by almost all the nations of Europe. Protective duties were regarded as the means of fostering national industries and of sheltering them against the overpowering competition of British manufactures. The British claim to the dominion of the sea was regarded as unfounded in right, and was in principle as strongly denounced as had been the territorial domination of France. The mistress of the seas was regarded as a tyrant, whom it would be desirable, if it were possible, to depose, and there were many who thought that as the result of a conflict in which the final success had been gained by the co-operation of a number of States acting together, the gains of Great Britain which, as time went on, were seen to be growing into a world-wide empire, had been out of proportion to the services she had rendered to the common cause.

Meantime during the century which has elapsed since the last great war, there has been a complete change in the conditions of intercourse between nations at sea and of maritime warfare. It has come about gradually, almost imperceptibly, so that it could hardly be appreciated before the close of the nineteenth century. But it is vital to Great Britain that her people should understand the nature of the transformation.

The first thing to be observed is that the British monopoly of shipping and of oversea trade has disappeared. Great Britain still has by far the largest mercantile marine and by far the greatest share in the world's sea traffic, but she no longer stands alone. Germany, the United States, France, Norway, Italy, and Japan all have great fleets of merchant ships and do an enormous, some of them a rapidly increasing, seaborne trade. A large number of the principal States import the raw material of manufacture and carry on import and export on a large scale. The railway system connects all the great manufacturing centres, even those which lie far inland, with the great ports to and from which the lines of steamers ply. The industrial life of every nation is more than ever dependent upon its communications with and by the sea, and every nation has become more sensitive than ever to any disturbance of its maritime trade. The preponderance of the British navy is therefore a subject of anxiety in every State which regards as possible a conflict of its own interests with those of Great Britain. This is one of the reasons why continental States have during the last quarter of a century been disposed to increase their fleets and their naval expenditure.

In the Declaration of Paris, renewed and extended by the Declaration of London, the maritime States have agreed that in any future war enemy goods in a neutral ship are to be safe from capture unless the ship is running a blockade, which must be effective. Whether Great Britain was well or ill advised in accepting this rule is a question which it is now useless to discuss, for the decision cannot be recalled, and the rule must be regarded as established beyond controversy. Its effect is greatly to diminish the pressure which a victorious navy can bring to bear upon a hostile State. It deprives Great Britain of one of the most potent weapons which she employed in the last great war. To-day it would be impracticable even for a victorious navy to cut off a continental State from seaborne traffic. The ports of that State might be blockaded and its merchant ships would be liable to capture, but the victorious navy could not interfere with the traffic carried by neutral ships to neutral ports. Accordingly, Great Britain could not now, even in the event of naval victory being hers, exercise upon an enemy the pressure which she formerly exercised through the medium of the neutral States. Any continental State, even if its coasts were effectively blockaded, could still, with increased difficulty, obtain supplies both of raw material and of food by the land routes through the territory of its neutral neighbours. But Great Britain herself, as an insular State, would not, in case of naval defeat, have this advantage. A decisive defeat of the British navy might be followed by an attempt on the part of the enemy to blockade the coasts of Great Britain, though that would no doubt be difficult, for a very large force would be required to maintain an effective blockade of the whole coast-line.

It is conceivable that an enemy might attempt in spite of the Declaration of London to treat as contraband food destined for the civil population and this course ought to be anticipated, but in the military weakness of Great Britain an enemy whose navy had gained the upper hand would almost certainly prefer to undertake the speedier process of bringing the war to an end by landing an army in Great Britain. A landing on a coast so extensive as that of this island can with difficulty be prevented by forces on land, because troops cannot be moved as quickly as ships.

The war in the Far East has shown how strong such an army might be, and how great a military effort would be needed to crush it. The proper way to render an island secure, is by a navy strong enough to obtain in war the control of the surrounding sea, and a navy unable to perform that function cannot be regarded as a guarantee of security.

The immediate effects of naval victory can hardly ever again be so far-reaching as they were a century ago in the epoch of masts and sails. At that time there were no foreign navies, except in European waters, and in the Atlantic waters of the United States. When, therefore, the British navy had crushed its European adversaries, its ships could act without serious opposition upon any sea and any coast in the world. To-day, the radius of action of a victorious fleet is restricted by the necessity of a supply of coal, and therefore by the secure possession of coaling-stations at suitable intervals along any route by which the fleet proposes to move, or by the goodwill of neutrals in permitting it to coal at their depots. To-day, moreover, there are navies established even in distant seas. In the Pacific, for example, are the fleets of Japan and of the United States, and these, in their home waters, will probably be too strong to be opposed by European navies acting at a vast distance from their bases.

It seems likely, therefore, that neither Great Britain nor any other State will in future enjoy that monopoly of sea power which was granted to Great Britain by the circumstances of her victories in the last great war. What I have called the great prize has in fact ceased to exist, and even if an adversary were to challenge the British navy, the reward of his success would not be a naval supremacy of anything like the kind or extent which peculiar conditions made it possible for Great Britain to enjoy during the nineteenth century. It would be a supremacy limited and reduced by the existence of the new navies that have sprung up.

From these considerations a very important conclusion must be drawn. In the first place, enough victory at sea is in case of war as indispensable to Great Britain as ever, for it remains the fundamental condition of her security, yet its results can hardly in future be as great as they were in the past, and in particular it may perhaps not again enable her to exert upon continental States the same effective pressure which it formerly rendered possible.

In order, therefore, to bring pressure upon a continental adversary, Great Britain is more than ever in need of the co-operation of a continental ally. A navy alone cannot produce the effect which it once did upon the course of a land war, and its success will not suffice to give confidence to the ally. Nothing but an army able to take its part in a continental struggle will, in modern conditions, suffice to make Great Britain the effective ally of a continental State, and in the absence of such an army Great Britain will continue to be, as she is to-day, without continental allies.

A second conclusion is that our people, while straining every nerve in peace to ensure to their navy the best chances of victory in war, must carefully avoid the conception of a dominion of the sea, although, in fact, such a dominion actually existed during a great part of the nineteenth century. The new conditions which have grown up during the past thirty years have made this ideal as much a thing of the past as the medifval conception of a Roman Empire in Europe to whose titular head all kings were subordinate.







If there is a chance of a conflict in which Great Britain is to be engaged, her people must take thought in time how they may have on their side both right and might. It is hard to see how otherwise they can expect the contest to be decided in their favour.

As I have said before, in the quarrel you must be in the right and in the fight you must win. The quarrel is the domain of policy, the fight that of strategy or dynamics. Policy and strategy are in reality inextricably interwoven one with another, for right and might resemble, more than is commonly supposed, two aspects of the same thing. But it is convenient in the attempt to understand any complicated subject to examine its aspects separately.

I propose, therefore, in considering the present situation of Great Britain and her relations to the rest of the world, to treat first of the question of force, to assume that a quarrel may arise, and to ascertain what are the conditions in which Great Britain can expect to win, and then to enter into the question of right, in order to find out what light can be thrown upon the necessary aims and methods of British policy by the conclusions which will have been reached as to the use of force.

The nationalisation of States, which is the fundamental fact of modern history, affects both policy and strategy. If the State is a nation, the population associated as one body, then the force which it can use in case of conflict represents the sum of the energies of the whole population, and this force cannot and will not be used except as the expression of the will of the whole population. The policy of such a State means its collective will, the consciousness of its whole population of a purpose, mission, or duty which it must fulfil, with which it is identified, and which, therefore, it cannot abandon. Only in case this national purpose meets with resistance will a people organised as a State enter into a quarrel, and if such a quarrel has to be fought out the nation's resources will be expended upon it without limitation.

The chief fact in regard to the present condition of Europe appears to be the very great excess in the military strength of Germany over that of any other Power. It is due in part to the large population of the German Empire, and in part to the splendid national organisation which has been given to it. It cannot be asserted either that Germany was not entitled to become united, or that she was not entitled to organise herself as efficiently as possible both for peace and for war. But the result is that Germany has a preponderance as great if not greater than that of Spain in the time of Philip II., or of France either under Louis XIV. or under Napoleon. Every nation, no doubt, has a right to make itself as strong as it can, and to exercise as much influence as it can on the affairs of the world. To do these things is the mission and business of a nation. But the question arises, what are the limits to the power of a single nation? The answer appears to be that the only limits are those set by the power of other nations. This is the theory of the balance of power of which the object is to preserve to Europe its character of a community of independent States rather than that of a single empire in which one State predominates.

Without attributing to Germany any wrong purpose or any design of injustice it must be evident that her very great strength must give her in case of dispute, always possible between independent States, a corresponding advantage against any other Power whose views or whose intentions should not coincide with hers. It is the obvious possibility of such dispute that makes it incumbent upon Great Britain to prepare herself in case of disagreement to enter into a discussion with Germany upon equal terms.

Only upon such preparation can Great Britain base the hope either of averting a quarrel with Germany, or in case a quarrel should arise and cannot be made up by mutual agreement, of settling it by the arbitrament of war upon terms accordant with the British conception of right. Great Britain therefore must give herself a national organisation for war and must make preparation for war the nation's first business until a reasonable security has been attained.

The question is, what weapons are now available for Great Britain in case of a disagreement with Germany leading to conflict? In the old wars, as we have seen, she had three modes of action. She used her navy to obtain control of the sea-ways, and then she used that control partly to destroy the sea-borne trade of her enemies, and partly to send armies across the sea to attack her enemies' armies. By the combination of these three modes of operation she was strong enough to give valuable help to other Powers, and therefore she had allies whose assistance was as useful to her as hers to them. To-day, as we have seen, the same conditions no longer exist. The British navy may indeed hope to obtain control of the sea-ways, but the law of maritime war, as it has been settled by the Declarations of Paris and of London, makes it impracticable for Great Britain to use a naval victory, even if she wins it, in such a way as to be able commercially to throttle a hostile Power, while the British military forces available for employment on the Continent are so small as hardly to count in the balance. The result is that Great Britain's power of action against a possible enemy is greatly reduced, partly in consequence of changes in the laws of war, but perhaps still more in consequence of the fact that while other Powers are organised for war as nations, England in regard to war is still in the condition of the eighteenth century, relying upon a small standing army, a purely professional navy, and a large half-trained force, called Territorial, neither ready for war nor available outside the United Kingdom.

There is a school of politicians who imagine that Great Britain's weakness can be supplemented from other parts of the British Empire. That is an idea which ought not to be received without the most careful examination and in my judgment must, except within narrow limits, be rejected.

In a war between Great Britain and a continental State or combination the assistance which Great Britain could possibly receive from the King's dominions beyond the sea is necessarily limited. Such a war must in the first place be a naval contest, towards which the most that the colonies can contribute consists in such additions to Great Britain's naval strength as they may have given during the preceding period of peace. What taken together they may do in this way would no doubt make an appreciable difference in the balance of forces between the two contending navies; but in the actual struggle the colonies would be little more than spectators, except in so far as their ports would offer a certain number of secure bases for the cruisers upon which Great Britain must rely for the protection of her sea-borne trade. Even if all the colonies possessed first-rate armies, the help which those armies could give would not be equal to that obtainable from a single European ally. For a war against a European adversary Great Britain must rely upon her own resources, and upon such assistance as she might obtain if it were felt by other Powers on the Continent not only that the cause in which she was fighting was vital to them and therefore called for their co-operation, but also that in the struggle Great Britain's assistance would be likely to turn the scale in their favour.

Can we expect that history will repeat itself, and that once more in case of conflict Great Britain will have the assistance of continental allies? That depends chiefly on their faith in her power to help them. One condition of such an alliance undoubtedly exists—the desire of other nations for it. The predominance of Germany on the Continent rests like a nightmare upon more than one of the other States. It is increased by the alliance of Austria, another great military empire—an empire, moreover, not without a fine naval tradition, and, as is proved by the recent announcement of the intention of the Austrian Government to build four "Dreadnoughts," resolved to revive that tradition.

Against the combination of Germany and Austria, Russia, which has hardly begun to recover from the prostration of her defeat by Japan, is helpless; while France, with a population much smaller than that of Germany, can hardly look forward to a renewal single-handed of the struggle which ended for her so disastrously forty years ago. The position of Italy is more doubtful, for the sympathies of her people are not attracted by Austria; they look with anxiety upon the Austrian policy of expansion towards the Aegean and along the shore of the Adriatic. The estrangement from France which followed upon the French occupation of Tunis appears to have passed away, and it seems possible that if there were a chance of success Italy might be glad to emancipate herself from German and Austrian influence. But even if Germany's policy were such that Russia, France, and Italy were each and all of them desirous to oppose it, and to assert a will and a policy of their own distinct from that of the German Government, it is very doubtful whether their strength is sufficient to justify them in an armed conflict, especially as their hypothetical adversaries have a central position with all its advantages. From a military point of view the strength of the central position consists in the power which it gives to its holder to keep one opponent in check with a part of his forces while he throws the bulk of them into a decisive blow against another.

This is the situation of to-day on the Continent of Europe. It cannot be changed unless there is thrown into the scale of the possible opponents of German policy a weight or a force that would restore the equality of the two parties. The British navy, however perfect it may be assumed to be, does not in itself constitute such a force. Nor could the British army on its present footing restore the balance. A small standing army able to give its allies assistance, officially estimated at a strength of 160,000 men, will not suffice to turn the scale in a conflict in which the troops available for each of the great Powers are counted no longer by the hundred thousand but by the million. But if Great Britain were so organised that she could utilise for the purpose of war the whole of her national resources, if she had in addition to the navy indispensable for her security an army equal in efficiency to the best that can be found in Europe and in numbers to that maintained by Italy, which though the fifth Power on the Continent is most nearly her equal in territory and population, the equilibrium could be restored, and either the peace of Europe would be maintained, or in case of fresh conflict there would be a reasonable prospect of the recurrence of what has happened in the past, the maintenance, against a threatened domination, of the independence of the European States.

The position here set forth is grave enough to demand the close attention of the British nation, for it means that England might at any time be called upon to enter into a contest, likely enough to take the form of a struggle for existence, against the greatest military empire in the world, supported by another military empire which is itself in the front rank of great Powers, while the other European States would be looking on comparatively helpless.

But this is by no means a full statement of the case. The other Powers might not find it possible to maintain an attitude of neutrality. It is much more probable that they would have to choose between one side and the other; and that if they do not consider Great Britain strong enough to help them they may find it their interest, and indeed may be compelled, to take the side of Great Britain's adversaries. In that case Great Britain would have to carry on a struggle for existence against the combined forces of the Continent.

That even in this extreme form the contest would be hopeless, I for one am unwilling to admit. If Great Britain were organised for war and able to throw her whole energies into it, she might be so strong that her overthrow even by united Europe would by no means be a foregone conclusion. But the determined preparation which would make her ready for the extreme contingency is the best and perhaps the only means of preventing its occurrence.







I have now given reasons for my belief that in case of conflict Great Britain, owing to her lack of organisation for war, would be in a position of some peril. She has not created for herself the means of making good by force a cause with which she may be identified but which may be disputed, and her weakness renders it improbable that she would have allies. There remains the second question whether, in the absence of might, she would at least have right on her side. That depends upon the nature of the quarrel. A good cause ought to unite her own people, and only in behalf of a good cause could she expect other nations to be on her side. From this point of view must be considered the relations between Great Britain and Germany, and in the first place the aims of German policy.

A nation of which the army consists of four million able-bodied citizens does not go to war lightly. The German ideal, since the foundation of the Empire, has been rather that held up for Great Britain by Lord Rosebery in the words:

"Peace secured, not by humiliation, but by preponderance."

The first object after the defeat of France in 1870 was security, and this was sought not merely by strengthening the army and improving its training but also by obtaining the alliance of neighbouring Powers. In the first period the attempt was made to keep on good terms, not only with Austria, but with Russia. When in 1876 disturbances began in the Balkan Peninsula, Germany, while giving Austria her support, exerted herself to prevent a breach between Austria and Russia, and after the Russo-Turkish war acted as mediator between Russia on one side and Austria and Great Britain on the other, so that without a fresh war the European treaty of Berlin was substituted for the Russo-Turkish Treaty of San Stefano.

After 1878 Russia became estranged from Germany, whereupon Germany, in 1879, made a defensive alliance with Austria, to which at a later date Italy became a party. This triple alliance served for a quarter of a century to maintain the peace against the danger of a Franco-Russian combination until the defeat of Russia in Manchuria and consequent collapse of Russia's military power removed that danger.

Shortly before this event the British agreement with the French Government had been negotiated by Lord Lansdowne. The French were very anxious to bring Morocco into the sphere of French influence, and to this the British Government saw no objection, but in the preamble to the agreement, as well as in its text, by way of declaration that Great Britain had no objection to this portion of the policy of France, words were used which might seem to imply that Great Britain had some special rights in regard to Morocco.

The second article of the Declaration of April 8, 1904, contains the following clause:

"The Government of the French Republic declare that they have no intention of altering the political status of Morocco. His Britannic Majesty's Government, for their part, recognise that it appertains to France, more particularly as a Power whose dominions are conterminous for a great distance with Morocco, to preserve order in that country, and to provide assistance for the purpose of all administrative, economic, financial, and military reforms which it may require."

This clause seems to be open to the interpretation that Great Britain assumes a right to determine what nation of Europe is best entitled to exercise a protectorate over Morocco. That would involve some British superiority over other Powers, or at any rate that Great Britain had a special right over Morocco, a sort of suzerainty of which she could dispose at will. Germany disliked both this claim and the idea that France was to obtain special influence in Morocco. She was herself anxious for oversea possessions and spheres of influence, and appears to have thought that if Morocco was to become a European protectorate she ought to have a voice in any settlement. The terms in which the English consent to the French design was expressed were construed by the German's as involving, on the part of Great Britain, just that kind of supremacy in regard to oversea affairs which they had for so many years been learning to dislike. At any rate, when the moment convenient to her came, Germany put her veto upon the arrangements which had been made and required that they should be submitted to a European Conference. France was not prepared to renew the struggle for existence over Morocco, while Germany appeared not unwilling to assert her will even by force. Accordingly Germany had her way.

The annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary again afforded an opportunity for the exercise of Germany's preponderance. In 1878 the Treaty of Berlin had authorised Austria-Hungary to occupy and administer the two provinces without limitation of time, and Bosnia and Herzegovina have since then practically been Austrian provinces, for the male population has been subject to compulsory service in the Austrian army and the soldiers have taken the oath of allegiance to the Emperor. It is not clear that any of the great Powers had other than a formal objection to the annexation, the objection, namely, that it was not consistent with the letter of the Treaty of Berlin. The British Government pointed out that, by international agreement to which Austria-Hungary is a party, a European Treaty is not to be modified without the consent of all the signatory Powers, and that this consent had not been asked by Austria-Hungary. The British view was endorsed both by France and Russia, and these three Powers were in favour of a European Conference for the purpose of revising the clause of the Treaty of Berlin, and apparently also of giving some concessions to Servia and Montenegro, the two small States which, for reasons altogether disconnected with the formal aspect of the case, resented the annexation. Neither of the Western Powers had any such interest in the matter as to make it in the least probable that they would in any case be prepared to support their view by force, while Austria, by mobilising her army, showed that she was ready to do so, and there was no doubt that she was assured, in case of need, of Germany's support. The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs publicly explained to his countrymen that Russia was not in a condition to carry on a war. Accordingly in the moment of crisis the Russian Government withdrew its opposition to Austro-Hungarian policy, and thus once more was revealed the effect upon a political decision of the military strength, readiness, and determination of the two central Powers.

A good deal of feeling was aroused, at any rate in Great Britain, by the disclosure in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as in the earlier case of Morocco, of Germany's policy, and in the later negotiation of her determination to support Austria-Hungary by force. Yet he would be a rash man who, on now looking back, would assert that in either case a British Government would have been justified in armed opposition to Germany's policy.

The bearing of Germany and Austria-Hungary in these negotiations, ending as they did at the time when the debate on the Navy Estimates disclosed to the British public the serious nature of the competition in naval shipbuilding between Germany and Great Britain, was to a large class in this country a startling revelation of the too easily forgotten fact that a nation does not get its way by asking for it, but by being able and ready to assert its will by force of arms in case of need. There is no reason to believe that the German Government has any intention to enter into a war except for the maintenance of rights or interests held to be vital for Germany, but it is always possible that Germany may hold vital some right or interest which another nation may be not quite ready to admit. In that case it behoves the other nation very carefully to scrutinise the German claims and its own way of regarding them, and to be quite sure, before entering into a dispute, that its own views are right and Germany's views wrong, as well as that it has the means, in case of conflict, of carrying on with success a war against the German Empire.

If then England is to enter into a quarrel with Germany or any other State, let her people take care that it arises from no obscure issue about which they may disagree among themselves, but from some palpable wrong done by the other Power, some wrong which calls upon them to resist it with all their might.

The case alleged against Germany is that she is too strong, so strong in herself that no Power in Europe can stand up against her, and so sure of the assistance of her ally, Austria, to say nothing of the other ally, Italy, that there is at this moment no combination that will venture to oppose the Triple Alliance. In other words, Germany is thought to have acquired an ascendency in Europe which she may at any moment attempt to convert into supremacy. Great Britain is thought of, at any rate by her own people, as the traditional opponent of any such supremacy on the Continent, so that if she were strong enough it might be her function to be the chief antagonist of a German ascendency or supremacy, though the doubt whether she is strong enough prevents her from fulfilling this role.

But there is another side to the case. The opinion has long been expressed by German writers and is very widespread in Germany that it is Great Britain that claims an ascendency or supremacy, and that Germany in opposing that supremacy is making herself the champion of the European cause of the independence of States. This German idea was plainly expressed twenty-five years ago by the German historian Wilhelm M|ller, who wrote in a review of the year 1884: "England was the opponent of all the maritime Powers of Europe. She had for decades assumed at sea the same dictatorial attitude as France had maintained upon land under Louis XIV. and Napoleon I. The years 1870-1871 broke the French spell; the year 1884 has shown England that the times of her maritime imperialism also are over, and that if she does not renounce it of her own free will, an 1870 will come for the English spell too. It is true, England need not fear any single maritime Power, but only a coalition of them all; and hitherto she has done all she can to call up such a coalition." The language which Englishmen naturally use in discussing their country's naval strength might seem to lend itself to the German interpretation. For example, on the 10th March 1908, the Prime Minister, Mr. Asquith, expressing an opinion in which he thought both parties concurred, said: "We must maintain the unassailable supremacy of this country at sea." Here, at any rate, is the word "supremacy " at which the Germans take umbrage, and which our own people regard as objectionable if applied to the position of any Power on the Continent.

I will not repeat here the analysis which I published many years ago of the dealings between the German and British Governments during the period when German colonial enterprise was beginning; nor the demonstration that in those negotiations the British Government acted with perfect fairness, but was grossly misrepresented to the German public. The important thing for the people of Great Britain to understand to-day is not the inner diplomatic history of that and subsequent periods, but the impression which is current in Germany with regard to the whole of these transactions.

The Germans think that Great Britain lays claim to a special position in regard to the ocean, in the nature of a suzerainty over the waters of the globe, and over those of its coasts which are not the possessions of some strong civilised Power. What they have perceived in the last quarter of a century has been that, somehow or other, they care not how, whenever there has been a German attempt in the way of what is called colonial expansion, it has led to friction with Great Britain. Accordingly they have the impression that Great Britain is opposed to any such German expansion, and in this way, as they are anxious for dominions beyond the sea and for the spread of their trade into every quarter of the globe, they have come to regard Great Britain as the adversary. This German feeling found vent during the South African War, and the expressions at that time freely used in the German newspapers, as well as by German writers whose works were less ephemeral, could not but deeply offend the national consciousness, to any nothing of the pride of the people of this country. In this way the sympathy which used to exist between the two peoples has been lost and they have come to regard each other with suspicion, which has not been without its effect on the relations between the two Governments and upon the course of European diplomacy. This is the origin of the rivalry, and it is to the resentment which has been diligently cultivated in Germany against the supposed British claim to supremacy at sea that is attributable the great popularity among the people of Germany of the movement in favour of the expansion of the German navy. Since 1884 the people of Germany have been taught to regard with suspicion every item of British policy, and naturally enough this auspicious attitude has found its counterpart among the people of this country. The result has been that the agreements by which England has disposed of a number of disagreements with France and with Russia have been regarded in Germany as inspired by the wish to prepare a coalition against that country, and, in view of the past history of Great Britain, this interpretation can hardly be pronounced unnatural.

Any cause for which Great Britain would fight ought to be intelligible to other nations, first of all to those of Europe, but also to the nations outside of Europe, at any rate to the United States and Japan, for if we were fighting for something in regard to which there was no sympathy with us, or which led other nations to sympathise with our adversary, we should be hampered by grave misgivings and might find ourselves alone in a hostile world.

Accordingly it cannot be sound policy for Great Britain to assert for herself a supremacy or ascendency of the kind which is resented, not only by Germany, but by every other continental State, and indeed by every maritime State in the world. It ought to be made clear to all the world that in fact, whatever may have been the language used in English discussions, Great Britain makes no claim to suzerainty over the sea, or over territories bordering on the sea, not forming parts of the British Empire; that, while she is determined to maintain a navy that can in case of war secure the "command" of the sea against her enemies, she regards the sea, in peace, and in war except for her enemies, as the common property of all nations, the open road forming the great highway of mankind.

We have but to reflect on the past to perceive that the idea of a dominion of the sea must necessarily unite other nations against us. What in the sixteenth century was the nature of the dispute between England and Spain? The British popular consciousness to-day remembers two causes, of which one was religious antagonism, and the other the claim set up by Spain and rejected by England to a monopoly of America, carrying with it an exclusive right to navigation in the Western Atlantic and to a monopoly of the trade of the Spanish dominions beyond the sea. That is a chapter of history which at the present time deserves a place in the meditations of Englishmen.

I may now try to condense into a single view the general survey of the conditions of Europe which I have attempted from the two points of view of strategy and of policy, of force and of right. Germany has such a preponderance of military force that no continental State can stand up against her. There is, therefore, on the Continent no nation independent of German influence or pressure. Great Britain, so long as she maintains the superiority of her navy over that of Germany or over those of Germany and her allies, is not amenable to constraint by Germany, but her military weakness prevents her exerting any appreciable counter pressure upon Germany.

The moment the German navy has become strong enough to confront that of Great Britain without risk of destruction, British influence in Europe will be at an end, and the Continent will have to follow the direction given by German policy. That is a consummation to be desired neither in the interest of the development of the European nations nor in that of Great Britain. It means the prevalence of one national ideal instead of the growth side by side of a number of types. It means also the exclusion of British ideals from European life.

Great Britain has in the past been a powerful contributor to the free development of the European nations, and therefore to the preservation in Europe of variety of national growth. I believe that she is now called upon to renew that service. The method open to her lies in such action as may relieve the other European States from the overwhelming pressure which, in case of the disappearance of England from the European community, would be put upon them by Germany. It seems probable that in default of right action she will be compelled to maintain her national ideals against Europe united under German guidance. The action required consists on the one hand in the perfecting of the British navy, and on the other of the military organisation of the British people on the principle, already explained, of the nationalisation of war.







The conclusion to which a review of England's position and of the state of Europe points, is that while there is no visible cause of quarrel between Great Britain and Germany, yet there is between them a rivalry such as is inevitable between a State that has long held something like the first place in the world and a State that feels entitled in virtue of the number of its people, their character and training, their work and their corporate organisation, to aspire to the first place. The German nation by the mere fact of its growth challenges England for the primacy. It could not be otherwise. But the challenge is no wrong done to England, and the idea that it ought to be resented is unworthy of British traditions. It must be cheerfully accepted. If the Germans are better men than we are they deserve to take our place. If we mean to hold our own we must set about it in the right way—by proving ourselves better than the Germans.

There ought to be no question of quarrel or of war. Men can be rivals without being enemies. It is the first lesson that an English boy learns at school. Quarrels arise, as a rule, from misunderstandings or from faults of temper, and England ought to avoid the frame of mind which would render her liable to take offence at trifles, while her policy ought to be simple enough to escape being misunderstood.

In a competition between two nations the qualification for success is to be the better nation. Germany's advantage is that her people have been learning for a whole century to subordinate their individual wishes and welfare to that of the nation, while the people of Great Britain have been steeped in individualism until the consciousness of national existence, of a common purpose and a common duty, has all but faded away. What has to be done is to restore the nation to its right place in men's minds, and so to organise it that, like a trained athlete, it will be capable of hard and prolonged effort.

By the nation I mean the United Kingdom, the commonwealth of Great Britain and Ireland, and I distinguish it from the Empire which is a federation of several nations. The nation thus defined has work to do, duties to perform as one nation among many, and the way out of the present difficulties will be found by attending to these duties.

In the first place comes Britain's work in Europe, which to describe has been the purpose of the preceding chapters. It cannot be right for Britain, after the share she has taken in securing for Europe the freedom that distinguishes a series of independent States existing side by side from a single centralised Empire, to turn her back upon the Continent and to suppose that she exists only for the sake of her own colonies and India. On the contrary it is only by playing her part in Europe that she can hope to carry through the organisation of her own Empire which she has in view. Her function as a European State is to make her voice heard in the council of the European nations, so that no one State can dictate the decisions to be reached. In order to do that she must be strong enough to be able to say Aye and No without fear, and to give effective help in case of need to those other States which may in a decision vote on the same side with her.

In her attitude towards the Powers of Europe and in her dealings with them Great Britain is the representative of the daughter nations and dependencies that form her Empire, and her self-defence in Europe is the defence of the whole Empire, at any rate against possible assaults from any European Power. At the same time she is necessarily the centre and the head of her own Empire. She must take the lead in its organisation and in the direction of its policy. If she is to fulfil these duties, on the one hand to Europe and on the other to the daughter nations and India, she must herself be organised on the principle of duty. An England divided against herself, absorbed in the disputes of factions and unconscious of a purpose, can neither lead nor defend her Empire, can play her proper part neither in Europe nor in the world.

The great work to be done at home, corresponding to the ultimate purpose of national life, is that she should bring up her people to a higher standard of human excellence, to a finer type than others. There are English types well recognised. Fifty years ago the standard of British workmanship was the acknowledged mark of excellence in the industrial world, while it has been pointed out in an earlier chapter that the English standards, of character displayed in conduct, described in one aspect by the word "gentleman," and in another by the expression "fair-play," form the best part of the nation's inheritance. It is the business of any British education worth thinking of to stamp these hall-marks of character upon all her people.

Nothing reveals in a more amazing light the extent to which in this country the true meaning of our being a nation has been forgotten than the use that has been made in recent years of the term "national education." The leaders of both parties have discussed the subject as though any system of schools maintained at the public expense formed a system of national education. But the diffusion of instruction is not education, and the fact that it is carried on at the public expense does not make it national. Education is training the child for his life to come, and his life's value consists in the work which he will do. National education means bringing up every boy and girl to do his or her part of the nation's work. A child who is going to do nothing will be of no use to his country, and a bringing up that leaves him prepared to do nothing is not an education but a perversion. A British national education ought to make every man a good workman, every man a gentleman, every man a servant of his country.

My contention, then, is that this British nation has to perform certain specific tasks, and that in order to be able to do her work she must insist that her people—every man, woman, and child—exist not for themselves but for her. This is the principle of duty. It gives a standard of personal value, for evidently a man's use to his country consists in what he does for it, not in what he gets or has for himself, which, from the national point of view, is of no account except so far as it either enables him to carry on the work for which he is best suited or can be applied for the nation's benefit.

How then in practice can the principle of duty be brought into our national and our individual life? I think that the right way is that we should join in doing those things which are evidently needed, and should postpone other things about the necessity of which there may be disagreement. I shall devote the rest of this volume to considering how the nation is to prepare itself for the first duty laid upon it, that of assuring its security and so making good its position as a member of the European community. But before pursuing that inquiry I must reiterate once more the principle which it is my main purpose to set before my countrymen.

The conception of the Nation is the clue to the solution of all the problems with which the people of Great Britain are confronted. They are those of foreign and imperial policy, of defence national and imperial, of education and of social life.

Foreign and imperial policy include all affairs external to Great Britain, the relations of Great Britain to Europe, to India, to the Colonies, and to the Powers of Asia and America. In all these external affairs the question to be asked is, what is Britain's duty?

It is by the test of duty that Great Britain's attitude towards Germany should be tried. In what event would it be necessary and right to call on every British citizen to turn out and fight, ready to shed his blood and ready to shoot down enemies? Evidently only in case of some great and manifest wrong undertaken by Germany. As I am aware of no such wrong actually attempted, I think a conflict unnecessary. It is true I began by pointing out the danger of drifting into a war with the German Empire, but I wish to do what I can to prevent it, and to show that by right action the risk will be diminished.

The greatest risk is due to fear—fear in this country of what Germany may do, fear in Germany of what Great Britain may do. Fear is a bad adviser. There are Englishmen who seem to think that as Germany is strengthening her navy it would be wise to attack her while the British navy is superior in numerical force. This suggestion must be frankly discussed and dealt with.

A war is a trial of strength. To begin it does not add to your force. Suppose for the sake of the argument that a war between England and Germany were "inevitable"—which is equivalent to the supposition that one of the two Governments is bound to wrong the other—one of the two Governments must take the initiative. You take the initiative when you are the Power that wants something, in which case you naturally exert yourself to obtain it, while the adversary who merely says No to your request, acts only in resistance. England wants nothing from Germany, so that she is not called upon for an initiative. But the initiative, or offensive, requires the stronger force, its object being to render the other side powerless for resistance to its will. The defensive admits of a smaller force. A conflict between England and Germany must be primarily a naval war, and Germany's naval forces are considerably weaker than those of England. England has no political reason for the initiative; Germany is debarred from it by the inferiority of her navy. If, therefore, Germany wants anything from England, she must wait to take the initiative until she has forces strong enough for the offensive. But her forces, though not strong enough for the offensive, may be strong enough for the defensive. If, therefore, England should take the initiative., she would in so doing give away the one advantage she has. It may be Germany's interest to have a prompt decision. It can hardly be her interest to attack before she is ready. But if she really wanted to pick a quarrel and get some advantage, it would exactly serve her purpose to be attacked at once, as that would give her the benefit of the defensive. The English "Jingoes," then, are false guides, bad strategists, and worse, statesmen.

Not only in the affairs of Europe, but in those of India, Egypt, and the Colonies, and in all dealings with Asia, Africa, and America the line of British policy will be the line of the British nation's duty.

If Britain is to follow this line two conditions must be fulfilled. She must have a leader to show the way and her people must walk in it with confidence.

The mark of a leader is the single eye. But the traditional system gives the lead of the nation to the leader of one party chosen for his success in leading that party. He can never have a single eye; he serves two masters. His party requires him to keep it in office, regarding the Opposition as the enemy. But his country requires him to guide a united nation in the fulfilment of its mission in Europe and a united Empire in the fulfilment of its mission in the world. A statesman who is to lead the nation and the Empire must keep his eyes on Europe and on the world. A party leader who is to defeat the other party must keep his eyes on the other party. No man can at the same time be looking out of the window and watching an opponent inside the house, and the traditional system puts the Prime Minister in a painful dilemma. Either he never looks out of the window at all or he tries to look two ways at once. Party men seem to believe that if a Prime Minister were to look across the sea instead of across the floor of the House of Commons his Government would be upset. That may be the case so long as men ignore the nation and so long as they acquiesce in the treasonable doctrine that it is the business of the Opposition to oppose. But a statesman who would take courage to lead the nation might perhaps find the Opposition powerless against him.

The counterpart of leadership is following. A Government that shows the line of Britain's duty must be able to utilise the whole energies of her people for its performance. A duty laid upon the nation implies a duty laid upon every man to do his share of the nation's work, to assist the Government by obedient service, the best of which he is capable. It means a people trained every man to his task.

A nation should be like a team in which every man has his place, his work to do, his mission or duty. There is no room in it either for the idler who consumes but renders no service, or for the unskilled man who bungles a task to which he has not been trained. A nation may be compared to a living creature. Consider the way in which nature organises all things that live and grow. In the structure of a living thing every part has its function, its work to do. There are no superfluous organs, and if any fails to do its work the creature sickens and perhaps dies.

Take the idea of the nation as I have tried to convey it and apply it as a measure or test to our customary way of thinking both of public affairs and of our own lives. Does it not reveal that we attach too much importance to having and to possessions—our own and other people's—and too little importance to doing, to service? When we ask what a man is worth, we think of what he owns. But the words ought to make us think of what he is fit for and of what service he renders to the nation. The only value of what a man has springs from what he does with it.

The idea of the nation leads to the right way of looking at these matters, because it constrains every man to put himself and all that he has at the service of the community. Thus it is the opposite of socialism, which merely turns upside down the current worship of ownership, and which thinks "having" so supremely important that it would put "not having" in its place. The only cry I will adopt is "England for ever," which means that we are here, every one of us, with all that we have and all that we can do, as members of a nation that must either serve the world or perish.

But the idea of the nation carries us a long way further than I have yet shown. It bids us all try at the peril of England's fall to get the best Government we can to lead us. We need a man to preside over the nation's counsels, to settle the line of Britain's duty in Europe and in her own Empire, and of her duty to her own people, to the millions who are growing up ill fed, ill housed and ill trained, and yet who are part of the sovereign people. We need to give him as councillors men that are masters of the tasks in which for the nation to fail means its ruin, the tasks of which I have enumerated those that are vital. Do we give him a master of the history of the other nations to guide the nation's dealings with them? Do we give him a master of war to educate admirals and generals? Do we give him a master of the sciences to direct the pursuit of knowledge, and a master of character-building to supervise the bringing up of boys and girls to be types of a noble life? It would serve the nation's turn to have such men. They are among us, and to find them we should only have to look for them. It would be no harder than to pick apples off a tree. But we never dream of looking for them. We have a wonderful plan of choosing our leaders, the plan which we call an election. Five hundred men assemble in a hall and listen to a speech from a partisan, while five hundred others in a hall in the next street are cheering a second partisan who declaims against the first. There is no test of either speaker, except that he must be rich enough to pay the expenses of an "election." The voters do not even listen to both partisans in order to judge between them. Thus we choose our members of Parliament. Our Government is a committee of some twenty of them. Its first business is to keep its authority against the other party, of which in turn the chief function is to make out that everything the Government does is wrong. This is the only recognised plan for leading the nation.

You may be shocked as you read this by the plainness of my words, but you know them to be true, though you suppose that to insist on the facts is "impracticable" because you fancy that there is no way out of the marvellously absurd arrangements that exist. But there is a way out, though it is no royal road. It is this. Get the meaning of the nation into your own head and then make a present to England of your party creed. Ask yourself what is the one thing most needed now, and the one thing most needed for the future. You will answer, because you know it to be true, that the one thing most needed now is to get the navy right.

The one thing most needed for the future is to put the idea of the nation and the will to help England into every man's soul. That cannot be done by writing or by talking, but only by setting every man while he is young to do something for his country. There is one way of bringing that about. It is by making every citizen a soldier in a national army. The man who has learned to serve his country has learned to love it. He is the true citizen, and of such a nation is composed. Great Britain needs a statesman to lead her and a policy at home and abroad. But such a policy must not be sought and cannot be found upon party lines. The statesman who is to expound it to his countrymen and represent it to the world must be the leader not of one party but of both. In short, a statesman must be a nation leader, and the first condition of his existence is that there should be a nation for him to lead.







The argument of the preceding chapters points to the conclusion that if Great Britain is to maintain her position as a great Power, probably even if she is to maintain her independence, and certainly if she is to retain the administration of India and the leadership of the nations that have grown out of her colonies, her statesmen and her people must combine to do three things:—

1. To adopt a policy having due relation to the condition and needs of the European Continent.

2. To make the British navy the best possible instrument of naval warfare.

3. To make the British army strong enough to be able to turn the scales in a continental war.

What are for the navy and for the army the essentials of victory? If there had never been any wars, no one would know what was essential to victory. People would have their notions, no doubt, but these notions would be guesses and could not be verified until the advent of a war, which might bring with it a good deal of disappointment to the people who had guessed wrong. But there have already been wars enough to afford ample material for deductions as to the causes and conditions of success. I propose to take the two best examples that can be found, one for war at sea and the other for war on land, in order to show exactly the way in which victory is attained.

By victory, of course, I mean crushing the enemy. In a battle in which neither side is crippled, and after which the fleets part to renew the struggle after a short interval, one side or the other may consider that it has had the honours of the day. It may have lost fewer ships than the enemy, or have taken more. It may have been able and willing to continue the fight, though the enemy drew off, and its commander may be promoted or decorated for having maintained the credit of his country or of the service to which he belongs. But such a battle is not victory either in a political or a strategical sense. It does not lead to the accomplishment of the purpose of the war, which is to dictate conditions of peace. That result can be obtained only by crushing the enemy's force and so making him powerless to renew the contest.

A general view of the wars of the eighteenth century between Great Britain and France shows that, broadly speaking, there was no decision until the end of the period. The nearest approach to it was when Hawke destroyed the French fleet in Quiberon Bay. But this was hardly a stand-up fight. The French fleet was running away, and Hawke's achievement was that, in spite of the difficulties of weather on an extremely dangerous coast, he was able to consummate its destruction. The real decision was the work of Nelson, and its principal cause was Nelson himself.

The British navy had discovered in its conflicts with the Dutch during the seventeenth century that the object of naval warfare was the command of the sea, which must be won by breaking the enemy's force in battle. This was also perfectly understood by the Dutch admirals, and in those wars was begun the development of the art of fighting battles with sailing vessels. A formation, the line of battle, in which one ship sails in the track of the ship before her, was found to be appropriate to the weapon used, the broadside of artillery; and a type of ship suitable to this formation, the line-of-battle ship, established itself. These were the elements with which the British and French navies entered into their long eighteenth century struggle. The French, however, had not grasped the principle that the object of naval warfare was to obtain the command of the sea. They did not consciously and primarily aim, as did their British rivals, at the destruction of the enemy's fleet. They were more concerned with the preservation of their own fleet than with the destruction of the enemy's, and were ready rather to accept battle than to bring it about. The British admirals were eager for battle, but had a difficulty in finding out how a decisive blow could be struck. The orthodox and accepted doctrine of the British navy was that the British fleet should be brought alongside the enemy's fleet, the two lines of battleships being parallel to one another, so that each ship in the British fleet should engage a corresponding ship in the French fleet. It was a manoeuvre difficult of execution, because, in order to approach the French, the British must in the first place turn each of their ships at right angles to the line or obliquely to it, and then, when they were near enough to fire, must turn again to the left (or right) in order to restore the line formation. And during this period of approach and turning they must be exposed to the broadsides of the French without being able to make full use of their own broadsides. Moreover, it was next to impossible in this way to bring up the whole line together. Besides being difficult, the manoeuvre had no promise of success. For if two fleets of equal numbers are in this way matched ship against ship, neither side has any advantage except what may be derived from the superior skill of its gunners. So long as these conditions prevailed, no great decisive victory of the kind for which we are seeking was gained. It was during this period that Nelson received such training as the navy could give him, and added to it the necessary finishing touch by never-ceasing effort to find out for himself the way in which he could strike a decisive blow. His daring was always deliberate, never rash, and this is the right frame of mind for a commander. "You may be assured," he writes to Lord Hood, March 11, 1794, "I shall undertake nothing but what I have moral certainty of succeeding in."

His fierce determination to get at the ultimate secrets of his trade led him to use every means that would help him to think out his problem, and among these means was reading. In 1780 appeared Clerk's "Essay on Naval Tactics." Clerk pointed out the weakness of the method of fighting in two parallel lines and suggested and discussed a number of plans by which one fleet with the bulk of its force could attack and destroy a portion of the other. This was the problem to which Nelson gave his mind—how to attack a part with the whole. On the 19th of August 1796 he writes to the Duke of Clarence:—

"We are now 22 sail of the line, the combined fleet will be above 35 sail of the line.... I will venture my life Sir John Jervis defeats them; I do not mean by a regular battle but by the skill of our Admiral, and the activity and spirit of our officers and seamen. This country is the most favourable possible for skill with an inferior fleet; for the winds are so variable that some one time in the 24 hours you must be able to attack a part of a large fleet, and the other will be becalmed, or have a contrary wind."

His opportunity came in 1798, when in the battle of the Nile he crushed the French Mediterranean Fleet. In a letter to Lord Howe, written January 8, 1799, he described his plan in a sentence:—

"By attacking the enemy's van and centre, the wind blowing directly along their line, I was enabled to throw what force I pleased on a few ships."

We know that Nelson's method of fighting had for months before the battle been his constant preoccupation, and that he had lost no opportunity of explaining his ideas to his captains. Here are the words of Captain Berry's narrative:—

"It had been his practice during the whole of the cruise, whenever the weather and circumstances would permit, to have his captains on board the Vanguard, where he would fully develop to them his own ideas of the different and best modes of attack, and such plans as he proposed to execute upon falling in with the enemy, whatever their position or situation might be, by day or by night. There was no possible position in which they might be found that he did not take into his calculation, and for the most advantageous attack on which he had not digested and arranged the best possible disposition of the force which he commanded."

The great final victory of Trafalgar was prepared in the same way, and the various memoranda written in the period before the battle have revealed to recent investigation the unwearying care which Nelson devoted to finding out how best to concentrate his force upon that portion of the enemy's fleet which it would be most difficult for the enemy to support with the remainder.

Nelson's great merit, his personal contribution to his country's influence, lay first and foremost in his having by intellectual effort solved the tactical problem set to commanders by the conditions of the naval weapon of his day, the fleet of line-of-battle ships; and secondly, in his being possessed and inspired by the true strategical doctrine that the prime object of naval warfare is the destruction of the enemy's fleet, and therefore that the decisive point in the theatre of war is the point where the enemy's fleet can be found. It was the conviction with which he held this principle that enabled him in circumstances of the greatest difficulty to divine where to go to find the enemy's fleet; which in 1798 led him persistently up and down the Mediterranean till he had discovered the French squadron anchored at Aboukir; which in 1805 took him from the Mediterranean to the West Indies, and from the West Indies back to the Channel.

So much for Nelson's share of the work. But Nelson could neither have educated himself nor made full use of his education if the navy of his day had not been inspired with the will to fight and to conquer, with the discipline that springs from that will, and had not obtained through long experience of war the high degree of skill in seamanship and in gunnery which made it the instrument its great commander required. These conditions of the navy in turn were products of the national spirit and of the will of the Government and people of Great Britain to devote to the navy as much money, as many men, and as vigorous support as might be necessary to realise the national purpose.

The efforts of this nature made by the country were neither perfect nor complete. The Governments made mistakes, the Admiralty left much to be desired both in organisation and in personnel. But the will was there. The best proof of the national determination is to be found in the best hated of all the institutions of that time, the press-gang, a brutal and narrow-minded form of asserting the principle that a citizen's duty is to fight for his country. That the principle should take such a shape is decisive evidence no doubt that society was badly organised, and that education, intellectual and moral, was on a low level, but also, and this is the vital matter, that the nation well understood the nature of the struggle in which it was engaged and was firmly resolved not only to fight but to conquer.

The causes of the success of the French armies in the period between 1792 and 1809 were precisely analogous to those which have been analysed in the case of the British navy. The basis was the national will, expressed in the volunteers and the levy en masse. Upon this was superimposed the skill acquired by the army in several years of incessant war, and the formal cause of the victories was Napoleon's insight into the art of command. The research of recent years has revealed the origin of Napoleon's mastery of the method of directing an army. He became an officer in 1785, at the age of sixteen. In 1793, as a young captain of artillery, he directed with remarkable insight and determination the operations by which the allied fleet was driven from Toulon. In 1794 he inspired and conducted, though still a subordinate, a series of successful operations in the Maritime Alps. In 1796, as commander-in-chief of the Army of Italy, he astonished Europe by the most brilliant campaign on record. For these achievements he had prepared himself by assiduous study. As a young officer of artillery he received the best professional training then to be had in Europe, while at the same time, by wide and careful reading, he gave himself a general education. At some period before 1796, probably before 1794, he had read and thoroughly digested the remarkable treatise on the principles of mountain war which had been left in manuscript by General Bourcet, an officer who during the campaigns of half a century had assisted as Quartermaster-General a number of the best Generals of France. Napoleon's phenomenal power of concentration had enabled him to assimilate Bourcet's doctrine, which in his clear and vigorous mind took new and more perfect shape, so that from the beginning his operations are conducted on a system which may be described as that of Bourcet raised to a higher power.

The "Nelson touch" was acquired by the Admiral through years of effort to think out, to its last conclusion, a problem the nature of which had never been adequately grasped by his professional predecessors and comrades, though it seems probable that he owed to Clerk the hint which led him to the solution which he found. Napoleon was more fortunate in inheriting a strategical doctrine which he had but to appreciate to expand and to apply. The success of both men is due to the habit of mind which clings tenaciously to the subject under investigation until it is completely cleared up. Each of them became, as a result of his thinking, the embodiment of a theory or system of the employment of force, the one on sea and the other on land; and such an embodiment is absolutely necessary for a nation in pursuit of victory.

It seems natural to say that if England wants victory on sea or land, she must provide herself with a Nelson or a Napoleon. The statement is quite true, but it requires to be rightly interpreted. If it means that a nation must always choose a great man to command its navy or its army it is an impossible maxim, because a great man cannot be recognised until his power has been revealed in some kind of work. Moreover, to say that Nelson and Napoleon won victories because they were great men is to invert the order of nature and of truth. They are recognised as great men because of the mastery of their business which they manifested in action. That mastery was due primarily to knowledge. Wordsworth hit the mark when, in answer to the question "Who is the Happy Warrior?" he replied that it was he—

  "Who with a natural instinct to discern
  What knowledge can perform, is diligent to learn."

The quality that made them both so valuable was that they knew the best that was known and thought in regard to the art of war. This is the quality which a nation must secure in those whom it entrusts with the design and the conduct of the operations of its fleets and its armies.

There is a method for securing this, not by any means a new one, and not originally, as is commonly supposed, a German invention. It consists in providing the army and the navy with a General Staff or Department for the study, design, and direction of operations. In such a department Bourcet, Napoleon's master, spent the best years of his life. In such a department Moltke was trained; over such a department he presided. Its characteristic is that it has one function, that of the study, design, and direction of the movements in fighting of a fleet or an army, and that it has nothing whatever to do with the maintenance of an army, or with its recruiting, discipline, or peace administration. Its functions in peace are intellectual and educational, and in war it becomes the channel of executive power. Bourcet described the head of such a department as "the soul of an army." The British navy is without such a department. The army has borrowed the name, but has not maintained the speciality of function which is essential. In armies other than the British, the Chief of the General Staff is occupied solely with tactics and strategy, with the work of intellectual research by which Nelson and Napoleon prepared their great achievements. His business is to be designing campaigns, to make up his mind at what point or points, in case of war, he will assemble his fleets or his armies for the first move, and what the nature of that move shall be. The second move it is impossible for him to pre-arrange because it depends upon the result of the first. He will determine the second move when the time comes. In order that his work should be as well done as possible, care is taken that the Chief of the Staff shall have nothing else to do. Not he but another officer superintends the raising, organising, and disciplining of the forces. Thus he becomes the embodiment of a theory or system of operations, and with that theory or system he inspires as far as possible all the admirals or generals and other officers who will have to carry out his designs.

In the British system the Chief of the General Staff is the principal military member of the Board which administers the army. Accordingly, only a fraction of his time can be given to thinking out the problems of strategy and tactics. At the Admiralty the principal naval member of the Board is made responsible not only for the distribution and movements of ships—a definition which includes the whole domain of strategy and tactics —but also for the fighting and sea-going efficiency of the fleet, its organisation and mobilisation, a definition so wide that it includes the greater part of the administration of the navy, especially as the same officer is held responsible for advice on all large questions of naval policy and maritime warfare, as well as for the control of the naval ordnance department. Thus in each case the very constitution of the office entrusted with the design of operations prevents the officer at its head from concentrating himself upon that vital duty. The result is that the intellectual life both of the army and of the navy lags far behind that of their German rivals, and therefore that there is every chance of both of them being beaten, not for lack of courage or hard work, but by being opposed to an adversary whose thinking has been better done by reason of the greater concentration of energy devoted to it.

The first reform needed, at any rate in the navy, is a definition of the functions of the First Sea Lord which will confine his sphere to the distribution and movement of ships and the strategical and tactical training of officers, so as to compel him to become the embodiment or personification of the best possible theory or system of naval warfare. That definition adopted and enforced, there is no need to lay down regulations giving the strategist control over his colleagues who administer matiriel and personnel; they will of themselves always be anxious to hear his views as to the methods of fighting, and will be only too glad to build ships with a view to their being used in accordance with his design of victory. But until there is at the Admiralty department devoted to designing victory and to nothing else, what possible guarantee can there be that ships will be built, or the navy administered and organised in accordance with any design likely to lead to victory?







The doubt which, since the Prime Minister's statement on the introduction of the Navy Estimates, has disturbed the public mind, is concerned almost exclusively with the number of modern battleships in the Royal Navy. The one object which the nation ought to have in view is victory in the next war, and the question never to be forgotten is, what is essential to victory? While it is probably true that if the disparity of numbers be too great a smaller fleet can hardly engage a larger one with any prospect of success, it is possible to exaggerate the importance both of numbers and of the size of ships.

The most decisive victories at sea which are on record were those of Tsusima, of Trafalgar, and of the Nile. At Tsusima the numbers and size of the Japanese Fleet were not such as, before the battle, to give foreign observers grounds for expecting a decisive victory by the Japanese. It was on the superior intellectual and moral qualities of the Japanese that those who expected them to win based their hopes, and this view was justified by the event. At the battle of Trafalgar the British Fleet numbered twenty-seven, the Franco-Spanish Fleet numbered thirty-three; at the battle of the Nile the numbers were equal—thirteen on each side. These figures seem to me sufficiently to prove that superior numbers are not in battle the indispensable condition of victory. They certainly prove that the numerically inferior fleet may very well win.

Writers on the art of war distinguish between tactics, the art of winning a battle, and strategy, the art of designing and conducting the whole of the operations which constitute a campaign, of bringing about battles in conditions favourable to one's own side and of making the best use of such victories as may be won for contributing to the general purpose of the war, which is dictating peace on one's own terms.

The decision of the questions, how many fleets to send out, what is to be the strength and composition of each of them, and what the objectives assigned to their several commanders is a strategical decision. It is a function of the strategist at the Board of Admiralty, but the question how to handle any one of these fleets in the presence of the enemy so as either to avoid or to bring about an action and so as to win the battle, if a battle be desirable, is a question for the admiral commanding the particular fleet.

Evidently the master art, because it dominates the whole war, is that of strategy, and for that reason it must have a seat at the Admiralty Board.

As is well known, a large number of naval officers have for several years past been troubled with doubts as to the strategical competence displayed by the Board or Boards of Admiralty since 1904. The Board of Admiralty has also been criticised for other reasons, into some of which it is not necessary to enter, but it is desirable to state precisely the considerations which tend to show that important decisions made by the Admiralty have not been based upon sound strategical principles, and are, indeed, incompatible with them.

When four or five years ago it was decided to transfer the centre of gravity of the navy, as represented by fleets in commission, from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic coasts of Europe, that was a sound decision. But when the principal fleet in commission in home waters was reduced in order to facilitate the creation of a so-called Home Fleet, made up of a number of ships stationed at different ports, and manned for the most part by nucleus crews, the Admiralty announced this measure in a very remarkable circular. The change clearly involved a reduction of the number of men at sea, and also a reduction in the number of ships which would be immediately available under war conditions. It was further evident that the chief result of this measure would be a reduction of expenditure, yet the circular boldly stated that the object of the measure was to increase the power and readiness of the navy for instant war.

In any case, the decision announced revealed an ignorance of one of the fundamental conditions of naval warfare, which differentiates it completely from operations on land. A ship in commission carries on board everything that is necessary for a fight. She can be made ready for battle in a few minutes on the order to clear for action. No other mobilisation is necessary for a fleet in commission, and if a war should break out suddenly, as wars normally always do break out, whichever side is able at once with its fleets already in commission to strike the first blow has the incalculable advantage of the initiative.

A fleet divided between several ports and not fully manned is not a fleet in commission; it is not ready, and its assembly as a fleet depends on a contingency, which there is no means of guaranteeing, that the enemy shall not be able to prevent its assembly by moving a fleet immediately to a point at sea from which it would be able to oppose by force the union of the constituent parts of the divided and unready fleet.

Later official descriptions of the Home Fleet explained that it was part of the Admiralty design that this fleet should offer the first resistance to an enemy. The most careful examination of these descriptions leaves no room for doubt that the idea of the Admiralty was that one of its fleets should, in case of war, form a sort of advance-guard to the rest of the navy. But it is a fundamental truth that in naval war an advance-guard is absurd and impossible. In the operations of armies, an advance-guard is both necessary and useful. Its function is to delay the enemy's army until such time as the commander-in-chief shall have assembled his own forces, which may be, to some extent, scattered on the march. This delay is always possible on land, because the troops can make use of the ground, that is, of the positions which it affords favourable for defence, and because by means of those positions a small force can for a long time hold in check the advance of a very much larger one. But at sea there are no positions except those formed by narrow straits, estuaries, and shoals, where land and sea are more or less mixed up. The open sea is a uniform surface offering no advantage whatever to either side. There is nothing in naval warfare resembling the defence of a position on land, and the whole difference between offence and defence at sea consists in the will of one side to bring on an action and that of the other side to avoid or postpone it.

At sea a small force which endeavours by fighting to delay the movement of a large force exposes itself to destruction without any corresponding gain of time. Accordingly, at sea, there is no analogy to the action of an advance-guard, and the mere fact that such an idea should find its way into the official accounts of the Admiralty's views regarding the opening move of a possible war must discredit the strategy of the Admiralty in the judgment of all who have paid any attention to the nature of naval war.

The second requisite for victory, that is, for winning a battle against a hostile fleet, is tactical superiority, or, as Nelson put it: "The skill of our admirals and the activity and spirit of our officers and seamen." The only way to obtain this is through the perpetual practice of the admirals commanding fleets. An admiral, in order to make himself a first-rate tactician, must not merely have deeply studied and pondered the subject, but must spend as much time as possible in exercising, as a whole, the fleet which he commands, in order not only by experimental manoeuvres thoroughly to satisfy himself as to the formation and mode of attack which will be best suited to any conceivable circumstance in which he may find himself, but also to inculcate his ideas into his subordinates; to inspire them with his own knowledge, and to give them that training in working together which, in all those kinds of activities which require large numbers of men to work together, whether on the cricket field, at football, in an army, or in a navy, constitutes the advantage of a practised over a scratch team.

If the practice is to make the fleet ready for war, it must be carried out with the fleet in its war composition. All the different elements, battleships, cruisers, torpedo craft, and the rest, must be fully represented, otherwise the admiral would be practising in peace with a different instrument from that with which he would need to operate in war.

The importance of this perpetual training ought to be self-evident. It may be well to remind the reader that it has also been historically proved. The great advantage which the British possessed over the French navy in the Wars of the Revolution and the Empire was that the British fleets were always at sea, whereas the French fleets, for years blockaded in their ports, were deficient in that practice which, in the naval as in all other professions, makes perfect. One of the complaints against the present Board of Admiralty is that it has not encouraged the training and exercise of fleets as complete units.

Another point, in regard to which the recent practice of the Admiralty is regarded with very grave doubts, not only by many naval officers, but also by many of those who, without being naval officers, take a serious interest in the navy, is that of naval construction. For several years the Admiralty neglected to build torpedo craft of the quality and in the quantity necessary for the most probable contingencies of war, while, at the same time, large sums of money were spent in building armoured cruisers, vessels of a fighting power so great that an admiral would hesitate to detach them from his fleet, lest he should be needlessly weakened on the day of battle, yet not strong enough safely to replace the battleships in the fighting line. The result has been that the admirals in command of fleets have for some time been anxiously asking to be better supplied with scouts or vessels of great speed, but not of such fighting power that they could not be spared at a distance from the fleet even on the eve of an action. These two defects in the shipbuilding policy of the Admiralty make it probable that for some years past the navy has not been constructed in accord with any fully thought-out design of operations; in other words, that the great object "victory" has been forgotten by the supreme authority.

The doubt whether victory has been borne in mind is confirmed by what is known of the design of the original Dreadnought. A battleship ought to be constructed for battle, that is, for the purpose of destroying the enemy's fleet, for which purpose it will never be used alone, but in conjunction with a number of ships like itself forming the weapon of an admiral in command. A battleship requires three qualities, in the following order of importance:—

First, offensive power. A fleet exists in order to destroy the enemy, but it has no prospect of performing that function if its power of destruction is less than its enemy's. The chief weapon to-day, as in the past, is artillery. Accordingly the first requisite of a fleet, as regards its material qualities, those produced by the constructor, is the capacity to pour on to the enemy's fleet a heavier rain of projectiles than he can return.

The second quality is the power of movement. The advantage of superior speed in a fleet—for the superior speed of an individual ship is of little importance—is that so long as it is preserved it enables the admiral, within limits, to accept or decline battle according to his own judgment. This is a great strategical advantage. It may in some conditions enable an inferior fleet to postpone an action which might be disastrous until it has effected a junction with another fleet belonging to its own side.

The third quality is that the ships of a fleet should be strong enough to offer to the enemy's projectiles a sufficient resistance to make it improbable that they can be sunk before having inflicted their fair share of damage on the adversary.

There is always a difficulty in combining these qualities in a given ship, because as a ship weighs the quantity of water which she displaces, a ship of any given size has its weight given, and the designer cannot exceed that limit of weight. He must divide it between guns with their ammunition, engines with their coal, and armour. Every ton given to armour diminishes the tonnage possible for guns and engines, and, given a minimum for armour, every extra ton given to engines and coal reduces the possible weight of guns and ammunition. In the Dreadnought a very great effort was made to obtain a considerable extra speed over that of all other battleships. This extra speed was defended on the ground that it would enable a fleet of Dreadnoughts to fight a battle at long range, and with a view to such battle the Dreadnought was provided only with guns of the heaviest calibre and deprived of those guns of medium calibre with which earlier battleships were well provided. The theories thus embodied in the new class of ships were both of them doubtful, and even dangerous. In the first place, it is in the highest degree injurious to the spirit and courage of the crew to have a ship which they know will be at a disadvantage if brought into close proximity with the enemy. Their great object ought to be to get as near to the enemy as possible. The hypothesis that more damage will be done by an armament exclusively of the largest guns is in the opinion of many of the best judges likely to be refuted. There is some reason to believe that a given tonnage, if devoted to guns of medium calibre, would yield a very much greater total damage to an enemy's ship than if devoted to a smaller number of guns of heavy calibre and firing much less rapidly.

There is, moreover, a widespread belief among naval officers of the highest repute, among whom may be named the author of the "Influence of Sea Power upon History," than whom no one has thought more profoundly on the subject of naval war, that it is bad economy to concentrate in a few very large ships the power which might be more conveniently and effectively employed if distributed in a great number of ships of more moderate size.

Surely, so long as naval opinion is divided about the tactical and strategical wisdom of a new type of battleship, it is rash to continue building battleships exclusively of that type, and it would be more reasonable to make an attempt to have naval opinion sifted and clarified, and thus to have a secure basis for a shipbuilding programme, than to hurry on an enormous expenditure upon what may after all prove to have been a series of doubtful experiments.

All the questions above discussed seem to me to be more important than that of mere numbers of ships. Numbers are, however, of great importance in their proper place and for the proper reasons. The policy adopted and carried out by the British navy, at any rate during the latter half of the war against the French Empire, was based on a known superiority of force. The British fleet set out by blockading all the French fleets, that is, by taking stations near to the great French harbours and there observing those harbours, so that no French fleet should escape without being attacked. If this is to be the policy of the British navy in future it will require a preponderance of force of every kind over that of the enemy, and that preponderant force will have to be fully employed from the very first day of the war. In other words, it must be kept in commission during peace. But, in addition, it is always desirable to have a reserve of strength to meet the possibility that the opening of a war or one of its early subsequent stages may bring into action some additional unexpected adversary. There are thus two reasons that make for a fleet of great numerical strength. The first, that only great superiority renders possible the strategy known as blockade, or, as I have ventured to call it, of "shadowing" the whole of the enemy's forces. The second, that only great numerical strength renders it possible to provide a reserve against unexpected contingencies.







After the close of the South African war, two Royal Commissions were appointed. One of them, known as the War Commission, was in a general way to inquire into and report upon the lessons of the war. This mission it could fulfil only very imperfectly, because its members felt precluded from discussing the policy in which the war had its origin and incapable of reviewing the military conduct of the operations. This was very like reviewing the play of "Hamlet" without reference to the characters and actions either of Hamlet or of the King, for the mainsprings which determine the course, character, and issue of any war are the policy out of which it arises and the conduct of the military operations. The main fact which impressed itself on the members of the War Commission was that the forces employed on the British side had been very much larger than had been expected at the beginning of the war, and the moral which they drew was contained in the one sentence of their report which has remained in the public mind, to the effect that the Government ought to make provision for the expansion of the army beyond the limit of the regular forces of the Crown.

About the same time another Commission, under the chairmanship of the Duke of Norfolk, was appointed to inquire and report whether any, and, if any, what changes were required in order to secure that the Militia and Volunteer forces should be maintained in a condition of military efficiency and at an adequate strength. The Norfolk Commission recommended certain changes which it thought would lead to a great improvement in the efficiency of both forces, while permitting them to maintain the requisite numerical strength. With regard to the Volunteer force, the report said:—

"The governing condition is that the Volunteer, whether an officer, non-commissioned officer, or private, earns his own living, and that if demands are made upon him which are inconsistent with his doing so he must cease to be a Volunteer. No regulations can be carried out which are incompatible with the civil employment of the Volunteers, who are for the most part in permanent situations. Moreover, whatever may be the goodwill and patriotism of employers, they cannot allow the Volunteers they may employ more than a certain period of absence. Their power to permit their workmen to attend camp or other exercises is controlled by the competition which exists in their trade. Those who permit Volunteers in their service to take holidays longer than are customary in their trade and district, are making in the public interest a sacrifice which some of them think excessive."

The report further laid stress on the cardinal principle that no Volunteer, whatever his rank, should be put to expense on account of his service. Subject to this governing condition and to this cardinal principle, the Commission made recommendations from which it expected a marked improvement and the gradual attainment of a standard much in advance of anything which until then had been reached.

Most of these recommendations have been adopted, with modifications, in the arrangements which have since been made for the Volunteers under the new name "The Territorial Force."

The Norfolk Commission felt no great confidence in the instructions given it by the Government on the subject of the standard of efficiency and of numerical strength. Accordingly the Commission added to its report the statement:—

    "We cannot assert that, even if the measures
    recommended were fully carried out, these forces
    would be equal to the task of defeating a modern
    continental army in the United Kingdom."

The Commission's chief doubt was whether, under the conditions inseparable at any rate from the volunteer system, any scheme of training would give to forces officered largely by men who are not professional soldiers the cohesion of armies that exact a progressive two-years' course from their soldiers and rely, except for expanding the subaltern ranks on mobilisation, upon professional leaders. The Commission then considered "Measures which may provide a Home Defence Army equal to the task of defeating an invader." They were unable to recommend the adoption of the Swiss system, partly because the initial training was not, in their judgment, sufficient for the purpose, and partly because they held that the modern method of extending the training to all classes, while shortening its duration, involves the employment of instructors of the highest possible qualifications. The Commission concluded by reporting that a Home Defence Army capable, in the absence of the whole or the greater portion of the regular forces, of protecting this country against invasion can be raised and maintained only on the principle that it is the duty of every citizen of military age and sound physique to be trained for the national defence and to take part in it should emergency arise.

The Norfolk Commission gave expression to two different views without attempting to reconcile them. On the one hand it laid down the main lines along which the improvement of the militia and volunteers was to be sought, and on the other hand it pointed out the advantages of the principle that it is the citizen's duty to be trained as a soldier and to fight in case of need. To go beyond this and to attempt either to reconcile the two currents of thought or to decide between them, was impossible for a Commission appointed to deal with only a fraction of the problem of national defence. The two sets of views, however, continue to exist side by side, and the nation yet has to do what the Norfolk Commission by its nature was debarred from doing. The Government, represented in this matter by Mr. Haldane, is still in the position of relying upon an improved militia and volunteer force. The National Service League, on the other hand, advocates the principle of the citizen's duty, though it couples with it a specific programme borrowed from the Swiss system, the adoption of which was deprecated in the Commission's Report. The public is somewhat puzzled by the appearance of opposition between what are thought of as two schools, and indeed Mr. Haldane in his speech introducing the Army Estimates on March 4, 1909, described the territorial force as a safeguard against universal service.

The time has perhaps come when the attempt should be made to find a point of view from which the two schools of thought can be seen in due perspective, and from which, therefore, a definite solution of the military problem may be reached.

By what principle must our choice between the two systems be determined? By the purpose in hand. The sole ultimate use of an army is to win the nation's battles, and if one system promises to fulfil that purpose while the other system does not, we cannot hesitate.

Great Britain requires an army as one of the instruments of success in a modern British war, and we have therefore to ascertain, in general, the nature of a modern war, and in particular the character of such wars as Great Britain may have to wage.

The distinguishing feature of the conflict between two modern great States is that it is a struggle for existence, or, at any rate, a wrestle to a fall. The mark of the modern State is that it is identified with the population which it comprises, and to such a State the name "nation" properly belongs. The French Revolution nationalised the State and in consequence nationalised war, and every modern continental State has so organized itself with a view to war that its army is equivalent to the nation in arms.

The peculiar character of a British war is due to the insular character of the British State. A conflict with a great continental Power must begin with a naval struggle, which will be carried on with the utmost energy until one side or the other has established its predominance on the sea. If in this struggle the British navy is successful, the effect which can be produced on a continental State by the victorious navy will not be sufficient to cause the enemy to accept peace upon British conditions. For that purpose, it will be necessary to invade the enemy's territory and to put upon him the constraint of military defeat, and Great Britain therefore requires an army strong enough either to effect this operation or to encourage continental allies to join with it in making the attempt.

In any British war, therefore, which is to be waged with prospect of success, Great Britain's battles must be fought and won on the enemy's territory and against an army raised and maintained on the modern national principle.

This is the decisive consideration affecting British military policy.

In case of the defeat of the British navy a continental enemy would, undoubtedly, attempt the invasion and at least the temporary conquest of Great Britain. The army required to defeat him in the United Kingdom would need to have the same strength and the same qualities as would be required to defeat him in his own territory, though, if the invasion had been preceded by naval defeat, it is very doubtful whether any military success in the United Kingdom would enable Great Britain to continue her resistance with much hope of ultimate success.

For these reasons I cannot believe that Great Britain's needs are met by the possession of any force the employment of which is, by the conditions of its service, limited to fighting in the United Kingdom. A British army, to be of any use, must be ready to go and win its country's battles in the theatre of war in which its country requires victories. That theatre of war will never be the United Kingdom unless and until the navy has failed to perform its task, in which case it will probably be too late to win battles in time to avert the national overthrow which must be the enemy's aim.

There are, however, certain subsidiary services for which any British military system must make provision.

These are:—

(1) Sufficient garrisons must be maintained during peace in India, in Egypt, for some time to come in South Africa, and in certain naval stations beyond the seas, viz., Gibraltar, Malta, Ceylon, Hong Kong, Singapore, Mauritius, West Africa, Bermuda, and Jamaica. It is generally agreed that the principle of compulsory service cannot be applied for the maintenance of these garrisons, which must be composed of professional paid soldiers.

(2) Experience shows that a widespread Empire, like the British, requires from time to time expeditions for the maintenance of order on its borders against half civilised or savage tribes. This function was described in an essay on "Imperial Defence," published by Sir Charles Dilke and the present writer in 1892 as "Imperial Police."

It would not be fair, for the purpose of one of these small expeditions, arbitrarily to call upon a fraction of a force maintained on the principle of compulsion. Accordingly any system must provide a special paid reserve for the purpose of furnishing the men required for such an expedition.

An army able to strike a serious blow against a continental enemy in his own territory would evidently be equally able to defeat an invading army if the necessity should arise. Accordingly the military question for Great Britain resolves itself into the provision of an army able to carry on serious operations against a European enemy, together with the maintenance of such professional forces as are indispensable for the garrisons of India, Egypt, and the over-sea stations enumerated above and for small wars.







I proceed to describe a typical army of the national kind, and to show how the system of such an army could be applied in the case of Great Britain.

The system of universal service has been established longer in Germany than in any other State, and can best be explained by an account of its working in that country. In Germany every man becomes liable to military service on his seventeenth birthday, and remains liable until he is turned forty-five. The German army, therefore, theoretically includes all German citizens between the ages of seventeen and forty-five, but the liability is not enforced before the age of twenty nor after the age of thirty-nine, except in case of some supreme emergency. Young men under twenty, and men between thirty-nine and forty-five, belong to the Landsturm. They are subjected to no training, and would not be called upon to fight except in the last extremity. Every year all the young men who have reached their twentieth birthday are mustered and classified. Those who are not found strong enough for military service are divided into three grades, of which one is dismissed as unfit; a second is excused from training and enrolled in the Landsturm; while a third, whose physical defects are minor and perhaps temporary, is told off to a supplementary reserve, of which some members receive a short training. Of those selected as fit for service a few thousand are told off to the navy, the remainder pass into the army and join the colours.

The soldiers thus obtained serve in the ranks of the army for two years if assigned to the infantry, field artillery, or engineers, and for three years if assigned to the cavalry or horse artillery. At the expiration of the two or three years they pass into the reserve of the standing army, in which they remain until the age of twenty-seven, that is, for five years in the case of the infantry and engineers, and for four years in the case of the cavalry and horse artillery. At twenty-seven all alike cease to belong to the standing army, and pass into the Landwehr, to which they continue to belong to the age of thirty-nine. The necessity to serve for at least two years with the colours is modified in the case of young men who have reached a certain standard of education, and who engage to clothe, feed, equip, and in the mounted arms to mount themselves. These men are called "one year volunteers," and are allowed to pass into the reserve of the standing army at the expiration of one year with the colours.

In the year 1906, 511,000 young men were mustered, and of these 275,000 were passed into the standing army, 55,000 of them being one year volunteers. The men in any year so passed into the army form an annual class, and the standing army at any time is made up, in the infantry, of two annual classes, and in the cavalry and horse artillery of three annual classes. In case of war, the army of first line would be made up by adding to the two or three annual classes already with the colours the four or five annual classes forming the reserve, that is, altogether seven annual classes. Each of these classes would number, when it first passed into the army, about 275,000; but as each class must lose every year a certain number of men by death, by diseases which cause physical incapacity from service, and by emigration, the total army of first line must fall short of the total of seven times 275,000. It may probably be taken at a million and a half. In the second line come the twelve annual classes of Landwehr, which will together furnish about the same numbers as the standing army.

Behind the Landwehr comes the supplementary reserve, and behind that again the Landsturm, comprising the men who have been trained and are between the ages of thirty-nine and forty-five, the young men under twenty, and all those who, from physical weakness, have been entirely exempted from training.

During their two or three years with the colours the men receive an allowance or pay of twopence halfpenny a day. Their service is not a contract but a public duty, and while performing it they are clothed, lodged, and fed by the State. When passed into the reserve they resume their normal civil occupation, except that for a year or two they are called up for a few weeks' training and manoeuvres during the autumn.

In this way all German citizens, so far as they are physically fit, with a few exceptions, such as the only son and support of a widow, receive a thorough training as soldiers, and Germany relies in case of war entirely and only upon her citizens thus turned into soldiers.

The training is carried out by officers and non-commissioned officers, who together are the military schoolmasters of the nation, and, like other proficient schoolmasters, are paid for their services by which they live. Broadly speaking, there are in Germany no professional soldiers except the officers and non-commissioned officers, from whom a high standard of capacity as instructors and trainers during peace and as leaders in war is demanded and obtained.

The high degree of military proficiency which the German army has acquired is due to the excellence of the training given by the officers and to the thoroughness with which, during a course of two or three years, that training can be imparted. The great numbers which can be put into the field are due to the practice of passing the whole male population, so far as it is physically qualified, through this training, so that the army in war represents the whole of the best manhood of the country between the ages of twenty and forty.

The total of three millions which has been given above is that which was mentioned by Prince Bismarck in a speech to the Reichstag in 1887. The increase of population since that date has considerably augmented the figures for the present time, and the corresponding total to-day slightly exceeds four millions.

The results of the British system are shown in the following table, which gives, from the Army Estimates, the numbers of the various constituents of the British army on the 1st of January 1909. There were at that date in the United Kingdom:—


Regular forces
Army reserve
Special reserves
Territorial force
Officers' training corps
Total in the United Kingdom


In Egypt and the Colonies:—

Regular Forces


he British troops in India are paid for by the Indian Government and do not appear in the British Army Estimates. Of the force maintained in the United Kingdom, it will be observed that it falls, roughly, into three categories.

In the first place come the first-rate troops which may be presumed to have had a thorough training for war. This class embraces only the regulars and the army reserve, which together slightly exceed a quarter of a million. In the second class come the 68,000 of the special reserve, which, in so far as they have enjoyed the six months' training laid down in the recent reorganisation, could on a sanguine estimate be classified as second-class troops, though in view of the fact that their officers are not professional and are for the most part very slightly trained, that classification would be exceedingly sanguine. Next comes the territorial force with a maximum annual training of a fortnight in camp, preceded by ten to twenty lessons and officered by men whose professional training, though it far exceeds that of the rank and file, falls yet very much short of that given to the professional officers of a first-rate continental army. The territorial force, by its constitution, is not available to fight England's battles except in the United Kingdom, where they can never be fought except in the event of a defeat of the navy.

This heterogeneous tripartite army is exceedingly expensive, its cost during the current year being, according to the Estimates, very little less than 29 millions, the cost of the personnel being 23-1/2 millions, that of materièl being 4 millions, and that of administration 1-1/2 millions.

The British regular army cannot multiply soldiers as does the German army. It receives about 37,000 recruits a year. But it sends away to India and the Colonies about 23,000 each year and seldom receives them back before their eight years' colour service are over, when they pass into the first-class reserve. There pass into the reserve about 24,000 men a year, and as the normal term of reserve service is four years, its normal strength is about 96,000 men.

As the regular army contains only professional soldiers, who look, at any rate for a period of eight years, to soldiering as a living, and are prepared for six or seven years abroad, there is a limit to the supply of recruits, who are usually under nineteen years of age, and to whom the pay of a shilling a day is an attraction. Older men with prospects of regular work expect wages much higher than that, and therefore do not enlist except when in difficulties.







I propose to show that a well-trained homogeneous army of great numerical strength can be obtained on the principle of universal service at no greater cost than the present mixed force. The essentials of a scheme, based upon training the best manhood of the nation, are: first, that to be trained is a matter of duty not of pay; secondly, that every trained man is bound, as a matter of duty, to serve with the army in a national war; thirdly, that the training must be long enough to be thorough, but no longer; fourthly, that the instructors shall be the best possible, which implies that they must be paid professional officers and non-commissioned officers.

I take the age at which the training should begin at the end of the twentieth year, in order that, in case of war, the men in the ranks may be the equals in strength and endurance of the men in the ranks of any opposing army. The number of men who reach the age of twenty every year in the United Kingdom exceeds 400,000. Continental experience shows that less than half of these would be rejected as not strong enough. The annual class would therefore be about 200,000.

The principle of duty applies of course to the navy as well as to the army, and any man going to the navy will be exempt from army training. But it is doubtful whether the navy can be effectively manned on a system of very short service such as is inevitable for a national army. The present personnel of the navy is maintained by so small a yearly contingent of recruits that it will be covered by the excess of the annual class over the figure here assumed of 200,000. The actual number of men reaching the age of twenty is more than 400,000, and the probable number out of 400,000 who will be physically fit for service is at least 213,000.

I assume that for the infantry and field artillery a year's training would, with good instruction, be sufficient, and that even better and more lasting results would be produced if the last two months of the year were replaced by a fortnight of field manoeuvres in each of the four summers following the first year. For the cavalry and horse artillery I believe that the training should be prolonged for a second year.

The liability to rejoin the colours, in case of a national war, should continue to the end of the 27th year, and be followed by a period of liability in the second line, Landwehr or Territorial Army.

The first thing to be observed is the numerical strength of the army thus raised and trained.

If we assume that any body of men loses each year, from death, disablement, and emigration, five per cent. of its number, the annual classes would be as follows:—


At the end of the first year 20,000 are to go abroad as explained below.)
1st year, age 20-21
2nd year, age 20-22
3rd year, age 23-24
4th year, age 24-25
5th year, age 25-26
6th year, age 26-27
Total on mobilisation


This gives an army of close upon a million men in first line in addition to the British forces in India, Egypt, and the colonial stations.

If from the age of 27 to that of 31 the men were in the Landwehr, that force would be composed of four annual classes as follows:—


7th year, age 27-28
8th year, age 28-29
9th year, age 29-30
10th year, age 30-31
Total of Landwehr


There is no need to consider the further strength that would be available if the liability were prolonged to the age of 39, as it is in Germany.

The liability thus enforced upon all men of sound physique is to fight in a national war, a conflict involving for England a struggle for existence. But that does not and ought not to involve serving in the garrison of Egypt or of India during peace, nor being called upon to take part in one of the small wars waged for the purpose of policing the Empire or its borders. These functions must be performed by professional, i.e. paid soldiers.

The British army has 76,000 men in India and 45,000 in Egypt, South Africa, and certain colonial stations. These forces are maintained by drafts from the regular army at home, the drafts amounting in 1908 to 12,000 for India and 11,000 for the Colonies.

Out of every annual class of 200,000 young men there will be a number who, after a year's training, will find soldiering to their taste, and will wish to continue it. These should be given the option of engaging for a term of eight years in the British forces in India, Egypt, or the Colonies. There they would receive pay and have prospects of promotion to be non-commissioned officers, sergeants, warrant officers or commissioned officers, and of renewing their engagement if they wished either for service abroad or as instructors in the army at home. These men would leave for India, Egypt, or a colony at the end of their first year. I assume that 20,000 would be required, because eight annual classes of that strength, diminishing at the rate of five per cent. per annum, give a total of 122,545, and the eight annual classes would therefore suffice to maintain the 121,000 now in India, Egypt, and the Colonies. Provision is thus made for the maintenance of the forces in India, Egypt, and the Colonies.

There must also be provision for the small wars to which the Empire is liable. This would be made by engaging every year 20,000 who had finished their first year's training to serve for pay, say 1s. a day, for a period say of six months, of the second year, and afterwards to join for five years the present first-class reserve at 6d. a day, with liability for small wars and expeditions. At the end of the five years these men would merge in the general unpaid reserve of the army. They might during their second year's training be formed into a special corps devoting most of the time to field manoeuvres, in which supplementary or reserve officers could receive special instruction.

It would be necessary also to keep with the colours for some months after the first year's training a number of garrison artillery and engineers to provide for the security of fortresses during the period between the time of sending home one annual class and the preliminary lessons of the next. These men would be paid. I allow 10,000 men for this purpose, and these, with the 20,000 prolonging their training for the paid reserve, and with the mounted troops undergoing the second year's training, would give during the winter months a garrison strength at home of 50,000 men.

The mobilised army of a million men would require a great number of extra officers, who should be men of the type of volunteer officers selected for good education and specially trained, after their first year's service, in order to qualify them as officers. Similar provision must be made for supplementary non-commissioned officers.







It will probably be admitted that an army raised and trained on the plan here set forth would be far superior in war to the heterogeneous body which figures in the Army Estimates at a total strength of 540,000 regulars, militia, and volunteers. Its cost would in no case be more than that of the existing forces, and would probably be considerably less. This is the point which requires to be proved.

The 17th Appendix to the Army Estimates is a statement of the cost of the British army, arranged under the four headings of:—


1. Cost of personnel of regular army and army reserve
£ 18,279,234
2. Cost of special reserves and territorial forces
£ 5,149,843
3. Cost of armaments, works, stores, &c.
£ 3,949,463
4. Cost of staff and administration
£ 1,414,360
Making a total of
£ 28,792,900


In the above table nearly a million is set down for the cost of certain labour establishments and of certain instructional establishments, which may for the present purpose be neglected. Leaving them out, the present cost of the personnel of the Regular Army, apart from staff, is, £15,942,802. For this cost are maintained officers, non-commissioned officers and men, numbering altogether 170,000.

The lowest pay given is that of 1s. a day to infantry privates, the privates of the other arms receiving somewhat higher and the non-commissioned officers very much higher rates of pay.

If compulsory service were introduced into Great Britain, pay would become unnecessary for the private soldier; but he ought to be and would be given a daily allowance of pocket-money, which probably ought not to exceed fourpence. The mounted troops would be paid at the rate of 1s. a day during their second year's service.

Assuming then that the private soldier received fourpence a day instead of 1s. a day, and that the officers and non-commissioned officers were paid as at present, the cost of the army would be reduced by an amount corresponding to 8d. a day for 148,980 privates. That amount is £1,812,590, the deduction of which would reduce the total cost to £14,137,212. At the same rate...


An army of 200,000 privates and 20,000 non-commissioned officers and men would cost...
£ 18,295,215
Second year of 20,000 mounted troops at £ 60 a year each
£ 1,200,000
Cost of 30,000 men for six months' extra training at the rate of £ 60 a year each
£ 900,000
Cost of extra training for supplementary officers and non-commissioned officers
£ 500,000
£ 21,892,815
Add to this the cost of the troops maintained in the Colonies and Egypt so far as charged to British Estimages
£ 3,401,704
Total Personnel
£ 25,294,519
Matiriel (allowing for aditional outlay due to larger numbers)
£ 4,500,000
Staff and administration
£ 1,500,000
Total Cost of Army at Home and in the Colonies
£ 31,294,519


This is slightly in excess of the present cost of the personnel of the Army, but, whereas the present charge only provides for the heterogeneous force already described of 589,000 men, the charges here explained provide for a short-service homogeneous army of one million and a half, as well as for the 45,000 troops permanently maintained in Egypt and the Colonies.

The estimate just given is, however, extravagant. The British system has innumerable different rates of pay and extra allowances of all kinds, and is so full of anomalies that it is bound to be costly. Unfortunately, the Army Estimates are so put together that it is difficult to draw from them any exact inferences as to the actual annual cost of a private soldier beyond his pay.

The average annual cost, effective and non-effective, of an officer in the cavalry, artillery, engineers, and infantry is £473, this sum covering all the arrangements for pensions and retiring allowances.

I propose in the following calculations to assume the average cost of an officer to be £500 a year, a sum which would make it possible for the average combatant officer to be somewhat better paid than he is at present.

The normal pay of a sergeant in the infantry of the line is 2s. 4d. a day, or £42, 11s. 8d. a year. The Army Estimates do not give the cost of a private soldier, but the statement is made that the average annual cost per head of 150,000 warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, and men is £63, 6s. 7d. The warrant officers and non-commissioned officers appear to be much more expensive than the private, and as the minimum pay of a private is £18, 5s., the balance, £45, 1s. 7d., is probably much more than the cost of housing, clothing, feeding, and equipping the private, whose food, the most expensive item, certainly does not cost a shilling a day or £18 a year.

I assume that the cost of maintaining a private soldier is covered by £36 a year, while his allowance of 4d. a day amounts to £6, 1s. 4d. In order to cover the extra allowances which may be made to corporals, buglers, and trumpeters, I assume the average cost of the rank and file to be £45 a year. I also assume that the average cost of a sergeant does not exceed £100 a year, which allows from £40 to £50 for his pay and the balance for his housing, clothing, equipment, and food. I add provisions for pensions for sergeants after twenty-five years' service.

These figures lead to the following estimate:—

7,000 officers at £500
14,000 officers at £100
Pension after twenty-five years for seargenats, £52 a year
(An annual class of 14,000, decreasing annually by 2-1/2 per cent., would consist, after twenty-five years, of 7632)
200,000 privates at £45 a year
2nd year of 20,000 mounted troops (cavalry and horse artillery at £60 a year each)
Six months' extra training for 30,000 men with pay (total rate per man £60 a year) (20,000 for paid reserve and 10,000 fortress troops)
First-class reserve
Training supplementary officers and sergeants
£ 17,894,464
Colonial troops
Total Personnel
Matiriel allowing for additional cost due to larger numbers
Staff and administration
Total cost of army at home and in the Colonies


The figures here given will, it is hoped, speak for themselves. They are, if anything, too high rather than too low. The number of officers is calculated on the basis of the present war establishments, which give 5625 officers for 160,500 of the other ranks. It does not include those in Egypt and the Colonies. The cost of the officers is taken at a higher average rate than that of British officers of the combatant arms under the present system, and, both for sergeants and for privates, ample allowance appears to me to be made even on the basis of their present cost.

When it is considered that Germany maintains with the colours a force of 600,000 men at a cost of £29,000,000, that France maintains 550,000 for £27,000,000, and that Italy maintains 221,000 for £7,500,000, it cannot be admitted that Great Britain would be unable to maintain 220,000 officers and men at an annual cost of £17,500,000, and the probability is that with effective administration this cost could be considerably reduced.

It may at first sight seem that the logical course would have been to assume two years' service in the infantry and three years' service in the mounted arms, in accord with the German practice, but there are several reasons that appear to me to make such a proposal unnecessary. In the first place, Great Britain's principal weapon must always be her navy, while Germany's principal weapon will always be her army, which guarantees the integrity of her three frontiers and also guards her against invasion from oversea. Germany's navy comes only in the second place in any scheme for a German war, while in any scheme for a British war the navy must come in the first place and the army in the second.

The German practice for many years was to retain the bulk of the men for three years with the colours. It was believed by the older generation of soldiers that any reduction of this period would compromise that cohesion of the troops which is the characteristic mark of a disciplined army. But the views of the younger men prevailed and the period has been reduced by a third. The reduction of time has, however, placed a heavier responsibility upon the body of professional instructors.

The actual practice of the British army proves that a recruit can be fully trained and be made fit in every way to take his place in his company by a six months' training, but in my opinion that is not sufficient preparation for war. The recruit when thoroughly taught requires a certain amount of experience in field operations or manoeuvres. This he would obtain during the summer immediately following upon the recruit training; for the three months of summer, or of summer and autumn, ought to be devoted almost entirely to field exercises and manoeuvres. If the soldier is then called out for manoeuvres for a fortnight in each of four subsequent years, or for a month in each of two subsequent years, I believe that the lessons he has learned of operations in the field will thereby be refreshed, renewed, and digested, so as to give him sufficient experience and sufficient confidence in himself, in his officers, and in the system to qualify him for war at any moment during the next five or six years. The additional three months' manoeuvre training, beyond the mere recruit training, appears to me indispensable for an army that is to be able to take the field with effect. But that this period should suffice, and that the whole training should be given in nine or ten months of one year, followed by annual periods of manoeuvre, involves the employment of the best methods by a body of officers steeped in the spirit of modern tactics and inspired by a general staff of the first order.

The question what is the shortest period that will suffice to produce cohesion belongs to educational psychology. How long does it take to form habits? How many repetitions of a lesson will bring a man into the condition in which he responds automatically to certain calls upon him, as does a swimmer dropped into the water, a reporter in forming his shorthand words, or a cyclist guiding and balancing his machine? In each case two processes are necessary. There is first the series of progressive lessons in which the movements are learned and mastered until the pupil can begin practice. Then follows a period of practice more or less prolonged, without which the lessons learned do not become part of the man's nature; he retains the uncertainty of a beginner. The recruit course of the British army is of four months. A first practice period of six months followed by fresh practice periods of a month each in two subsequent years or by four practice periods of a fortnight each in four successive years are in the proposals here sketched assumed to be sufficient. If they were proved inadequate I believe the right plan of supplementing them would be rather by adding to the number and duration of the manoeuvre practices of the subsequent years than by prolonging the first period of continuous training.

The following table shows the cost of two years' service calculated on the same bases as have been assumed above. Two years' service would mean an army with the colours not of 200,000 but of 390,000 men. This would require double the number of officers and sergeants, and the annual estimates for personnel would be £34,000,000, and the total Army Estimates £41,000,000. There would also be a very great extra expenditure upon barracks.


Estimate of Annual Cost for Two Years' Service
13,650 officers at £500 a year
27,300 sergeants at £100
Pension for sergeants' annual class of £27,300, decreasing by 2-1/2 per cent., gives after twenty-five years £12,403; at £52 a year pension is
390,000 privates at £45 a year
Third year mounted troops, 20,000 at £60
First-class reserve
Training supplementary officers and sergeants
Colonial troops
Total personnel
£ 33,946,956
Matiriel allowing for extra numbers
£ 5,000,000
Staff and administration, allowing for extra numbers
£ 2,000,000
£ 40,946,956







The training provided in the scheme which I have outlined could be facilitated at comparatively small cost by the adoption of certain preparatory instruction to be given partly in the schools, and partly to young men between the ages of seventeen and twenty.

It has never appeared to me desirable to add to the school curriculum any military subjects whatever, and I am convinced that no greater mistake could be made, seeing that schoolmasters are universally agreed that the curriculum is already overloaded and requires to be lightened, and that the best preparation that the school can give for making a boy likely to be a good soldier when grown up, is to develop his intelligence and physique as far as the conditions of school life admit. But if all school children were drilled in the evolutions of infantry in close order, the evolutions being always precisely the same as those practised in the army, the army would receive its men already drilled, and would not need to spend much time in recapitulating these practices, which make no appreciable demand upon the time of school children.

Again, there seems to be no doubt that boys between the ages of seventeen and twenty can very well be taught to handle a rifle, and the time required for such instruction and practice is so small that it would in no way affect or interfere with the ordinary occupations of the boys, whatever their class in life.

Every school of every grade ought, as a part of its ordinary geography lessons, to teach the pupils to understand, to read, and to use the ordnance maps of Great Britain, and that this should be the case has already been recognised by the Board of Education. A soldier who can read such a map has thereby acquired a knowledge and a habit which are of the greatest value to him, both in manoeuvres and in the field.

The best physical preparation which the schools can give their pupils for the military life, as well as for any other life, is a well-directed course of gymnastics and the habits of activity, order, initiative, and discipline derived from the practice of the national games.

A national army is a school in which the young men of a nation are educated by a body of specially trained teachers, the officers. The education given for war consists in a special training of the will and of the intelligence. In order that it should be effective, the teachers or trainers must not merely be masters of the theory and practice of war and of its operations, but also proficient in the art of education. This conception of the officers' function fixes their true place in the State. Their duties require for their proper performance the best heads as well as the best-schooled wills that can be found, and impose upon them a laborious life. There can be no good teacher who is not also a student, and a national army requires from its officers a high standard not only of character, but of intelligence and knowledge. It should offer a career to the best talent. A national army must therefore attract the picked men of the universities to become officers. The attraction, to such men consists, chiefly, in their faith in the value of the work to be done, and, to a less degree, in the prospect of an assured living. Adequate, though not necessarily high, pay must be given, and there must be a probability of advancement in the career proportionate to the devotion and talents given to the work. But their work must be relied upon by the nation, otherwise they cannot throw their energies into it with full conviction.

This is the reason why, if there is to be a national army, it must be the only regular army and the nation must rely upon nothing else. To keep a voluntary paid standing army side by side with a national army raised upon the principle of universal duty is neither morally nor economically sound. Either the nation will rely upon its school or it will not. If the school is good enough to serve the nation's turn, a second school on a different basis is needless; if a second school were required, that would mean that the first could not be trusted.

There can be no doubt that in a national school of war the professional officers must be the instructors, otherwise the nation will not rely upon the young men trained. The 200,000 passed through the school every year will be the nation's best. Therefore, so soon as the system has been at work long enough to produce a force as large as the present total, that is, after the third year, there will be no need to keep up the establishment of 138,000 paid privates, the special reserve, or the now existing territorial force. There will be one homogeneous army, of which a small annual contingent will, after each year's training, be enlisted for paid service in India, Egypt, and the oversea stations, and a second small contingent, with extra training, will pass into the paid reserve for service in small oversea expeditions.

The professional officers and sergeants will, of course, be interchangeable between the national army at home and its professional branches in India, Egypt, and the oversea stations, and the cadres of the battalions, batteries, and squadrons stationed outside the United Kingdom can from time to time be relieved by the cadres of the battalions' from the training army at home. This relief of battalions is made practicable by the national system. One of the first consequences of the new mode of recruiting will be that all recruits will be taken on the same given date, probably the 1st of January in each year, and, as this will apply as well to the men who re-engage to serve abroad as to all others, so soon as the system is in full working order, the men of any battalion abroad will belong to annual classes, and the engagement of each class will terminate on the same day.







I have now explained the nature and working of a national army, and shown the kind of strength it will give and the probable maximum cost which it will involve when adopted.

The chief difficulty attendant upon its adoption lies in the period of transition from the old order to the new. If Great Britain is to keep her place and do her duty in the world the change must be made; but the question arises, how is the gulf between one and the other to be bridged? War comes like a thief in the night, and it must not catch this country unready.

The complete readiness which the new system, when in full swing, will produce, cannot be obtained immediately. All that can be done in the transition period is to see that the number and quality of men available for mobilisation shall be at least as high as it is under the existing system. It may be worth while to explain how this result can be secured.

Let us assume that the Act authorising the new system is passed during a year, which may be called '00, and that it is to come into force on the 1st January of the year '01. The Act would probably exempt from its operations the men at the date of its passing already serving in any of the existing forces, including the territorial army, and the discussion on the Bill would, no doubt, have the effect of filling the territorial army up to the limit of its establishment, 315,000 men.

On the 31st December '00 the available troops would therefore be:—

Regulars in the United Kingdom (present figure)
Special reserve
Army reserve (probably diminished from present strength)
Territorial force


From the 1st January '01 recruiting on present conditions for all these forces would cease.

The regular army of
would lose drafts to Indian and the colonies 23,000
and would have lost during '00 by waste of 5 per cent 6,000
This would leave:
regular army under old conditions
and leave room for recruits and new conditions


The total available for mobilisation during the year '01 would therefore be:—

Paid reserves (the present first-class reserve. I assume an arbitrary figure below the actual one)
Special reserve (I assume a large waste and a loss form men whose time has expired)
Territorial force 315,000
Less 5 per cent 15,700


On the 1st January '02 the regular army would be:—

Old engagement 108,000
Less waste 5,400
Indian and Colonial reliefs 23,000
Recruits under new system
Mounted troops serving second year
Total of regulars
New reserve 91,900
Less 5 per cent 4,580
Paid reserve
Special reserve, reduced by lapse of engagements
Total liable for national war
Add Territorial force, reduced by 5 per cent waste (14,962), and lapse of (78,750) engagements
Total liable for national war


In the year '03 there would be:—

Old regulars, 79,600; less 5 per cent. waste, 3,950; les drafts for abroad, 23,000, leaves 52,050, say
Regulars, recruits under new conditions
Mounted troops serving second year
New reserve
Paid reserve
Special reserve
Total liable for national war
Territorial force

In the year '04 there would be:—

Old Regulars 50,000
Less 5 per cent 2,500
Less drafts 23,000
New regulars
Mounted troops, second year
New reserve
Paid reserve

Special reserve may be dropped

Total liable for national war

Territorial force
Less 5 per cent.


At the end of '04 the territorial force would come to an end and in '05 there would be:—

(Old regulars, 24,000, after waste just enough for drafts.)  
New regulars 200,000
Mounted troops, second year 20,000
New reserve 478,000
Less to paid deserve 20,000
Paid reserve 120,000
Total, all liable for national war 798,000


In these tables I have taken the drafts for India and the Colonies from the old regulars. But they can just as well be taken from the new regulars. If need be the old regulars could, before the fourth year, be passed into the paid reserve, and the full contingent of 200,000 one year's men taken.

The men of the special reserve and territorial force would on the termination of their engagements pass into the second line reserve or Landwehr until the age of thirty-one or thirty-two.

It will be seen that during the years of transition additional expense must be incurred, as, until the change has been completed, some portion of the existing forces must be maintained side by side with the new national army. It is partly in order to facilitate the operations of the transition period that I have assumed a large addition to the number of officers. There will also be additional expense caused by the increase of barrack accommodation needed when the establishment is raised from 138,000 privates to 200,000, but this additional accommodation will not be so great as it might at first sight appear, because it is reasonable to suppose that those young men who wish it, and whose parents wish it, will be allowed to live at home instead of in barracks, provided they regularly attend all drills, parades, and classes.

It has been necessary, in discussing the British military system, to consider the arrangements for providing the garrisons of India, Egypt, and certain oversea stations during peace, and to make provision for small wars or imperial police; but I may point out that the system by which provision is made out of the resources of the United Kingdom alone for these two military requirements of the Empire, is, in the present conditions of the Empire, an anomaly. The new nations which have grown up in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are anxious, above all things, to give reality to the bond between them and the mother country. Their desire is to render imperial service, and the proper way of giving them the opportunity to do so is to call upon them to take their part in maintaining the garrisons in India and Egypt and in the work of imperial police. How they should do it, it is for them to decide and arrange, but for Englishmen at home to doubt for a moment either their will or their capacity to take their proper share of the burden is to show an unworthy doubt of the sincerity of the daughter nations and of their attachment to the mother country and the Empire.

If Great Britain should be compelled to enter upon a struggle for existence with one of the great European powers, the part which Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa could play in that struggle is limited and specific. For the conflict would, in the first instance, take the form of a naval war. To this the King's dominions beyond the seas can do little more than assist during peace by their contributions, either of ships, men, or money, in strengthening the British navy. But during the actual course of such a war, while it is doubtful whether either Canada, Australia, or New Zealand could render much material help in a European struggle, they could undoubtedly greatly contribute to the security of India and Egypt by the despatch of contingents of their own troops to reinforce the British garrisons maintained in those countries. This appears to me to be the direction to which their attention should turn, not only because it is the most effective way in which they can promote the stability of the Empire, but also because it is the way along which they will most speedily reach a full appreciation of the nature of the Empire and its purpose in the world.







I have now sketched the outlines of a national military system applicable to the case of Great Britain. It remains to show why such a system is necessary.

There are three main points in respect of each of which a choice has to be made. They are the motive which induces men to become soldiers, the time devoted to military education, and the nature of the liability to serve in war. The distinction which strikes the popular imagination is that between voluntary and compulsory service. But it covers another distinction hardly less important—that between paid and unpaid soldiers. The volunteers between 1860 and 1878, or 1880, when pay began to be introduced for attendance in camps, gave their time and their attention with no external inducement whatever. They had no pay of any kind, and there was no constraint to induce them to join, or, having, joined, to continue in their corps. The regular soldier, on the other hand, makes a contract with the State. He agrees in return for his pay, clothes, board and lodging to give his whole time for a specific number of years to the soldier's life.

The principle of a contract for pay is necessary in the case of a professional force maintained abroad for purposes of imperial police; but it is not possible on that principle to raise or maintain a national army.

The principle of voluntary unpaid service appears to have a deeper moral foundation than that of service by a contract of hiring. But if the time required is greater than is consistent with the men's giving a full day's work to their industrial occupations the unpaid nature of the service cannot be maintained, and the men must be paid for their time. The merit of the man's free gift of himself is thereby obscured.

Wherein does that merit consist? If there is no merit in a man's making himself a soldier without other reward than that which consists in the education he receives, then the voluntary system has no special value. But if there is a merit, it must consist in the man's conferring a benefit upon, or rendering a service to, his country. In other words, the excellence of the unpaid voluntary system consists in its being an acceptance by those who serve under it of a duty towards the State. The performance of that duty raises their citizenship to a higher plane. If that is the case it must be desirable, in the interest both of the State and of its citizens, that every citizen capable of the duty should perform it. But that is the principle upon which the national system is based. The national system is therefore an extension of the spirit of the volunteer or unpaid voluntary system.

The terms compulsory service and universal service are neither of them strictly accurate. There is no means of making every adult male, without exception, a soldier, because not every boy that grows up has the necessary physical qualification. Nor does the word compulsion give a true picture. It suggests that, as a rule, men would not accept the duty if they could evade it, which is not the case. The number of men who have been volunteers since 1860 shows that the duty is widely accepted. Indeed, in a country of which the government is democratic, a duty cannot be imposed by law upon all citizens except with the concurrence of the majority. But a duty recognised by the majority and prescribed by law will commend itself as necessary and right to all but a very few. If a popular vote were to be taken on the question whether or not it is every citizen's duty to be trained as a soldier and to fight in case of a national war, it is hardly conceivable that the principle would fail to be affirmed by an overwhelming majority.

The points as to which opinions are divided are the time and method of training and the nature of the liability to serve in war.

There are, roughly speaking, three schemes of training to be considered—first, the old volunteer plan of weekly evening drills, with an annual camp training; secondly, the militia plan of three months' recruit training followed by a month's camp training in several subsequent years; and, lastly, the continental plan of a continuous training for one or more years followed by one or more periods of annual manoeuvres. The choice between these three methods is the crucial point of the whole discussion. It must be determined by the standard of excellence rendered necessary by the needs of the State. The evidence given to the Norfolk Commission convinced that body that neither the first nor the second plan will produce troops fit to meet on equal terms those of a good modern army. Professional officers are practically unanimous in preferring the third method.

The liability of the trained citizen to serve in war during his year in the ranks and his years as a first-class reservist must be determined by the military needs of the country. I have given the reasons why I believe the need to be for an army that can strike a blow in a continental war.

I myself became a volunteer because I was convinced that it was a citizen's duty to train himself to bear arms in his country's cause. I have been for many years an ardent advocate of the volunteer system, because I believed, as I still believe, that a national army must be an army of citizen soldiers, and from the beginning I have looked for the efficiency of such an army mainly to the tactical skill and the educating power of its officers. But experience and observation have convinced me that a national army, such as I have so long hoped for, cannot be produced merely by the individual zeal of its members, nor even by their devoted co-operation with one another. The spirit which animates them must animate the whole nation, if the right result is to be produced. For it is evident that the effort of the volunteers, continued for half a century, to make themselves an army, has met with insuperable obstacles in the social and industrial conditions of the country. The Norfolk Commission's Report made it quite clear that the conditions of civil employment render it impossible for the training of volunteers to be extended beyond the present narrow limits of time, and it is evident that those limits do not permit of a training sufficient for the purpose, which is victory in war against the best troops that another nation can produce.

Yet the officers and men of the volunteer force have not carried on their fifty years' work in vain. They have, little by little, educated the whole nation to think of war as a reality of life, they have diminished the prejudice which used to attach to the name of soldier, and they have enabled their countrymen to realise that to fight for his country's cause is a part of every citizen's duty, for which he must be prepared by training.

The adoption of this principle will have further results. So soon as every able-bodied citizen is by law a soldier, the administration of both army and navy will be watched, criticised, and supported with an intelligence which will no longer tolerate dilettantism in authority. The citizen's interest in the State will begin to take a new aspect. He will discover the nature of the bond which unites him to his fellow-citizens, and from this perception will spring that regeneration of the national life from which alone is to be expected the uplifting of England.







The reader who has accompanied me to this point will perhaps be willing to give me a few minutes more in which we may trace the different threads of the argument and see if we can twine them into a rope which will be of some use to us.

We began by agreeing that the people of this country have not made entirely satisfactory arrangements for a competitive struggle, at any rate in its extreme form of war with another country, although such conflict is possible at any time; and we observed that British political arrangements have been made rather with a view to the controversy between parties at home than to united action in contest with a foreign state.

We then glanced at the probable consequences to the British people of any serious war, and at the much more dreadful results of failure to obtain victory. We discussed the theories which lead some of our countrymen to be unwilling to consider the nature and conditions of war, and which make many of them imagine that war can be avoided either by trusting to international arbitration or by international agreements for disarmament. We agreed that it was not safe to rely upon these theories.

Examining the conditions of war as they were revealed in the great struggle which finished a hundred years ago, we saw that the only chance of carrying on war with any prospect of success in modern times lies in the nationalisation of the State, so that the Government can utilise in conflict all the resources of its land and its people. In the last war Great Britain's national weapon was her navy, which she has for centuries used as a means of maintaining the balance of power in Europe. The service she thus rendered to Europe had its reward in the monopoly of sea power which lasted through the nineteenth century. The great event of that century was the attainment by Germany of the unity that makes a nation and her consequent remarkable growth in wealth and power, resulting in a maritime ambition inconsistent with the position which England held at sea during the nineteenth century and was disposed to think eternal.

Great Britain, in the security due to her victories at sea, was able to develop her colonies into nations, and her East India Company into an Empire. But that same security caused her to forget her nationalism, with the result that now her security itself is imperilled. During this period, when the conception of the nation was in abeyance, some of the conditions of sea power have been modified, with the result that the British monopoly is at an end, while the possibility of a similar monopoly has probably disappeared, so that the British navy, even if successful, could not now be used, as it was a hundred years ago, as a means of entirely destroying the trade of an adversary. Accordingly, if in a future war Britain is to find a continental ally, she must be able to offer him the assistance, not merely of naval victory, but also of a strong army. Moreover, during the epoch in which Great Britain has turned her back upon Europe the balance of power has been upset, and there is no power and no combination able to stand up against Germany as the head of the Triple Alliance. This is a position of great danger for England, because it is an open question whether in the absence of a strong British army any group of Powers, even in alliance with England, could afford to take up a quarrel against the combination of the central States. It thus appears that Great Britain, by neglecting the conditions of her existence as a nation, has lost the strength in virtue of which, at previous crises in European history, she was the successful champion of that independence of States which, in the present stage of human development, is the substance of freedom.

Our consideration of the question of might showed that if Great Britain is to be strong enough to meet her responsibilities her people must nationalise themselves, while our reflections on the question of right showed that only from such nationalisation is a sound policy to be expected. In short, only in so far as her people have the unity of spirit and of will that mark a nation can Great Britain be either strong or just. The idea of the nation implies a work to be done by the British State, which has to be on the watch against challenge from a continental rival to Great Britain's right to the headship of her empire, and which at the same time has to give to that empire the direction without which it cannot remain united. Great Britain cannot do the work thus imposed upon her by her position and her history unless she has the co-operation of all her people. Thus the conception of the nation reveals itself in the twofold shape of duties laid upon England and of duties consequently laid upon every Englishman. It means that England must either decline and fall or do a certain work in the world which is impossible for her unless she constrains all her people to devote themselves to her service. It thus appears that England and her people can expect no future worth having except on the principle of duty made the mainspring both of public and of private life.

We attempted to apply the principles involved in the word nation to the obvious and urgent needs of the British State at the present time.

Victory at sea being indispensable for Great Britain in case of conflict, we inquired into the conditions of victory, and found in the parallel instances of Nelson and Napoleon that both by sea and land the result of the nationalisation of war is to produce a leader who is the personification of a theory or system of operations. The history of the rise of the German nation shows how the effort to make a nation produced the necessary statesman, Bismarck. Nationalisation creates the right leadership—that of the man who is master of his work.

Reviewing the needs of the naval administration, we saw that what is wanted at the present time is rather proper organisation at the Admiralty than an increase in mere material strength; while turning to the army, we discovered that the only system on which can be produced the army that Great Britain requires is that which makes every able-bodied citizen a soldier.

To make the citizen a soldier is to give him that sense of duty to the country and that consciousness of doing it, which, if spread through the whole population, will convert it into what is required—a nation. Therefore to reform the army according to some such plan as has been here proposed is the first step in that national revival which is the one thing needful for England, and if that step be taken the rest will follow of itself. Nationalisation will bring leadership, which in the political sphere becomes statesmanship, and the right kind of education, to give which is the highest ultimate function of national existence.

I have tried in these pages to develop an idea which has haunted me for many years. I think if the reader would extend to it even for a short time the hospitality of his mind he might be willing to make it his constant companion. For it seems to me to show the way towards the solution of other problems than those which have here been directly discussed. I cannot but believe that if we could all accustom ourselves to make some sacrifices for the sake of England, if only by giving a few minutes every day to thinking about her and by trying to convince ourselves that those who are not of our party are yet perhaps animated by the same love of their country as we ourselves, we might realise that the question of duty is answered more easily by performance than by speculation. I suspect that the relations between the political parties, between capital and labour, between master and servant, between rich and poor, between class and class would become simpler and better if Englishmen were to come to see how natural it is that they should spend their lives for England.







Edinburgh & London