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Title: The Annual Register 1914
       A Review of Public Events at Home and Abroad for the Year 1914

Author: Anonymous

Release Date: August 1, 2014 [EBook #46471]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


Produced by Richard Tonsing, Juliet Sutherland and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.

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1863 to 1913

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The Political Outlook: the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Armament Expenditure, [1], and the Liberal Programme, [2]. The Kikuyu Controversy, [2]. Labour Unrest, [3]. Mr. Chamberlain's Retirement, [4]. Views on Ulster, [4]. Mr. Bonar Law at Bristol, [5]. Sir Edward Carson at Belfast, [6]. Mr. Birrell on the Situation, [7]. The Armament Controversy, [7]. Position of Parties, [8]. Mr. Long on Urban Land Reform, [8]. International Conference on Safety of Life at Sea, [9]. Coal Porters' Strike, [9]. Other Labour Disputes, [10]. Militant Suffragists and the Bishop of London, [10]. Home Rule: Mr. Redmond at Waterford; Sir E. Carson at Lincoln, [11]. Other Speeches, [12]. Labour Leaders' Deportation from South Africa, [12]. North Durham Election, [13]. Chancellor of the Exchequer at Glasgow, [13]. The Bootle Estate, [15]. Sir Edward Grey at Manchester, [15]. Meetings on Naval Expenditure, [16], Mr. Austen Chamberlain at Birmingham, [16]. The Chancellor of the Exchequer on the Insurance Act, [17]. Mr. Redmond at the National Liberal Club, [17]. Other Utterances: Sir Horace Plunkett's Plan, [18]. Political Prospects, [19].
Opening of Parliament: the King's Speech, [19]. Opposition Amendment to the Address in the Commons, [20]; in the Lords, [24]. Labour Amendment on the South African Question, [24]; on Railway and Mining Accidents, [26]. Temperance Amendment, [27]. Ministerial Changes, [27]. Address: Amendment on Welsh Church Bill, [27]; on Tariff Reform, [28]; on Housing and the Land Agitation, [29]; on the Dublin Strike, [30]; on the Road Board, [31]; on Local Taxation, [31]; on Purity in Public Life, [32]. Statement by Lord Murray of Elibank: Committee Appointed, [32]. Home Rule Discussions and Suggestions, [33]. Bye-Elections, [33]. Opposition Resolutions on Home Rule and the Insurance Act, [34]. Titles and Party Funds, [34]. Labour and Militancy, [34]. Arrival of the South African Deportees, [35]. Leith Burghs Election, [36]. British Covenant, [36]. Supplementary Navy Estimates, [36]. Attack on the Insurance Act, [38]. Motion on Redistribution of Seats, [38], Home Rule: the Amending Bill and its Reception (March 9), [39]. Army Estimates, [41]. Debate, [42]. The Navy and Invasion, [44]. Territorial Forces Bill, [45]. Attack on the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Inaccuracies, [45]. Navy Estimates, [46]. Debate, [48], Home Rule Crisis: Mr. Churchill at Bradford, [52]. Further[Pg vi] Statement by Prime Minister, [52]. Vote of Censure, [53]. Expected Military Action in Ulster, [55]. Sir A. Paget in Dublin: Officers Object to Serve, [56]. Ministerial Explanations and Debate, [57]. Labour Views, [59]. Army Council's Minute, [60]. Naval Movements, and Further Explanations: Debates, [60]. Resignation of Sir John French and Sir J. S. Ewart, [63]. New Army Order, [64]. War Minister Resigns, Mr. Asquith Succeeding Him, [64]. Further Debates on the "Plot," [65]. The Arms Proclamation Invalidated, [66]. Royal Visit to Lancashire and Cheshire, [66]. Home Rule Bill: Resumed Debate, [67]. Hyde Park Demonstration, [68]. Mr. Asquith at Ladybank, [68]. Home Rule Bill Debate Concluded, [69]. Suffragist Outrages, [71]. Labour Troubles, [72]. Report on Urban Land Reform, [72]. Commons' Resolution on the South African Deportations, [73]. Minor Legislation, [74]. Colonel Seely at Ilkeston, [75]. The Ulster Appeal to Germany, [75].
Easter Conferences, [76]. Report on the Civil Service, [76]. The Session Resumed, [77]. The Dogs Bill, [77]. Proposal to Shorten Speeches, [78]. Housing in Ireland, [78]. Welsh Church Bill: Second Reading, [78]. Ulster Unionist Council on the "Plot," [80]. Demand for a Judicial Inquiry, [82]. Further White Paper, [82]. Army (Annual) Bill, [82]. Royal Visit to Paris, [82]. Plural Voting Bill, [83]. Gun-running into Ulster, [84]. Motion for Inquiry, [85]. Division, [89]. Army (Annual) Bill Passed, [89]. Lord Lansdowne at the Primrose League, [89]. Report on the Charges against Lord Murray, [90]. Post Office Estimates, [91]. Civil Service Estimates, [91]. Budget Introduced, [93]. Budget Tables, [96]. Reception of the Budget: Debate, [97]. Women's Enfranchisement Bill, [99]. Debates on Capture of Private Property at Sea and State Provision of Grain in War, [101]. Visit of King and Queen of Denmark, [101]. Guillotine on Parliament Bills: Debate, [102]. Grimsby Election, [103]. Welsh Church Bill: Financial Resolution, [104]. Government of Scotland Bill, [104]. Welsh Church Bill: Third Reading, [105]. Home Rule Bill: Financial Resolution, [107]. Storm in the House, [109]. North-East Derbyshire and Ipswich Elections, [109]. Home Rule Bill: Third Reading, [110]. Division, [111]. Traffic in Titles and Hereditary Titles (Termination) Bills, [111]. Suffragist Outrages, [112]. Labour Unrest, [113].
Whitsuntide: Political Situation, [114]. Chancellor of the Exchequer at Criccieth, [114]. Recess Speeches, [115]. Parliament: National Insurance Amendment and Milk and Dairies Bills, [115]. Post Office Vote again, [116]. Foreign Companies Control Bill, [116]. Home Office Vote: Militancy, and the Remedies, [116]. Outrage in Westminster Abbey, [119]. Further Home Rule Agitation, [119]. Plural Voting Bill, [120]. The Irish Volunteers and Mr. Redmond, [121]: Debates, [121]. Oil Fuel for the Navy, [123]. Board of Agriculture Vote, [126]. Local Government Board Vote, [126]. Great Trade Union Alliance, [127]. Suffragist Deputation to the Premier, [127]. Chancellor of the Exchequer at Denmark Hill, [128]. Liberal Opposition to the Budget, [128]. Finance Bill: Second Reading Debate, [129]. Division, [134]. The Lord Chancellor on the Budget, [134]. The Amending Bill Introduced, [135]. Welsh Church Bill Referred to a Committee, [136]. Their Majesties in the Midlands, [137]. Foreign Office Vote, [137]. Address on the Murder of the Archduke Francis-Ferdinand, [138]. Denial of an Anglo-Russian Naval Agreement, [139]. Attempt to Revive the Marconi Scandal, [139]. Finance Bill: Committee, [139]. Amending Bill: Second Reading, [140]. Division, [144]. Death of Mr. J. Chamberlain: Tributes to his Memory, [144]. Finance Bill Guillotined, [146]. Board of Trade Vote, [147]. Foreign Office Vote: Further Debate, [147]. Council of India Bill, [148]. Amending Bill Transformed in Committee, [149]. Strike at Woolwich Arsenal, [150]. Further Suffragist Outrages: Successes of the "Women's Movement,"[Pg vii] [151], Their Majesties in Scotland, [152], The Agitation in Ulster, [152]. Amending Bill: Third Reading, [153]. Plural Voting Bill Rejected, [154]. Government Plans, [154]. Finance Bill: Committee, [155]. Chancellor of the Exchequer at the Mansion House, [157]. The Government and the Amending Bill, [157]. The Fleet at Spithead, [157]. Conference on the Ulster Problem, [158]. King's Speech on Opening It, [159]. Finance Bill: Report Stage, [160]. Third Reading, [160]. Failure of the Conference, [161]. Gun-running at Dublin: Troops Fire on the Crowd, [162]. Debate in the Commons, [163]. Report on the Affray, [165]. Demonstration in Favour of the Government, [165]. Colonial Office Vote, [165]. Education Vote, [166]. Report of Welsh Land Committee, [166]. The European Crisis and Great Britain, [167]. War Preparations, [168]. Liberal Attitude, [169]. Postponement of Payments Bill, [170]. Sir Edward Grey's Speech, [170]. Promises of Support by Party Leaders: Debate, [172]. Further War Measures, [172]. Ministerial Resignations, [173]. Definitive Anglo-German Rupture, [174].
More War Preparations, [175]. War Legislation, [175]. White Paper on the European Crisis: England's Action, [175]. Prime Minister on the Vote of Credit, [178]. Debate, [180]. Measures for the Relief of Distress, [180]. Was Funds, [181]. The Königin Luise and Amphion, [181]. Press Bureau Established, [181]. War Legislation: First Instalment, [181]. Current Controversies Suspended, [182]. Lord Kitchener's Army, [183]. Naval Combats, [183]. Successes in Africa, [183], Charitable Aid, [183]. The Supply of Food, [184]. Spy Scares, [185]. Treatment of Alien Enemies: Relief Measures for Tourists, [186]. Day of Intercession: British Feeling on the War, [187]. The War Extends, [188]. Arrival of the British Expeditionary Force in France: Message from the King; Lord Kitchener's Instructions, [188]. The Retreat from Mons: Sir John French's Despatch, [189]. Earl Kitchener's Statement, [190]. Address to Belgium: Speech of the Prime Minister, [191]. Indian Troops to Come, [192]. Precautions on the East Coast, [193]. The "Scrap of Paper" Despatch: Naval Warfare; Engagement off Heligoland, [193]. Destruction of Louvain: British Recruiting Campaign, [194]. The Retreat from Mons: the Press and the Press Bureau, [195]. Further War Legislation, [195]. The War and the Parliament Act, [196]. Recruiting Campaign, [196]. Myth of Russian Troops, [196]. The Prime Minister and other Leaders at the Guildhall, [196]. Encouragement to British Hopes: Agreement of the Allies not to Conclude Peace separately; Further Operations in France, [198]. Naval Sweep of the North Sea, [199]. Chancellor of the Exchequer on Local Loans, [200]. Parliament Reassembles: Offers of Help from India, [200]. King's Message to the Dominions, [201]; to India, [202]. Further Vote of 500,000 Men: Prime Minister's Statement, [202]. Recruiting Movement: Speeches by the First Lord of the Admiralty and Others, [203]. Treatment of the Home Rule and Welsh Church Bills: Party Controversy; Debates, [203]. Earl Kitchener on the Military Situation, [207]. Prorogation of Parliament, [208]. Legislation of the Session, [209]. Bills Dropped, [210]. Mr. Asquith at Edinburgh, [210]. Mr. Lloyd George at Queen's Hall, [211]. Other Speeches, [212]. Sinking of British Cruisers: Air Raid on Düsseldorf, [212]. From the Marne to the Aisne: Sir John French's Despatch, [213]. Protection of London against Air Raids, [214]. German Responsibility for the War: Fresh Evidence, [214]. The Prime Minister at Dublin, [215]. The Chancellor of the Exchequer at Criccieth and Cardiff, [216]. Ulster Day Celebrated, [216]. German and British Theologians on the War, [217]. Recruiting Campaign, [218]. The Prime Minister at Cardiff, [218]. Recruiting in Ireland, [219]. Incidents of the War, [219]. Fall of Antwerp, [220]. Effects, [221]. Labour Manifesto, [221]. British Operations in Flanders, [222]; on the Belgian Coast, [224]. Incidents of the Naval War, [225]. Turkey Enters the War, [226]. Prince Louis of Battenberg Resigns, [226]. British Naval Defeat off Chile, [226]. Ministers at the Guildhall, [227]. Mr. Lloyd George at the City Temple, [229]. Opening of Parliament, [230]. Debates, [231]. The Press Bureau Criticised, [232]. Allowances to Soldiers' Dependents, [233]. Vote of Credit, [233]. Funeral of Earl Roberts, [234]. War Budget,[Pg viii] [235]. Table, [237]. Concessions, [237]. Further Debates, [238]. The Bulwark Blown Up, [239]. The Spy Peril, [239]. Earl Kitchener on the War, [240]. Financial Position: Statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, [241]. The First Lord of the Admiralty on the Naval Position, [243]. Further War Legislation, [244]. New Departure in Recruiting, [245], Progress of the War: Flanders, Friedrichshafen, the Persian Gulf, [245]. The King at the Front, [245]. The Prince of Wales at the Front, [246]. Continuance of Football, [246]. Naval Warfare: Battle off the Falkland Islands, [247]. A Turkish Battleship Sunk, [248]. German Raid on Hartlepool, Scarborough, and Whitby, [248]. Mr. Balfour on the War, [249], The Opposition Leaders and National Unity, [249]. Liberal Friction at Swansea, [250]. Gifts of the Colonies, [250]. Egypt a British Protectorate, [250]. Mission to the Vatican, [250]. Committee on German Atrocities, [251]. Mr. Bonar Law at Bootle, [251]. Treatment of Soldiers' Wives, [251]. German Air Raids on Dover and Sheerness: British Raid on Cuxhaven, [252], British Grounds of Hope of Victory, [252].
Scotland and Ireland page [254
Finance and Trade in 1914 [261
France and Italy [268
Germany and Austria-Hungary [305
Russia, Turkey, and the Minor States of South-Eastern Europe [385
Lesser States of Western and Northern Europe: Belgium—The Netherlands—Switzerland—Spain—Portugal—Denmark—Sweden—Norway [362
(By Sir Charles Roe, late Chief Judge of the Chief Court of the Punjab.)
Asia (Southern): Persia—The Persian Gulf and Baluchistan—Afghanistan—The North-West Frontier—British India—Native States—Tibet [402[Pg ix]
(By W. R. Cables, O.M.G., late H.M. Consul-General at Tien-Tsin and Pekin.)
The Far East: Japan—China page [411
(By H. Whates, Author of "The Third Salisbury Administration, 1895-1900," etc.)
Africa (with Malta): South Africa—Egypt and the Sudan—North-East Africa and the Protectorates—North and West Africa [418
America: The United States of America and its Dependencies—Canada —Newfoundland—Mexico and Central America (by H. Whates)—The West Indies and the Guianas (by H. Whates)—South America (by H. Whates) [452
Australasia: Australia—New Zealand—Polynesia [494
RETROSPECT OF THE YEAR'S LITERATURE (by Miss Alice Law), SCIENCE (by J. Reginald Ashworth, D.Sc., and others), ART (by W. T. Whitley), DRAMA (by the Hon. Eveline O. Godley), and MUSIC (by Robin H. Legge) 38
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Calendar 1914

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The Editor of the Annual Register thinks it necessary to state that in no case does he claim to offer original reports of speeches in Parliament or elsewhere. For the former he cordially acknowledges his great indebtedness to the summary and full reports, used by special permission of The Times, which have appeared in that journal, and he has also pleasure in expressing his sense of obligation to the Editors of "Ross's Parliamentary Record," The Spectator, and The Guardian, for the valuable assistance which, by their consent, he has derived from their summaries and reports, towards presenting a compact view of the course of Parliamentary proceedings. To the Editors of the two last-named papers he further desires to tender his best thanks for their permission to make use of the summaries of speeches delivered outside Parliament appearing in their columns.

In deference to suggestions which have been made on the subject, a Calendar has been added to facilitate reference to dates.

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The year opened amid continuing apprehension for the peace of Ulster, and sharp controversies on subjects so widely different as the discipline of the Church of England and the needs of naval defence. Though conversations were understood to have been resumed between the Liberal and Unionist leaders regarding the possible terms of settlement of the Home Rule question, it was clear that much difficulty would be found in effecting a solution; and the Bishop of Durham advised the clergy of his diocese to make the first Sunday of the year a day of intercession for peace in Ireland—advice which was followed in other parts of the country also. And the dissatisfaction of the Ministerialist rank and file at the shipbuilding expenditure of the Board of Admiralty was expressed by Sir John Brunner, the President of the National Liberal Federation, and powerfully stimulated by an interview with the Chancellor of the Exchequer published on the first day of the year by the Daily Chronicle.

Mr. Lloyd George declared that, had British armament expenditure remained at the figure regarded by Lord Randolph Churchill in 1887 as "bloated and extravagant," a saving would have been effected equivalent to 4s. in the pound on local rates, or, on Imperial taxes, to the abolition of the duties on tea, sugar, coffee, and cocoa, and all but 2d. in the pound of the income tax. The question might now be reconsidered for three reasons: (1) Anglo-German relations were far more friendly than for years past; (2) Continental nations were devoting their attention more[Pg 2] and more to strengthening their land forces, so that Germany in particular must be thus precluded from any idea of challenging British naval supremacy; (3) a revolt against military supremacy was spreading throughout Christendom, or at any rate Western Europe. Unless Liberalism seized the opportunity, it would be false to its noblest traditions, and those who had its conscience in their charge would be written down for ever as having betrayed their trust. Sir John Brunner, as chairman of the National Liberal Federation, urged that Liberal associations should pass resolutions in favour of reduction of armament expenditure before the Army and Navy Estimates were settled, and he and several Liberal papers urged, as one means of reduction, the exemption of private property from capture at sea.

The Chancellor's statement met with little response in the German Press, and caused some apprehension in France. It was said that the First Lord, who was just then visiting Paris, did his best to allay this feeling; but at home it was regarded as indicating a sharp division in the Cabinet, and a suggestion by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Jan. 6) in a speech to his constituents at East Bristol, that a reduction might be agreed on jointly by Germany and England in the size and speed of new battleships, was spoken of as ranging him on the Chancellor's side. The Navy League appealed to the Mayors or chief magistrates of all towns in Great Britain to call public meetings in support of naval defence, and gave reasons for its contention that the actual and prospective naval forces of Great Britain were inadequate to the needs of the Empire. It also arranged other meetings, especially in the constituencies of Liberals favouring reduction. Mr. F. E. Smith told his constituents (Jan. 8 and 10) that the Chancellor was a "bungling amateur," and promised Unionist support to the Government in this matter against its own followers; but the Solicitor-General at Keighley (Jan. 8) declared that there was no Liberal division; the Government policy was to maintain British naval supremacy, but to build no more ships than were required for purely defensive needs.

The Chancellor, in the interview in question, had also pointed to the success of his land campaign, and had indicated, as other urgent items in the Liberal programme, legislative devolution, the reform of local taxation, and measures for the promotion of education, housing, and temperance. He had also reaffirmed his faith in women's suffrage, declaring that, but for militancy, he believed the Liberal party would then be pledged to carrying it out. But other subjects competed with it for public attention. The Kikuyu controversy (A.R., 1913, p. 439) had raised the question, not only of the practical necessity of co-operation and intercommunion among the Anglican and Protestant Christian missions in Africa, but of the precise attitude of the Church of England in regard both to the Episcopate and the advanced views[Pg 3] of Biblical criticism among her younger members. The controversy went on actively in the columns of The Times and elsewhere; and the cohesion of the Church was thought to be in grave danger. Even High Churchmen acquainted with missionary work argued that the native churches must not be hampered by restrictions which were the outcome of historical conditions in Europe, or Anglican missions weakened in the face of the progress of those carried on by British and American Nonconformists. Presbyterians and Anglican clergy drew attention to the practice of admitting Scotsmen and other non-Anglicans to the Lord's Supper in the Church of England, and to the neglect of the rite of confirmation in the past. Missionaries and colonial administrators pointed out that an African Nonconformist could not be repelled from communion in an Anglican church when, as often happened, his own form of worship was inaccessible to him, without the risk of estranging him from Christianity altogether; and Lord George Hamilton (in The Times, Jan. 6) urged that division among Christian missions in East Africa would mean the triumph of Mohammedanism. The Archbishop of Canterbury, in a letter published on January 1, had mentioned that he had not yet been informed of the precise question which the Bishop of Zanzibar desired to raise; and, after the matter had been actively canvassed, it was allowed to rest pending a further pronouncement by the heads of the Anglican Church.

A subject of more pressing interest was to be found in the various movements among organised labour. The ballots under the Trade Union Act of 1913 as to the establishment of a political fund, which were being taken in the first fortnight of the year, tended to reassure those who feared the growth of a strong Labour party, inasmuch as the vote was generally light (the miners, however, being a notable exception) and substantial minorities were unfavourable to the establishment of such a fund, and therefore presumably wished to keep their unions out of politics. But against this was to be set the marked prevalence of Labour unrest. A national movement was expected for a minimum wage and an eight hours' day for surface workers about mines, which might lead to local strikes, and ultimately to a general stoppage. A lock-out was threatened in the London building trade, where the presence of a single non-unionist was now the signal for an instant refusal to continue to work with him. A conflict was expected in the engineering and shipbuilding trade on the expiry in March of the existing working agreement. The abandonment of the Brooklands agreement threatened the peace of the cotton trade. There were signs of trouble among the gas-workers and transport workers in various places; and the railwaymen were preparing for a struggle towards the end of the year on the questions of recognition of the union, an amended conciliation scheme, and a shorter working day.

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Meanwhile the Unionist party was prepared for the loss of one of its most imposing figures by Mr. Chamberlain's letters to the Presidents of the Liberal Unionist and Conservative Associations in his constituency of West Birmingham, announcing that he would retire from Parliament at the general election. He had not appeared in the House except to take the oath and his seat, since his disablement by gout and partial paralysis in the summer of 1906 (A.R., 1906, p. 180); and, though his health was not worse than it had been for some time, it had long been realised that he could never again take an active part in political life. Still, the announcement marked the close of an epoch, and of his Parliamentary connexion of more than thirty-seven years with Birmingham, twenty-nine of them as the first member for his actual constituency; and it was received with general regret and with acknowledgment, even by opponents, of his distinguished services to Great Britain and to the Empire. It was arranged that Mr. Austen Chamberlain should stand for his father's seat in West Birmingham. A few days later another Parliamentary veteran of Liberal Unionism, Mr. Jesse Collings, retired likewise after thirty-three years' service in Parliament, of which he had spent twenty-seven as member for Bordesley. He had worked, he said, for over half a century with Mr. Chamberlain, "and it seems fitting, even as a matter of sentiment only, that we should put off our harness together and at the same time."

However, the supreme questions were the attitude and the future of Ulster; and the period of interchange of views and of respite was rapidly drawing to a close. As The Times noticed (Jan. 5), responsible Unionists during the period of "conversations" had observed the "rule of reticence"; and such voices as had been heard were those of more independent politicians. Mr. William O'Brien, speaking at Douglas, near Cork (Jan. 4), regretted that the Nationalists had not accepted Lord Loreburn's proposals or the concessions suggested by the "All for Ireland" party, which in that event, had Sir Edward Carson refused them, might have been the subject of an appeal to the country. He again denounced the idea of the separation of Ulster from the rest of Ireland. A method of averting this and yet satisfying the fears of the Ulster Unionists was suggested by Mr. T. Lough, M.P., himself an Ulsterman and a Liberal, and had the support of Dr. Mahaffy and other eminent Protestant Irishmen. It was, briefly, to give the Protestant and Unionist minority a larger representation in the Irish House of Commons than their numerical strength would entitle them to claim. But the indemnity fund to compensate the Ulster Volunteers for their sacrifices for the cause had exceeded 1,000,000l. by January 9; and it was freely reported that the "conversations" had broken down, and the first important utterances by Unionists confirmed this opinion.

Addressing a Primrose League mass meeting at Manchester, on[Pg 5] January 14, Earl Curzon of Kedleston dealt mainly with the naval question and with Ulster. The Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement, he said, was inconsistent with his speech in August, 1913 (A.R., 1913, p. 194). There was something humiliating in these appeals from British Ministers for a reduction, and British reductions had merely led to a German increase. The "naval holiday" proposal had produced no response, and the policy of independent and isolated reduction would provoke the exultation of Great Britain's enemies and the anger of her friends. Collective man seemed to be as selfish, bloodthirsty and brutal as in the dark ages, and the only guarantee of safety was the knowledge that a nation could not be attacked with impunity. Giving reasons for increased expenditure, he said that by the Navy alone could Great Britain keep her treaties with foreign Powers, maintain the balance of power in Europe, and be of any value to her friends. A Little Navy campaign would rouse Unionist protest throughout the country, not for party purposes, but because it tended to national suicide. As to Home Rule, he intimated that the conversations between the leaders had hitherto had no result; and, after pressing for either a referendum or a general election, he indicated that the Unionists might accept the Bill were it considerably altered and Ulster excluded. In gaining Ulster by force, the Nationalists would lose it for ever. To secure a peaceful Ireland, the Unionists would make sacrifices; but they could not consent to Home Rule within Home Rule, which Ulster would not accept. They desired to save the country from a great disaster and must appeal to the national instincts of the people.

The Lord Chancellor, speaking at Hoxton on January 15, advised his hearers not to be pessimistic about the discussions between the leaders; but at Bristol on the same evening Mr. Bonar Law gave no hope of a successful outcome. The country, he said, was rapidly and inevitably drifting to civil war. The conversations so far had been without result, and he expected that there would be none. It was not for the Unionists to make proposals, and, anxious as they were to avoid a terrible upheaval, they would accept no proposal which did not meet the just claims of Ulster. He had thought from the speeches of Mr. Churchill, Sir E. Grey, and even the Prime Minister at Ladybank, that the Government were prepared to face the facts, but the Nationalist leaders had claimed the right to govern Ulster, which they could not govern by their own strength. The Government knew that if they appealed to the people and were defeated their whole work of the last two years would be lost; and they had also incurred obligations to the Nationalists, and were resolved to carry their policy through. If they were right, the Ulstermen and the Unionists, who meant to assist them, were traitors; if the Unionists were right, the Government were acting as tyrants, and had lost the right to obedience. He argued once more that[Pg 6] Home Rule was not before the electorate at the election of 1910, and pointed out that the American colonies in 1776, though their cause for revolt was trivial as compared with that of Ulster, had revolted on a question of principle while suffering was still distant. He contrasted the apathy in Dublin with the determination in Ulster, daily becoming more immovable, and interpreted Sir Edward Grey's statement at Bradford (A.R., 1913, p. 250) that the Government would put down an outbreak in Ulster as signifying that the Government hoped that Ulster would give occasion to put its existence down by force. That was gambling in human life. The position in Ulster was no longer in doubt. The people in Ulster, and the Unionist party, had no alternative. The Unionist leaders fully recognised their responsibility, past and future; but the path of duty was that of national safety, for, if the Government once realised that the Unionist party was in earnest, they would see that they must appeal to the people.

The impression of hopelessness produced by this speech was seen in the appeal of the Archbishop of York, at Edinburgh, in a sermon on the following Sunday (Jan. 18), from the text "Blessed are the Peacemakers," that efforts at compromise should continue so as to save the country from civil war. But the Nationalists held that compromise was impossible until the Bill had reached its final stage in the Commons; and the rank and file of the Ulstermen desired that the negotiations should fail. Hence, though Mr. William O'Brien sacrificed his seat (Jan. 17) and stood again in order to prove that, in spite of the defeat of his following at the Cork municipal elections, the constituency continued to support the policy of "conference, conciliation, and consent," the mass both of Ulstermen and of Nationalists showed no disposition to make peace. The anxiety was heightened by the proceedings in Belfast (Jan. 17-19). Sir Edward Carson arrived on the 17th, inspected the East Belfast Regiment, and emphasised the determination of the force to resist Home Rule. On the 19th the Ulster Unionist Council met in private; and, addressing them at a luncheon afterwards, he said that Mr. Chamberlain had told him a few weeks before that "he would fight it out," and they would take his advice. "Conversations" as to a settlement had been taking place, but negotiations were useless unless based on the continuance, under the Imperial Parliament, of the rights which their ancestors had won. Further conversations might be necessary, but their preparations should keep pace with their diplomacy. He paid a tribute to the sacrifices made by the Volunteer Force, and concluded by saying that their loyalty to the Throne would last to the end, even if they were shot down cheering the King. An enthusiastic demonstration in the Ulster Hall followed, and was addressed by the Marquess of Londonderry, Mr. Long (who assured Ulster of the support of the English Unionists), and Sir Edward Carson, who again advised "peace, but preparation."

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Following this advice, the Ulster Unionist Standing Committee prepared for action; and at the annual meeting of the Ulster Women's Unionist Council Sir E. Carson again urged them to stand firm. He recognised the kindness of the English Unionists in preparing to receive the Ulster women and children in the event of civil war, but he believed "the women of Ulster would stand by their men." The women, it must be added, were actively engaged in preparing to take part in nursing, signalling, and telegraphic and postal work; and the meeting passed a resolution declaring its unabated loyalty to the Covenant and its resolve to continue in the pursuance of the cause and the maintenance of civil and religious freedom.

Speaking at Batley next day Mr. Birrell said that there was great prosperity in Ireland, except in Dublin, where, however, things were settling themselves; and he scoffed at the readiness of the Unionist party, while detesting Home Rule, to accept the decision of the odd men at a general election. He welcomed Sir Edward Carson's declaration that he would not close the door on negotiations; but they must leave the matter there for the present, resting satisfied that the Liberal party and its leader were conscious of the sacrifices Liberals had made to get the question into its actual position. From that they did not desire to see it recede in the least degree, except in pursuance of the object they had in view.

Meanwhile the Chancellor's utterance on naval expenditure had encouraged Liberal expressions of the demand for reduction at meetings at Manchester, Newcastle-on-Tyne, and elsewhere, even in the City of London (Jan. 16). This last meeting, at the Cannon Street Hotel, though not large, was influential, but there was a considerable dissentient element, and a protest was made in the name of "a great majority of members of the Stock Exchange." The chairman, Mr. F. W. Hirst, editor of the Economist, condemned the First Lord for not keeping to his own standard of sixteen to ten; and two resolutions were moved, one advocating a searching examination into all departments of expenditure, in order that the Sinking Fund might be maintained without additions to the taxes; the other urging savings in expenditure on armaments, "in view of the improved relations with all other Powers and the reduction in the naval programme of Germany," the next strongest Continental naval Power. Sir John Brunner and three M. P.'s—Mr. D. A. Thomas, Mr. Lough, and Mr. D. M. Mason—addressed the meeting, the first-named advocating the abolition of the right of capture of private property at sea.

One result of the protests was that the Daily Telegraph (Jan. 20), by an ingenious conjecture, declared that there was a grave crisis in the Cabinet, and that both the naval and civil members of the Board of Admiralty had expressed their intention to re[Pg 8]tire if the Cabinet refused the supplies asked for, which they regarded as the bare minimum necessary; the statement, however, was promptly contradicted officially.

A day earlier the Postmaster-General, speaking at Henley-on-Thames, had stated that, besides the measures to be passed under the Parliament Act, the Prime Minister within the year would lay before Parliament proposals for the complete elimination from it of the hereditary principle and the thorough democratising of the Second Chamber.

The Ministry thus sat tight and defied its assailants, and the Opposition felt that their best chance lay in Ulster. Mr. Austen Chamberlain made it the chief theme of his speech at Shirley, Hants, on January 23, when he declared that Ulster, in the last resort, would save herself by her own right arm, and that England would follow her example.

But within the Unionist party itself there was fresh trouble on fiscal reform. The Farmers' Tariff League appealed by advertisement to Unionist agriculturists, manufacturers, and those dependent on fixed incomes, to vote against supporters of the existing Unionist fiscal policy; Mr. Rowland Hunt, at the Horncastle branch of the Farmers' Union (Jan. 14), denounced the postponement of food duties (A. R., 1912, p. 267) as disastrous, and the existing tariff policy as "rotten." A 10 per cent. duty was too low for manufactured goods, and home food producers were left unprotected, although their contribution to rates and taxes was equivalent to a duty of 15 per cent. Mr. Hunt, of course, was an independent and irresponsible Unionist, but he did not stand alone.

More responsible Unionists, too, were constrained by the Government programme to concede that something must be done to redress the alleged social grievances, and to propound an alternative and more moderate policy. Thus Mr. Long, speaking at the Holloway Empire (Jan. 17), after referring briefly to the threatening cloud of civil war, and promising that a Unionist Ministry would ask for power to make the Navy adequate, criticised the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement in that hall (A. R., 1913, p. 247), pointing out that the number of separate freehold estates in St. Pancras was not ten, but 1,550. He went on to suggest that instead of the Chancellor's reform proposals, which would take some years to carry out and entail a horde of officials and much un-English Government interference, there should be (1) facility for continuity of tenure by industrial tenants in London and large towns under reasonable conditions, or else compensation for loss of tenancy; (2) reasonable compensation for tenants' improvements which increased the letting value; (3) protection or relief from unreasonable covenants restricting the development of property. The Unionists would give redress through a tribunal modelled on the Wreck Commissioners' Court,[Pg 9] and a non-controversial Bill embodying these changes might be introduced in the coming session. This would redress the existing grievances in six or eight months, but, as with housing reform (A. R., 1912, p. 57) the Radicals were determined that the Unionist party should not have the credit of carrying a measure of social reform. [Other items of a Unionist "social programme" were understood to be in preparation.]

Meanwhile an important subject of non-contentious legislation for any Ministry that might be in office was afforded by the International Conference on the Safety of Life at Sea, originally suggested by the German Emperor and called by King George, which had met in London on November 12, 1913, and signed a Convention as the result of its deliberations on January 20. Publication was postponed till it had been communicated to the eighteen Governments participating (among them those of Canada, Australia and New Zealand); but the results were summarised in a speech by Lord Mersey, the Chairman of the Conference. Five Committees had dealt respectively with Safety of Navigation, Safety of Construction, Wireless Telegraphy, Lifesaving Appliances, and Certificates. The provisions are too numerous to be given in detail here; it may be said that an international service under the control of the United States was established for dealing with ice and dangerous derelicts within certain limits in the North Atlantic; ice must be reported, speed reduced at night in its neighbourhood or the course altered, boat decks properly lighted, and Morse signal lamps carried. Steps were taken to revise the international regulations dealing with collisions. Strict regulations were laid down as to the subdivision of ships into watertight compartments, and other provisions against sinking, fire, or collision; and also as to the equipment of all merchant vessels of the contracting States, when on international voyages and carrying more than fifty persons, with wireless telegraphy; lifeboats or their equivalents must be provided for all on board, and there were minute regulations both as to these and as to other forms of life-saving apparatus; a specified number of men must be carried competent to handle boats and life-rafts; and provision was made for the detection of fire. Ships of the contracting States complying with the requirements of the Convention would receive certificates which each of the States would acknowledge. The Convention was to come into force on July 1, 1915.

A foretaste of the expected Labour troubles was afforded in London by a strike (Jan. 21), in very cold weather, of the coal porters, after the failure of negotiations with the employers for increased pay; two days later the coal carmen came out also, and the number on strike was about 10,000. Permits were at first given by the strikers, but afterwards stopped, for the carriage of coal to hospitals and infirmaries; but the clerks and travellers of[Pg 10] the employers, and the students at the hospitals, volunteered to take the places of the strikers, and vehicles of all sorts, including motor-cars, were lent to replace the carts. The strike ended (Jan. 28) with concessions by the employers, one firm having previously given way. But the dispute in the London building trade (p. 3) was more serious. The Master Builders' Association complained that, some twenty times in the past nine months, men employed on one or other building job had suddenly refused to work with a non-unionist; and they demanded that each employee individually should sign an undertaking not to strike against the employment of non-unionists, under penalty of a fine of 20s. The men declined to discuss these conditions; and on Saturday, January 24, a number were dismissed, and a general lock-out was threatened. There was some doubt if the proposed fine would be legally enforceable; and, as the men were dismissed, they claimed unemployment benefit under the Insurance Act, but in vain. And the dispute was complicated by the raising of other questions as a condition of the resumption of work. About a thousand of the men submitted; the great majority remained firm. Among other examples of unrest was a prolonged strike of chairmakers at High Wycombe, which led to some rioting; of the taxi-drivers of London; of the municipal employees at Blackburn; and of the elementary school-teachers in Herefordshire. And the Prime Minister (Feb. 3) felt constrained to decline the request made by a deputation of the Miners' Federation to extend the principle of the Minimum Wage Act to surface workers, thus widening the visible rift between Labour and the Government.

The militant suffragists, meanwhile, had not been inactive. A conservatory in the Glasgow Winter Garden had been damaged, and an unoccupied house near Lanark fired, on January 24; and two days later a deputation from the militant organisation submitted to the Bishop of London a statement (based wholly on inference) from Miss Ansell, a prisoner in Holloway Jail, to the effect that a fellow-prisoner, Rachel Peace, was being forcibly fed and brutally treated by the jail authorities. The Bishop, however, after personally investigating the matter and talking to Miss Peace, satisfied himself that the statement was unfounded. The Home Secretary was willing to advise Miss Peace's absolute release if she would undertake to abstain from crime; this she was conscientiously unable to promise, and, though the Bishop had pleaded that she might be released on licence, and she had agreed to abide by its terms, this course was impracticable under the Act. The Bishop's letter stating these facts was published January 31; the militants met it by interrupting the service while he was consecrating a church at Golder's Green next day, and on the day following another militant deputation asked him to visit two other women prisoners in Holloway, and state his ex[Pg 11]periences at a meeting of the Women's Social and Political Union. This last invitation he declined, but he visited the prison, talked to the two women, Miss Marian and Miss Brady, and found that while forcible feeding made one of them sick and gave the other indigestion, no harshness was shown them by the officials, and they complained of no personal unkindness. He told the militants, in conclusion, that their action was not only wrong, but impolitic. The militants were furious at this reply, and the Bishop's house was picketed by their emissaries, who were, however, unable to see him.

But none of these disturbing questions could interrupt the Home Rule controversy for long. Speaking at a Home Rule meeting of some 15,000 persons in Waterford on Sunday, January 25, Mr. John Redmond said that the British people remained absolutely unshaken in their support of Home Rule, and that, putting aside two unlikely contingencies, the Bill would in the current year automatically become law. The Prime Minister would not be intimidated into dropping it; he was the strongest and sanest Englishman of the day in British politics. Alarmist shrieks were filling the air, but business in Belfast and Ulster was booming, and the great body of the people of Great Britain remained unmoved. There could not be a war without two contending parties; and the Ulster "army" was for defence only, and would not be attacked. He saw no prospect of Ulster goodwill being purchased by any concession, but it was almost a blasphemy to say that "the Nationalists could do without them." Long ago he had said that there were no lengths, short of the abandonment of the principle of nationalism, to which he would not go, no safeguards to which he would object, which would satisfy the fears of Ulstermen for their religious interests. Subject to the limits recently laid down by the Premier (A. R. 1913, p. 220) he said the same that day, and was prepared to pay a big price for settlement by consent. The Nationalists of Ulster had shown admirable loyalty and self-restraint, and those of North Cork "magnificent discipline" in refusing a contest which, whatever its result, would greatly injure their cause (p. 6). Ireland's travail was almost ended, and they were about to witness the rebirth of Irish freedom, prosperity, and happiness. Before the meeting Mr. Redmond had been presented with a number of addresses from public bodies, and had said that under Home Rule there would be a need for practical business men; politics would disappear, and their task would be to apply themselves to practical problems, and to lift Ireland from the slough of despond in which it had been for the past thirty years.

Sir Edward Carson replied next day, at Lincoln, that Mr. Redmond seemed to speak as if he held the Government in the hollow of his hand. If his speech were the last word, the country was in a lamentable and critical position. On the other[Pg 12] hand, Mr. Birrell, at North Bristol, ridiculed the Unionist insistence on the danger of civil war as a mere party move; eulogised Mr. Redmond's speech, and said that before civil war began, Mr. Asquith would have stated to the world the opportunity offered to Ulster and refused. All Governments were experimental; Liberals saw that the only Government now possible for Ireland was one which should have the authority of the people and time for legislative work. Should the Tories come in, they would within six months be introducing a measure only colourably different from that on which they were threatening civil war.

Mr. Long, at Nottingham (Jan. 28), denounced the obscurity of this speech, and hinted at a suspicion that the Government were trying to force Ulster to prejudice its case by committing some act of violence; and Mr. Austen Chamberlain also replied to the Chief Secretary for Ireland at Skipton (Jan. 30), denouncing the Government for forcing on, during a time of turmoil abroad and at home, the Welsh Church, Home Rule, and Plural Voting Bills. They had found Ireland at peace, and brought it to the verge of civil war. Their methods had destroyed the moral basis of their authority. No concession worth speaking of would avert the dangers then threatening, unless it provided for the exclusion of Ulster from the sphere of a Union Parliament. The Chief Secretary's paper safeguards were of no value. The Lord-Lieutenant would be distracted between the advice of his Ministers and of the Imperial Government. He could not trust the Nationalists, nor, judging by the provisions in the Bill, could the Government. England was to conquer a province and hold it down at the expense of her friends and for the benefit of her enemies. Against this Ulster appealed to the nation, and the Unionist party would stand by them.

The Nationalist comment was expressed by Mr. Devlin at Moate, Westmeath (Feb. 1). After saying that, without compulsion, which was one of the vital provisions of the pending Land Bill, the land problem would not be solved either in this generation or the next, he declared that the only obstacle in the way of Home Rule was the threat of civil war in Ulster, which had failed to convince or intimidate anybody, not least in Ulster itself. The so-called Volunteer movement and the Provisional Government had been reduced to a miserable fiasco, and the whole thing was a gigantic game of bluff. Among business men in favour of Home Rule he cited Lord Pirrie, Sir Hugh Mack, Mr. Glendinning, and Mr. Thomas Shillington, "out of a host of others."

Another brief interruption in the Home Rule controversy, to the temporary disadvantage of the Government, was now occasioned by the news (Jan. 28) of the deportation, by the South African Government, of ten of the Labour leaders concerned in the strike disturbances (post, For. and Col. Hist., chap. VII., 1). The indignation was heightened by the evasion by that Government[Pg 13] of a legal decision on the validity of the deportation, which was carried out under martial law, and by its reliance on an Act of Indemnity. The Labour Party Congress in Glasgow at once passed a resolution protesting against the suppression of trade union action in South Africa by armed force, expressing sympathy with the deported leaders, and requesting the Labour members in the Imperial Parliament to call for a full inquiry, and demand, if necessary, Lord Gladstone's recall; and next day it passed a further resolution calling upon the Government to instruct Lord Gladstone to withhold assent to the Bill until it had been submitted to the King. Strong speeches were made by Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, Mr. Keir Hardie, and other members, the first-named declaring that if the Imperial authority could not stop this attack on the right of combination, he had rather the South African Union were a foreign Power. On the other hand, Mr. Illingworth, the chief Liberal Whip, pointed out (at Clayton, Jan. 30) that South Africa was governed by a Parliament elected on a very free and wide franchise and quite uncontrolled by the Imperial Government, and that interference with such independent assembly would wreck the Empire; Lord Gladstone had acted on the advice of his responsible Ministers, as the King would in Great Britain; and the Home Government was blameless. At Hull, on the same evening, Mr. F. E. Smith asked for a suspension of judgment, and pointed out the inconsistency of demanding that the King should veto a Bill of Indemnity and repudiating that course on Home Rule. The South African Government, he reminded his hearers, had been created with the help of the Labour party.

The Liberal Press had anticipated the Chief Whip's arguments; but at the North Durham bye-election (Chron., Jan. 30) though the Liberals held the seat, which had always been regarded as safe for them, it was said that the deportations had caused the transfer from the Liberal to the Labour candidate of some 500 votes. In view of this transfer, the Postmaster-General, speaking at Harrogate, on February 2, had explained that Lord Gladstone's assent to the deportation of the Labour leaders was not required by the Constitution of South Africa, and, in fact, had not been asked. He added that the North Durham result did not support Mr. Bonar Law's prophecy of an early general election.

Should such an event occur, however, there were plenty of other questions for the electors besides Home Rule, Some of them, indeed, might prove dangerous for the Government, notably the land question, on which its programme did not go far enough for the single-taxers, a strong body in some districts, especially in Scotland. For this reason special interest was felt in the speech, which had been repeatedly deferred, of the Chancellor of the Exchequer at Glasgow on February 4. Many opponents got in[Pg 14] with forged tickets; nevertheless he had a fair hearing. After ridiculing the explanations in the Press of the postponement as due to differences in the Cabinet, or difficulties with the Ulster Unionists or the "single-taxers," he said that the underlying principle of land legislation was that the land was created for the benefit of all dwellers on it, and that any rights of ownership inconsistent with this principle should be ruthlessly overridden. That was the principle of the Scottish Land Act, but there were still anomalies; the peasantry was emigrating largely, and could not be spared. While indicating that rural conditions were not so bad in Scotland as in England, he pointed out that the effect of the Scottish Land Act had been to reduce the rents on many well-managed estates, a proof that under the system of competitive rents, part of a farmer's labour was unconsciously confiscated by rent. After indicating afresh the main points in the Ministerial scheme, he passed to the urban problem. Housing was even worse in some Scottish towns than in England. The cost of clearing the slums was prohibitive. Municipalities should be able (1) to acquire land at a fair market price, and (2) in advance of existing needs; (3) there should be an expeditious method of arriving at the price, and (4) the land must contribute to public expenditure on the basis of its real value. He alleged certain instances of the contrary—the Duke of Montrose had received 2,000 years' purchase from the people of Glasgow on the basis of his contribution to the public funds; the Cathcart School Board had paid 3,270l. 17s., or 920 years' purchase, for an acre and a half of the rateable value of 3l. 10s.; and 27,255l., or 2,452 years' purchase of the rateable value, had been paid for ten acres for a torpedo range near Greenock. The Clyde Trustees had had to pay to a Peer 84,000l. for nineteen acres—1,400 years' purchase of the rateable value. A new rating system was wanted, which should rate property on its real value and not discourage improvement; and high authorities had approved the rating of site values, notably Lord Rosebery and Mr. Chamberlain. Of the two proposals—to rate site value only, and not to rate it at all—he regarded the first as impracticable, the second as pusillanimous; there were several alternative methods between these limits, but whichever one was adopted, there must be a national valuation, and it would be ready in 1915. Of his statements on the Highland clearances he withdrew none; of course mountains were unsuitable for agriculture, but the glens were capable of tillage and the hillsides of afforestation. As to the Sutherland clearances he cited Sir Walter Scott, Hugh Miller, and a recent book by Mr. Sage, an Established Church minister, to show the suffering caused, and denounced the Duke of Sutherland (A. R., 1913, p. 262) for trying to get money out of the proposed redress of the wrong done by his ancestors. As to the discrepancy between the offer and the valuation for death[Pg 15] duties, "there had never been such a case since the days of Ananias and Sapphira." In 1748 the Duke of Sutherland had claimed compensation for the abolition of the right to hang his subjects; he asked for 10,000l. and got 1,000l. This was an instance of the patience with which the people had endured great injustice. Outside the Highlands hundreds of thousands of men were working for a wage barely keeping their families above privation, seeing their children die for lack of light, air, and space; in the cities there were quagmires of fermenting human misery; but the chariots of retribution were drawing nigh, and there would be elbow-room for the poor.

This speech incidentally led to a sharp controversy between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Duke of Montrose, who pointed out that the land sold by him to the Corporation was sold at a price awarded on arbitration, and covering many items besides the value of the land, and that he had no interest in the Cathcart School or its site.

Two days earlier, the Earl of Derby, speaking at Liverpool, had elaborately and effectively rebutted attacks made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the management of the Bootle estate, and, in view of a statement by Baron de Forest in a memorandum attached to the Land Report (A. R., 1913, p. 212) that the value of the site of Bootle had risen from 7,000l. in 1724 to three or four millions in 1913, he had offered the estate to Baron de Forest for 1,500,000l. The Baron accepted, on condition that the transfer should include all sums realised since 1724 by sales, fines, or mortgages—a condition which terminated the negotiations, though not the epistolary controversy.

The day before the Chancellor of the Exchequer had appeased the single-taxers, the Foreign Secretary had again disquieted the Liberal advocates of naval reduction at a dinner given him by the Manchester Chamber of Commerce (Feb. 3). Beginning with a reference to the Lancashire cotton industry and the promotion of trade by the Consular service, he said that one duty of the Foreign Office was to keep open the world's markets; but further difficulties might be raised by the effort to do so—in Persia, for example—and the Great Powers could not as yet interfere to prevent war without the danger of an outbreak of war among themselves. Happily in the Balkan War the Great Powers had left the settlement in the main to the States concerned, and had preserved peace among themselves. British policy, throughout, had made for peace. But trade was damaged, not only by war, but by the waste involved in armament expenditure. A slackening by one country, however, would rather stimulate the others than cause them to slacken; British naval expenditure was a great factor in that of Europe, but the forces making for increase were beyond control. To reduce the British naval programme would probably produce no response in Europe; at any rate, it[Pg 16] would be staking too much on a gambling chance. England, though she felt the financial strain the least, was calling out against this expenditure, because, as business men, Englishmen were shocked by the waste and apprehensive of its effect on the credit of Europe. She had several times proposed reduction by consent, but had met with no response. The only schoolmaster for other Powers was finance, and he thought at no distant date it might begin to be effectual. He closed with a reference to the great traditions of the Manchester School, and an expression of hope for the solution of the current problems of industrial discontent.

The outlook in Europe had been improved, and the position of Great Britain strengthened, by the reception of the British Note to the Powers on the solution of the Near Eastern problem (A. R., 1913, p. 357; For. Hist., Chap. III.); but the case for reduction of naval expenditure had been weakened by the Canadian Premier's announcement (Jan. 20), that he would not proceed with his naval policy till after a general election. Nevertheless, a strong feeling in favour of economy was exhibited in many quarters, notably by the Chambers of Commerce of Manchester, Bradford, and Burnley, and at public meetings at Manchester and elsewhere. A meeting to advocate reduction at Queen's Hall, London (Feb. 3), was addressed by Sir Herbert Leon (chairman), the Bishop of Hereford, Lord Courtney of Penwith, and Mr. Ponsonby, M. P. The chairman said it was folly to pay such a rate of insurance against an impossible catastrophe; the Bishop of Hereford feared that some Government departments were affected with the poison of Jingo Imperialism; Lord Courtney of Penwith denounced the "armaments gang," and suggested that Great Britain might renounce all notions of alliances, and get rid even of the elusive aspect of ententes; and Mr. Ponsonby ridiculed the futile diplomacy of the First Lord in proposing a naval holiday in a party platform speech. On the other hand, a meeting called at the request of a thousand business men in the City of London (Feb. 9) assured the Government of the support of the commercial community in any measures necessary to secure the supremacy of the British Navy and the adequate protection of the trade routes of the Empire. The Lord Mayor presided, and the non-party character of the meeting was exhibited by the circumstance that Lord Southwark, a former Liberal whip, moved the main resolution, and the Hon. Thomas Mackenzie, Agent-General for New Zealand, supported it.

Speaking at the annual dinner of the Birmingham Jewellers' and Silversmiths' Association (Feb. 7), Mr. Austen Chamberlain expressed his grave misgiving at the outlook for the session. The Parliament Act, he said, paralysed the discussion for the first two years of measures placed under it, and the desire for the reduction of naval expenditure was unshared by any responsible person who[Pg 17] had access to the real history of the past two years. Foreign policy had happily been kept outside party, the Government accepting the policy of its predecessors. The Foreign Secretary should take the House and the people more into his confidence, to ensure that they should be united in a great emergency, and should give a reasoned review of the position in relation to the affairs of the world such as that accorded by the Foreign Ministers of other Great States to Parliaments to which they were less responsible than the British Foreign Secretary was to that of Great Britain.

To return to domestic politics, the friction set up by the Insurance Act seemed to be gradually abating; and the results of the Act were set forth by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at a complimentary non-political dinner to Dr. Addison, Liberal M. P. for Hoxton, organised by members of the medical profession, at the Hotel Metropole on February 6. After eulogising Dr. Addison's services in effecting, with Sir George Newnes, the medical treatment of school-children and State provision for medical research, he laid stress on Dr. Addison's aid, coupled with absolute loyalty to his profession, during the struggle with the medical men (A. R., 1913, pp. 2, 49). There were now, including doctors on more than one panel under the same Insurance Committee, over 20,000 general practitioners on the panels out of 22,500 in Great Britain; nearly 4,500,000l. had been distributed among them, and the average for each was 230l., rising in London to 330l. and in Birmingham to 380l. Besides this there was 933,000l. for drugs, and a balance of 310,000l. unallotted as between doctors and chemists. That was for only one-third of the population. Millions of people must before the Act have been without medical attendance. A locum tenens had previously received two guineas a week, now he received eight, nine, or even twelve. Assistants had received 120l. with board and lodging, or 180l. without them, now they got 200l. and 250l. respectively, or even more. That was the settlement which was to ruin the profession. They were at last getting a survey of the health of the nation such as they had never had before.

But the supreme problem was still Home Rule; and the Nationalist position had again been emphasised by Mr. John Redmond at a dinner given him by the National Liberal Club on February 6, the first time the club had officially entertained a leader of the Nationalist party in Parliament. He declared that the Unionist opposition to the Home Rule Bill was essentially directed against the Parliament Act: the Unionists, he believed, would be Home Rulers to-morrow if it suited their party interests, and he referred to Lord Carnarvon's historic interview with Mr. Parnell in 1885, and to the Constitutional Conference of 1910. Even in 1911 a Tory paper had stated that there was much to be said for the principle of Home Rule under the name of federation, devolution, and self-government. The Unionists, however, had[Pg 18] to fall back on Ireland for a policy and a party cry, though the principle of self-government had been bitterly opposed by their predecessors for Canada and for South Africa, and they disliked it for Ireland, having an ingrained belief in the inferiority of the Irish race. But the Irish would no longer submit to be made the pawns and playthings of British parties. Were the Home Rule Bill killed, Ireland would be absolutely ungovernable under the old regime. The issue was whether the will of Parliament, of Ireland, and of the Empire, was to be overborne by a threat of civil war from a minority in one province. As Mr. Balfour had said in 1902, civilised government on such terms was impossible. But the Nationalists were passionately desirous to avoid conflict with any section of their own countrymen; they wanted Ireland to be one nation; and, consistently with an Irish Parliament with an Executive responsible to it, and consistently with the integrity of Ireland, he could conceive of no reasonable length to which he would not be prepared to go to meet even the unreasonable fears of a section of his countrymen for the sake of an agreement. But any concession must be as the price to be paid for consent to an agreement; if no agreement was come to, the Bill must go through as it stood.

Speaking two days later at Longford, Mr. Devlin again promised every possible concession to the fears of the Protestants, short of the abandonment of Home Rule, and expressed his belief in an early Nationalist victory which would bring Ireland peace and goodwill. A compromise was suggested in a pamphlet by Mr. F. S. Oliver ("Pacificus") and an unnamed collaborator—viz. suspension of the Home Rule Bill, which gave Ireland more powers than she would have as a State in a Federation, until a Federal system should be created for the United Kingdom in which she should be treated like England and Scotland. But a more appropriate and impressive contribution to the controversy was made by Sir Horace Plunkett—who had just visited Ulster in the interest of peace—in a lengthy communication to The Times (Feb. 10). Each side, he said, misunderstood the other. The Government and the Liberal party regarded the Parliament Act as designed to overcome the hostility of the House of Lords to Liberal measures; those passed under it were being passed in order to clear the ground for social reform; the Ulster Unionists believed that the Parliament Act was passed solely with a view to Home Rule and under Nationalist dictation; and they would fight rather than submit to what they regarded as an incapable and priest-ridden Nationalist majority. If the Bill passed in the coming session there would be either civil war or sectarian outrages, possibly leading to retaliation. Objecting both to "Home Rule within Home Rule" and to the exclusion of Ulster, as tending to impair the solidarity of Ireland, he suggested that the Ulster Unionists should accept the Bill under three conditions: (1) A de[Pg 19]finite area of Ulster should have a right to secede, after a term of years, the decision to be by plebiscite in it; (2) both Nationalists and Unionists, preferably in conference, should be invited to suggest amendments to be incorporated in the Bill by consent; (3) the Ulster Volunteers should be allowed to become a Territorial Force, partly as an ultimate safeguard for the Ulster Unionists. He laid stress on the other issues which made a settlement of the Home Rule controversy imperative—the growing unrest among the masses, the education on the Continent and in India, and the danger involved by "the reopening of Irish sores" to Anglo-American relations and the consolidation of the Empire.

And so the questions were set for the first period of the session. Home Rule stood in the foreground, with some sort of compromise as to the treatment of Ulster, though the nature of the compromise divided both parties in both islands; then followed increased naval expenditure; and, in the background, Welsh disestablishment, the Plural Voting Bill, reform of the House of Lords, and Social legislation. All these questions might easily widen the rifts which seemed to be beginning in the ranks of the Ministerialists; but there was no indication that the Unionists could produce a practicable programme, or unite in its support. Still, their organisation was understood to be preparing for a general election, to take place in May; but the Ministry were certain not to concede it, partly because they held that the electors did not demand it, partly because the concession of it would nullify the Parliament Act. Nor could they amend the Home Rule Bill except by fresh legislation, or by suggestions accepted by the House of Lords. If otherwise amended, it would lose the benefit of the Parliament Act, by becoming a different Bill from that of 1912 and 1913.


In spring-like weather and brilliant sunshine the King, accompanied by the Queen, drove in state to open Parliament on Tuesday, February 10. The crowds on the route were greater than usual, and the occasion was marked by no untoward incident, suffragist or otherwise. The ceremony in the House of Lords was even more numerously attended and more brilliant than in former years, and the King's Speech was listened to with profound attention, rewarded by the significant paragraph, read by His Majesty in measured tones, dealing with Home Rule.

The Speech opened with the usual statement that relations with foreign Powers continued friendly, and went on to express pleasure at the King's coming visit to the French President, and to the opportunity thereby afforded him of testifying to the cordial[Pg 20] relations existing between the two countries. Reference was next made to the recent consultation with the other Powers respecting the settlement of Albania and the Ægean Islands, with the view of giving effect to resolutions adopted by the Powers during the Ambassadors' Conference in London, and to the measures adopted for erecting the new administration in Albania. The Baghdad Railway and Persian Gulf problems were, it was intimated, likely to be solved satisfactorily. Gratification was expressed at the signature of the Convention on the safety of life at sea, and a Bill carrying out its provisions was promised; and regret at the drought, fortunately limited in area, in India. The Estimates were promised, without the usual reference to economy. The Bills to be passed under the Parliament Act were dealt with as follows:—

"My Lords and Gentlemen,—The measures in regard to which there were differences last session between the two Houses will be again submitted to your consideration. I regret that the efforts which have been made to arrive at a solution by agreement of the problems connected with the Government of Ireland have, so far, not succeeded. In a matter in which the hopes and the fears of so many of my subjects are keenly concerned, and which, unless handled now with foresight, judgment, and in the spirit of mutual concession, threatens grave future difficulties, it is my most earnest wish that the goodwill and co-operation of men of all parties and creeds may heal dissension and lay the foundations of a lasting settlement."

Bills were also promised reconstituting the Second Chamber; carrying into effect those recommendations of the Royal Commission on Delay in the King's Bench Division which required the concurrence of Parliament; providing for Imperial naturalisation (prepared in consultation with the Dominion Governments); authorising public works loans to the Governments of the East African Protectorates; dealing with housing, national education, juvenile offenders; and, should time and opportunity permit, providing for other purposes of social reform. The Speech concluded with the usual invocation of the Divine blessing.

In both Houses the Opposition had determined to emphasise the gravity of the situation in Ulster by at once moving an amendment to the Address, humbly representing "that it would be disastrous to proceed further with the Government of Ireland Bill until it has been submitted to the judgment of the people." There had been rumours of coming disorder in the Commons; but they were falsified. Mr. Long (U., Strand) moved this amendment, after the Address had been moved by Mr. W. F. Roch (L., Pembroke) and seconded by Mr. Hewart (L., Leicester). Before Mr. Long rose the Speaker, in reply to Mr. Ramsay Macdonald (Lab., Leicester), ruled that the usual general debate might follow the impending discussion.

[Pg 21]

The debate covered much well-worn ground, but it resulted in a marked sense of relief. Mr. Long asked how the Opposition could consider the legislative programme of the Ministry in the face of a threatened civil war; but his speech was distinctly temperate. Incidentally he mentioned that there was grave anxiety in the Army and Navy, but he believed that the Unionists, whenever they had been asked, had advised the members of the Services to do their duty.

The Prime Minister, after reminding the House that when the Bill was introduced he had offered to consider further safeguards, if suggested, for Ulster, pointed out that in the earliest stages of the Parliament Bill it was contemplated that that measure should be applied to the Home Rule Bill (A. R., 1910, p. 87 seq.). The Unionists said that during the general election of 1910 Ministers had indulged in a gigantic system of mystification; he did not think that in all the annals of anthropology there had ever been a case in which a myth had so quickly crystallised into a creed. He himself had made it clear that the first use of the Parliament Act would be to carry the Home Rule Bill. The recent bye-elections showed a somewhat increased majority for Home Rule. The average elector was not seriously excited. A dissolution would admit that, so far as concerned Home Rule—the Parliament Act was an absolute nullity, and, of its three conceivable results, a stalemate would not improve the prospects of a solution, a Unionist majority would be faced with the problem of governing three-fourths or four-fifths of the Irish people against their will, and a Liberal victory would not lead the Ulstermen to drop their resistance. Would the Unionists, in that case, acquiesce in the passing unmutilated of the Government of Ireland Bill? He did not believe any such guarantee could be given. His conclusion was that if the matter was to be settled by a general agreement, it would be much better settled than by "a dissolution here and now." The King's Speech had mentioned the "conversations" between leaders; they were, and must remain, under the goal of confidence, The one satisfactory feature about them was that the Press had been completely at sea as to what was going on; and, though they had not resulted in any definite agreement, he did not despair. The language of the King's Speech ought to find an echo in every quarter of the Chamber. After touching on the proposed exclusion of Ulster, and Sir Horace Plunkett's plan (p. 18), he said that the Government recognised that they could not divest themselves of responsibility of initiative in the way of suggestion, but suggestions must not be taken as an admission that the Home Rule Bill was effective; they would be put forward as the price of peace,—meaning thereby not merely the avoidance of civil strife, but a favourable atmosphere for the start of the new system. There was nothing the Government would not do, consistently with their fundamental principles, to avoid civil war.[Pg 22] He agreed that there ought to be no avoidable delay, and the Governments when the necessary financial business had been disposed of, would submit suggestions to the House.

The debate was continued for some hours by Liberal and Unionist members. Mr. Austen Chamberlain was not very responsive to the Prime Minister's concessions; but Sir Edward Carson next day (Feb. 11) was more conciliatory. In an impressive speech, which later speakers recognised as contributing to the change in the situation, he emphasised the extreme gravity of the statement in the King's Speech, and the inability of the House to meet the situation by amending the Bill. The Prime Minister gave no indication of the steps proposed, and he thought the Government was manœuvring for position. Its proposals could only be made by an amending Bill. The insults offered to the Ulstermen had made a settlement far more difficult. Ulster must go on opposing the Bill to the end whatever happened; but if its exclusion were proposed, it would be his duty to go to Ulster at once and take counsel with the people there. But if the Ulstermen were to be compelled to come into a Dublin Parliament, he would, regardless of personal consequences, go on with them in their resistance to the end. The Government must either coerce Ulster, or try in the long run, by showing that good government could come under the Home Rule Bill, to win her over to the care of the rest of Ireland. He did not believe that Mr. Redmond wanted to triumph any more than he did, and one false step taken in relation to Ulster would render for ever impossible a solution of the Irish question. Hoping that peace would continue to the end, he declared that, if resistance became necessary, he would not refuse to join in it.

Mr. John Redmond (N., Waterford) said he shared to the full the anxiety expressed in the King's Speech for an amicable settlement, The Prime Minister had created a new situation by accepting responsibility for the Government in initiating proposals for such a settlement; while accepting the situation to the full, he thought the responsibility for the initiative might fairly have been left to the Opposition. He ridiculed Sir E. Carson's statement that the only course possible for the Government was an amending Bill—which would at once come under the Parliament Act—and assumed that the Prime Minister meant procedure by suggestions under that Act. In view of the numerous suggestions daily being made, the Prime Minister could hardly make proposals at once. He wished to shut the door in advance on no suggestions, but he examined critically the possible exclusion of Ulster, pointing out that what was meant was presumably the four north-eastern counties, in which, he contended, 37 per cent. of the population were Home Rulers. None of the Ulster members desired the exclusion of Ulster, and Irish Unionist opinion was against it, The Nationalists asked only that the concessions pro[Pg 23]posed should be consistent with the main principles of the Bill, and that, as a quid pro quo, there should be peace and consent. He was anxious to remove every honest fear, however unfounded, and would consider in the broadest and friendliest spirit any proposals the Government might make.

Later the Chief Secretary for Ireland, referring to a statement by Lord Hugh Cecil that the Unionists would treat the United Kingdom as one country, said that there was a new Ireland—not necessarily Home Rule or Nationalist, but "the renaissance of a nation." He had noticed, even in Sir E. Carson's speech, a feeling as of an Irishman speaking to Irishmen. The great difficulty was that the Government, in finding a solution, exposed itself to the taunt that it was yielding to force. He hoped for a national solution.

After other speeches, including one from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who summed up for the Government,—

Mr. Bonar Law (U., Lancs., Bootle), after again admitting the responsibility of the Opposition in countenancing resistance, confined himself to the speech of the Prime Minister. If the threatened calamity happened, the Prime Minister alone would be held responsible. At any rate, no popular mandate was given for the armed coercion of Ulster, and, if Ulster was to be coerced, the order should be given by the people themselves. The Prime Minister's proposals should have been made at once. His speech had changed the situation; he admitted that the Bill could not be imposed on Ulster without provisions for its protection, and that Ulster had a special identity justifying its separate treatment. If his proposals failed of acceptance, there was no alternative but to leave Ulster out. Ulster had claimed not to veto Home Rule for Nationalist Ireland, but to resist the right of Nationalist Ireland to govern her. If any kind of Home Rule was possible, the exclusion of Ulster was the only solution. If the Bill were sincerely meant as part of a general scheme of devolution, of which there was no evidence, let Ulster be left out till it was complete. The Nationalists had committed themselves against the exclusion of Ulster, and, so far as he could judge of Ulster and speak for the Unionists of Great Britain, such efforts as "Home Rule within Home Rule" would do the greatest harm; they would be made to be rejected, merely for the Government to improve its strategical position. Ulster was determined on resistance, on principle. Serious people no longer talked about "bluff." The Prime Minister knew that the passing of the Bill would be the signal for an outbreak of civil strife of which no man could foresee the end. Leave out Ulster, and automatically the danger of civil war ceased; or the Government might avoid it by submitting their proposals to the people. The Parliament Act, however, was used by Ministers to make themselves dictators. It was said that the Opposition were opposing[Pg 24] Home Rule to defeat that Act, but until Parliament met the day before the Government could have submitted its proposals to the people, and if the people were behind them the Act would not have been interfered with. The Government won the last election by the cry that the will of the people must prevail; what they meant by the Parliament Act was that their will was to prevail even against the will of the people. A general election won by the Government would change the situation both for the Unionists and for Ulster, and would give the Government the moral force they lacked. Or let them take a referendum on Home Rule, and if the decision were adverse they could go on with their other measures under the Parliament Act. If the coalition did not then hang together, it would show that the legislature did not represent the opinion of even the majority of its supporters. If they went on now there would be bloodshed in Ulster, and an appeal to the people must follow, and then how would the people regard them? The game was up. They must either make proposals removing the resistance of Ulster, or submit themselves to the judgment of the people.

The amendment was rejected by 333 to 78. There was a majority for it among the members representing Great Britain of three, but some twenty Liberals and Labour men were absent.

In the House of Lords, after the Address had been moved by Lord Glenconner and seconded by the Earl of Carrick, the Opposition amendment was moved by Viscount Midleton; but the debate added little to that in the Commons, and only a few points can be mentioned here. Lord Morley of Blackburn put the Government case in reply to Lord Midleton; Earl Loreburn, while holding that the exclusion of Ulster would not effect a settlement, thought that certain other additional safeguards might be given it; the Marquess of Lansdowne, while declaring himself not much enamoured of the exclusion of Ulster, said that if its complete exclusion were accompanied by safeguards for the Unionists outside Ulster, he was prepared to consider the proposal; Earl Roberts said briefly that the use of the Army to coerce Ulster was "unthinkable"; and, after three days' debate, the amendment was carried by 243 to 55.

Meanwhile the Commons had passed to the Labour amendment moved (Feb. 12) by Mr. Ramsay Macdonald (Lab., Leicester), praying that the Governor-General of South Africa should be instructed that the Indemnity Bill should be reserved under Clause 64 of the South Africa Act, 1909, until after a judicial inquiry into the circumstances of the proclamation of martial law and the scope of the Bill, especially the provision relating to the deportation of the trade union leaders. In moderate language, the mover contended that, on the information available, which had been carefully sifted and contained the whole case of the Union Government, the proclamation of martial law was not justified. Incidentally he[Pg 25] described the Syndicalists as the greatest enemies of organised labour; but he said that the meeting which resolved on the general strike was perfectly peaceful. Convictions might have been obtained under the sedition law, but the South African Government had no evidence, and wanted, by one comprehensive swoop of illegality, to stamp out trade unionism. The deportation clause was really a Bill of Attainder, and undesirable aliens should be defined by legislation; then test cases could be raised by the deported leaders. One did not desire to interfere with the powers of the self-governing Dominions, but the Empire was faced with the problem of Imperial citizenship. If British citizens were not to carry their historical rights with them, the Empire could not retain its present place of honour.

The Colonial Secretary (Mr. Harcourt, Lancs., Rossendale) made it clear at once that he would not pronounce any judgment on the action of the South African Government. British Imperial citizenship did not exist; the phrase was too literal a translation of civis Romanus sum; what did exist was British subject-hood, entitling the possessor to the protection of his Sovereign through the Executive, but giving him no rights of entry or licence in any part of the Empire if he attempted to violate the laws a Dominion was competent to pass. The circumstances and laws of the various Dominions differed widely from those of Great Britain; in South Africa the native and mining population occasioned special dangers; and the Empire might easily be smashed by meddling and muddling with Dominion affairs. He reviewed the disturbances from the Rand strike onwards (A.R., 1913, p. 416 seq.), and said that the Union Government, regarding martial law as essential, advised Lord Gladstone to sign the proclamation establishing it, and he very properly assented, on the assurance that Parliament would be asked to ratify it and pass an Indemnity Bill. His consent to the expulsions was neither sought nor obtained, but he had been informed beforehand that it might be necessary to deport a dozen men, and that they were aware of the strong feeling this would excite, and would not do it without urgent necessity. There were precedents for the inclusion of such a clause as the deportation clause in the Indemnity Bill. Lord Gladstone was in the position of a constitutional sovereign; moreover, had he refused his assent, the Ministry would have resigned, no other could have been found, and he would have remained a solitary and powerless figure, with no resources but the Imperial troops. Nagging criticism of the Dominions' conduct of their internal affairs was the worst cement for the democracies of the Empire. Lord Gladstone retained the full confidence of the British Government. The Indemnity Bill must be left to the South African Parliament. He cited a case in Natal (A.B., 1906, p. 403) as showing the sensitiveness of the Dominions, pointed out that expulsion of undesirable aliens was not unfamiliar in South[Pg 26] Africa, and added that the Empire was held together by a silken cord; twist this into a whiplash, and the crack of the lash would be the knell of the Empire. Sir George Parker (U., Gravesend), who had Canadian and Australian experience, thought the Colonial Secretary had overstated the sensitiveness of the Dominions; but little was added to the debate by the subsequent speakers, and the Labour party was urged from both sides of the House to withdraw the amendment, as a division might be misunderstood in South Africa. On their refusal, it was rejected by 214 to 50.

Another Labour amendment was then moved by Mr. Brace (L., Glamorgan, S.), regretting the absence of reference in the Speech to the increasing number of railway and mining accidents and of any promise of legislation dealing with them. He gave the figures of fatal accidents to miners in the United Kingdom in 1913—461 from explosions of coal gas, 614 from falls of ground, 400 from miscellaneous causes—and declared that the Coal Mines Regulation Act of 1911 was not being carried out. He indicated the reforms desired by the Miners' Federation, which included an inspector with a salary of 200l. for every 5,000 workmen, involving an annual cost of 40,000l. Mr. Wardle (Lab., Southport) dealt with the accidents to railwaymen; the fatal accidents had fallen considerably since the Act of 1900, but the non-fatal accidents in 1912 were 27,947. The Home Secretary replied as to mining accidents, pointing out that the number per thousand men had been reduced in forty years by more than one half; the recommendations of the Royal Commission had been more than carried out, and the number of inspectors doubled in four years. He intimated that a further increase would be necessary, and promised a small amending Coal Mines Bill, but could not promise early legislation carrying out Mr. Brace's suggestions. Next day Mr. Thomas (Lab., Derby) showed that the greatly increased railway traffic was being carried out by fewer men, and attributed the increase of accidents to the speeding-up system, and the inability of the Board of Trade to enforce its recommendations. He complained, also, of the action of the Midland in connexion with the Aisgill disaster (A.R., 1913, p. 200). The men's case was endorsed by Lord H. Cavendish-Bentinck (U., Nottingham, S.); and the Secretary to the Board of Trade, in the unavoidable absence of the President, while admitting that the number of accidents in 1913 was alarming, and might be due to the decrease of the staff, contested Mr. Wardle's contentions, but admitted that there was a case for inquiry whether the Act of 1900 was sufficient. The debate was continued by a number of members, nearly all advocating the men's case; and, after a conciliatory speech by the Under-Secretary to the Home Office, Mr. Brace, in view of the Ministerial undertakings and of the opportunity he would have of incorporating his proposals in the Bill dealing with mines, asked leave to withdraw his amendment. Lord Ninian Crichton[Pg 27]-Stuart (U., Cardiff) protested against the withdrawal, and the Unionists challenged a division. The Labour party, however, were not disposed to risk injuring the Ministry; most of them voted against their own amendment, some others abstained, and it was rejected by 239 to 73, amid the jeers of the Opposition at the Labour members' lack of independence.

Mr. Leif Jones (L., Notts., Rushcliffe) then moved an amendment regretting that no specific reference was made in the Address to the "long promised and greatly needed" measure of temperance reform for England and Wales. The licence reduction scheme under the Act of 1904 had failed, and drinking and the number of convictions were increasing. Why should there not be an autumn session to carry a new Licensing Bill? The Prime Minister made a sympathetic reply, repeating his declaration of 1911, that it was the intention of the Government to legislate on the subject within the lifetime of the existing Parliament; but it would do more harm than good to introduce a first-class controversial measure which must be dropped.

Two days earlier (Feb. 12) important changes were announced in the Ministry. Lord Gladstone's wish to retire from the Governor-Generalship of South Africa, for purely domestic reasons unconnected with the recent troubles, had been known for some time past; he was to be succeeded by Mr. Sydney Buxton, President of the Board of Trade, who was shortly afterwards created Viscount Buxton, and was succeeded in his office by Mr. John Burns; the Presidency of the Local Government Board vacated by the latter was filled by Mr. Herbert Samuel; Mr. Hobhouse became Postmaster-General; Mr. C. F. G. Masterman succeeded him as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and was succeeded as Financial Secretary to the Treasury by Mr. E. S. Montagu, Under-Secretary for India, a post now taken by Mr. C. S. Roberts (Lincoln). These changes involved bye-elections at Poplar and Bethnal Green, which were sure to be hotly contested. Otherwise they were regarded as somewhat strengthening the Cabinet.

The debate on the Address was resumed in the Commons on Monday, February 16, with an Opposition amendment demanding that, in view of the growing hostility to the Established Church (Wales) Bill, it should not be passed till after submission to the people at a general election, or to the electors of England and Wales by a Referendum. Two days earlier a protest, stated to be signed by 15,321 adult Nonconformists in St. Asaph diocese, had been sent to the Prime Minister against the proposals to deprive the Church in Wales of her unclosed ancient churchyards and of 157,000l. a year of her ancient endowments. Of the signatories, twenty-nine were stated to be ministers or preachers, 158 deacons, and eighteen magistrates, and in many country parishes more than half the Nonconformists had signed. Stress was laid on this petition by Mr. Ormsby Gore (U., Denbigh Dis[Pg 28]trict) in moving the amendment, and also on the silence observed on the Bill in the King's Speech, and by the Ministers; on the demonstrations against it, and on the fact that it had been passed only by Nationalist support. No meetings in its support had been held in England, and those in Wales had been failures. Ministers desired to establish a precedent for further spoliation of the Church. The Home Secretary replied by pointing to the aggregate Liberal majority of 4,221 in the three bye-elections in Wales since the introduction of the Bill, and the prominence of the issue in the Bolton election (A.R., 1913, p. 244). After insisting that the subject was before the electorate in 1910, he remarked that it was strange that Nonconformists should choose a diocese for their area, and that the chief promoter was a well-known Conservative. He asked the House to suspend judgment on the petition. After other speeches, Mr. Balfour (U., City of London) admitted that the vote of the Welsh members was a prima facie argument that the Welsh people supported the Bill, but the doctrine that a Bill should pass the House of Commons for Wales if it were backed by a majority of the Welsh people was subversive of Parliamentary government. Besides this was not only a Welsh question. But his object was to point out the injustice of the Parliament Act in connexion with the Bill. The Prime Minister's argument, that a measure brought in under that Act and not supported by the people would lead to discussion and intimations to their representatives that it was distasteful to them, had had great weight with the people, but the Government had purposely prevented the electors from concentrating their minds on any one measure by bringing in several, and by starting other agitations. He insisted that the Bill was fundamentally a religious question, and that the tendency was to see that the greatest religious interests were not bound up with sectarian differences, and would not be helped by sectarian plunder. Eventually the amendment was defeated by 279 to 217.

The value of the petition having been questioned, a deputation from its signatories waited on the Prime Minister on March 4. All those present, save Mr. Ormsby Gore and the Bishop of St. Asaph, were Nonconformists, many had seldom or never been to London, and some spoke in Welsh. They dealt, however, mainly with generalities, and the Prime Minister ascertained that none of the ministers or deacons who had signed had come. In reply, he regretted that they had not proceeded by petition to Parliament, inferred that, as they dealt only with disendowment, the Nonconformists of the diocese supported disestablishment, from which disendowment was inseparable, and concluded that, having given no detailed objections, they had not advanced their case.

To return to the House of Commons; a Tariff Reform amendment followed, moved by Captain Tryon (U., Brighton),[Pg 29] regretting that the Government refused to modify the fiscal system by (1) adopting Imperial Preference, so far as practicable without imposing fresh duties on imported foodstuffs; (2) a moderate duty not exceeding an average of 10 per cent. ad valorem on foreign manufactured goods, in order to safeguard the stability of British industries and provide revenue for the assistance of agriculture and social reform. The mover laid stress on the increasing financial needs of the country, on such concessions to Protectionism as the encouragement offered to agriculture in East Africa, and the protection virtually accorded to beet-sugar and cocoa, and on the fact that the reduced American tariff was more than twice as high as the tariff proposed. After other speeches, the Solicitor-General described the proposal as "an anæmic fragment" of full-blooded Tariff Reform. The agricultural industry was in open revolt against it (p. 8), and effective Imperial Preference was impossible without taxing raw material and food. The farmer would be burdened by the rise in the prices of the goods he used, and the relief of his income tax from the new revenue would be trifling. The rise in prices had been very general, though least in Free Trade England; but agricultural wages had not risen correspondingly. Mr. Bonar Law (U., Lancs., Bootle) quoted a Consular Report of 1909 to show that wages in Germany had more than kept pace with the rise in prices; maintained that a system similar to that proposed existed in Belgium, and was approached by the new American tariff; and declared that, while the tariff might slightly raise the prices of goods used by the farmer, the revenue resulting would be used to relieve the unfair burdens on agriculture. The plan would bring in at least 10,000,000l. of additional revenue, the average of 10 per cent. being got by putting a higher rate on articles of luxury; and it would give security in the home market and Colonial Preference. Canada, he added, was rapidly becoming industrial. The amendment was rejected by 283 to 200.

The day following (Feb. 17) a lengthy amendment was moved by Mr. Royds (U., Sleaford), of which the substantial import was a complaint that no legislation was foreshadowed to remedy the adverse influence of the Budget of 1909 and of the land agitation on working-class housing, the building trade, and agricultural development. The mover, in a very clear speech, well supported by evidence, showed that under the existing conditions there was an actual shortage of cottages, and there would soon be a house famine in towns. The official land valuation then in progress was worthless, and the break-up of estates was causing a feeling of insecurity among tenant farmers. Among subsequent speakers, Mr. Ellis Davies (L., Carnarvonshire, Eifion) pointed out other factors in the decline in building, such as the rise in interest and cost of materials, and the increase m local rates; and Mr. Lane Fox (U., Yorks., W.R., Barkston Ash) suggested the appointment of a Royal Com[Pg 30]mission. The Chancellor of the Exchequer replied that such a body was apt to present a conflict of large interests, and the small holders and agricultural labourers would not come forward. The Opposition were getting nearer to a practical acceptance of the case made out by the Land Inquiry. Since the Budget of 1909, he showed by figures, agricultural wages had increased, the price of land had risen, and unemployment had lessened, especially in the building trade. There had been a "house famine" since 1884. The number of cottages built by private enterprise had gone down, partly through the rise in interest and prices of material. The first step was to see that the municipalities investigated thoroughly the conditions in their districts, and this would be done by the President of the Local Government Board. Then the aggregate deficiency must be ascertained, and the Government must consider how far public credit must be pledged. The problem was largely one of transit, and this the President of the Board of Trade was investigating. Mr. Pretyman (U., Essex, Chelmsford) traversed the Chancellor's statements, pointing out that many men had left the building trade altogether, and that there was generally no difficulty in acquiring land for housing. He denounced the Chancellor's personal attacks on the Dukes of Sutherland and Montrose. Among subsequent speakers, Mr. Pollock (U., Warwick and Leamington) vigorously attacked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the President of the Board of Agriculture, who protested against this attack being made when the Chancellor was unable to reply, was much interrupted, both directly and by audible comments, necessitating the Speaker's intervention. He defended the land policy of the Government in connexion with agriculture, laying stress on its actual progress, and on the work of the Development Fund. After a reply from Mr. Long (U.), the amendment was rejected by 301 to 213.

The next amendment, moved (Feb. 18) by Mr. Barnes (Lab., Glasgow, Blackfriars), regretted that there was no mention in the Address of the recent deplorable events in Dublin, and no promise of an impartial and representative Commission of Inquiry into the conduct of the police. Recriminations in this debate had been expected between the Irish and Labour parties, and Unionist support of the amendment compelling the Labour party to vote against it as before, to avoid upsetting the Government, but these expectations were unfulfilled. Mr. Barnes stated that the Labour party demanded an impartial inquiry, and compensation to those whose houses were forcibly entered by the police. The Commission was not of the kind promised by the Chief Secretary, its reference was too narrow, and the workers would not appear before it, and such disturbances as took place were really caused by the police. Mr. Brady (N., Dublin, St. Stephen's Green) explained that the members for Dublin had not intervened in the dispute because they had not been invited to do so; the only inquiry in[Pg 31] which the Irish people would have confidence was one set up by a Home Rule Parliament and Executive. Mr. Booth (L., Pontefract) denounced the conduct of the inquiry, at which he had been present, and, after other speeches, the Chief Secretary for Ireland said that he had been unable to get a judge or some one with the confidence of the police to serve on the Commission, and a representative of the working classes could not have been put on alone. He had, therefore, to fall back on appointing lawyers of high character and position, previously engaged in police inquiries, and he believed the people of Dublin were satisfied with the Commission. He strongly defended the Dublin police. The rioters were hooligans, the enemies of all citizens. The police misbehaviour in Corporation Buildings was confined to seven or eight men at most. The amendment was rejected by 233 to 45.

Sir John Bethell (L., Essex, Romford) then moved an amendment complaining of the unfair distribution of its funds by the Road Board. He said the West of London was felt to be favoured at the expense of the East. The new Financial Secretary of the Treasury said that department had no control over the Road Board, but there was no evidence of unfairness; the money was allotted roughly according to population, Scotland having more than its share owing to the large foreign tourist motor traffic. The Opposition objecting to the withdrawal of the amendment, it was defeated by 268 to 55.

The Address debate was concluded next day (Feb. 19), when Sir J. Spear (U., Devon, Tavistock) moved an amendment desiring a rearrangement of local taxation so as to provide from Imperial funds a larger sum towards the cost of education and the maintenance of main roads. The local authorities, he pointed out, were raising 65,000,000l. a year for national or semi-national services, and receiving only 22,000,000l. from the State. The Chancellor of the Exchequer fully admitted there was a case for the amendment. As to roads, he laid stress on the amount of traffic, chiefly by motor-vans, which came from outside a district and took away trade from the shopkeepers in it. He had expected to have a balance for the relief of local rates in consequence of the Budget of 1909, but the amount had gone on the increased equipment of the Navy, owing to the European situation. Effective steps, however, would be taken in the current year for the relief of local taxation. The burden of it was arresting municipal development. Details could not yet be given, but the more heavily burdened districts would receive larger grants, and greater guarantees would be taken for efficiency. Of later speakers, Mr. Long (U.) doubted whether anything could be done in the crowded current session, and the new President of the Local Government Board intimated that personalty must be made to contribute more to local taxation, and that "socially created" values might be dealt with by special legislation.

[Pg 32]

The amendment was withdrawn and another was moved by Lord E. Cecil (U., Herts., Hitchin), regretting that the Government did not propose steps for preventing the growing debasement of the standard of purity in public life; but the debate was cut short by the closure, which was carried by 285 to 168, and the Address was then agreed to.

Lord Robert Cecil's amendment had been put so late by the Speaker's selection as practically to preclude debate on it, and he had a further opportunity for discussing it; but the subject had been ventilated in the House of Lords by Lord Murray of Elibank's personal statement (Feb. 17), and by the debate on the motion originally put down by Lord Ampthill for a Select Committee to inquire into certain charges and allegations made in the Press against Lord Murray (Feb. 19). Lord Murray read his statement composedly amid signs of acute interest, in the chilling silence characteristic of the Upper House. The facts, he said, were fully known, and he could only confirm the statements made before the Commons Committee (A.R., 1913, pp. 80, 136). It ought to have occurred to him that his action was open to criticism, but his error was one of judgment, not of intention. His purchase for the party funds was an error of judgment, and he had taken over the shares for himself at the price he had paid for them, thereby incurring a heavy loss. His private transactions and those with the party funds were alike free from dishonour. He considered, on reflection, that his course of action had not been wise or correct, and he deeply regretted it; among the deepest of his regrets would be the thought that his action should have caused embarrassment to his party, but a fair judgment would hold that there was nothing in his mistakes to reflect in any degree on the honour and integrity of public life. He had tendered his resignation of his office in February, 1912, before he had ever heard of Marconis, and had only continued in office till the end of the session at the Prime Minister's urgent request.

The further consideration of Lord Ampthill's motion was postponed till February 19, when it was moved by the Marquess of Lansdowne, who said that Lord Murray's statement contained nothing to deter the Opposition leaders from carrying put their intention of moving for a Committee. His apology was the best of the Ministerial apologies; at any rate he did not compare himself to St. Sebastian (A.R., 1913, p. 154), but certain questions regarding his action as Chief Whip required further investigation. The Marquess of Crewe did not object, though he thought the Committee was demanded neither by the dignity of the House nor by the needs of the public service. The Committee was not appointed till March 9; it reported on April 30 (post, Chap. III.).

The Home Rule agitation, meanwhile, had not been stilled by the Royal Speech and the Prime Minister's promise. But compromise was in the air. The Westminster Gazette (Feb. 16) sug[Pg 33]gested the appointment of a Statutory Commission of both parties to devise a permanent reconstruction of the government of the British Isles, following on a provisional settlement in Ulster, and a fresh form of compromise was suggested by the publication (Feb. 18) of an open letter to Mr. Asquith from Mr. Frederic Harrison, the veteran constitutional lawyer and Comtist, urging the adoption of a scheme which he had suggested privately to the Prime Minister in 1913, and which might be established, subject to reconsideration after a general election. Under it Ulster would have a separate Committee elected by its constituencies, with complete financial, legislative and administrative powers, and subject only to the Imperial Parliament and the King in Council. As a general election would not afford a clear issue, Mr. Harrison advised that the Home Rule Bill should be submitted to a referendum at once. On the other hand, an influential meeting of City men (Feb. 18) passed a resolution, moved by Lord Rothschild and seconded by Lord Goschen, declaring the Bill impossible to carry into effect. Mr. Balfour and Sir Edward Carson addressed it, the former saying that since 1905 Ireland's old wounds had been "torn open" in the name of good government, and saying that nothing but "a clean cut" would avoid civil war; the latter mentioning that the position was detrimental to the relation of Ulster firms with the great English discount houses, "but we are bearing it cheerfully, and would bear a great deal more." He and his friends, he added, had just authorised an expenditure of 60,000l. to 80,000l.; and he called on the City to stand by them.

The bye-elections, though throwing little light on the feeling of the electorate as to Home Rule, dealt an awkward blow to the Government (see post, Chron., Feb. 18, 19, 20). In South Bucks, indeed, the Unionist majority fell off slightly as compared with the last contest in January, 1910, but the Liberals had expected to do much better, and their disappointment was ascribed to the abstention of chairmakers on strike at High Wycombe (p. 10), and to the recent settlement in the constituency of some 1,800 well-to-do residents, a class generally Unionist. But in Bethnal Green, Mr. Masterman, who was standing for re-election on his appointment, (p. 27) was defeated, owing to the intervention of a Labour candidate, by a majority of 24; and in Poplar, where there was also a Labour candidate, the Liberal majority was decreased by 1,551 as compared with December, 1910. True, the Unionist at Bethnal Green was returned by a minority of the constituency, and this contest had been largely fought on the Insurance Act, which bore hardly on casual labour—indeed, complaint was made in the Commons (Feb. 16), though apparently not with justice, that a scheme dealing with casual labour at the London docks was launched in the middle of the election contest, and Mr. Bonar Law intimated to the Unionist candidate that a Unionist Government would be pre[Pg 34]pared to appoint a Committee to consider whether the Act might not be put on a voluntary basis. But, as at Reading in 1913, the results showed that the Labour extremists were quite ready to defeat the Government, although they might not disapprove of its general policy.

These results were not such as to hasten the disclosure of the Ministerial plans; and the Opposition were unsuccessful in pressing for it (Feb. 25), by a resolution moved by Mr. Falle (U., Portsmouth), when a Liberal amendment moved by Captain Pirie (L., Aberdeen, N.), awaiting the proposals with confidence and hope, was carried by 311 to 238. Nor were they much more successful next day with a resolution moved by Mr. G. C. Hamilton (U., Cheshire, Altrincham), for the appointment of an impartial Committee to study the working of the Insurance Act and the possibility of substituting a voluntary system. Under this, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer pointed out, there would be a premium on the employment of uninsured persons; the Unionist policy, he said, was "Back to the workhouse." The motion was defeated by 283 to 199.

Several other debates in both Houses must be passed over; but one deserves special notice. In the House of Lords (Feb. 23) the Earl of Selborne had moved a resolution to the effect that a contribution to party funds should not be a consideration in inducing a Minister to recommend a person for an honour to the King. Both sides accepted it, and it was carried with slight modification; but the practice was generally regarded as a consequence of the party system, which needed money to educate the democracy. Lord Willoughby de Broke and Lord Ribblesdale told amusing stories of applications for honours; the mover suggested that recommendations should be supervised by the Privy Council, Viscount Milner said that the grounds for conferring the honour should be stated; Lord Charnwood moved an amendment in favour of inquiry by a Royal Commission; but the leaders on both sides deprecated this course, the Marquess of Lansdowne arguing that checks on abuses might be left to the Sovereign and his advisers to devise.

Outside Parliament, other questions were being pressed on the attention of the Government. A deputation from the Trade Union Congress had waited on the Prime Minister a fortnight earlier (Feb. 11), with resolutions advocating railway nationalisation and electoral reforms—including adult suffrage irrespective of sex—and protesting against compulsory military service and undue increase of armaments. His reply did not much advance matters; and protests were raised against his refusals to receive woman suffragist deputations from 342 Labour organisations represented at a great meeting at the Albert Hall (Feb. 14), from a deputation of Scottish municipal authorities two days later—though ten of its members were received by his secretary—and a[Pg 35] third deputation a week afterwards. This latter refusal led to a protest meeting in Parliament Square, and the arrest of Messrs. Nevinson, Laurence Housman, Harben, and two ladies, who refused to be bound over and received one day's imprisonment. A militant young lady assaulted Lord Weardale, mistaking him for the Premier, at Euston; and the sentence on another (Miss Phyllis Brady, Feb. 24), of eighteen months' imprisonment for firing Lady White's house at Ascot, was followed by the burning of Whitekirk Church, East Lothian. The claims of compulsory military service were pressed on the Premier by a deputation from the National Service League, comprising Earl Roberts, Sir Evelyn Wood, and various eminent civilians, partly on the ground that "in the considered words of the First Sea Lord, the Navy alone cannot now protect this country against invasion." The Prime Minister, however, replied that the First Sea Lord had authorised him to repudiate these words and had stated that his language had been misconstrued; and he intimated that the view supposed to be implied had been negatived by the investigation of a Sub-Committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence. Physical training for youths from fourteen to eighteen, as advocated by the League, would be good, but it would not reach the wastrels, who were useless for military service.

These matters, however, were eclipsed in immediate interest by the arrival (Feb. 24) of the Umgeni at Gravesend with the deported Labour leaders from South Africa. They had refused at Las Palmas to say anything till they had discussed the position with the chiefs of British Trade Unionism; and great preparations had been made for their welcome and support. Labour leaders and journalists were awaiting them at Gravesend; but they unexpectedly refused to land anywhere except in South Africa, and for many hours all arguments were vain. The conversations were at first conducted over the ship's side with the British leaders in a launch; but eventually Messrs. Bowerman and Henderson were allowed to go aboard, and persuaded them to come ashore after delivering a signed protest against their deportation to the captain of the Umgeni. Two days later they were entertained at dinner at the House of Commons; next, at a great meeting at the London Opera House (Feb. 29), at which some of them spoke, it was announced that counsel's opinion would be taken as to the legal position of the South African Government and the steamship company, and, if possible, proceedings would follow, and resolutions were passed pledging British labour to help. And on Sunday, March 1, a demonstration in Hyde Park in their support was attended by one of the largest crowds ever seen in London. One or other of the deportees spoke at each of the nine platforms, and a resolution was carried urging the Government to refuse its assent to the Indemnity Bill till the wrongs of these and other workers in the[Pg 36] dispute were righted. Later, it was announced that they would go back to South Africa, and would be assisted by Mr. Tom Mann and other English trade unionists in perfecting their organisation.

Meanwhile another seat had been lost to Ministers by the wholly unexpected return of the Unionist candidate in Leith Burghs (Chron., Feb. 26), though only through the presence of a Labour candidate. In view of the strike of 1913 the Liberal-Labour split was not unnatural, and there was actually a slight decrease in the Unionist poll as compared with 1910. But no Unionist had been returned for the constituency since 1832, and the Unionists were exultant, though, taking the poll as a whole, the majority for the Government programme was over 3,000.

In the following week (March 2) the Prime Minister's statement of his Home Rule proposals was fixed for March 9; a Unionist private member's motion pressing for it was consequently dropped. The need of an early disclosure was emphasised by the publication (March 3) of a British Covenant, with eminent signatories, including Earl Roberts, the Duke of Portland, Viscounts Halifax and Milner, Lords Aldenham, Balfour of Burleigh, and Lovat, Professors Dicey and Goudy, the Dean of Canterbury, and Mr. Rudyard Kipling. It stated the signatories' conviction that the claim of the Government to carry the Home Rule Bill without submitting it to the judgment of the nation was contrary to the spirit of the Constitution, and declared that, if it were so passed, they would hold themselves justified in taking or supporting any action that might be effective to prevent it from being put into operation, and more particularly to prevent the armed forces of the Crown from being used to deprive the people of Ulster of their rights as citizens of the United Kingdom.

The week preceding the Prime Minister's momentous announcement was occupied largely by skirmishes in other fields. The Supplementary Navy Estimates, of 2,500,000l., which had caused some disquiet among the advanced Liberals and the Labour party, were taken on March 2. Postponing his general defence of Admiralty policy to the debate on the Naval Estimates for 1914-15 the First Lord of the Admiralty limited himself to defending the main items of the Estimate, (1) 500,000l. increased expenditure on the oil reserve; (2) 260,000l. on the new aircraft programme; (3) increase in dockyard wages and prices of victuals and clothing, nearly 200,000l.; (4) about 450,000l. due to the earlier beginning, announced on June 5, 1913, of three battleships in the 1913-14 programme, owing to the delay in the Canadian Naval Aid Bill; (5) 1,000,000l. owing to the more rapid building by contractors of ships already authorised. (1) The standard of oil reserve was carefully fixed, and kept as secret as even the standard of reserve of ammunition; but the oil stored was enough for over three years' peace consumption of the Fleet in commission and one year of war. All the oil burnt in the[Pg 37] current year, and five-sixths of that burnt in 1914-15, would be used in ships built before he became First Lord. The Admiralty had acted throughout on the highest expert authority. (2) The air service, in which Great Britain had been late in starting, and which eventually would considerably reduce other classes of naval weapons, was to be increased in consequence of a careful investigation in July, 1913. Four airships, one a Zeppelin, had been contracted for with Messrs. Vickers, an Astra-Torres airship had been ordered in France, and three semi-rigid Forlamini airships—a very promising design—from Messrs. Armstrong. An additional airship shed had been built in Chatham, and one in Norfolk. This was modest as compared with France and Germany, but in view of British superiority in seaplanes it was sufficient. Of the 260,000l., 200,000l. would be the year's portion of a total expenditure on airships of 475,000l. and the rest would be for seaplanes. (3) The increase in wages was necessary to keep pace with that in other shipyards, and the increase of prices in victualling and clothing was automatic. (4) and (5) The acceleration of the ships replacing those from Canada would be set-off by lessened expenditure in 1915 and 1916; the over-earning by the contractors had been foreseen by him in introducing the Navy Estimates for 1913. There were many factors of uncertainty in shipbuilding, and delay of one part reacted on others. It was absurd to charge the Admiralty with miscalculation in the matter. To have asked for more in the original estimates would have given a false idea of expansion. He absolutely denied the story that he had given orders to accelerate construction in August, 1913; he had neither the will to do so nor the power. To retard construction was impracticable and undesirable. The House should demand good reasons for the building of every ship asked for; having done so, it must accept liability for the cost.

Mr. Lee (U., Hants, Fareham) denounced the system of returning unspent balances to the Treasury as tending artificially to swell the Naval Estimates, and tempting an astute Minister like the First Lord to under-estimate, The situation with regard to oil fuel was disquieting, and he expressed anxiety also about the shipbuilding programme. On the other hand Mr. Ramsay Macdonald (L., Leicester) declared that the Estimates were not really supplementary, but began a new programme, and he regarded the British and other Governments as the victims of a careful plan of the international armament firms, A reduction, moved by Mr. D. M. Mason (L., Coventry), was rejected, after further debate, by 237 votes to 34.

The debate was continued next day, when there was a stormy scene over a reduction proposed by Lord R. Cecil (U.) in order to call attention to the housing of the Admiralty labourers at Rosyth. The Chairman was charged with unduly favouring the Government, and an attempt at a snap division was defeated by[Pg 38] Mr. Leif Jones, who spoke amid continual disorder. Eventually the reduction was defeated by 272 to 132, and later the First Lord, in a general reply, denied that there had been any acceleration of the shipbuilding programme, and said that there was no prospect of "breaking the armaments ring" by getting armour from competing firms abroad. He would do so if he could (a statement which roused protests) or would start a State factory, but this latter would involve a heavy capital charge. The Vote was agreed to.

Another basis for an attack on Ministers was still found in the Insurance Act. Mr. Bonar Law declared that it was insolvent (March 2); and three days later in Supply it was assailed by Mr. Worthington Evans (U.) and other members, who contended that some of the societies would be unable to pay the minimum benefits, that the drug fund was overspent, and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was concealing the facts and using the powers of the Commissioners to influence bye-elections. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made a spirited defence, adding that the State was not bound to make up the deficiencies of badly managed societies. Married women's sickness was a difficulty, and in certain trades, e.g. mining, even slight illness stopped work and produced a sickness claim. After a vigorous reply by Mr. Bonar Law, and other criticisms and counter-criticisms, the Government was supported by 242 to 174. A more interesting debate had been set up by a Labour resolution, moved by Mr. A. Henderson (March 3), asking for an extension of the Act to certain other trades and an inquiry into the provision disqualifying for unemployment benefit workmen unemployed through a Labour dispute. The new President of the Board of Trade promised an extension during the current year, and, while regarding the provision in question as vital, held that means might be taken to settle more definitely when disqualification began. The resolution was adopted.

The confidence of the Government in its programme was shown by the cordial acceptance (March 4) of a motion proposed by Mr. E. Jones (L., Merthyr Tydvil)for a Select Committee on the redistribution of seats, with an amendment moved by Major Morrison-Bell (U., Devon, Honiton) inserting "immediate" before redistribution. The President of the Local Government Board pointed out that Home Rule would remove the great obstacle—the provision of the Act of Union that Ireland should have 100 members "for ever,"—and proportional representation, as was asked by a Unionist member, would be included. It would probably take the form of giving additional members to the larger constituencies, and electing them on a transferable vote. Mr. Long (U.) gave a somewhat qualified assent, and the motion was agreed to.

This skirmishing was followed (March 9) by a new stage in[Pg 39] Home Rule problem. Amid intense interest, the Prime Minister announced the projected concessions to Ulster in moving the second reading of the Home Rule Bill. Repeating that the Government adhered firmly to this measure, he said that they were specially anxious that the new regime should start with the best chance of success. Whether Home Rule as embodied in the Bill were carried or rejected, the outlook was very grave. A settlement must involve the acceptance of a Legislature and Executive at Dublin, and of some form of special treatment for the Ulster minority. Dismissing as impracticable Lord Loreburn's suggestion of a round table conference without any preliminary basis of agreement, he referred to the conditions he had laid down at Ladybank (A.R., 1913, p. 219) and to the unsuccessful conversations, which would remain absolutely confidential, between himself, Mr. Bonar Law, and Sir Edward Carson. These at any rate brought out the difficulties, and he and his colleagues had devised three ways of attempting a solution. (1) "Home Rule within Home Rule," exemption of a part, provisionally undefined, of Ulster from the administration of a Dublin Executive, with a veto, for that part, subject to an appeal, however, to the Imperial Parliament, on the application to it of legislation pressed by the Legislature in Dublin. But this none of those concerned would accept. (2) Sir Horace Plunkett's plan, which the "conversations" had anticipated,—an option for the Ulster counties to separate themselves from Home Rule Ireland after a time. (3) Exclusion of Ulster, to which there were grave objections in any form. A middle course, the Government held, might be found in provisional exclusion; and they proposed that any county in Ulster, including the county boroughs of Belfast and Londonderry, might vote themselves out on the requisition of, say, one-tenth of the Parliamentary electors, for a term of six years from the first meeting of the Irish Legislature in Dublin. This, he showed at length, would give time to test the working of the Irish Parliament, and within the six years there would be two general elections in Great Britain, in 1915 and 1920. The counties excluded would come into the Home Rule scheme automatically at the end of six years, unless the Imperial Parliament determined otherwise. Their representation in that Parliament, and as far as possible their administration, would continue unchanged meanwhile. Financial and administrative adjustments would be necessary, and would be set forth in a White Paper to be published the next day, but he hoped to work out the details with something like general co-operation. The proposals were put forward as the price of peace. He appealed for their dispassionate consideration, referring to the traditions of "give and take" in the British nation which had made it the pioneer of popular government.

Mr. Bonar Law (U.) said that if, as he feared, these proposals[Pg 40] represented the last word of the Government, the position seemed to him very grave. The Government might conciliate Ulster by submitting the Bill to the judgment of the electors. He must leave Sir Edward Carson to speak for Ulster; but the Ulstermen were asked to destroy their fortress, and to come in when they were weak. Remove the Ulster question, and the general election would be fought on entirely different lines; even if the Unionists won the first election and changed the law, the next might reverse their decision. He feared that the concessions were being made unwillingly and too late; that the offer was being made to be refused. Let the Government put their proposals in a Bill and submit it to the people by a referendum.

Mr. Redmond (N., Waterford) regarded the proposals as the extreme limit of concession. If they were accepted, they would elicit the real opinion of Ulster, which would surprise many people both there and in Great Britain; and, long before the period of exclusion had expired, the fears of Ulster would have been disarmed by the moderate and tolerant government exhibited in Dublin. The Nationalists could only acquiesce in the proposals if they were frankly accepted by their Ulster opponents. Otherwise it was the duty of the majority in the House to proceed forthwith with the Bill, to pass it without delay, and to face firmly and with all their resources any movement to overawe Parliament or subvert the law by the menace of force.

Mr. W. O'Brien (I.N., Cork City) said that the Ministry seemed to have picked out the one concession intolerable to any Nationalist. He protested against "chopping an ancient nation into a thing of shreds and patches," and urged the Government to try to get a better settlement through a Joint Committee of Lords and Commons.

Sir E. Carson (U., Dublin University) who, being ill, spoke under great difficulties, declined to accept Mr. Redmond's promises, and declared that nothing had happened since the introduction of the Bill to abate the loathing with which it was regarded by every Irish Unionist. They would never agree, whatever benefits were offered to Ulster, to the sacrifice of the people of the South and West. Something was gained towards a peaceable solution by the admission of the principle of exclusion; but Ulster wanted the question settled at once and for ever, "We don't want sentence of death with a stay of execution for six years." The whole Ulster organisation would have to be kept up, and all the old questions would remain, while the attention of the British electorate would be diverted to other matters. Would the Government agree that Ulster should stay out until Parliament otherwise ordered? If not, they did not really mean exclusion as a safeguard. The period of six years was fantastic; a whole new system of government would have to be set up for it; but, if the time limit were removed, he would feel it his duty to go to Ulster[Pg 41] and call a Convention. Did the country mean to allow the Forces of the Crown to be used to coerce men who asked only that they might remain with it?

Mr. Ramsay Macdonald (Lab.) said that the Labour party would accept the proposed compromise as the price of peace in spite of the great difficulties it entailed in factory inspection and other matters; and Mr. T. Healy said that he preferred to have no Bill rather than the Government proposal, which he regarded as Finis Hiberniæ. Exclusion would be permanent, the severance complete, there would be reprisals and boycotting, and the American Congress would be urged to put a tariff on Belfast goods. Mr. A. Ward (U., Herts, Watford), as a back-bench Unionist, welcomed the proposals as a great concession and urged their consideration in good faith.

The debate was adjourned sine die to give time to finish the necessary financial business; and public interest centred on the reception of the Bill outside. The White Paper (issued March 10) added little to Mr. Asquith's outline of his proposals; and the Irish Unionists both in Ulster and Dublin, as well as in Parliament, were very unfavourable. The Dublin Nationalists also were against the time limit, which, it may be remarked, was believed to have been extended at the last moment to six years, having previously been fixed at three. In the City, however, and among independent observers, opinion was decidedly hopeful. That Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan would decline exclusion was certain, and that Fermanagh and Tyrone would do so was highly probable; but the areas of Protestant and Catholic population by no means coincided with those of the counties, nor did the religious division, especially among the Protestants, with that between Unionism and Home Rule.

While these proposals were under consideration in the country the House dealt with the Army Estimates, published March 5. Their total amount was 28,845,000l.; a net increase as compared with 1913-14 of 625,000l., which was almost accounted for by (1) the new schemes of pay for regimental officers and of promotion from the ranks (140,000l.), and (2) the development of the Air Service (480,000l.). As the Secretary of State's memorandum pointed out, when allowance was made for the automatic growth of pension charges and for the 1,000,000l. provided for aviation, the effective cost of the Army was actually less than in 1907-8, when there was a reduction of 2,000,000l. in the Estimates, and only 250,000l. more than in 1909-10, when it was at its lowest since the South African War. Since 1905-6 the expenditure from loans had come to an end, but the general level of prices had risen by some 20 per cent. The total regular establishment, the memorandum continued, showed an increase of 800 men, half due to the growth of the Military Wing of the Flying Corps, half to additions to the Garrison Artillery for home defence.[Pg 42] After giving details as to cavalry and horses, and promising a new war organisation of this arm, the memorandum mentioned that there would be a shortage (of some 8,000 men at that time) in the Infantry owing to the abnormal number passing into the Reserve. As employment and emigration were also brisk and the Navy was competing for men, the gaps had not been readily filled, but better results were being obtained by modern methods of recruiting. The question was bound up with that of employment for ex-soldiers, into which a Commission was inquiring, with Sir Matthew Nathan as its chairman. The health of the Army, including that in India and the Colonies, was shown by figures to be very satisfactory. The new rates of pay for regimental officers took effect from January 1. An inquiry would be held into the conditions of the supply of cadets, which was disappointing. As to aviation, the personnel of the 5th and 6th squadrons would be complete by the end of March, and that of the 7th and 8th, as well as its equipment in aeroplanes, in the coming year. The lighter-than-air service being concentrated under the Admiralty, the Army airships had been handed over to the Navy on January 1. Satisfactory accounts were given of the progress in matériel of the air service. The strength of the Territorial Force on January 1, 1914, was 9,366 officers and 239,819 of other ranks, showing a decrease of 14,220, due to the retirement of time-expired men, whose number was large owing to the abnormal recruiting of 1909. The recruiting of 1913, however, showed a satisfactory advance, and more men had attended camp. Attendance was to be encouraged by an increased bounty. The National Reserve had increased by January 1, 1914, to 217,000. Particulars were also given as to the supply of horses, improvement of weapons and building works.

The table on the opposite page shows the net estimate of the several votes and the difference between the amounts for 1914-15 and those for 1913-14.

Votes. Net Estimates. 1914-15. Increase on Net Estimates. Decrease on Net Estimates.
A I.—Numbers. Numbers. Numbers. Numbers.
Number of men on the Home and Colonial Establishments of the Army, exclusive of those serving in India. 186,400 800 ——
II.—Effective Services. £ £ £
1 Pay, etc., of the Army 8,705,000 82,000 ——
2 Medical Establishment: Pay, etc. 437,000 —— 3,000
3 Special Reserve 724,000 9,000 ——
4 Territorial Forces 3,086,000 271,000 ——
5 Establishments for Military Education 156,000 10,000 ——
6 Quartering, Transport, and Remounts 1,732,000 38,000 ——
7 Supplies and Clothing 4,388,000 —— 119,000
8 Ordnance Department Establishments and General Stores 621,000 —— 99,000
9 Armaments, Engineer Stores, and Aviation 1,732,000 55,000 ——
10 Works and Buildings 2,791,000 356,000 ——
11 Miscellaneous Effective Services 59,000 —— 7,000
12 War Office 457,000 14,000 ——
Total Effective Services 24,888,000 835,000 228,000
III.—Non-Effective Services.
13 Half-pay, retired pay, and other non-effective charges for Officers, etc. 1,846,000 —— 3,000
14 Pensions and other non-effective charges for Men, etc. 1,977,000 27,000 ——
15 Civil Superannuation, Compensation, and Gratuities 134,000 —— 6,000
Total Non-Effective Services 3,957,000 27,000 9,000
Total Effective and Non-effective Services 28,845,000 862,000 237,000
Net Increase £625,000

The Army Estimates were introduced by the War Minister on March 10. The cost of living and the air service, he said, would increase the cost of all armies per man; the number of men was less, the cost was more. The Regular Army showed a deficiency of 8,000, the Reserve a surplus of 13,000, so that on the whole number on mobilisation the surplus would be 5,000. At home there were 121,000 Regulars, abroad 117,000 (white troops recruited in the United Kingdom); and there was an Army Reserve of 146,000. On the declaration of war an Expeditionary Force of 162,000 could be mobilised very soon. To deal with a sudden emergency from oversea 50,000 men could be assembled in a few hours. Coming to the officers and men, he remarked that it was the first year of the new scheme of officers' pay, which would involve considerable promotion from the ranks—as there had been in the Peninsular War, and, according to Lord Wolseley, the[Pg 43] principle was accepted in the British Army. By 1915 a scheme of education for such officers would have been devised. Recruiting gave some anxiety, but by advertising the advantages of the Army an increased number had been attained. But the Cardwell system, while good for the State, was bad for the men after their discharge, and of 24,000 men, of good character, who left the Army in 1913 employment had been found for only 16,000. A Committee, with Sir Matthew Nathan as Chairman, was studying the problem. In the Special Reserve, in spite of a reduction of the establishment owing to the extension of mechanical transport, there was a shortage of 13,000, which would continue; but the force was valuable as a half-way house for the Army. The Territorial Force was short of its establishment by 56,000, but 1913 had been its best year for recruiting. This, however, might be due to the rejoining of time-expired men, and further efforts were needed. The National Reserve numbered 217,000, of whom 13,000 had undertaken to serve in any part of the world in the event of a national emergency, and 45,000 within the British Isles, these latter being a set-off to the Territorial shortage of 56,000. Of horses the number needed on going[Pg 44] to war was 102,000, the number available 375,000; the surplus extended to every class of horse, and was largest in the heavier type. Aviation was very costly, but might be made safer by the provision of money. One of the leading combatants in the Balkan War had said to him: "Had we had a single aeroplane, the whole history of Europe would have been altered." That army had, indeed, aeroplanes and men, but had not the organisation to ensure that an aeroplane and a man should be where they were needed. Great Britain, he showed, was not behindhand, and he appealed to farmers to provide landing-places. He also gave encouraging information as to the field-gun and the new rifle.

There was little time for criticisms that evening, and the most important were those of Mr. A. Lee (U., Hants, Fareham). He was dissatisfied with the arrangements for promotion from the ranks, and with the means of defence in the absence of the Expeditionary Force. The Report of the Defence Committee, too, should have been debated before the Army Estimates. Next day Mr. Baird (U., Warwickshire, Rugby) moved a resolution regretting the serious shortage in the Military Forces of the Crown, and inviting the Government to state forthwith its concrete proposals to deal with the situation. He insisted on the youth of a large proportion of the troops, and Sir B. Pole-Carew (U., Cornwall, Bodmin) added that naval experts now held that the Navy was unable to defend the British Isles. [His attack on the First Sea Lord's disclaimer (p. 35) led to a scene.] The War Minister, in his reply, declared that the British Army was much better trained and was much more formidable as a fighting machine than any Continental Army, and the Expeditionary Force was absolutely ready to go on an expedition. Great Britain was more ready for war than ever before. Eventually the motion was negatived, and next day in Committee the Under-Secretary for War gave an encouraging account of the arrangements contemplated for raising the numbers of the Special Reserve. A reduction was moved by Mr. Worthington Evans (U., Colchester), to call attention to the hardships suffered by men marrying "off the strength," in which case their wives and families received no allowances. The War Secretary announced that recommendations recently made after an inquiry conducted by Mrs. Tennant would be adopted, entailing an annual addition to the Estimates of some 60,000l. The reduction was negatived by 249 to 212.

The question of the ability of the Navy to protect the British Isles from invasion had been raised by the Earl of Portsmouth in the Upper House on March 10. He called attention to the First Sea Lord's Statement (A.R., 1913, p. 94) that the Fleet alone was not sufficient, and to the Prime Minister's explanation that the statement had been misconstrued (p. 35). What, he asked, did the First Sea Lord now mean? Lord Wimborne replied, on[Pg 45] behalf of the Government, that the First Sea Lord had never used the word "invasion." Before his speech he had consulted the First Lord, and both he and the Prime Minister represented the views of the Admiralty and were in harmony with those of Mr. Balfour (A.R., 1905, p. 157 seq.). Neither arm was separately responsible for protection against invasion. The Army had to provide that no invasion could be undertaken with less than a considerable body of men; the Navy had to intercept such an enemy; these functions both arms, now as always, were competent to perform. After other speeches, the Lord Chancellor closed the debate, saying that the interpretation put on the First Sea Lord's speech had represented him as deserting the basic principles of naval strategy. What he had said fully accorded with the accepted principles of home defence.

Meanwhile a well-meant attempt at strengthening home defence had been made by Lord Willoughby de Broke's Territorial Forces Amendment Bill, of which the second reading was moved in the House of Lords on March 13. It proposed to form a new Imperial Force (supported by a 3d. income tax), composed of British subjects or domiciled aliens, whose service would be compulsory between the ages of sixteen and forty-five. It was confined to public school and university men, members of the higher professions, and men whose income from all sources was 400l. a year. Boys at school were to serve in cadet corps; between the ages of twenty-one and thirty there were to be annual periods of training; and at thirty the members would be liable to serve in great national emergencies. He believed the example set would induce extensive working-class enlistment in the Territorials. The impracticability of the Bill was exposed by Lord Newton (who moved an amendment in favour of universal service), and by the Lord Chancellor, who pointed out that a measure of taxation originating in the Upper House was not worth discussing, and that German experience showed that a large home army and a large overseas army were incompatible. Still, the Bill obtained considerable support on that and the two following days, less for its own sake than as a basis of discussion. Several speakers advocated compulsory cadet training; the Earl of Cromer pleaded for a non-party settlement, instancing Germany and France; and Earl Roberts and the Marquess of Lansdowne, while objecting to the class distinctions of the Bill, were eminently dissatisfied with the existing conditions of defence. In replying for the Government, Viscount Morley of Blackburn intimated that Mr. Asquith's Defence Committee of 1913-14 had come to the same conclusions as that of 1908 and Mr. Balfour's in 1905. The Bill was rejected by 53 to 34.

The debates on the Army Estimates had been interrupted by an attack on the Chancellor of the Exchequer (March 10) in the shape of a resolution moved by Sir John Randles (U., Manchester,[Pg 46] N.W.), and seconded by Mr. Cassell (U., St. Pancras, W.), regretting his "repeated inaccuracies," and his "gross and unfounded personal attacks." The cases cited can only be briefly indicated. They were (1) the attack on the Duke of Montrose (p. 14); (2) the Duke of Sutherland's offer (A.R., 1913, p. 262), the executors' valuation having only been a rough estimate, less the amount of the mortgages; (3) the inaccurate attacks on ancestors of the Duke; (4) the Gorringe case (A.R., 1909, p. 181), where the "fine" was paid partly for the grant of a fresh and very valuable lease of other premises; (5) the statements (A.R., 1913, p; 248) as to St. Pancras, where there were 1,550 freeholders (instead of "about ten"), many of the largest being trustees. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made a spirited defence. Mr. Gorringe was paying for the value he had created, and his company were paying rates on it. In the Cathcart case, the Opposition had reduced the number of years' purchase from 920 to 750. In the Loch Arklet case, Glasgow had had to pay for 383 acres, not 19,000l. but 21,000l., more than thirty years' purchase of the whole 11,000 acres. In the Sutherland case, he read a poignant description of the clearances, written, as he told a Unionist inquirer, by Mr. Joseph Chamberlain; and claimed that the mortgages would not reduce the valuation to anywhere near 200,000l. Though his illustrations were questioned his case had never been challenged, and Mr. Long (p. 8) had accepted it. After a vigorous reply from Mr. F. E. Smith (U.), who incidentally mentioned that Mr. Lloyd George had suppressed the passage in his speech telling of the destruction of mangolds by pheasants (A.R., 1913, p. 212), the motion was rejected by 304 to 140, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer was enthusiastically cheered by his supporters.

In the following week, in an interval of the new phase of the Ulster crisis, the House began to deal with the Navy Estimates, issued March 12. They were the largest on record, amounting, according to the First Lord's introductory memorandum, to 51,550,000l., an increase on the total (including Supplementary) Estimates of 1913-14 of 2,740,700l. Of this increase 450,000l. represented increased pay and victualling for the larger personnel; 30,000l. automatic increase of the non-effective votes, 40,000l. was for fuel and fuel service, owing to the increased horse-power of the Fleet, and the continued building up of the oil fuel reserves; 300,000l. for development of air service; 750,000l. for increased earnings by contractors on Vote 8; 800,000l. for guns, torpedoes, and ammunition, of which 300,000l. was due to the acceleration of the three 1913-14 battleships. The new programme was composed of four battleships, four light cruisers, twelve destroyers, and a number of submarines and subsidiary craft. On April 1, 1914, there would be under construction thirteen battleships, one battle cruiser, sixteen light cruisers, thirty torpedo-boat destroyers, twenty-four submarines,[Pg 47] and various oil-fuel and Fleet service vessels. Particulars were given inter alia of the New Zealand Division—where two light cruisers would be kept, and manned from the New Zealand Naval Force—and of the progress of the naval air service. A chain of seaplane bases was being established round the coast; five were already complete. Good progress had been made with the design of the seaplane, and certain standard types for war service were rapidly being developed. The practical utility of aircraft for war was increasingly evident, and experiments in connexion with bomb dropping, wireless telegraphy, and gunnery had been continuous. Action had been taken as to aircraft armament, and guns for action against aircraft were being mounted aboard ship.

The following is the abstract of the net Estimates for the different Votes, with the increases and decreases indicated in each case:—

Votes. Net Estimates.
Differences on Net Estimates.
Increase. Decrease.
I.—Numbers. Total Numbers. Numbers. Numbers.
A Total Number of Officers, Seamen, Boys, Coast Guard, and Royal Marines 151,000 5,000 ——
II.—Effective Services. £ £ £
1 Wages, etc., of Officers, Seamen, and Boys,
Coast Guard, and Royal Marines 8,800,000 437,800 ——
2 Victualling and Clothing for the Navy 3,092,000 74,000 ——
3 Medical Establishments and Services 292,100 19,900 ——
4 Civilians employed on Fleet Services 115,300 15,800 ——
5 Educational Services 175,000 15,300 ——
6 Scientific Services 64,700 —— 1,500
7 Royal Naval Reserves 489,000 13,900 ——
8 Shipbuilding, Repairs, Maintenance, etc.:
   I.—Personnel 3,989,800 —— 161,300
  II.—Matériel 7,087,400 502,800 ——
 III.—Contract Work 14,287,800 936,500 ——
9 Naval Armaments 5,544,300 828,300 ——
10 Works, Buildings, and Repairs at Home and Abroad 3,595,500 87,500 ——
11 Miscellaneous Effective Services 523,700 —— 93,900
12 Admiralty Office 483,500 33,500 ——
Total Effective Services 48,541,000 2,965,300 256,700
III.—Non-Effective Services.
13 Half-Pay and Retired Pay 1,003,700 —— 2,100
14 Naval and Marine Pensions, Gratuities, and
Compassionate Allowances 1,605,900 43,800 ——
15 Civil Superannuation, Compensation Allowances, and Gratuities 399,400 —— 9,600
Total Non-Effective Services 3,009,000 43,800 11,700
Grand Total 51,550,000 3,009,100 268,400
Net Increase £2,740,700
[Pg 48]

Prefixed to the First Lord's memorandum was the following statement of twelve years' actual and two years' estimated naval expenditure:—

Year. Total Expenditure from Navy Votes (Net). Annuity in Repayment of Loans under the Navy Works Acts. Total Expenditures exclusive of Annuity [Column (2) deducted from Column (1)] Expenditure from Loans under Naval Loans Acts. Total of columns (3) and (4) Expenditure on New Construction
(Vote 8)
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
£ £ £ £ £ £
1901-2 30,981,315 122,255 30,859,060 2,745,176 33,604,236 8,865,080
1902-3 31,003,977 297,895 30,706,082 3,198,017 33,904,099 8,534,917
1903-4 35,709,477 502,010 35,207,467 3,261,083 38,468,550 11,115,733
1904-5 36,859,681 634,238 36,225,443 3,402,575 39,628,018 11,263,019
1905-6 33,151,841 1,015,812 32,136,029 3,313,604 35,449,633 9,688,044
1906-7 31,472,087 1,094,309 30,377,778 2,431,201 32,808,979 8,861,897
1907-8 31,251,156 1,214,403 30,036,753 1,083,663 31,120,416 7,832,589
1908-9 32,181,309 1,264,033 30,917,276 948,262 31,865,538 7,406,930
1909-10 35,734,015 1,325,809 34,408,206 —— 34,408,206 9,597,551
1910-11 40,419,336 1,322,752 39,096,584 —— 39,096,584 13,077,689
1911-12 42,414,257 1,322,752 41,091,505 —— 41,091,505 12,526,171
1912-13 44,933,169 1,322,752 43,610,417 —— 43,610,417 13,401,358
1913-14 (est.) 48,809,300 1,311,558 47,497,742 —— 47,497,742 14,513,500
1914-15 (est.) 51,550,000 1,311,558 50,238,442 —— 50,238,442 15,282,950

The First Lord's speech in introducing the Navy Estimates (March 17) came at an acute stage of the Ulster question and was in great part an elaborate defence, addressed to his own party, of the increase during his term of office, and he compared the figures elaborately with those of 1911-12, his predecessor's last year. The increased cost of maintenance—6,250,000l.—was accounted for, he said, mainly by increased pay, wages, and victuals (2,140,000l.), oil reserve (1,500,000l.), and air service (900,000l.). Apart from these two last items, the whole increase was either automatic or proportioned to the increased size and strength of the Fleet, which again was proportionate to that of other Powers. Great Britain was aiming at completing eight battleship squadrons to Germany's five, with the proper proportion of cruisers and flotillas. Again, against sixteen Dreadnoughts in full commission in 1911-12, there were now thirty-three, many of them much larger and more costly, including nine battle cruisers against Germany's five. As to new construction, about 2,500,000l. of the 17,566,000l. appropriated in 1911-12 went over into the succeeding years; but for this, the vote of 1914-15 would be less; but he expected great progress to be made, and more money earned by the contractors, in the new year. In 1915-16 the Estimates would probably be substantially lower. Oil fuel, as he showed from a statement of the Chairman of the Royal Commission on fuel and engines, increased the radius of action, saved labour and stowage, rendered it possible to get fresh supplies at sea, and so to escape submarine attacks when going to oiling stations; and the oil tanks were a capital charge. Oil would be[Pg 49] used as the sole fuel for small craft and light cruisers of the Arethusa type, and for capital ships of exceptional speed. The air service had increased enormously during his term of office—the number of aeroplanes had increased from 9 to 103, the personnel by the end of the year might be 180 officers and 1,500 men. The seaplane had a great future, especially in scouting and watching the coast. For the security of the east coast from raids the Admiralty relied largely on patrol flotillas of aircraft grouped and held in strong force at strategic points, and able to be directed to any point of attempted landing. Fifteen airships were built, building, or ordered, of which ten had a speed exceeding forty-five miles an hour. Three officers only had been killed, and 131,000 miles flown. As to personnel, there were 146,000 men against less than 134,000 in 1911, and he asked for 5,000 more. The whole fleet could be fully manned on mobilisation, but the increase in personnel was required to train the men for the fleet of 1916-17. In 1920 Germany would have 108,000, and was reaching that figure by increments of 6,000 annually. After noticing the questions of pay and insurance, and mentioning that instead of grand manœuvres there would be a general mobilisation of the Third Fleet, he dealt inter alia with the supply of officers, and the new rank of Lieut.-Commander (lieutenants of eight years' standing) and then came to matériel. The programme was wholly normal. One of the four battleships would burn oil only. He extolled the 15-inch gun, in which Great Britain was ahead of all other Powers. Naval battles were now like "two eggshells striking each other with hammers"; hence the "awful importance" of good gunnery. After touching on the submarine service—the number to be built being secret—and its dangers, the destroyer flotillas, and the armed merchantmen—seventy by the end of 1914-15, armed with two guns solely for self-defence—he said that the Cabinet had again considered the capture of private property at sea and refused to change the practice, but had decided on the abolition of prize-money. Coming to the question of standards of naval superiority, he interpreted the 60 per cent. standard of superiority (A.R., 1912, p. 45) in Dreadnoughts for the six years following 1912-13 as follows:—

Great Britain 4, 5, 4, 4, 4, 4
As compared with Germany 2, 3, 2, 2, 3, 2.

For the provision to cover the period of delay of the Canadian ships, however, there was a special reason—viz., that, in July, 1912, the Cabinet had decided that a British battle squadron should be maintained in the Mediterranean, that Great Britain might be the guardian of her own interests there, and by the end of 1915 a battle squadron of eight battleships, based on Malta, would replace the four battle cruisers now stationed there. The force there would then consist of eight battleships, four large armed cruisers, four light cruisers of the "Town" type and six[Pg 50]teen destroyers of the Beagle type. Hence the acceleration of three ships of the 1913-14 programme and two of the 1914-15 programme; these latter would be ready in the third quarter of 1916. Turning to the Pacific, the situation there was regulated by the British naval strength in European waters, which protected New Zealand and Australia from European Powers, and from any present danger from Japan, and Japan from European attack by sea. The Anglo-Japanese alliance, renewed up to 1921 and likely to continue, was the true protection of Australia and New Zealand, and depended entirely on the maintenance of British naval supremacy. He extolled the policy of New Zealand in giving a splendid ship to strengthen the British Navy at a decisive point; and, though the natural desire of the Dominions to have their ships in their own waters was hard to reconcile with naval strategy, the combination of the two was aimed at by the design of the Imperial squadron, a fleet of large ships supported in each Dominion by local repairing establishments, light cruisers, and small craft, and bringing sufficient aid wherever needed in war. Finally, the First Lord dealt with the supreme importance of a strong Navy to Great Britain, pointing out that while other Powers built navies in order to play a part in the world's affairs, Great Britain's Navy was to her a question of life or death. By sober conduct and skilful diplomacy she could disarm or divide the elements of potential danger; but her diplomacy depended largely on her naval strength, and, in the face of the unprecedented armament increase of Continental Powers, the Government could not feel that they were doing their duty to their country unless its naval strength were solidly, amply, and unswervingly maintained.

Mr. Lee (U., Hants, Fareham) maintained that on the 60 per cent. standard of superiority Great Britain was five ships short (28 against the Germans 21, when there should be 33) and that three ships to replace the Canadian ships should be begun at once; we must keep faith with the Dominions.

The debate, however, was suspended to allow Mr. Butcher (U., York) a resolution declaring that the House was not satisfied that the provision for defence against invasion was adequate, and demanding the publication forthwith of the conclusions of the Defence Committee. After several speeches, the First Lord, after dealing with special points raised, replied that of the new factors in the problem, submarines told against the invader; aircraft and wireless telegraphy in favour of the strongest fleet; on the other hand, the changes in the strategic front told against Great Britain. The Invasion Committee had dealt with all these matters, and the naval manœuvres had yielded important lessons, but he deprecated the popular interpretation of them (A.R., 1913, p. 179). If the Expeditionary Force was at home no invading force could be large enough, if it had left, the Fleet would have been fully mobilised.[Pg 51] He vindicated Prince Louis of Battenberg's action and promised a day later in the session for a debate on the Report of the Imperial Defence Committee; and, incidentally, he made an attack on Sir R. Pole-Carew (U., Bodmin) which caused a scene. The motion was rejected by 290 to 190.

Next day the debate was continued by a vigorous and comprehensive attack on Admiralty policy from Lord Charles Beresford (U., Portsmouth). The number of ships, he said, was inadequate, the men were overworked and underpaid, the deficiency of officers was dangerous, and the Admiralty was trusting to oil, which they could not guard, nor could Great Britain produce it. More significant, however, was an attack on the "armaments ring" by Mr. Snowden (Lab., Blackburn) which was applauded (even, contrary to rule, from the Strangers' Gallery). The shareholders in armament companies, he pointed out, included Bishops, the President of the Free Church Council, the Colonial Secretary, and the Postmaster-General; with British co-operation, battleships were being constructed by members of the "ring" for Italy, and Whitehead torpedoes for Austria. The debate was again suspended for a resolution moved by Mr. Aubrey Herbert (U., Somerset, S.), declaring that the protection of the route to India and other services of the Empire demanded the provision of an adequate naval force in the Mediterranean. This discussion extended also to Near Eastern problems. The Foreign Secretary, in the course of a long reply, held that the understandings between the Powers of the Triple Entente had made for peace. As Great Britain could not maintain in the Mediterranean a fleet superior to the combined fleets of all the other nations represented there, her policy should be to keep there a fleet equal to any combination she was likely to have to meet. Foreign policy depended on naval strength rather than conversely, for policy must be so shaped that the country would not have to face a combination that the Navy could not meet. In the Near East British policy was to use diplomatic influence to preserve the integrity of Turkey. There was nothing to offend Mohammedan feeling in the proposed Turco-Greek settlement, and it should be considered as a whole. After a speech from Mr. Lee (U.) on the naval position in the Mediterranean, the motion was withdrawn.

The debate next week (March 23) on the Navy Estimates was almost crowded out by the Ulster and Army crises, but the Votes for wages, victualling and clothing, and works and buildings, were agreed to on March 23, after debate and two divisions. An additional day for the discussion of naval policy was promised after Easter.

But meanwhile the Home Rule controversy had passed into a phase of unprecedented gravity. The "British Covenant" had been supplemented by a "Women's Covenant," and both documents had been numerously and influentially signed, about 3 or 4 per cent.[Pg 52] of the signatories, it was said, being Liberals. On the other hand, the First Lord of the Admiralty had spoken at Bradford (March 14), apparently as the messenger of the Cabinet. The Chief Liberal Whip, who presided, declared that the Government's position was impregnable, and that there would be no general election till the three Bills under the Parliament Act had become law. Mr. Churchill, on his part, referred to his own past admissions of Ulster's claim to special treatment; the Prime Minister had made a fair and reasonable offer, with the assent of the Nationalist leaders, and it seemed to him final. It represented the hardest sacrifice ever asked of Irish Nationalism. But the Unionists were not satisfied. The sole return offered was that there would be no civil war. The Ulstermen still showed the old spirit of ascendency. They seemed to think a settlement could only be achieved by threats; but, in the event of violence, the larger issue would be dominant, whether Parliamentary government was to be broken down before the menace of armed force. That had been fought out at Marston Moor. Apparently some sections of the propertied classes desired to subvert Parliamentary government. Against such a mood, when manifested in action, there was no lawful measure from which the Government should or would shrink. He had had to send soldiers out during the railway strike (A.R., 1911, p. 209), and there was no Unionist condemnation then. They knew how the Unionists would treat the Nationalists, and how they applauded martial law in South Africa. The Government met the menace with patience, but with firmness. They were responsible for the peace of the British Empire; who would dare to break it up? There must be one law for all; Great Britain was not to be reduced to the condition of Mexico. If Ulster sought peace and fair play, she knew where to find it; if she were to be made a tool in Parliamentary calculations, if the British civil and Parliamentary systems were to be brought to the challenge of force, he could only say, "Let us go forward together and put these grave matters to the proof."

The finality of the Prime Minister's offer was further emphasised on that day and the next in speeches by Mr. Dillon and Mr. Devlin; the adverse feeling of the Independent Nationalists by an "All-for-Ireland" Conference (March 14) at Cork; and on March 16 the Prime Minister made a further statement in the Commons, in the form of a collective reply to twenty-six questions, of which notice had been given. Prefacing this reply by a general survey of the situation, he said that the Government had put forward its proposals for the separate treatment of Ulster not as the best way of dealing with Home Rule, but as a basis of settlement; if they were accepted in principle, the Bill would have to be supplemented by a number of adjustments, financial and administrative, which were being worked out, but to discuss them would interfere with a discussion on the main issue. He[Pg 53] then began curtly to dispose of the questions; the Unionists objected, as the form of his reply precluded supplementary questions; and he presently intimated that the details would not be formulated unless the general principle were adopted and treated as a basis of agreement. Mr. Bonar Law and Sir Edward Carson pressed for the details, and, in view of the Prime Minister's replies, a Vote of Censure was determined on. Incidentally, the Prime Minister endorsed the First Lord's speech at Bradford, and the latter was loudly cheered by the Liberals.

The Vote of Censure was moved by Mr. Bonar Law on March 19. It regretted the refusal of the Government to formulate their suggestions before the debate on the second reading of the Home Rule Bill. This moderation in its language was said to represent a reaction from the impatience manifested three days earlier. Mr. Bonar Law's tone, too, was more pacific. He laid stress on the danger of the situation and on his desire to avoid civil war; he and his colleagues had not closed and would not close the door hastily on any proposal put forward by the Government in the hope of securing peace. If the principle to which they were asked to agree was that Ulster was not to be driven out of the Imperial Parliament into a Nationalist Parliament, they accepted it as a basis of discussion; if Ulster was to be brought in automatically against its will, they would help Ulster to resist. He made a formal offer; if the new suggestions were put into the Home Rule Bill and accepted by the country on a Referendum, he had Lord Lansdowne's authority to say that, as far as his influence in the House of Lords went, he would not oppose the will of the people. That, he maintained, was a reasonable offer. Were Ulster brought in as a new Poland, what hope was there for a united Ireland? As to the Army, in a case merely of disorder, it would and ought to obey; if it were a question of civil war, "soldiers are citizens like the rest of us." If blood were shed in Ulster, there would be the same outburst of feeling in Great Britain as there was in the United States when the first shot was fired at Fort Sumter.

The Prime Minister, after protesting against Mr. Bonar Law's view as to the duty of the Army in the case of civil war, restated the aim of his proposal. Ulster was to be excluded for a term of years, to give the electorate of the United Kingdom an opportunity of expressing its opinion, and to enable it to be seen from the working of the Irish Legislature whether the objections of Ulster were well founded. Suppose the proposals accepted on a referendum of the United Kingdom, did the Unionist leaders hold that this would carry with it authority to coerce Ulster? (Mr. Bonar Law indicated assent.) Then, was not the Government's proposal more favourable? Would there be plural voting on the Referendum? (Mr. Bonar Law indicated that there need not.) And would Ulster accept the decision? (Sir Edward Carson[Pg 54] offered to answer if it were a "firm offer.") On a Referendum it would be impossible to isolate the issue. He believed the proposals were fair, and the Government were quite satisfied with the Home Rule Bill as it stood. Even partial and temporary exclusion was an evil, but it was only because it offered the only avenue to a pacific settlement that the Government had felt compelled to take it.

Sir Edward Carson (U.) said that, in view of the First Lord's and Mr. Devlin's speeches, he felt that if this were the Prime Minister's last word he ought to be in Belfast. This Government of cowards, who had postponed dealing with the Ulster movement and would not remove the time-limit because of Mr. Redmond, were now going to entrench themselves behind the King's troops. They had been discussing at the War Office for the last two days how many they would require and whether they would mobilise. They wanted an outbreak as a pretext for putting the Ulstermen down. Gamble in anything else, but not in human life. After a bitter attack on Mr. Churchill, he suggested to the Prime Minister that the parts of Ulster in question should be excluded till Parliament further ordered, or till the question was reconsidered with a view to federation. Ulster, alone in Ireland, had always been on the best of terms with the Army; but under the direction of the Government the Army would become assassins.

After a scene, provoked by Mr. Devlin (N., Belfast, W.), by denouncing Sir Edward Carson's desertion of the Liberal party, after Home Rule had been defeated in 1886, as that of "a man on the make," Sir E. Carson, who was very unwell, left—for Belfast, however, and amid a great Opposition demonstration—and Mr. Devlin, continuing, declared that the civil war in Ulster was a "masquerade" and a sham, organised by the Unionist party, which had no policy. He ridiculed some of the "critical incidents" which, according to The Times, had nearly brought about an earthquake, and pointed out that the eleven bye-elections since August, 1913, had shown 69,661 votes for Home Rule and 50,885 against it. He thought the exclusion proposals were needless, and at most only four counties would adopt them, possibly not one. He emphasised the Nationalist sacrifice, and believed that six years hence the Protestants would be contributing to the future power and glory of Ireland.

Among subsequent speakers Mr. Cave (U., Kingston, Surrey) suggested devolution to Irish provincial assemblies, Mr. Pirie (L., Aberdeen, N.) moved an amendment, declaring that a settlement might be found in the exclusion of the Ulster counties until legislative provision for a general system of devolution for the whole of the United Kingdom was ready to come into operation, such provision to take place within six years. Mr. A. Ward (U., Herts, Watford) urged the Unionists to consider their posi[Pg 55]tion and press for the continuance of negotiations between the leaders. Mr. A. Chamberlain, summing up for the Opposition, complained of the provocative speech of Mr. Devlin, and dwelt on the dangers of the Government's proposal; he regretted that Mr. Cave's suggestions, anticipated by some Unionists in the autumn, had been ignored, and that the Prime Minister would not accept the Referendum. The Chief Secretary for Ireland, winding up for Ministers, said that it was a considerable advance to have got to discussing the compatibility of the exclusion of Ulster and Home Rule. He had thought Ulstermen would be inclined to accept this proposal on consideration. He laid stress on the patience of the Ulster Nationalists under provocation, and thought Mr. Cave's and Mr. Ward's speeches held out hopes of settlement.

The Vote of Censure was rejected by 345 to 252. The amendment was consequently not put.

Sir Edward Carson had left the House to go to Ulster; so had eight Ulster Unionist members. The belief that this portended a new stage in the crisis was heightened by military movements in Ulster, by reports that warrants were out for the arrest of "from 30 to 130" leaders of the Ulster Volunteer Force, and from rumours as to trouble with the officers at the Curragh. The Chief Secretary for Ireland (March 20) and the Attorney-General (March 21) endeavoured to reassure public opinion. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer's utterances at Huddersfield (March 21) had an opposite effect. In one speech he dealt with the land programme and made an eloquent plea for social reform; but earlier in the day he violently attacked the House of Lords and the Orangemen of Ulster, declaring that the former were threatening the doctrine of popular government, and had produced the doctrine of "optional obedience," and that the latter were threatening rebellion that they might not cease to be the dominant caste. He attacked the exclusion of Ulster, and objected that a Referendum would only produce a poll of 40 or 50 per cent. of the electorate, and a majority on that small poll would destroy reform. Let the Home Rule controversy be settled, in order to open the way to deliverance from social wretchedness.

This speech and Sir Edward Carson's departure damped whatever hopes of settlement had been based on certain passages in the Vote of Censure debate. Meanwhile rumours had reached London that officers in Ireland had resigned to avoid serving against Ulster; and many Unionists believed that British troops were to be ordered to shoot down the Ulster Volunteers at once. The chief sources for the history are the Prime Minister's statements to the Press and in the Commons (March 22, 23); the White Paper (March 25); the Morning Post account (March 26), based on information from the officers concerned; the First Lord of the[Pg 56] Admiralty's speech (March 30), and Colonel Seely's speech (April 9); the Ulster version issued in April, and the consequent debates in the Unionist motion for an inquiry (post, Chap. III.). In December, 1913, the War Minister had warned the Generals commanding in chief, that while soldiers were justified in contemplating disobedience to outrageous orders, e.g. massacring a demonstration of Orangemen who were not dangerous, they might have to assist in supporting the Civil Power, and that they could not pick and choose between lawful and reasonable orders. Any officer resigning was to be asked for reasons, and, if he indicated that he desired to choose between orders, the War Minister would at once submit to the King that his name should be removed. On March 14 it was determined to protect certain military stores in Ireland from possible raids by Ulster Volunteers. General Sir Arthur Paget, commanding in Ireland, was ordered to take the necessary steps. Cavalry and horse artillery were to support the infantry, and, as the Great Northern Railway of Ireland was expected to refuse to convey the troops, preparations were made to send them by sea, and one company was actually sent by sea to Carrickfergus; but the railway authorities accepted the troops. As was afterwards revealed, naval support was provided for the operations (p. 60). On March 20 Sir A. Paget arrived in Dublin and conferred, first, with General Gough, commanding the Third Cavalry Brigade, who apparently refused to serve against Ulster, preferring to be dismissed the service; next, with the other generals, and, according to the Morning Post (April 7), his instructions were as follows: The Third Cavalry Brigade was to move forward to seize the bridges across the Boyne and to wait there till relieved by the infantry; a fleet was to anchor in Belfast Lough and co-operate with the Army, 25,000 troops were to be employed, and a division of infantry got from England. The force was made large apparently in order to deter the Volunteers from attacking it, but the Unionists insisted that it was provocative. It appears to have been intimated also to the officers that the Ulster Unionist leaders were to be arrested, and possibly—though as to this there is a conflict of evidence—that the orders were in accordance with the wishes of the King. It seemed that Sir A. Paget might unintentionally have misinterpreted the intentions of the Government. However, he telegraphed to the War Office that evening that the Brigadier and fifty-seven officers, Third Cavalry Brigade (out of a total of seventy), preferred to accept dismissal if ordered North; and General Gough sent him a Minute, saying that, while these officers were prepared to maintain order and preserve property, they had rather be dismissed than initiate active military operations against Ulster. (These officers comprised all those of the Sixteenth Lancers, nearly all those of the Fourth Hussars and Fifth Lancers, and six out of thirteen of the Third Brigade Royal Horse Artillery.) Next day,[Pg 57] March 21, Sir A. Paget attempted to remove their fears. He assured them that the measure contemplated was merely a measure of precaution, but he spoke of "massacres," of "battles," of a possible disarmament of regiments which refused to move, which would be the "Indian Mutiny over again," and finally said that "there were worse things than a Court Martial," which was interpreted to refer to the possibility of a capital sentence for disobeying orders. For these explanations the authority is the Morning Post account, based apparently on statements from the officers concerned. The situation was not bettered by them, or by the wild rumours which were published in London (March 21 and 22) of mutinies of infantry regiments in Ireland. On Sunday, March 22, therefore, the Prime Minister authorised The Times to state: (1) That the recent movements of troops in Ireland were purely precautionary and intended only to safeguard the depots of arms, while the naval movements merely consisted in sending troops to Carrickfergus by two small cruisers without the necessity of marching them through Belfast; (2) that no warrants were issued for the arrest of the Ulster leaders, and no such step was contemplated; (3) it was untrue that the Government contemplated instituting a general inquiry into the intentions of officers if asked to take up arms against Ulster; it was hoped that this contingency might never arise.

It was under these circumstances that both Houses met on Monday, March 23. In the Commons the War Minister stated that on the evening of March 20 General Sir A. Paget had notified the War Office that some officers might be unable to carry out his instructions; the Army Council telegraphed asking him to state the circumstances, and ordering the senior officers concerned to report themselves at the War Office. An inquiry held by the Army Council showed that the incident was due to a misunderstanding of questions put them by Sir A. Paget, and, with his approval, they had been ordered to rejoin their units. The movements of troops ordered on the night of March 19 from information received were: One company of infantry was instructed to move to Enniskillen, Omagh, Armagh, and Carrickfergus respectively; one battalion of infantry was ordered, half to Dundalk and half to Newry, and one from Victoria Barracks, inside Belfast, to Holywood Barracks, just outside. The reason was the necessity for protecting Government arms, ammunition, stores, and other property. All these movements had been completed in accordance with instructions from the General commanding in Ireland, and all orders had been punctually and implicitly obeyed.

To make a discussion possible, the Prime Minister moved the adjournment, at Mr. Bonar Law's request. The latter said that a new danger had arisen—that the Army should be destroyed before their eyes. The resignations were not confined to the Cavalry Brigade; an officer in an infantry regiment at the Curragh[Pg 58] had written stating that on Thursday, March 20, the following proposal had been put before the officers: "Any officer whose home is in Ulster can be given leave; officers who object to fighting against Ulster can say so and will be at once dismissed from service;" and they were given half an hour to decide. Nine or ten objected to go on any conditions. He read a letter from an officer who had heard Sir A. Paget's address at the Curragh, stating that he had said that "active operations" were to be taken against Ulster, and that he expected the country "to be in a blaze" by March 21. Officers domiciled in Ulster were to be "allowed to disappear," and would subsequently be reinstated, but must give their word not to fight for Ulster; others who would not fight against Ulster would be dismissed. This meant more than merely protective operations, and in his belief certain Ministers, probably without the Prime Minister's knowledge, had made the movement either to provoke or to intimidate the people of Ulster. Neither officers nor men should be compelled to take part in civil war against their will. (Labour members interjected inquiries whether the Army was also entitled to refuse to act in suppressing the railway strike.)

The Prime Minister replied. It was the duty of the Army to protect military property and stores, and to aid the civil power in the maintenance of order. Any officer or private who refused to assist in doing these duties was guilty of a breach of duty and was liable to be dismissed. In December, 1913, instructions were issued to General Sir A. Paget, and the rule as to excusing officers domiciled in an area of disturbance would apply anywhere as far as practicable. Long before the First Lord's speech the danger of a seizure of the guns and stores had been pointed out, and the operation was purely protective, and was over. The Cavalry Brigade had not been ordered to move. Sir A. Paget had had no instructions beyond those of December, except to make these particular movements. Brigadier-General Gough and his officers had misinterpreted his speech, and he denied using anything like the language given. General Gough and the officers concerned, had returned to their posts and expressed their willingness to carry out the duties required. (These explanations were greatly interrupted by the Opposition.) Finally, if officers and soldiers were to discriminate between the validity of different laws, the fabric of society would crumble. Suppose acute labour troubles and a stoppage of food, transport, and fuel, were the troops to follow their sympathies?

Mr. Balfour (U.) ridiculed the Prime Minister's explanation, and contended that the Government had intended to coerce Ulster, and had shrunk from doing so. Ulster might be wrong, but her conviction was rooted, and Ministers had aroused forces which could only be pacified by a broad and statesmanlike treatment which they had given no indications of being able to adopt.

[Pg 59]

Mr. Ramsay Macdonald (Lab.) said that the Syndicalists who had failed to poison the Labour party with their doctrines had apparently succeeded with the Tories; and Mr. John Ward (Lab., Stoke-on-Trent) declared that the officers had thrown over their allegiance to the King. The motion for adjournment was withdrawn; and a debate in the House of Lords added no further information.

The course of the debate and of events pleased only the Labour party, who foresaw that, since the option given to officers must logically be extended to men, the Army could not now be used in labour troubles. The Unionists believed that the Government had meant to coerce Ulster and had climbed down. Many Liberals held that it had gone too far in concession to the officers, and a Liberal member was said to have described the situation as "our Zabern." The Manchester Guardian said that the Prime Minister had gone very far towards recognising the right of officers to lay down the conditions of service, and cited Hearson v. Churchill (a naval case, 1892) and Clode's "Military Forces of the Crown," to show that officers had no right to resign without leave. In the country the Labour members' deductions made a great impression; on the other hand, an Ulster Defence Fund, started in the City by Mr. H. H. Gibbs, soon reached 100,000l.

The Labour view of the position was emphasised (March 23) in a debate in the Commons, started by Mr. Amery (U., Birmingham, S.), on the Report of the Army Vote. Mr. J. Ward (Lab.) read a Syndicalist manifesto "to the men of the British Army" published that day, urging them to remember that officers had exercised an option as to obeying orders, and asking them to resolve that they would never fire a shot against their own class. He added that when this once began it was not officers alone who would have consciences; the question was whether the people, through their representatives in Parliament, were to make the law without interference from King or Army. Later, Mr. J. H. Thomas. (Lab., Derby) remarked that the Railway Servants' Union had refused to assist one of their own members who had distributed pamphlets asking soldiers not to shoot down their fellow-workmen. He himself agreed with the action of the Prime Minister in August, 1911, in using troops to secure the food supplies of the nation in the railway strike; and he warned the House that his union had given notice to the railway companies in the name of 400,000 railwaymen which would expire on November 1. He would do his best to effect an amicable settlement, but, if the Opposition doctrine held good, his duty would be to tell the railwaymen to organise their forces and to spend the union's half-million of capital in providing arms and ammunition.

These speeches greatly pleased the Liberals, and Mr. Ward[Pg 60] was enthusiastically cheered ("for saying what we all think") when he was introduced by a member into the smoking-room of the National Liberal Club. It was stated, also, that they roused much sympathy in the Army among the rank and file. The Liberals were further startled by the White Paper published next day (March 25). Following the correspondence already quoted, it contained a letter in which General Gough asked the Adjutant-General to make clear whether, if the Home Rule Bill became law, the officers "could be called upon to enforce it in Ulster under the expression of maintaining law and order;" and a minute was written in reply, and signed by the War Minister, General Sir John French, and General Sir J. S. Ewart, which ran as follows:—

You are authorised by the Army Council to inform the Officers of the 3rd Cavalry Brigade, that the Army Council are satisfied that the incident which has arisen in regard to their resignations has been due to a misunderstanding.

It is the duty of all soldiers to obey lawful commands given to them through the proper channel by the Army Council, either for the protection of public property and the support of the civil power in the event of disturbances or for the protection of the lives and property of the inhabitants.

This is the only point it was intended to be put to the officers in the questions of the General Officer Commanding, and the Army Council have been glad to learn from you that there never has been and never will be in the Brigade any question of disobeying such lawful orders.

His Majesty's Government must retain their right to use all the forces of the Crown in Ireland, or elsewhere, to maintain law and order and to support the civil power in the ordinary execution of its duty.

But they have no intention whatever of taking advantage of this right to crush political opposition to the policy or principles of the Home Rule Bill.

J. S.
J. F.
J. S. E.

23 March, 1914

General Gough, it was rumoured, had at once shown this document and talked freely to reporters, and had received an ovation on his return to the Curragh.

The whole White Paper, and especially the letter above quoted, filled the Liberals with anger and dismay. The Westminster Gazette described it as "incredible," and declared editorially that it would prefer the defeat of the Government to an abject surrender to the Army.

On March 25 the position was further elucidated on the second reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill. Before this, however, there was another sensation and a scene. Questioned by Lord Charles Beresford as to the movements of the Third Battle Squadron, alleged to be meant to intimidate Ulster, the First Lord of the Admiralty said that a fortnight earlier the Cabinet had decided to station a battle squadron at Lamlash (Arran) as a convenient place to exercise from, and near Ireland if there should be serious disorder. On March 22, the precautionary movements of troops having been carried out without opposition, it was decided to delay the movement till after the Easter period of leave. The field-guns were asked for by the Admiral to exercise[Pg 61] the men ashore at Lamlash if the weather was bad (a statement scoffed at by the Opposition). The insinuation made by a Unionist member that the precautionary movements were provocative he repudiated as "hellish." Subsequently Colonel Seely, the War Minister, stated in detail the facts relating to the correspondence published and to the statement quoted above. Having seen General Gough, he went to the Cabinet meeting and said he would ask the Adjutant-General to draft a document for him. He then had to go to the King, and (he said parenthetically) the suggestion made outside Parliament that His Majesty had taken any initiative in the matter was "absolutely without foundation." When he returned, the Cabinet had separated, having discussed the draft prepared by the Adjutant-General (Sir J. S. Ewart). He added the two concluding paragraphs to conform to the statement he had made. On receiving this document General Gough asked Sir John French if it meant that he would not be called on to order his brigade to assist in coercing Ulster to submit to Home Rule, and Sir John French wrote across it "I should read it so." Sir John French and Sir J. S. Ewart did not know that it was a Cabinet document, and no blame rested on them or on Sir A. Paget; but blame rested on himself for altering it, and, having been absent from the Cabinet meeting, he did not apprehend that his colleagues had seriously considered the document and regarded it in the form in which it had left their hands as a matter of vital concern. Having unintentionally misled his colleagues, he had tendered his resignation. It appeared, however, that this had not been accepted; and Mr. Balfour, after scouting the Ministerial explanation of the naval and military movements and defending Ulster's right to resist, asked how the Government explained the two "peccant paragraphs" which were binding on Colonel Seely and the Army Council, and which "the whole Army would take as its charter." They made it impossible to coerce Ulster.

The Prime Minister, after declaring that the King had throughout observed every rule comporting with the dignity of a constitutional Sovereign, pointed out that in fact the Government had offered the Ulster counties exclusion till after two consultations of the electorate against an offer by the Opposition of one such consultation at once. Was it really believed that there was a plot to provoke Ulster? The movements were purely protective, and were ordered on March 14. Sir Edward Carson and his friends might equip a force said to number 100,000, but, if the Government consulted their general, it was an intrigue and an outrage. General Paget acted like any prudent general in the circumstances. The officers were uneasy, as to the possible initiation of active operations against Ulster, and sent in their resignations. When they came to the War Office, every one realised that there had been a misconception. On the 23rd, after[Pg 62] the interviews, the Cabinet received the draft of the proposed letter from the Army Council to General Gough. They did not know of his previous letter nor did the War Secretary. They authorised the three first paragraphs of the letter from the Army Council, which gave no assurance of any sort and stated plainly the duties of the officers. As soon as he received the copy of the whole letter, he sent for the War Secretary, who explained how the two last paragraphs had been added, and said that it was too late to alter them, for General Gough had had the letter. Mr. Asquith pointed out to the House that General Gough's letter shifted the question to a remote and hypothetical contingency It was not right to ask an officer what he would do in such a contingency, still less could it be right for an officer to ask a Government to give him any assurance. Such a claim, once admitted, would put the Government and the House at the mercy of the Military and the Navy. (This was received with prolonged Liberal and Labour cheers and waving of handkerchiefs and papers.) Were that issue once raised, he had little doubt as to the verdict of the country. The War Secretary, under great stress, had committed an error of judgment, but to accept his resignation would be ungenerous and unjust.

Mr. Bonar Law declared that the Government had decided on a great military and naval demonstration to impress the people of Ulster, and Sir A. Paget's statement was inconsistent with their explanation. He read a letter from an infantry officer, stating that Sir Charles Fergusson had told his officers that "steps had been taken so that any aggression must come from the Ulsterites." He insisted that the position amounted to civil war, and, with reference to the Labour attacks on the Ulster people and the Army, he declared that the Ulster Volunteers were thoroughly democratic, and the feeling among the rank and file of the Army was as strong as among the officers. If he were an officer he would resign, and (he hoped) would face a court martial rather than be sent against Ulster. The Government's duty was to find some means of saving the nation from an impossible position.

Mr. Ramsay Macdonald (Lab.) declared that Mr. Bonar Law's statement was an encouragement to mutiny. The sentence quoted from Sir Charles Fergusson meant that the offensive must not be taken against Ulster. The officers were acting as party politicians, and had communicated with the Press. Had the position revealed in the White Paper been that of the Government, the Government could not have lived for twenty-four hours.

Later, the Foreign Minister said that the Government repudiated the two paragraphs because they appeared as an answer to General Gough's letter making conditions, and General Gough had returned unconditionally. His question was not one that an officer should put. No question must be raised by the Army as to the orders given them.

[Pg 63]

After a stormy scene, caused by a remark of Mr. Holt (L., Northumberland, Hexham), Mr. Austen Chamberlain (U.), in a long speech, said that the Government's account was incompatible with the permission to officers domiciled in Ulster to disappear, and with the movements of the Fleet, of which the Prime Minister apparently did not know when he communicated with the Press on March 22. He also stated that the draft had been prepared by Colonel Seely in conjunction with Lord Morley of Blackburn, that it contained the guarantee embodied in the paragraphs in question, and that Lord Morley was present at the Cabinet meeting at which the draft was amended. The Cabinet would not throw over a colleague for doing what it had assented to in fact. The First Lord replied that Lord Morley's only connexion with the full document was that the War Minister had shown it to him after the meeting of the Cabinet when he asked what he was to say in the House of Lords on behalf of the Government. He said also that two great issues had emerged, Parliament versus the Army, and the Army versus the People, and that the Opposition had laid down the principle that it was always right for the soldier to shoot down a Radical and a Labour man. The debate ended in uproar, but the second reading was passed and the Government sustained by 314 to 222.

In the House of Lords, meanwhile, Lord Morley of Blackburn described the idea of a plot as "a sinister hallucination," and mentioned incidentally that the peccant paragraphs had been drafted with his aid. The Marquess of Lansdowne thought the Government had contemplated a coup d'état by paralysing the loyalists.

Next day the crisis was dealt with in Parliament only by angry questioning in the Commons; but it was announced in the Press that Sir John French and Sir J. S. Ewart had tendered their resignations and persisted in them. A statement was promised, but not made, on the adjournment of the Commons; and on Friday, March 27, it was officially promised at 5 P.M., as the Cabinet was still sitting; a suggestion by Mr. Bonar Law that the House should adjourn was rendered nugatory by the ruling of the Speaker that only a Minister could move the adjournment on a Friday, and after a somewhat stormy conversation, the House passed to other business. Just before 5 P.M. the Prime Minister entered; and in reply to Sir R. Pole-Carew (U.) he stated that the officers in question had tendered their resignations, as they had initialled the memorandum to General Gough; but the Cabinet, as there was no difference of policy, had asked them not to persist in their request, as their resignations would be a serious misfortune to the Army and the State. To avoid future misconceptions, a new Army order had been issued, as follows. It was headed "Discipline."

[Pg 64]

1. No officer or soldier should in future be questioned by his superior officer as to the attitude he will adopt or as to his action in the event of his being required to obey orders dependent on future or hypothetical contingencies.

2. An officer or soldier is forbidden in future to ask for assurances as to orders which he may be required to obey.

3. In particular it is the duty of every officer and soldier to obey all lawful commands given to them through the proper channel, either for the safeguarding of public property, or the support of the civil power in the ordinary execution of its duty, or for the protection of the lives and property of the inhabitants in the case of disturbance of the peace.

He repeated that no operations had been contemplated imposing any duty on the Army not covered by the terms of this Order, and the Government adhered to all the declarations they had made.

Mr. Bonar Law insisted, first, that the trouble in the Army had arisen because of the inquisition to which the officers had been subjected, which was condemned in the Order; next, that the disclosures of the movements of troops and battleships were totally inconsistent with the Prime Minister's statement in The Times of March 23. Captain Morrison-Bell (U., Honiton, Devon) denounced the Order as a gross insult to the Army; there never would be any doubt as to the obedience to orders. Had the officers not been asked their views the question would never have arisen.

Sir John French and Sir Spencer Ewart persisted in their resignations; and on Monday, March 30, there was a new and dramatic development. Near the end of question-time in the Commons, Colonel Seely entered, but did not take his place on the Ministerial Bench. A moment later, in reply to a question from the Opposition leader, the Prime Minister regretfully confirmed the news as to the resignations. The two officers retired, not because of any difference with the Government as to the conditions of service in the Army, but because having initialled the memorandum given to General Gough they felt bound to do so. The Secretary of State for War, to his infinite regret, had informed him that he thought it right to take the same course. He himself had, therefore, after much consideration and with no little reluctance, felt it his duty to become Secretary of State for War. (After a momentary pause of astonishment the mass of the Liberals above the gangway, with some other Liberals and Nationalists, rose and cheered wildly.) He must, therefore, offer himself for re-election. Colonel Seely followed, explaining that his resignation was the consequence of that of his two military colleagues. He added that great issues were raised; the whole Army system might have to be recast; but apart from these issues, the Army had served the country loyally and well. He would continue to support the Prime Minister, and would have the knowledge that he had tried to serve faithfully with his colleagues, and to see that fair play was given to the Army in a difficult time.

Mr. Bonar Law protested that the second reading of the Home[Pg 65] Rule Bill must be postponed, and the Prime Minister intimated that he had vacated his seat by the advice of the Law Officers, in spite of the adverse precedent set by Mr. Gladstone in 1873. He then left the House amid a great display of Liberal and Nationalist enthusiasm.

The motion for the third reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill, which at once followed, provided another opportunity for reviewing the crisis. Mr. F. E. Smith (U.) endeavoured to establish the existence of the alleged plot, and asked how Lord Morley could remain in the Government if Colonel Seely had left it. The First Lord of the Admiralty, in a long speech defending the Government, said that the letter from the Army Council did not arrive in time to be read to the Cabinet, but that the Prime Minister, who knew the mind of the Cabinet, cut it down to the first three paragraphs. Lord Morley copied the two appended paragraphs merely for his coming statement in the House of Lords. Reviewing the controversy, Mr. Churchill argued that after the Prime Minister's offer of March 9 the question was not of the coercion of Ulster, but of Ulster's barring the way to the rest of Ireland. In January the War Secretary had asked for naval protection for Carrickfergus Castle, but he refused it till after the offer of March 9 had been made. The military advisers of the Government had counselled withdrawing the stores and troops to Dublin; the Cabinet decided to reinforce the depots so that they could only be captured by a serious military attack. Sir A. Paget thought that the movement would be provocative, the Chief Secretary that it would not, though interference with the drill of the Volunteers or arrest of their leaders might be so. Sir A. Paget received no orders for any movement of troops beyond these precautionary movements, but he had full discretionary power in case of resistance. The Secretary of War gave him oral instructions, but he was not asked to put, nor did he put, a hypothetical question, and he was determined to take every conceivable precaution to prevent a collision. A deliberate and unprovoked attack by the Ulster forces on British troops would have made all the contingent measures absolutely necessary, but he and the Government had not expected it, and were right. Suppose a Nationalist Army taking the same course as the Ulster Volunteers, would not the Government be compelled to take similar steps? As to the political issues, he withdrew the word that he spoke at Bradford. What of the provocation from the other side? He charged the Opposition leaders in both Houses with attempting to seduce the Army, quoting a number of speeches, a letter from Earl Roberts, and a circular sent out on House of Commons notepaper by Mr. Hunt (U., Shropshire, Ludlow). They had been trying to force an election by creating a rebellion and paralysing the use of the Army to deal with it, and their followers were boasting that the Army had killed the Home Rule Bill.

[Pg 66]

Among subsequent speakers, Mr. Brace (Lab., Glamorgan, S.) said that if the King had interfered the Labour party must have made his action an issue at the next elections. If the two paragraphs had been maintained, that party would have overthrown the Government. Mr. Bonar Law contested the charge made against the Opposition leaders by the First Lord of the Admiralty, and, reading out Lord Morley's explanation, declared that every member of the Cabinet was in the same position as the War Minister. Eventually the third reading was carried by 329 to 251.

In the House of Lords, also, the resignations and Lord Morley's position were discussed, but without much fresh enlightenment. Lord Morley stated that when the War Minister showed him the two paragraphs, he did not perceive, nor did he yet perceive, that they differed in spirit or substance from the preceding paragraphs. Further explanations were promised for next day, and, incidentally, Earl Roberts appealed to Peers and people to end the mischievous and dangerous assertions that the Army was being made the tool of a party. No man alive, he said, could seduce the Army in that way. Next day, in reply to a vehement attack on the Government by Earl Curzon of Kedleston, Lord Morley explained that Colonel Seely had resigned the second time in order that it might not appear that any Minister had made a bargain, and he himself had had no share in sending the letter as a reply to General Gough's request, of which he was unaware. Sir Edward Grey and the Prime Minister had taken the same view of the paragraphs, when taken with the rest of the letter, as himself. Notable speeches were made by Lord Methuen—to the effect that the Army would do its duty in any case—and by Earl Loreburn, who appealed to all parties to facilitate a settlement. The Marquess of Lansdowne thought the new Army order would not make matters clearer, and the Marquess of Crewe mentioned that the Royal Irish Constabulary, and Afridis in Indian frontier wars, were never asked to serve against men of their own country or race respectively.

Amid all these shocks it was a comparatively trifling matter that the Arms proclamation was invalidated for a time by the result of Hunter v. Coleman, an action brought by a firm of Belfast gunsmiths at the Belfast Assizes against the Collector of Customs of the port for detaining arms consigned to the plaintiffs at Hamburg on December 18, 1913. The sympathies of the jury were obviously with the plaintiffs, and the Attorney-General described the trial as a "political farce."

The crisis cut short the Royal visit to Lancashire and Cheshire, which had been arranged for March 24-28. Their Majesties, who were the guests of the Earl of Derby at Knowsley, decided to give up the Aintree race meeting and return to London on March 26; but on March 26 they opened a new infirmary at Chester, visited Messrs. Lever's famous model town of Port Sun[Pg 67]light, and Messrs. Cammell, Laird and Co.'s great engineering works at Birkenhead, opened—by pressing a button—a new park in that town, and subsequently, by similar means, laid the foundation stone of Wallasey Town Hall. Everywhere they were received with the utmost enthusiasm.

The Ulster crisis, which had abridged this visit, took much of the interest out of the resumed debate on the Home Rule Bill (March 31, April 1, 2, 6). Many people continued to believe that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the First Lord of the Admiralty had tried to provoke Ulster into a rising in order to crush her, with Colonel Seely as their tool. But the debate, nevertheless, showed signs of conciliation. Mr. Long (U.) said that the Opposition would consider an offer of an appeal to the people conditional on such an amendment of the Parliament Act as would not sacrifice its advantages to the Government. The Foreign Secretary, who spoke second, was most conciliatory. Various suggestions, he said, had been made and had found no success; but on none of them was the door absolutely shut by the Government. They were not prepared to go beyond the six years' exclusion, but unless a federal solution were reached Parliament and the country would go under through the failure of Parliament to conduct its business, and it might be the subject within the six years of private conversations between the leaders. The Government could not accept a referendum or agree to any settlement that did not mean passing the Home Rule Bill. An election without the plural vote before the Bill came into operation might be considered. Force must be used if there were outbreaks in Ulster, or if the Provisional Government defied the Imperial Government. But it could not be used to coerce Ulster to accept Home Rule till after an election. The new Army order might be taken as giving a fair start after the misunderstanding, but otherwise the next election must be on issues so grave as to change the Constitution.

It was thought that this speech had opened a fresh prospect of settlement, and this was confirmed by the opening of next day's debate. Mr. Dillon (N.) welcomed the tendency to conciliation, but declared that for the Unionists exclusion was simply a political weapon, while the Nationalist acceptance of the Government's proposal was inspired solely by a desire for peace. A referendum would not produce a poll of 50 per cent. in Great Britain. Federalism he disliked as implying a written constitution, but it was not barred by the Bill. If there was an agreement, the Bill might be amended either by the Lords inserting the agreed amendments, or by the Home Rule Bill. The Nationalists would do all they could to secure peace, but must not be asked to do what they could not do and what their people would not permit. Sir R. Finlay (U.), however, pressed for a general election; the Solicitor-General effectively put the Liberal and Nationalist case,[Pg 68] and Mr. O'Brien (N.) strongly deprecated exclusion and urged a Conference. The debate was cut short by the Labour motion on the rights of British citizens within the Empire (p. 73), and was resumed on April 2 by Mr. Balfour, who said that the discussion had shifted from the Home Rule Bill to the avoidance of civil war. The conciliatory tone of the debate meant that the House was frightened. Under a voluntary system they could not prevent the Army having its own views; it had to obey orders, but questions arose beyond the day-to-day code, and the Army ought not to have them put to it. After again demanding a referendum or a general election, he said that, though he had never been a believer in Federalism, if some moderate form of devolution met with general acceptance, and would avert civil war, he would not oppose it, but Ulster must be treated separately meanwhile. The President of the Local Government Board declared that Mr. Balfour's doctrine would make the mess-room a debating society. He had rather the Liberal party was beaten on other issues than that it won on this. He said most emphatically that there was no secret obligation of any sort between the Government and the Nationalists; that an election was not wanted, and would settle nothing, and that the election held after the passing of the Bill, and adverse to the Liberals, would mean that they would consent not to the repeal of the whole Bill, but to the exclusion of Ulster. It was only after the Bill passed that Federalism could be discussed. Later Mr. Agar-Robartes (L., Cornwall, St. Austell) attacked the Ministry and advocated giving Ulster a second option at the end of six years; and Mr. Cave (U.) inclined to devolution.

Before the debate was resumed two events affecting it took place outside (April 4)—the Prime Minister's speech to his constituents at Ladybank, and a great Hyde Park demonstration to protest against the coercion of Ulster. At the latter there were fourteen platforms, and the demonstrators reached the Park in twenty-two different processions; there was a large Stock Exchange and middle class contingent, and the speakers included Mr. Balfour (his first appearance at a Hyde Park demonstration), Sir E. Carson, Viscount Milner, Mr. Austen Chamberlain, and other Unionist leaders. The militant suffragists attempted a counter-demonstration, but the police prevented it and arrested Mrs. Drummond; and a Labour demonstration was meanwhile held in Trafalgar Square to protest against the different treatment by the Government of politicians and officers on the one hand and of anti-militarist strike-leaders and militant suffragettes on the other. The resolution carried here approved the conduct of the officers, and urged the rank and file to refuse to take up arms against their own class in industrial disputes.

Speaking to a select audience representative of his constituency at Ladybank (April 4), the Prime Minister began by ridiculing the Unionist rumours in circulation—the story of the plot, the[Pg 69] story that he had accepted his new office to escape for a fortnight from meeting the Unionist leaders in the House, the statement that his open journey to his constituency was provocative; and he ridiculed also the hesitation of the Unionists in opposing him. He had taken his new office in view of the grave situation that had arisen regarding the discipline of the Army and its relations to the civil power. As chairman of the Imperial Defence Committee, he knew the zeal, devotion, and settled traditions of discipline and honour pervading the military and naval forces of the Crown. The Army was not, and he prayed that it might never become, a political instrument; as an Army—and here he cited the elder William Pitt—it had no voice in the framing of policy and laws. "The Army will hear nothing of politics from me, and in return I expect to hear nothing of politics from the Army." The responsibility for the preservation of domestic order lay with the magistrates and police. In special emergencies the Army was called in to assist; in these it was the duty of the soldier, as of the civilians, to comply with the lawful demands of the civil power. The doctrines recently promulgated by some of the Tory leaders struck at the roots not only of Army discipline but of democratic government. As to the Home Rule Bill, he had brought the question into prominence at St. Andrews on December 7, 1910, and there was a complete justification for the application of the Parliament Act to it; but the Government were anxious to work out an agreed settlement, and hence the proposed optional exclusion of Ulster for a term of years. He should have preferred other solutions, but this one satisfied the conditions in his speech of October, 1913 (A.R., 1913, p. 219). The proposal had led to an unprecedented expression from both sides of the House of a desire to find some road to settlement, but any settlement must involve the placing of the Home Rule Bill on the Statute-book. Finally, Mr. Asquith referred to the other great Liberal measures pending, and deprecated division among the forces of progress.

The last day of the Home Rule Bill debate exhibited a continuance of the apparent movement towards a solution by consent, Mr. John Redmond (N.), after reviewing the various proposals for settlement, said that the only proposal from the side of Ulster was the total exclusion of Ulster, which was not a compromise, and was not put forward as the price of peace; the exclusion of Ulster by counties he regarded as dead; the Federal solution had been suggested in 1832, favoured by O'Connell and Parnell, and was the basis of Isaac Butt's movement. If Federalism meant that Ireland was to have priority, that her powers under the Bill were not to be watered down, and that the six years' limit was to stand, the Nationalists raised no objection. But the Opposition received that proposal with scoffing, and the only course was to proceed with the Bill as it stood. But even yet he did not despair of a settlement.

[Pg 70]

Sir Edward Carson (U.) said that Mr. Redmond's speech showed that there had been no real advance towards peace and conciliation. He had killed even the offer of the temporary exclusion of Ulster. If the Bill was passed, Federalism would be impracticable, for there would be no power over the Irish Parliament. Did Sir Edward Grey's speech mean that the Bill would be suspended till after a new Parliament had decided whether it was to be enforced? There was only one policy possible: "Leave Ulster out until you have won her consent to come in". Coercion would mean ruin to Ulster and to Ireland, and possibly to Great Britain also. This apprehension in Ulster was what the Nationalists had to overcome. Turning to them he said: "It is worth while your trying. Will you?"

The Attorney-General interpreted this speech as a great and significant advance towards conciliation. He added that the Prime Minister's offer of temporary exclusion was not withdrawn, and would remain open to the latest possible moment. If the exclusion would be till Parliament otherwise ordered, the House of Lords, at any rate as at present constituted, might frustrate the decision of the country. As to the Federal solution, Ireland came first because its case was urgent, and English opinion on Federalism was less advanced than Scottish, Irish, or Welsh. The immediate duty of the House was to go on with the Bill as it stood, but the Government hoped the efforts towards a settlement would still continue.

Mr. T. Healy (I.N.) in a brilliantly scornful speech, denounced Ministers for proposing the exclusion of Ulster and the Nationalist leaders for accepting it, and for making no effort at a settlement by other means. Exclusion was a device of Sir Edward Carson for killing the Bill. Later, Mr. Bonar Law (U.), who commented severely on the absence of the Prime Minister "from causes which might have been prevented or delayed," and of the Foreign Secretary, said he desired to convince the House and the country that the Unionists were prepared to make every possible sacrifice for peace. He had Lord Lansdowne's authority to say that, if the new proposals were embodied in a Bill and endorsed by the House and the country, the House of Lords would let it become law without delay. The Government might justify their denial of a "bargain" with the Nationalists by some quibble, but Mr. Redmond had not done so; the "Kilmainham treaty" afforded a parallel to the denial of the "bargain." The other way of escape was by the exclusion of Ulster, and the Unionists would welcome that proposal in a form in which it could be discussed, because the time-limit could not stand discussion. He described the Foreign Secretary's intimation as to the Government action towards Ulster as a cold-blooded indication of a policy securing bloodshed there. It was the duty of the Government to maintain order, but it was equally their duty to avert a situation[Pg 71] requiring the use of force. The Foreign Secretary would not coerce the Epirotes, and the British conscience would not permit the coercion of Ulster.

After a conciliatory speech from the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who thought considerable progress had been made towards a settlement, the debate was closured and the rejection of the Bill defeated by 356 to 276. Sir Clifford Cory (L.) and Mr. Agar-Robartes (L.) voted in the minority; Mr. Pirie (L.) and the eight Independent Nationalists abstained. The majority for the Bill, putting aside the votes of all members from Ireland, was five.

Next day the East Fife Unionists decided not to oppose the Prime Minister, and he was returned on April 8 without a contest.

The militant suffragists, like the Labour members, had used the action of the Ulstermen and the officers as an argument for their own militancy; but their acts, while far exceeding anything yet attempted on the part of Ulster, were vexatious, but hardly formidable. Still, the perpetrators frequently escaped discovery; punishment was no deterrent; and imprisonment was speedily ended by hunger and thirst strikes, entailing temporary discharge under the "Cat and Mouse" Act. Miss Sylvia Pankhurst and her mother, thus released, were rearrested on their way respectively to demonstrations in Trafalgar Square (March 8) and St. Andrew's Hall, Glasgow (March 9); rioting followed and both were released after fresh hunger-strikes on March 15. Meanwhile Miss Mary Richardson had damaged with a chopper the Rokeby Velasquez in the National Gallery (bought by subscription in 1906), in order, as she explained, to protest against the treatment of the most beautiful character in modern history—Mrs. Pankhurst—by destroying the picture of the most beautiful woman in mythology; but her sentence of six months' imprisonment was soon suspended by a hunger-strike. A month later (April 9) a woman smashed a case in the British Museum containing porcelain, but did little damage. A charity performance attended by the King and Queen at the Palladium was interrupted (March 17); an attempt to carry Miss Sylvia Pankhurst into Westminster Abbey (March 22) was unsuccessful, but a clergyman conducted a suffragist service outside. A woman clumsily disguised as a man awaited the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary in the Commons lobby with a riding whip, but was detected and sentenced to six weeks' imprisonment (March 16, 17); and a discussion in the Poplar Borough Council whether its halls should be let to suffragists (March 26) was broken up by militants in the Council and the audience. A graver outrage was a bomb explosion at St. John the Evangelist's Church, Westminster (March 1), after evening service; a stained glass window was shattered. Damage was done a week later in Birmingham Cathedral; the interior was daubed with white paint, suffragist mottoes were displayed, and a stained glass, window injured. Attempts were made to fire[Pg 72] churches at Clevedon (March 21) and Glasgow (March 28), and an unoccupied house at Stewarton, Ayrshire (March 12), in revenge for Mrs. Pankhurst's rearrest; and, when Sir Edward Carson, after some days' picketing of his house, had refused to press women's enfranchisement under his Provisional Government, a house belonging to General McCalmont at Abbeylands, near Belfast, was burnt likewise. Though all this estranged the general public, militancy found ardent and devoted support among both sexes, and the receipts of the Women's Social and Political Union, for the year ending with February, 1914, amounted to nearly 37,000l., apart from some thousands raised independently by local branches. Mrs. Pankhurst's American tour in 1913 had produced 4,500l.

Besides the suffragist troubles, there had been a host of fresh manifestations of the general Labour unrest. In the London building trade (p. 3) further proposals for a settlement, made by the National Conciliation Board, were rejected by the men on a ballot in April by 23,481 to 2,021. A coal strike in South Yorkshire in March and April on the question whether certain additional payments to the men were to continue to be paid in spite of an increase of the minimum wage, though brief, proved costly, and was ended on April 15 by the acceptance of the terms offered on a ballot by 27,259 votes to 15,866. Other strikes occurred in the furniture trade at High Wycombe (settled by a conference under Sir George Askwith on February 23, when an elaborate code of rules and rates was devised to prevent the recurrence of disputes) and among agricultural labourers in various places, notably at Helions Bumpstead in Essex at the end of February, and on Lord Lilford's estate in Northamptonshire in April, where the men pressed for increased wages, a Saturday half-holiday, and recognition of the union.

These Labour troubles seemed beyond the reach of legislation; indeed, the South Yorkshire coal strike was the direct outcome of the Minimum Wage Act; but Liberals hoped that the increased cost of living, or at any rate the housing difficulty, which was a factor in it, might be mitigated by the achievement of the Ministerial programme of land reform. Further material for this was provided by the Report containing the urban land proposals of the Liberal Land Enquiry Committee, issued as a shilling volume of some 700 pages on April 1. Broadly, they substantiated the forecasts given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at Holloway (A.R., 1913, p. 247), but only the briefest indication of them can be given here. Skilled observers, armed with a set of questions to be answered, had investigated the conditions in London and 100 other towns, and in sixteen London boroughs, and supplementary inquiries had subsequently been made in these towns and in 148 others. The inquiry fell into four divisions: (1) Housing; (2) Acquisition of land by public or quasi-public bodies[Pg 73] and private persons; (3) systems of tenure, especially leasehold; (4) the rating and taxation of land. Wages and labour conditions had been dealt with in view of their bearing on housing, and the recommendations included the fixing of a minimum wage, the consideration of remedies for casual employment, statutory obligation on all local authorities to provide adequate housing for their working-class population, supplementing it, if necessary, by schemes of transit; the appointment of district Government officials to stimulate these efforts; Government power to order the leasing of undeveloped land and the sale of mining and prospecting rights, and of land required for churches, chapels, village institutes, co-operative or trade union halls; copyhold reform under a pending Bill which was to be made more comprehensive; the prohibition of future leases for lives, and the conferring of wide powers on the Land Commissioners to vary and regulate the conditions of existing and future leases; a rate on site values to meet all future increases in local expenditure chargeable to the rates; further Imperial relief to local taxation, possibly amounting to 5,000,000l. annually, and statutory revaluation at least every five years, but annually if practicable.

To return to the House of Commons, the Home Rule Bill debate had been interrupted for a Labour protest on the South African deportations, in the shape of a resolution moved by Mr. Goldstone (Lab., Sunderland) declaring that "the rights of British citizens set forth in Magna Charta, the Petition of Right, and the Habeas Corpus Act, and declared and recognised by the Common Law of England, should be common to the whole Empire, and their inviolability should be assured in every self-governing Dominion." The mover pointed to the Labour gains at the South African elections as indicating that the Government would be supported by the majority in South Africa in intervention. He offered, however, to withdraw the last clause. The Colonial Secretary pointed out that many of the rights specified in Magna Charta were obsolete, and that the Common Law of England did not run throughout the Empire; in South Africa the law was Roman-Dutch. South Africa could not be controlled by debates in that House. He suggested an amendment making the motion read after "Act"—"as representing the freedom of the subject, are those which this House desires to see applied to British subjects throughout the Empire." Lord Robert Cecil (U.) pointed out that Great Britain had less control over an autonomous part of the Empire than over a foreign country, but he held that the British Government might and should have offered advice. After other speeches, the motion as amended was agreed to.

A Conference summoned by the Joint Board of the Trade Union Congress, the General Federation of Trade Unions, and[Pg 74] the Labour party, met at the Memorial Hall (London) on April 7, and resolved to call on the Government to counsel the repeal of Clause 4 of the Indemnity Act passed in South Africa, and to send Mr. Ramsay Macdonald and Mr. Seddon, both Labour M.P.'s, to present a protest to the South African Government. An amendment that "failing satisfaction, the Labour party turn out the Government at the earliest opportunity," was rejected by more than ten to one, but the party's inaction was severely criticised by the minority.

The remaining time before the Easter adjournment was filled up partly by minor Government Bills. The East African Protectorates Loan Bill (April 7) authorised the Treasury to lend 3,000,000l. to the Governments of British East Africa (l,855,000l.), Nyasaland (816,000l.), and Uganda (329,000l.). The trade, the Colonial Secretary explained, was outstripping the facilities for communication. The Bill was passed with a little adverse criticism. So was the Mall Approach Improvement Bill, enabling the London County Council to approve the Charing Cross Approach to the Admiralty Arch. The cost, 115,000l., was to be shared equally between the Council, the Westminster City Council, and the Commissioners of Works, and the First Commissioner would have a veto on the architectural design of buildings erected by the County Council on the superfluous land taken.

A significant contribution towards suffrage reform in the future was afforded by a debate on the "alternative" or preferential vote, a device favourably viewed by most of the speakers, but left an open question by the Government.

The debate on the adjournment (April 7) was ingeniously used to revive the subject of the obstruction of debate by "blocking motions," a practice condemned by the House in 1907 (A.R., 1907, pp. 74, 166). A week earlier attention had been called to the blocking of a resolution on divorce proposed by Mr. France (L.), through the introduction of a Divorce Bill by Lord Hugh Cecil (U.), who declined, when appealed to by the Speaker, to desist, though the Bill, as the Speaker said, was obviously a bogus one. By way of retaliation, and also to call attention to the necessity of getting rid of this practice of obstruction, Liberal members put down 160 notices of motion designed to bar out all possible subjects from the debate on the adjournment, in which any matter not thus barred can be discussed. A few questions were raised, less for their own sake than to exhibit the ingenuity of the raisers. Eventually a stormy debate was raised by Mr. Amery (U.) on the reticence of Ministers, which developed into a fresh conflict over the Ulster "plot." The adjournment, however, was carried by 171 to 21; and four weeks later the abuse of "blocking motions" was at last disposed of by a new Standing Order, to the effect that in determining whether a discussion was out of order on the ground of anticipation, the[Pg 75] Speaker should have regard to the probability of the matter anticipated being brought before the House within a reasonable time. This reproduced the chief recommendation made by a Committee in 1907.

The day following the adjournment more light was thrown on the Army crisis by Colonel Seely at Ilkeston. He did not propose, he said, either to pose as a penitent or to reproach others; the facts were these. He had learnt that certain hot-headed persons under no discipline might try to capture certain stores of arms and ammunition, and to remove these stores in the face of armed opposition might have precipitated bloodshed. It was decided to send small detachments to remove them. No orders were disobeyed; but the Conservative Press went mad, and thought that there was a plot to overwhelm Ulster by force of arms. So wicked a plan could not have been thought of by any Government, least of all a Liberal Government. Reports came that there had been breaches of discipline, not amongst the troops ordered to move, but amongst others. The parties concerned were sent for, and were found to have been under the complete delusion that a hypothetical question had been put to them. He had told General Gough that the Government were not contemplating unlawful action, and the General had promised to obey all lawful commands. The wild stories as to the King's interference were absolutely untrue, and the King never knew of the document (p. 60) till the next day. He himself had completed the document as he had stated it to his colleagues, so as to represent the substance of what he had said, and the last two paragraphs seemed to him to represent the true Liberal view of the duty of the Army in support of the civil power. But the Conservative Press treated the document as a trophy and a surrender. Having made the mistake of not calling his colleagues together again, he resigned, to make the task of the Government easier.

Sir John French and Sir J. S. Ewart had been replaced by General Sir Charles Douglas and Lieut.-Gen. Sir H. C. Sclater; and the approach of the Easter holiday gave time for the popular excitement to abate. On Good Friday one of the most extravagant delusions of Ulster was shattered by a letter in The Times from two eminent German Professors, Dr. Theodor Schiemann, whose weekly reviews of world-politics in the Berlin Kreuz Zeitung were famous, and Dr. Kuno Meyer, the great Keltic scholar, to the effect that the hope of interference by Germany was a delusion. The Covenanters, the letter said, were living wholly in the ideas and sentiments of a bygone age. In the seventeenth century the cause of Protestantism was at stake. But at the present day "no civilised country, least of all Germany, could look favourably on any policy which would run counter to the spirit of religious comprehension."

[Pg 76]


The brief Easter holiday was fortunately favoured by fine weather, and there was a large exodus of pleasure-seekers from the great towns; but the usual conferences of workers in various employments served mainly to exhibit the variety of the prevalent unrest. The Independent Labour party, in conference at Bradford, passed by 233 to 78 a resolution declaring Cabinet rule inimical to good government, and demanding that, in order to break it up, the Labour party should be asked to vote only in accordance with the principles for which that party stood. A report on the relations of the Liberal and Labour parties had previously been subjected to a "frank and friendly" discussion in private, but much dissatisfaction was exhibited in the debate on the resolution above given at the alleged subservience of the party to Socialism. The conference also passed a resolution in favour of uniting with the Fabian Society and the British Socialist party, originally the Social Democratic Federation; but it declined to allow its candidates to call themselves "Labour and Socialist," for fear that adherents of the moderate section would stand as "Liberal-Labour" or "Progressive Labour" candidates. The party funds were very low, and there were various indications that many working-men had lost interest in political means of reform. The speakers at the preliminary meetings, especially Mr. Snowden and Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, were greatly interrupted by militant suffragists. At the Elementary Teachers' Conference a resolution favouring women's suffrage was declared outside the scope of the union, and a subsequent attempt to annul this decision was defeated amid disorder. At Conferences of postal employees, a number of grievances were ventilated.

Some of the grievances of the Civil Service were dealt with in the Report, published April 14, of the Royal Commission on the Civil Service (A.R., 1912, Chron., March 14; Chairman, Lord Macdonnell). It was a strong body, containing prominent members of Parliament, leading University tutors, and women and others with special knowledge; and it issued a Majority Report, signed by the Chairman and fifteen Commissioners, and a Minority Report, signed by three, but qualifying rather than diverging widely from the views of the majority. The Commission had still to examine the Foreign Office, the Diplomatic Service, and the legal departments. Briefly, the majority recommended that, as to patronage, when an appointment was made from outside the Service, the reasons for it and the history of the candidate should be given; the general control of the Service should be exercised by a new special department within the Treasury; the existing[Pg 77] five classes should be replaced by three, the First Division being called "Administrative" and recruited as before; the method of appointment should be harmonised with the national system of education; transfer between different departments should be permitted, so as to facilitate promotion; and there were a number of recommendations with regard to women, including equal pay with men where the work and efficiency were really equal, and compulsory retirement on marriage. The Commission discountenanced political action by Civil Servants, and recommended a special inquiry into the subject of the political disabilities by persons of experience in industrial conciliation and arbitration.

The House of Commons reassembled on Easter Tuesday, April 14, and devoted the week mainly to practical legislation. The East African Protectorate (Loans) Bill passed through Committee without amendment, after some unsuccessful opposition to its details, chiefly on the part of Independent Liberals. The Criminal Justice Administration Bill was read a second time (April 15), amid general approval, and was referred to a Standing Committee. The Home Secretary explained that its object was to reduce the number of commitments to prison by allowing not less than seven days for the payment of a fine of less than 40s., the fine to include all Court fees; to recognise societies for the supply of probation officers, and to hand them money provided by Parliament towards their expenses; to amplify the Borstal system; and to introduce other smaller changes. The Dogs Bill, exempting dogs from vivisection, was read a second time on April 17. A protest against it signed by eminent scientific authorities had been published; but Sir F. Banbury (U., City of London), who moved the second reading, justified it on the ground that the dog was the special friend of man; and he reminded the Ministerialists that, when the house of their Chief Whip was burnt, the alarm was given and the lives of the inmates saved by the barking of a dog. The Bill was opposed by representatives of Cambridge, London, and Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities (Mr. Rawlinson, Sir P. Magnus, and Sir Henry Craik) in the interest of physiological research. The only substitute for a dog for certain purposes, it was said, was a monkey, and its price was prohibitive. Without inoculation of dogs, Sir H. Craik stated, the existing great knowledge of tropical diseases could not have been reached, nor could Carrel have conducted his experiments on heart surgery. Dr. Chapple (L., Stirlingshire) added that operations as carried on in Great Britain were painless, and hydrophobia had been abolished by experiments on dogs, not by the muzzling order. The Under-Secretary for the Home Department suggested, as a compromise, that the use of dogs should not be permitted unless it could be shown that no other animal was available. The Bill was passed, after closure, by 122 to 80, and was sent to a Standing Committee; but its opponents destroyed it, first by[Pg 78] refusing to make a quorum, and afterwards by extensive amendments; and it was dropped on June 30.

Two other debates of the week deserve brief notice. On April 15 Mr. Leach (L., Yorks, W.R., Colne Valley) moved a resolution that in future no member should, unless by leave, speak in the House for more than fifteen minutes, or in Committee for more than twenty. Ministers, ex-Ministers, and movers of Bills and resolutions to be excepted. Sir A. Verney (L., Bucks, N.) moved an amendment that members should signify to the Chair the time they would take, and should be reminded when they exceeded it. It was generally admitted to be desirable that more members should speak, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, in a sympathetic speech, recommended that the subject should be left to the Committee on Procedure. Sir P. Banbury (U.), opposing the motion, talked it out.

Next day, in Committee of Supply, there was a debate on housing conditions in Ireland. Mr. Clancy (N., Dublin Co.), who began it, pointed out that over 20,000 families in Dublin lived in one-room tenements, breeding-places of tuberculosis; but of 5,500 houses only seventy-three were owned by members of the Corporation, the owners of the rest were frequently poor, and could not pay for repairs or demolition. The Corporation had housed 2.5 per cent. of the population. Unionist members contrasted the conditions in Dublin with those in Belfast, and the Chief Secretary for Ireland showed that the evil was largely the result of overcrowding and low wages, but could not promise State aid. Nothing could be worse, he said, than an attempt to combine Manchester principles with little patches of philanthropic Socialism. True, they had built labourers' cottages, but that was a corollary of Land Purchase. The people did not choose to be moved to the suburbs. Eventually the resolution was talked out.

The second reading of the Established Church (Wales) Bill was debated on April 20 and 21 in a rather small House. The rejection was moved by Lord B. Cecil (U., Herts, Hitchin). The attack on the Church, he maintained, had been lifeless; now that individualist theories of the State had decayed, what was wanted was more Establishment—the national recognition of religion; and personally, he would gladly see extended to Nonconformist bodies all the privileges, if they were privileges, possessed by the Church of England. Voluntaryism—the theory that a Church ought to depend on the day-to-day contributions of its members—was absolutely dead; at any rate, the Nonconformist bodies were all seeking endowments. After contesting the stock Liberal arguments for Welsh Disestablishment, he said that, apart from the thirty-one Welsh members, the evidence was that the majority of the Welsh people was adverse. Besides petitions, meetings, and addresses, there was the petition of over 103,000 Nonconformists, many of them Liberals, against the Disendowment clauses of the[Pg 79] Bill. People had been deterred from signing it by the threat that they would lose their old-age pensions. The Church, as a whole, would not suffer, but some of the curates would, and the Nonconformists would rue their work.

The motion was seconded by Mr. Hoare (U., Chelsea) and opposed by the Attorney-General, who ridiculed the idea that Wales was adverse; and read a letter from a Welsh rector stating the writer's conviction that the majority of the Welsh clergy were in favour of the Disestablishment clauses, and that, if the leaders of the Church party would accept the Government's offer of commuting life interests, the loss would readily be made up by Church people, and the result would be a message of peace to Wales and a blessing to the Church as a spiritual institution. The Nonconformist petition had been worked up in rural places by Conservative landlords and agents, and many of the signatories (though in this he did not impute blame to the organisers) had signed to protect themselves and their homes. Speaking as "half a Welshman," whose youth had been spent amid the tradition of Welsh Nonconformity, he said that the movement for Disestablishment was bound up with Welsh nationalism. The case for Disendowment depended, not on the historical origin of tithe, but on the difference between the mediæval and the modern Church, and no scheme had ever been more fair and moderate.

Later Sir Alfred Mond (L., Swansea Town) stated that at Newport, Mon., the Nonconformist petition was organised by four vicars, a curate, a Tory agent, and a Tory councillor; and that harrowing tales were told about churchyards being ploughed up.

In the debate next day Mr. Balfour eloquently appealed to the Welsh people to be more concerned with the great things they shared with the English people than with the relatively small things they held by a separate tenure. Granted that the Church had deservedly lost much of her earlier position, why should she be disestablished and disendowed? If Disestablishment meant dismemberment, why were the Welsh members to settle it alone? What good would Disestablishment do? On the central question of the Bill, Disendowment, weight should be given, not to Welsh sentiment, but to sound principles of jurisprudence, relating to corporate property, and these the Bill violated. The United States Supreme Court had decided that in Virginia Disestablishment did not involve Disendowment. The Parliament Act was passed to carry Home Rule and Welsh Disestablishment; it now seemed that these reforms were to be carried to justify the Act. The country was turning against them. There was something grandiose about the Irish policy of the Government, but the Welsh Bill was thoroughly mean.

The Prime Minister asked on what grounds Mr. Balfour asserted that the country had changed its opinion. No question had had such a hold on the Welsh mind for the best part of two[Pg 80] generations. Deference and concession, in matters of local concern, to strong local sentiment were among the first conditions of vivifying and sustaining Imperial strength. To the vast majority of the Welsh people the Welsh Church was not a national institution, but four dioceses in the Province of Canterbury. The Nonconformist deputation (p. 28) were all in favour of Disestablishment, and were very vague as to the Disendowment effected by the Bill. Against Establishment he cited the case of the United States. The Bill dealt with ancient endowments, given to the Church for charitable and educational, as well as for religious, reasons; it had a precedent in the Irish Church Act, carried by one of the greatest and most devout Churchmen of the time, and both parties had impartially used the released endowments for the most secular purposes conceivable. What was to prevent the continued community of action of the four dioceses with the Church of England? The Welsh Nonconformist farmer would gain the sense of religious equality which he and his forefathers for two centuries had looked upon as essential to the completion and quickening of their national life.

Later, Mr. Bonar Law (U.) after commenting on the unreality of the debate, said that if the Church was alien to the Welsh temperament, it was the fault of the latter. The Church was the only denomination in Wales which was increasing its membership. The Irish Church was disendowed on the ground that the money was not being properly used. He did not think it would be possible to replace the endowments; one of the first acts of the next Unionist Government would be to restore them.

After a reply by the Home Secretary, who said that if the voluntary subscriptions to the Welsh Church were increased from their actual figure of 300,000l. to 345,000l. annually its income would be the same as before, the second reading was carried by 349 to 265.

But the dominant question was still that of Ulster, and the echoes of the outcry over the alleged plot had continued, and had been reinforced by fresh revelations. Easter week saw a series of reviews by Sir Edward Carson of the Ulster Volunteers—of the South Antrim Regiment at Antrim Castle, of those encamped at Clandeboye, of 2,500 men of the North Belfast Regiment, and of some 3,000 from North Derry. Everything was done to make the ceremonies impressive, and Sir Edward reminded the Volunteers at Antrim, in words that afterwards acquired an unexpected significance, that they were out not for war but for peace, and were all willing at any moment to tender their services to the King, the symbol of the unity of the Empire. On April 17 the Ulster Unionist Council issued a statement purporting to give the "actual facts" as to the recent military operations and the plans of the Government. The War Minister and Sir A. Paget had been in correspondence and personal con[Pg 81]sultation (March 15-19), and on March 20 the latter addressed the Irish generals, summoned by telegram. He then stated that the Government had determined to undertake active military operations against Ulster, and had made the offer already mentioned (p. 56) to the officers; General Gough had thereupon resigned. Later on that day Sir A. Paget set forth to a meeting of generals and staff-officers the outlines of the plan of operations. The troops guarding the depots at Armagh, Omagh, Carrickfergus, Enniskillen, and Dundalk were being strengthened, the Victoria Barracks at Belfast, untenable as being commanded by houses, were being vacated, and the inmates ordered to Holywood; and the barracks at Newry were being prepared for use by the advance corps of the operating forces. The Third Cavalry Brigade was to advance and occupy the bridges and strategic points on the Boyne; the Fifth Division was then to occupy these and release the cavalry for a further advance; the Sixth Division was to move up from the South of Ireland to take the places occupied by the Fifth Division; a force of 10,000 was to come from Lichfield and Aldershot, and these, with Artillery and Army Service and Army Medical Corps, would bring up the strength of the total force participating to 25,000. Belfast was to be blockaded by sea and land, two destroyers had been sent to take troops to Carrickfergus and keep open communications between Carrickfergus Castle and Holywood Barracks, two flotillas of destroyers were ordered to Belfast, and a battle squadron was ordered from Arosa Bay to the North. The Army was not to begin the fighting; the police would seize arms concealed by the Volunteers; this would inevitably lead to bloodshed, and then the Army and Navy would be called in. He spoke of "battle" and of "the enemy," and, as an inducement to one regiment reluctant to join, said that when the enemy had been located this regiment would be sent to suppress a disturbance "arranged" in Cork.

The Unionists found in this statement a complete confirmation of their views on the plot; the Liberal Press scoffed at it, the ex-War Minister solemnly declared (April 18) that his whole aim had been a peaceful settlement; and the Financial Secretary of the War Office (at Coventry, April 18) said that there was "not one shred of truth in the document." On April 21 Mr. Bonar Law asked for "a judicial inquiry" into the military movements in question; the Prime Minister replied that the proper course was to move a vote of censure, and offered a day; Mr. Bonar Law asked if the Prime Minister was afraid to have the facts tested on oath. Stormy scenes took place during the next few days at question time in the Commons; a Liberal motion was put down calling on the Opposition leader to substantiate his charges or withdraw them; and, after seeing Sir A. Paget's account of his conversations with his officers, issued, with other documents, as a White Paper on April 22, the Opposition decided to move for an[Pg 82] inquiry into the attempt to impose Home Rule on Ireland by force. This motion was debated on April 28.

The White Paper contained much new matter as to the orders to the Third Battle Squadron (p. 60), and it was elicited in Parliament (April 22) that the Prime Minister had only learnt of these orders on March 21, and had then caused them to be countermanded; it contained, also, Sir A. Paget's account of his conversations with his officers. He had said that he was ordered to carry out certain "moves of a precautionary nature," which the Government believed would be understood to be precautionary and would not be resisted, but which he thought would set the country and Press ablaze and might lead to active operations against organised bodies of the Ulster Volunteers; and he explained the "concessions" to officers. He had to know before the second conference (pp. 56, 81) whether the senior officers held that "duty came before other considerations," and therefore he said that any officer who would be unable to obey the orders to be given him should absent himself from that Conference. But he had no intention of ascertaining the intentions of subordinate officers. He merely wished them to be informed of the exemptions, and of the penalty for refusal of officers not exempted to obey orders. But four of the seven generals misunderstood, and thought that officers not prepared to do their duty were to say so, and would then be dismissed from the service. Most of the officers of the Fifth Division, and those of the Third Cavalry Brigade, were thus misinformed (with a slight difference in the latter case). He regretted the misapprehension, for which he alone was responsible.

Pending the debate on the proposed motion, the Army Annual Bill went through Committee (April 23) and Mr. Keir Hardie (Lab., Merthyr Tydfil) moved an amendment making it unlawful to employ troops in labour troubles unless all the available police force had first been called out, and then only with the consent of three resident magistrates. He also desired that the troops should not carry firearms, but batons, and should be under civil law. The Prime Minister, pointed out that the latter proposal was out of the question; the law was contained in the Report on the Featherstone disturbance (issued Dec., 1893) and no new practice should be established. Military interference should be as infrequent as possible, and happily the police was more efficient than fifty or a hundred years earlier. The amendment was ultimately ruled out of order.

Meantime the King and Queen had returned President Poincaré's visit of 1913 by a brilliantly successful visit to Paris. Favoured by fine weather, they left Victoria Station, April 21, with a suite including the British Foreign Minister, crossed from Dover to Calais in the Royal yacht Alexandra, escorted by the cruisers Nottingham and Birmingham, and were met en route by two French cruisers and a flotilla of torpedo boats and sub[Pg 83]marines. At the Bois de Boulogne station they were met by the President of the Republic and Madame Poincaré, with various high officials, and drove into Paris amid enthusiastic crowds. At the State banquet at the Elysée the same evening President Poincaré remarked that the day was the tenth anniversary of the conclusion of the Anglo-French entente, and that the agreements then made naturally gave birth to a more general understanding, which was and would thenceforth be one of the surest pledges of European equilibrium. He was confident that, under the auspices of the King and the King's Government, these bonds of intimacy would be drawn daily closer, to the great gain of civilisation and universal peace. The King's reply was cordial, but studiously non-political. He said that, thanks to the close and cordial relations resulting from the agreement, the two countries were able to collaborate in the humanitarian work of civilisation and peace. The programme of the visit included, besides this State banquet, a review at Vincennes on the Wednesday—a magnificent spectacle—followed by a banquet at the British Embassy and a gala performance at the opera; a visit on the day following to the races at Auteuil, a banquet given by M. Doumergue, the Premier, and the exchange of costly presents, the King giving the French Republic some fine bronze medallions taken from a statue of Louis XIV. during the first Revolution, and purchased by King George III. Sir Edward Grey had meanwhile conferred with the French Premier, and it was officially stated that various questions affecting the two countries had been taken into consideration, and the identity of view of the two Ministers on all points had manifested itself. While placing on record the results of the policy pursued by the two Governments together with that of Russia, the two Ministers were completely agreed that the three Powers should continue their constant efforts for the maintenance of the balance of power and of peace. Some publicists in both countries desired that the Entente should develop into an alliance; but the British Government was still reserved. The visit itself, however, greatly strengthened the good feeling between the two nations; "the State functions," as The Times remarked, were "conducted with a dignified splendour which no Court in Europe could excel," and which greatly impressed the British people; the King, on landing at Dover, declared that he and the Queen could never forget the warmth and hospitality of their reception, and it was clear that Their Majesties had won a popularity in Paris at least equal to that of King Edward VII.

Before the Opposition motion for an inquiry into the Ulster "plot," the Plural Voting Bill was read a second time (April 27). The rejection was moved by Mr. Hume Williams (U., Notts, Bassetlaw) and seconded by Sir J. Randles (U., Manchester, N. W.) and supported by the usual argument that the Bill would[Pg 84] alter only one anomaly, and that not the greatest, in the representative system, for the benefit of the supporters of the Government. The Colonial Secretary replied that the various Bills dealing with the subject had been killed by the Lords or the ladies, and there was no time to pass the other reforms desirable in the election laws. The penalties under the Bill were less than those imposed by the Tories in the County Councils Act. In 1906 every Liberal member had received a direct mandate to establish one man, one vote. He added that redistribution of seats was made possible by the Home Rule Bill, and should be passed by consent; and later the President of the Board of Trade promised that, if the plural vote were abolished, the Government would confer with the Opposition leaders as to the terms of appointment of a Redistribution Commission. He suggested single-member constituencies of approximately equal population, and indicated that details should be left to the Commission. The second reading was carried by 324 to 247.

The debate on the motion for an inquiry into the "plot to coerce Ulster" followed next day; but a new phase in the crisis had been revealed.

On March 9 a small Norwegian steamer, the Fanny, had taken aboard two members of the Ulster Unionist Council at Dysart, Fife; and at the end of the month she was reported from Berlin to be shipping rifles from a lighter, towed from Hamburg by a steamer, off Langeland, Denmark. Her papers were taken by the port authorities for examination, and she left without them. The arms, it was suggested, were for ex-President Castro's use in Venezuela, and it was afterwards stated that they were for Mexico. But Sir Edward Carson had intimated (March 13) that preparations were in hand; and on the night of April 24-25 some 35,000 rifles and 3,000,000 cartridges were landed at Larne from a steamer temporarily bearing the historic name Mountjoy, possibly (though this was denied) the Fanny, and were then distributed throughout Protestant Ulster by motor-lorries and motor-cars. About 10,000 of the rifles and much ammunition were also transhipped from the Mountjoy into the Roma (commandeered at Larne by Ulster Volunteers) and another steamer, and landed on the Down coast. Some 12,000 men in all were engaged in the landing. Volunteers guarded the roads, the telegraphs and telephones were interrupted, the coastguards were powerless, and the Custom officers and the police were ingeniously prevented from learning of the movement in time to interfere effectively. Every detail of the scheme had been admirably organised, and nothing was heard of it at Dublin Castle till noon on April 25.

Warships were now posted on the Ulster coast to stop further gun-running, and military measures were expected; and the Prime Minister was bombarded with questions in the House on April 27. Most of them had reference to the alleged "plot" against Ulster;[Pg 85] but in reply to a question from Mr. Lough (Islington, W.) as to the gun-running and the steps to be taken by the Government, Mr. Asquith replied that in view of this grave and unprecedented outrage the Government would take appropriate steps without delay to vindicate the authority of the law, and protect officers and servants of the King and His Majesty's subjects in the exercise of their duties and the enjoyment of their legal rights.

Other angry questions followed next day (April 28) and then the debate opened on the Unionist motion for an inquiry into the "plot." But it took an unsuspected turn. Various Liberal amendments had been put down to the effect that in view of what had happened subsequently (i.e. the gun-running) the Government would be supported in whatever measures it might take. Mr. Austen Chamberlain moved the motion, which demanded a full and impartial inquiry, in view of the "incompleteness and inaccuracy" of the statements of Ministers and of the continued failure of the Government to deal frankly with the situation. He reviewed the course of events since the Prime Minister's offer of March 9, referring to Mr. Churchill's Bradford speech, the incidents at the Curragh, the Prime Minister's statement of March 22 (which, he said, was misleading), and he complained that information was still withheld—the police reports on which the Government had acted, the instructions given to Sir A. Paget at the War Office, his address to his officers in Dublin and at the Curragh. He charged the First Lord of the Admiralty with inventing an elaborate story to support his account of Lord Morley's connexion with the peccant paragraphs, and said that Colonel Seely was only the tool of more astute and unscrupulous colleagues. [Popular rumour had specified the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.] He commented on the application for field-guns for the Fleet, the appointment of Sir Nevil Macready as virtual Military Governor of Belfast, and said also that the Government had "seized important strategic points." His charges against them were: (1) That they took measures, not against a few evilly disposed persons, but on the basis that conciliation was hopeless till they showed overwhelming force; (2) that the protection of stores was only a pretext; (3) that they insisted on movements which Sir A. Paget thought dangerous after he had done all he thought necessary to protect stores; (4) that the warships' movements were part of the larger plan never avowed by the Government, but applauded by their followers; (5) that the withdrawal of troops from Belfast could only be so explained; (6) that Sir A. Paget's announcement to his officers, that he would have 25,000 men, was not compatible with the story that only a minor movement was contemplated. For his own honour the Prime Minister should have a judicial inquiry.

The First Lord of the Admiralty, whose opening words raised a scene, described the resolution as resembling "a vote of[Pg 86] censure by the criminal classes on the police." The Statute Book applied to the action of the Unionists language far stronger than any they had the wit to use against Ministers. The Conservative party was committed to naked revolution, to tampering with military and naval discipline, obstructing highways and telegraphs, overpowering police and coastguards, piratical seizure of ships, and imprisonment of the King's servants. The democracy, who were urged to be patient, were learning how the party of law and order cared for law and order when it stood in the way of their wishes. And what of India, in view of the "devastating doctrine" of the Opposition leader? He did not wonder the old Conservatives were uncomfortable, but there was another section, which had instigated the resolution, and postponed "law and order" till it had to deal with Nationalists and Labour men. This section's lawlessness, if it succeeded, might convince Irish Nationalists that Ireland never gained anything except by force. The Orange Army was being used to destroy Liberal reform by setting up the veto of the force in place of that of the Peers. Coming to the substance of the motion, the First Lord treated the precautionary measures as consequent on the failure of the Prime Minister's offer for a settlement. Those who were preparing civil war were aiming at the subversion of Parliamentary government. The movement of the Fleet, decided upon on March 11, had reference to the general Irish situation. The protection of the depots was a separate question; they contained from thirty to eighty-five tons of ammunition, and were scattered about unprotected. The only ships used were two scouts, to avoid moving troops through Belfast, and two boys' training cruisers were diverted in the belief that the Great Northern Railway of Ireland would refuse to carry the troops, which it ultimately consented to do. The Government also made a confidential survey of the whole military position in Ireland. The War Office and Admiralty were constantly considering quite hypothetical contingencies, but here Sir A. Paget thought that the authorised movements might lead to far larger consequences. The Government did not accept his views, but it was a good fault to be over-cautious. He scornfully declined to give details of the precise measures to be taken against potential insurgents, but said the contingencies considered were: (1) an armed attack on the depots or the troops marching to protect them; (2) the measures to be taken if a Provisional Government were set up at Belfast. No movements were authorised, but Sir A. Paget was assured of support in any contingency, and if British troops were attacked it would be the duty of the Government to chastise the assailants. The use of force rested with the Opposition. The Government would not use it till it was used against the representatives of law and order. They had an absolute right to make much greater movements. The talk of[Pg 87] Civil War came from the Opposition. Did they think it was to be all on one side? References had been made to his Bradford speech; he held to it, but asked whether they could not reach a better solution. Let them look at the danger abroad; foreign countries did not know that at a touch of external menace we should lay aside our domestic quarrels, but why could men only do so under the influence of "a higher principle of hatred"? Why could not Sir E. Carson say boldly, Give me the amendments I ask for to safeguard the dignity and interests of Protestant Ulster, and I in my turn will use all my influence and goodwill to make Ireland an integral unit in a Federal system?

This suggestion made a good impression, but the speech was followed by stormy scenes. Mr. Mitchell Thomson (U., Down, N.) endeavoured to fix a charge of untruth on the Home Secretary, who had said, before the revised White Paper was published, that there was nothing further to add; Lord Charles Beresford (U.) described the First Lord as "a terrible failure" when in the Army; and Sir R. Pole-Carew (U.) also made a very provocative speech. Later Colonel Seely stated that Sir John French had told him the day before that "As part of a strategic movement such movements [as the precautionary movements taken] would be idiotic," and that Sir A. Paget had been assured in reply to an inquiry that he should have all the troops necessary if grave disorder arose. If that were a plot, no Government which did not make it was fit to remain in office. A new situation, however, had been caused by the gun-running, and the law must be vindicated at all costs.

The debate was resumed next day in a much more conciliatory tone. The Prime Minister said that the First Lord's closing suggestion had been made on his own responsibility; but he added that he was personally in sympathy with it. Mr. Balfour (U.), however, was less conciliatory. He described the First Lord's speech as "an outburst of demagogic rhetoric," and reviewed the history of the "plot" from his own standpoint, saying that the Government had found it necessary to protect the stores by preparations almost as extensive as those of the United States in Mexico. He found discrepancies in the accounts, and intimated that the Government had adopted the odious rôle of the agent provocateur. Challenged by the First Lord to produce evidence of provocation, he said the evidence was in his speech, and they might have an inquiry. Civil war would be alike justifiable and ruinous; but the First Lord's suggestion seemed to have the promise and potency of a settlement which would avoid it. He thought nothing could do so save the total exclusion of North-East Ulster. The Government seemed afraid lest this should be regarded as a party triumph. He would not so regard it. For the greater part of his own political life he had been defending the Union. He had hoped for the removal of[Pg 88] grievances, for the growth of a common hope, a common loyalty, confidence in a common heritage, between the islands, under a common Parliament. For that he had striven and worked; if the result was that a separate Parliament should be established in Dublin, he should regard it as the mark of the failure of his life's work.

Later, Sir E. Carson (U.) after reading from a Belfast trade unionist manifesto to show the gravity of the crisis, and laying stress on the weakening it entailed in the position of Great Britain abroad, said that he would not quarrel with the matter or the manner of the First Lord's proposal. He referred to his speech at Manchester (A.R., 1913, p. 249) to show that they would not complain if Ulster got equal treatment with other parts of the United Kingdom, and said that he was not very far from the First Lord. He would say that, if Home Rule passed, his most earnest hope would be that it might be such a success that Ulster might come in under it, and that mutual confidence and goodwill might arise in Ireland rendering Ulster a stronger unit in the Federal Scheme. But that could only be brought about by goodwill. All he wanted was loyally to carry out his promises to those who had trusted him, and to get for them terms preserving their dignity and their civil and religious freedom.

Subsequently Mr. Bonar Law (U.), after defending his own strong language by reference to that of the Unionist leaders in 1886 and 1893, and the action of Ulster and the Unionist support of it by the American War of Independence, and Mr. Gladstone's concession to the Boers after Majuba, urged the Government to realise and meet the position before bloodshed came. Restating the Opposition view of the "plot," and criticising discrepancies in the official accounts, he described one of the orders as "suited to the Napoleonic genius of the commander at the Sidney Street siege" (A.R., 1911, p. 2). But the Unionists were really thinking of the finding of any tolerable way out of an impossible position. They were ready to consider seriously the Federal solution, and he was quite prepared to agree to a renewal of the "conversations" (p. 5). If the Prime Minister preferred to deal with Lord Lansdowne or another Unionist, he would let no amour propre stand in the way.

The Prime Minister said that they had learnt from the Opposition leader the flimsy and contemptible character of the Opposition case. An undefined and unknown body was to be set up to inquire into a mare's nest. The grounds alleged were that the Government had withheld information and had given misleading information. Since his re-election he had answered at least 500 questions on this matter; the time-honoured practice of the House had been degraded in a manner reminiscent of the worst traditions of the Old Bailey. Having gone through that experi[Pg 89]ence with as much good temper as the conditions permitted, he gave fair notice that after the next day he would answer no further questions on the matter. As to the charge of giving misleading information (through The Times) he had not mentioned that besides the small cruisers there were eight destroyers. The Cabinet had authorised the ordering of the battle squadron to Lamlash ten days earlier than the precautionary movements, and the two movements were independent of one another. He heard that the order had actually been given on Saturday (March 21) and suggested, in view of the public excitement, that it should be countermanded. This was done, and his statement on Sunday night was the strict truth. He did not know about the destroyers till some days later. After defending himself as to a charge of misleading the public as to the questioning of officers, he described the "plot" as one of the absurdest stories in the annals of mankind. Having made a conciliatory offer to the Ulstermen, would the Government, have engineered a plot for their provocation? He briefly summarised the Government's account of the measures described as the "plot," and remarked that an Opposition whose leader said it might be the duty of officers to disobey the law, and which had been admiring a "piratical adventure," had never presented a flimsier case against a responsible Government. But the debate would be remembered for the speeches of Mr. Balfour and Sir E. Carson. He did not think settlement would be successfully attempted by bargaining across the House, and every one must be brought in, Ulstermen and Nationalist. It must be accepted with sincerity by all the parties concerned. He took note of Mr. Bonar Law's statements, and fully recognised that his speech was meant to help a settlement. That spirit the Government entirely reciprocated. He would never close the door on any means of reaching a settlement, provided it secured the sincere assent of those mainly interested.

The motion was rejected by 344 to 264. The Nationalists were said to be rather disquieted at the tone of the Ministerial speeches.

The negotiations for a settlement were now privately resumed, and the hopes of their success had been strengthened by the smooth passage through the Upper House of the Army (Annual) Bill (April 27, 28). There had been frequent rumours that the extreme Unionist Peers would either throw it out or seek to insert a clause forbidding troops to be used to force Home Rule on Ulster—a course which would have so delayed the measure as gravely to imperil the discipline of the Army throughout the Empire; but the design, if it had ever been seriously contemplated, was abandoned, possibly because of the explosion of wrath occasioned by the belief that the Army was being used as a political instrument by the Unionists. But the Marquess of Lansdowne, at the annual meeting of the Primrose League at[Pg 90] the Albert Hall (May 1), was not altogether encouraging. The first part of his speech was an elaborate attack on the Government. He detected signs of a "chastened spirit" among Ministers, but they were not sufficiently their own masters to make an effective proposal. He carefully defined the attitude of the Opposition, insisting that they maintained their objection to Home Rule and the temporary exclusion of Ulster, but they were ready to examine a federal solution provided that Ulster could find an honourable and acceptable place in it, and that it was consistent with the interests of the rest of the United Kingdom. And Mr. Balfour and Viscount Milner, at a meeting next day at Coventry, were pessimistic. Mr. Balfour spoke of the recognition by some Ministers of "the clean-cut separation of the North-East of Ireland from any scheme of Home Rule"; and "the clean cut" passed into a catchword.

One of the stock bases of attacks on Ministers, meanwhile, had been further undermined by the unanimous Report (issued April 30) of the Select Committee of the House of Lords which had investigated the charges against Lord Murray of Elibank (p. 32). The accusers, the proprietors of the Morning Post and Mr. Leo Maxse of the National Review, had been required by the Committee to formulate their charges, and did so in print. No other charges were considered, though letters were received making allegations against Lord Murray which no one attempted to substantiate. The principal charge was substantially that in regard to his purchase of American Marconi shares at 2l. each from Sir Rufus Isaacs on April 17, 1912 (A.R., 1913, p. 72), he had acted in a way which in his position was dishonourable; in this and in his other purchases (for his own account in the open market on May 22, and for the Liberal party fund on April 18, 1912) the Committee found that he had acted without sufficient thought, but acquitted him of dishonourable conduct. The latter purchase was not, as was suggested, made from any one representing the English company. With his choice of trust investments the Committee had no concern. He ought, however, to have given his successor as Chief Whip full information as to his purchase of shares for the party fund, and to have had full information as to his dealings in American Marconis laid before the Commons Committee. Three other charges were wholly rejected: (1) that he used his position as Chief Whip to avoid discussion of the Marconi contract in Parliament; (2) that he bought railway stock for the party funds during the coal strike, knowing that a settlement was pending which would send it up; and (3) that he had given time to Mr. Fenner, the stockbroker, in order to avoid inconvenient disclosures. He had taken on himself a loss of 40,000l. He had admittedly committed errors, but had done nothing reflecting on his personal honour. But there ought to be an absolute rule prohibiting stock speculation to any person holding public office.

[Pg 91]

To return to Parliament, the Post Office Estimates were discussed in the Commons on April 30. The Postmaster-General stated that the expenditure was 26,150,000l., an increase of 1,770,000l., due to the increased pay of the employees. The estimated revenue was 31,750,000l., but the debt was 31,600,000l. The postal service proper showed a profit of 6,250,000l.; the telegraphs a loss of 350,000l., the telephones a profit of 300,000l. Pay of employees would be increased by about 2,000,000l. partly because of the Report of the Holt Committee (A.R., 1913, p. 255). But there would also be a minimum wage of 22s. per week for every full-time employee in Great Britain. The Post Office dealt with 3,470,000,000 letters yearly, and the surplus of its savings bank deposits over withdrawals was 12,000,000l. and the profit 160,000l. annually. He recommended legislation against the transmission of betting circulars, of which vast quantities were sent by English bookmakers established in Switzerland. The subsequent debate dealt mainly with the alleged inadequacy of the Holt Report; the Committee had found that the cost of living had risen 11.3 per cent., but had awarded a rise of wages averaging 4½ per cent. at once, and eventually 7 per cent. Mr. Pointer (Lab.) said the postal servants would accept the decision of a Board of Arbitration on this portion of the Report. Mr. Holt (L.), Chairman of the Committee, condemned the claim of the employees for a 15 per cent. increase. The discussion was resumed later (post, p. 116).

The next business of importance in the Commons was the Budget; but, before proceeding to it we must, as usual, supplement the particulars already given by a brief view of the Civil Service Estimates, summarising from the accompanying Memorandum of the Secretary to the Treasury.


Net Total, 1914-15. Original Estimates, 1913-14. Increase.
57,065,816l. 54,988,318l. 2,077,498l.

In the Abstract and throughout the detailed Estimates comparison was made, according to the usual practice, with the total grants made for the service of the year 1913-14 in the Appropriation Act, 1913; these grants, including the Supplementary Estimates for 578,555l. presented to the House of Commons on July 24,1913, showed a net total of 55,566,873l., and on this basis of comparison the Estimates for 1914-15 showed an increase of 1,498,943l.

The number of classes had been reduced by one, Class VIII. (Old Age Pensions, Labour Exchanges, Insurance, etc.), which had appeared for the first time in 1913, having been merged in Classes VI. and VII., but the number of votes was the same as the original number for 1913-14. There were a number of minor readjustments of the Votes.

Class I.—Public Works and Buildings.

1914-15. 1913-14. Increase.
3,744,769l. 8,617,459l. 127,310l.

The figures for 1913-14 included supplementary grants of 31,930l. and 197l. transferred from Class IV. (Education, Science, and Art). The large public offices in course of erection for the Board of Agriculture, the Public Trustee, a new Stationery Office, etc., and the growth of the Postal Service, had made a substantial increase of expenditure inevitable. In conformity with an undertaking given to the Public Accounts Com[Pg 92]mittee, "Urgent and Unforeseen" works were differentiated in the various Votes from those of a minor character. In regard to the Houses of Parliament, provision was made for additional accommodation for members on the upper floor, and for the repair of the roof of Westminster Hall. A sum of 2,800l. was allotted in respect of the maintenance of Tintern Abbey, recently transferred to the custody of the Office of Works.

Class II.—Salaries and Expenses Of Civil Departments.

1914-15. 1913-14. Increase.
4,690,433l. 4,448,534l. 241,899l.

The 1913-14 figures included supplementary grants for 32,550l. and transfer of 45l. from Class IV., 1. The increase was mainly due to the Boards of Control for England and Scotland respectively, to be set up under the Mental Deficiency Acts of 1913. The Estimate for Mercantile Marine Services included 13,000l. to cover the cost of British participation in the proposed International ice service in the North Atlantic. Increases on other votes were due respectively to expenditure on schemes recommended by the Development Commission (to be repaid out of the Development Fund), to increase of staff at the Friendly Societies Registry and the Office of Works, and to provision against foot and mouth disease in Ireland.

Class III.—Law and Justice.

1914-15. 1913-14. Increase.
4,768,634l. 4,642,346l. 126,288l.

This increase was almost accounted for by the additional provision for Reformatory and Industrial Schools, and by the growth of charges connected with land purchase in Ireland.

Class IV.—Education, Science and Art.

1914-15. 1913-14. Increase.
19,911,506l. 19,799,388l. 112,118l.

The 1913-14 figures included supplementary grants of nearly 155,000l. net. The increase was due to the growth of the cost of education throughout the United Kingdom. Part of it was due to the expansion of the work of the school medical service. In the Vote for Scientific Investigation 5,000l. was provided as a first instalment of a grant of 10,000l. to Sir Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic Expedition.

Class V.—Foreign and Colonial Services.

1914-15. 1913-14. Increase.
1,836,917l. 1,514,349l. 322,568l.

In the Vote for Colonial Services there was an increase of nearly 40,000l., due largely to an augmented grant in aid to Somaliland for defence against the Mullah. Only 10,000l., however, was required as a grant in aid to Uganda. A vote of 220,000l. for the Persian loan represented the amount required to make good the sums advanced to the Persian Government in the three preceding financial years, to provide the funds needed to maintain order.

Class VI.—Non-Effective and Miscellaneous.

1914-15. 1913-14. Decrease.
1,076,907l. 1,083,321l. 6,414l.

Several Votes had been transferred to Class VII., and the title altered. Under International Exhibitions 19,750l. was included in respect of the Exhibitions at Leipzig (books) and Paris (art furniture).

Class VII.—Old Age Pensions, Labour Exchanges, Insurance, Etc.

1914-15. 1913-14. Increase.
21,036,650l. 20,460,926l. 575,724l.

The figures for 1913-14 included supplementary grants of 347,650l. and 14,653l. transferred from Class VI. The Votes connected with National Health Insurance showed a net increase of 512,211l. Part of this was due to the increased grants for treatment of tuberculosis, part to provision for a large temporary staff to deal with the claims of[Pg 93] societies for reserve values—a work taking eighteen months to two years. The increase in the Old Age Pensions Vote was 110,000l. as compared with 400,000l. in the previous year, and the anticipated increase of pensioners 16,000 as against 27,000. The increases in earlier years were exceptional.

Revenue Departments.

1914-15. 1913-14. Increase.
30,847,915l. 28,898,720l. 1,949,195l.

The Inland Revenue Estimate showed a net increase of 176,670l., mainly due to acceleration of the completion of the valuation under the Finance (1909-10) Act of 1910. The Post Office Estimate showed a net increase of 1,772,510l., due largely to increases in pay following the recent recommendations of the Holt Committee.

The Budget, which had been postponed because the Chancellor of the Exchequer had temporarily lost his voice, was taken on May 4. It had been awaited with special interest in view of the Prime Minister's pronouncement at Oldham as to the income tax (A.R., 1913, p. 252) and of the promises of a revision of the system of Imperial grants in aid of local taxation (A.R., 1913, p. 58; 1911, p. 22). In view of the Ministerial attitude to food taxes, insurances had been effected against reduction or abolition of the sugar duty at premiums rising since March from 10 to 30 per cent., and also, at lower rates, against reduction or abolition of the tea, coffee, and cocoa duties, and increase of those on alcoholic liquors. But the Budget proved to be less sensational than was expected.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer began by pointing out that his forecast of 1913 had been more than justified (A.R., 1913, p. 102). Trade had reached its highest point, unemployment its lowest, and hardly any other country had had a like experience. He had estimated an increased revenue of 6,000,000l.; the increase had been unprecedented—9,441,000l. He had had, however, to meet Supplementary Estimates of 3,371,000l., against which were set savings in various departments of 1,500,000l. The deficiency he had to face was 1,860,000l. The increase of revenue enabled him to pay the Supplementary Estimates, wipe out the deficit, leave the 1,000,000l. which he had proposed to take from the Exchequer balances, and end with a surplus of 750,000l. The new taxes of 1909 had yielded 27,215,000l., the national income had increased since that year by 140 to 150 millions, and the national savings by 1,750,000,000l. The revenue from these taxes had sufficed for all their proposed aims except the relief of local taxation, and, but for increased naval expenditure, it would have sufficed for that likewise. In the current year the estimated expenditure was increased by 8,492,000l. and the conditions of revenue were very difficult to forecast. The total estimated revenue from existing sources was 200,655,000l., the total expenditure, apart from the new projects, 205,985,000l., leaving a deficit of 5,330,000l. But the readjustment of the relations of Imperial and local finance had long been imperative. He referred to the Commission which reported in 1901, and to the pledge of the Government in 1908 (A.R., 1908,[Pg 94] p. 42). Local authorities had immensely wide functions, but inadequate means; Parliament for forty years had almost annually imposed new powers on them, making hardly any provision to meet the cost. Rates in some districts had doubled in twenty or thirty years; slums could not be cleared because the cost was prohibitive (though this was not altogether a question of rates), and education demanded assistance. The existing system of rating was indefensible, discouraging improvements and very unequal in its incidence. A workman in a town paid about 5 per cent. of his income in rates, a supertax payer 1 or 2 per cent., a tradesman 9 and (in London) 13 per cent. The basis of taxation was too narrow, and the system of assigned revenues and of the Agricultural Rating Act had failed. Further and substantial aid from the Exchequer was necessary to save the municipalities from bankruptcy; but mere subsidies without conditions would be pernicious. There should be a national system of valuation for local taxation, involving the taxation of site values; the machinery for this existed already, and the effect would be to relieve owners who had spent heavily on improvements; but there must be a time-limit, or one might go back to the Roman period. The distribution of relief would give the greatest proportion of it to the most hard-pressed areas; the grants would bear a direct relation to the expenditure; the assigned revenues would be abolished, and efficient service would be a condition of the grant. These grants, for England and Wales in the first full year, would be: Poor law, 3,615,000l.; police, 3,400,000l.; criminal prosecutions, 120,000l.; suppression of cattle disease, 71,300l.; mental deficiency (optional provisions), 45,000l. additional; small grants under Shops and Employment of Children Acts, 22,500l.; Reformatories and Industrial Schools, 22,000l. additional; Public Health, 4,000,000l. (first year, l,300,000l.); Tuberculosis, Nursing, and Pathological Laboratories, 750,000l. The Education grant would be reconstituted on the principles sanctioned by the Kempe Committee (post, Chron., March 30), so as to give the greatest relief to the poorest districts and to those where the expenditure was highest. For the current year the increase—2,750,000l. for England and Wales only—would be confined to the necessitous areas. But besides this, the Exchequer would contribute half the cost of feeding necessitous school children, and give further grants for health work—physical training, open-air schools, crippled and feeble-minded children, and maternity centres, and for technical, secondary, and higher education. These grants for the first year would be 560,000l., the health grants 282,000l. For insurance, also, there would be further assistance, 1,250,000l. for the whole United Kingdom. Something would be done for deposit contributors, and health lectures would be established. The grant would be distributed on the "Goschen principle"—80 per cent, for England and Wales, 11 per cent. for Scotland, and 9 per cent. for Ireland, omitting[Pg 95] education and police, which were almost exclusively paid for there by Imperial grants. The grant would begin on December 1, subject to the condition that legislation as to the basis of distribution, including valuation, should have passed in time. For the current year the new grants would increase the deficit by 4,218,000l., and he needed a margin of 252,000l. He had, therefore, to find 9,800,000l. The best method of equalising the burden was by a graduated income tax. A local income tax, according to experts, would not work; in Germany it drove away the men with large independent incomes. He would not interfere with earned incomes up to 1,000l. a year, but after that the scale would be: 1,000l. to 1,500l., 10½d. in the pound; 1,500l. to 2,000l., 1s.; 2,000l. to 2,500l., 1s. 2d.; 2,500l. to 3,000l., 1s. 4d. On unearned income and all income above 3,000l. it would be 1s. 4d. The allowance for each child of 7s. 6d. in the case of incomes under 500l. would be doubled; and the 25 per cent. limit on deduction for repairs would be abolished. The supertax would begin at 3,000l. instead of 5,000l.; the first 500l. would be excepted, the next 1,000l. charged 7d., the next 9d., the next 11d., the next 1s. 1d., the next 1s. 3d., and the remainder 1s. 4d. The total yield of this and the existing supertax would be 7,770,000l. in a full year. Incomes left abroad for reinvestment, which had been exempted actually by a decision of the Courts, would be included by means of declarations, with penalties and recovery when death duties became payable. The death duties would increase by 1 per cent. for estates between 60,000l. and 200,000l. and thereafter to a maximum of 20 per cent. for 1,000,000l. Relief would be granted, however, in cases of rapid succession to property, by remissions of estate duty on realty and stock-in-trade, varying from 50 per cent. if death occurred within one year of succeeding to property to 10 per cent. if it occurred within five years. The settlement estate duty would be abolished, and settled property treated like any other. These taxes together would produce 8,800,000l. for the current year, and he would fill the gap by taking a million from the Sinking Fund, seeing that the existing Government had paid off 104,000,000l. of debt and by 1915 would have paid off 114,000,000l. Direct and indirect taxation, which were equally balanced when the Government came into office, would now be 60 and 40 per cent. of the whole respectively. In conclusion, he claimed that the Government were honourably fulfilling pledges and taking a decisive step towards the greater happiness and efficiency of the people and the greater strength and honour of the land.

The complexity of the Budget proposals precluded immediate discussion. Mr. Austen Chamberlain condemned the proposal to have recourse to the Sinking Fund, partly in view of the new charges, amounting already to 21,000,000l., added by the Government under Old Age Pensions and Insurance alone. A number[Pg 96] of questions were asked by other members, and answered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, after the resolution enacting the new income tax had been agreed to, the House adjourned early—at 7.15 P.M.

The following table shows the Estimated Revenue for 1914-15, compared with the Receipts of 1913-14.

Exchequer Receipts
£ £
Customs 35,350,000 35,450,000
Excise 39,650,000 39,590,000
Estate, etc., Duties 28,800,000 27,359,000
Stamps 9,900,000 9,966,000
Land Tax 700,000 700,000
House Duty 2,000,000 2,000,000
Income Tax (including Supertax) 56,550,000 47,249,000
Land Value Duties 725,000 715,000
Postal Service 21,750,000 21,190,000
Telegraph Service 3,100,000 3,080,000
Telephone Service 6,900,000 6,530,000
Crown Lands 530,000 530,000
Suez Canal Shares and Sundry Loans 1,370,000 1,580,000
Miscellaneous 2,130,000 2,304,000
Total £209,455,000 £198,243,000
Borrowings to meet Expenditure chargeable against Capital 5,265,000 3,717,000

The following table shows the Estimated Expenditure, 1914-15, compared with the Issues of 1913-14.

Exchequer Issue
£ £
National Debt Services 23,500,000 24,500,000
Development and Road Improvement Funds 1,545,000 1,395,000
Payments to Local Taxation Accounts, etc. 9,885,000 9,734,000
Other Consolidated Fund Services 1,706,000 1,694,000
Army (including Ordnance Factories) 28,885,000 28,346,000
Navy 51,550,000 48,833,000
Civil Services (including Old Age Pensions) 61,084,000 53,901,000
Customs and Excise and Inland Revenue 4,821,000 4,483,000
Post Office Services 26,227,000 24,607,000
Total £209,203,000 £197,493,000

The final balance sheet, 1914-15, as proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was as follows:—

[Pg 97]

Revenue. Expenditure.
£ £
Customs 35,350,000 National Debt Services 23,500,000
Excise 39,650,000 Road Improvement Fund 1,545,000
Estate, etc., Duties 28,800,000 Payments to Local Taxation Accounts, etc. 9,885,000
Stamps 9,900,000 Other Consolidated Fund Services 1,706,000
Land Tax 700,000 Army (including Ordnance Factories) 28,885,000
House Duty 2,000,000 Navy 51,550,000
Income Tax (including Supertax) 56,550,000 Civil Services 61,084,000
Land Value Duties 725,000 Customs and Excise, and Inland Revenue 4,821,000
Postal Service 21,750,000 Post Office Services 26,227,000
Telegraph Service 3,100,000 Balance 252,000
Telephone Service 6,900,000
Grown Lands 530,000
Receipts from Suez Canal Shares and Sundry Loans 1,370,000
Miscellaneous 2,130,000
Total £209,455,000 Total £209,455,000
Borrowings to meet Expenditure chargeable against Capital 5,265,000 Expenditure chargeable against Capital 5,265,000

The Budget was well received by the Liberal and Labour parties, chiefly because of its expected furtherance of great social reforms; the Unionists strongly condemned the new valuation provisions and the increases of the supertax and of the death duties, and argued that it must encourage the policy of doles which, when practised by Lord Salisbury's Ministry, the Liberal party had condemned. Lord Esher, in a letter to The Times, put forward an objection savouring of a familiar economic fallacy, to the effect that it would diminish employment by causing the discharge of servants and others engaged in ministering to the luxury of the rich. Liberals retorted that the Unionists had intended to readjust Imperial and local taxation, partly with the revenue they expected from Tariff Reform; they had also made political capital out of the dangerous financial position of the friendly societies and the grievances under the Insurance Act of the casual labourer, and these evils the Budget proposed to remove. Thus the controversy made indirectly for a renewal of party conflict on the other pending issues.

The general Budget debate was taken on the resolution continuing the tea duty (May 6, 7, 11). Mr. Austen Chamberlain (U.) opened the attack, pointing out the disappointing yield of the new land taxes and the immense cost of their collection both to the State and to individual taxpayers, and also the enormous increase, present and prospective, of national expenditure, on which the Treasury, he said, had ceased to act as a check. In years of less prosperity and any serious complication this would involve great injury to the State—loss of credit, and of elasticity of finance. He regretted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had raided the new Sinking Fund, and held that an undue[Pg 98] burden of taxation was being thrown on the rich. Let Liberals consider how the line could be drawn between the proposed taxation and that advocated by the hon. member for Blackburn [Mr. Snowden, a Socialist]. "Unearned" income might well be the result of labour and self-denial, and on incomes between 700l. and 1,000l. a tax of 1s. 4d. in the pound in peace time was a tremendous burden. The increase of the death duties interfered with provision for them by insurance, and the abolition of the settlement estate duty involved a breach of contract. An unjust burden must not be placed on the few because they were few. The real interest of the Budget, however, was in the other Bills it would entail on rating, valuation, insurance, education, and housing. The new Valuation Department would be very costly and far less satisfactory than the local assessment committees, and the effect of the Budget on the local authorities was quite uncertain. Its proposals marked the abandonment of the Liberal tradition of the extension of local responsibility and of retrenchment, and left no resources for war taxation.

The Financial Secretary of the Treasury (Mr. Montagu) replied that the new taxes mainly went to decrease existing burdens. The debt per head was lighter than it had been since the Napoleonic wars; in 1887 it was 20.11l. per head, in 1899 15.52l., and in 1914 15.37l. Relatively to the estimated wealth of the country it had diminished since 1906. Wealth had many political weapons besides the numbers of the wealthy, and the actual rate of income-tax paid was usually far below the nominal rate. National wealth grew much more rapidly than taxation. The valuation had greatly increased the yield from the death duties; and it was only fair that the Imperial taxpayer should have a substantial control over the expenditure of the money he found.

Of other speakers, Mr. Mills (U., Middlesex, Uxbridge) said, that national debt was being reduced out of national capital, and that the Budget would undermine the international position of the City in finance; Mr. Pretyman (U.), resuming the debate (May 7) bitterly complained of the burdens imposed on agricultural properties by the settlement and estate duties, denounced the treatment of the settlement duty as a disgraceful breach of a contract, made by Sir William Harcourt in 1894, and argued that, as the Bills appropriating the money could not be passed except in an autumn session, which it was officially stated would not take place, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have a large surplus at the end of the year. Mr. Snowden (Lab., Blackburn) heartily approved the new taxes, and predicted that in 1924 the Budget would have reached 250,000,000l. The nation could never before afford this expenditure so well, and the taxes, by furthering social reform, benefited landlords and employers. The Labour party would renew their demand for the removal of the taxes on food.[Pg 99] Mr. Wedgwood (L., Newcastle-under-Lyme) mentioned that unless the local authorities were limited to using the grants for improvements, the Liberals who desired taxation of land values would block all other legislation, and Mr. Steel Maitland (U., Birmingham, E.) said that what was wanted was not control by the Treasury but control of the Treasury.

On May 11, after further criticisms, the Chancellor of the Exchequer replied. He remarked that nothing had been said of Tariff Reform. The criticisms were "muddle-headed and contradictory"; the money raised would help employment in more effective ways than those it was supposed to injure. Grants in aid had been applauded and asked for by the Opposition, and the Agricultural Rates Act of 1896 had been financed out of the revenue from Sir William Harcourt's death duties. He admitted that the taxes on small incomes raised certain grievances, but the difficulty was that allowance on unearned incomes was hampered by collection at source. The case of widows with small incomes and children would be met by doubling the allowance made [under the Budget of 1909] for the children, and in other cases by extending rebates on application—which, however, would involve the establishment of a horde of officials. For incomes under 300l. the tax would be 1s. instead of 1s. 2d. As to the settlement estate duty he promised to consider one case—where a testator left a life interest in his property to his wife with reversion to the children; but as to the other taxes, there was really no criticism. The Government would insist, before the money was distributed, on a valuation differentiating between improvements and site value, and on a statutory provision that relief should be granted only in respect of improvements, not of site; till this could be done—in the second half of the financial year 1915-16—there would be provisional arrangements for distribution. He defended the expenditure as a good investment and spoke of "a 1s. 4d. extra insurance against revolution." His defence was severely criticised by Mr. Long (U.), but the Budget resolutions were agreed to by majorities varying from 81 (in the case of the tea duty) to 102 in the case of the tax on earned income, which was carried by 290 to 188. The members dividing numbered approximately 370 to 400.

Meantime a well-meant effort towards at least a provisional solution of the women's suffrage question was being attempted in the House of Lords by the Women's Enfranchisement Bill, conferring the Parliamentary franchise on those women—estimated at about 1,000,000—who possessed the municipal suffrage. The Earl of Selborne, in moving it (May 5), after condemning militancy as "not only criminal, but stupid," said that there were very few facts in dispute. Many of the most able and highly educated women earnestly desired the franchise, and even if many women did not, that was no reason for depriving those who did.[Pg 100] Women would divide along the same lines as men. The anti-suffragists held at bottom that only the fit should vote, but in that case many men would lose the vote, and many women would have it. Instinct and character had to be considered more than fitness, and he thought women generally cared more for their religion and their country than men did. The Bill would therefore add to the stability of the State. The majority of those whom it would enfranchise were poor women—many of them widows with children—who had fought the battle of life and triumphed. Dominion and American experience was treated as irrelevant, but the human nature of women was the same. Women would be on the side of the angels against the political machine. Earl Curzon of Kedleston, opposing, held that the measure would weaken British prestige. Hitherto Bills affecting the franchise had always originated in the Commons. The great majority of the women admitted by the Bill would be unmarried, and if women were to be enfranchised at all, married women were the best qualified. Only 25 or 30 per cent. of the municipal women electors voted, and an insignificant number stood. To give women the vote would entail their admission to Parliament and the Cabinet. The militant organisation was widespread and powerful, and militancy was widely connived at by other organisations, such as the Church League for Women's Suffrage. Would it cease if women got the vote, or be carried into politics? The question was not of equality of the sexes, but of fitness to discharge public duties. The million would eventually be swollen to five or ten millions, and then women might combine as a sex against men. Lords Newton and Tenterden supported the Bill; so did the Lord Chancellor, partly on the ground of the need of women's help in industrial questions and social problems, notably in infant mortality and the decline of the birth rate. Militancy was a bad symptom which showed the need of action. Lord Ampthill opposed the Bill; the Bishop of London avowed himself a convert, in spite of the bomb placed under his throne (A.R., 1913, p. 112). The unrest was caused by a deep-seated feeling of injustice. The qualification for municipal bodies excluded all women but a tiny minority. Housing, the raising of the age of consent, and Sunday closing needed the support of women's votes. The Bishop of Oxford also strongly supported the Bill, eulogising the suffragist women. Next day Lord Courtney of Penwith supported the Bill "as a small experiment," dwelling on the progress made by the women's movement, not yet fifty years old, and dwelling on the action of women in School Board elections, on Royal Commissions, and in political work. Of later speakers, Lord Willoughby de Broke complained that the Press suppressed the public expression of the movement and so misled the public as to its strength; Viscount St, Aldwyn said that the municipal franchise was the least suitable basis for extension, and[Pg 101] the Bill would be rejected by the electorate. He deprecated the increasing activity of women in political work. The Marquess of Crewe thought that, while the cause of women's suffrage was making progress, the country was not yet convinced. Amid laughter, he said that, regarding the Bill as a purely Conservative measure, he would give a purely party vote against it. The Earl of Lytton said that separate legislation for women implied their separate representation. There were five million women workers competing with men represented in Parliament. Women, he showed in detail, had given overwhelming evidence of their demand for the vote, and would be satisfied with any removal of the sex disability. The Bill would settle no more than that. He laid stress [being the brother of a militant] on the magnificent qualities wasted in militancy—courage, self-devotion, self-sacrifice—waste which could only be stopped by granting the demand. The Bill was rejected by 104 to 60.

Brief mention only can be made of two discussions on subjects unexpectedly illuminated by the later experience of the year. On May 6 Mr. Morrell (L., Burnley) moved a resolution in favour of negotiation for the abolition of the capture of private property at sea; and the Foreign Secretary specified the terms on which the Government would agree. And on May 13 Mr. Bird (U., Wolverhampton) moved a resolution demanding State provision against the danger of starvation and enforced capitulation in case of war. He claimed that six months' supply of wheat should be ensured, as the actual amount in the country was sufficient for only six weeks, except just after harvest, when sixteen weeks' supply existed, and he advocated a scheme of free storage, suggesting also reduced taxation on grain-growing land and the building of swift grain ships. A scheme of Government insurance of food-carrying ships was suggested in the debate. The President of the Board of Agriculture indicated that such a scheme was under examination, and further that the question of supply had been carefully studied, and that it had been ascertained that there need be no anxiety in war time, provided the arrangements made for distribution were carried out. The chief source of security must be the Navy. Both motions were talked out.

The monotony of the political struggle was somewhat relieved by the state visit of the King and Queen of Denmark (May 9-13), who were received alike by their Royal relatives and by the people of London with all possible honour and goodwill. Both Kings laid stress in the speeches at the state banquet at Buckingham Palace (May 9) on the growth of commercial and friendly intercourse between the two nations; so did the King of Denmark and the Lord Mayor at the entertainment given by the City Corporation at the Guildhall (May 12); the Order of the Garter was conferred on the Danish monarch, the visitors were entertained at a gala performance at the opera, and presented with an address[Pg 102] by the Common Council. The visit, however, had probably no great political significance.

The Parliamentary conflict was resumed when the Prime Minister introduced a resolution (May 12) to dispense with discussion on the Committee stage of the Home Rule, Welsh Church, and Plural Voting Bills, and on the financial resolutions necessary for the two former measures. The discussion on the financial resolutions, he said, had proved valueless in 1913; and the so-called "suggestion stage" was intended to apply only to exceptional cases—to the correction of some error or oversight, or to amendments consistent with the principle and purpose of the Bill in question. But the Opposition declined any responsibility for the Home Rule Bill, so that the consideration of suggestions was nugatory. The only proper way of carrying out an agreed settlement, for which he hoped, was by an Amending Bill. The House would be asked to give the Home Rule Bill a third reading before Whitsuntide, but the Government would go forward another step, and make itself responsible for an amending Bill, which might pass—perhaps not in its original shape—practically at the same time as the Home Rule Bill. As to the Welsh Church Bill, the suggested amendments, which seemed to have been put down as part of a concerted policy, would completely transform the Bill into a measure which the House could not accept. The House of Lords might amend these Bills if it liked, and the Commons would consider their amendments. To the Plural Voting Bill no amendments were suggested. The course proposed evoked protests from the Opposition, and Mr. Bonar Law (U.), in a bitter speech, declared that the Parliament Act had taken the interest out of the debates. Ministers did not trouble to attend, and great damage had been done to the House and still more to the representative system. The forces which would decide the Home Rule question were outside the House. He charged the Government with a change of front on the suggestion stage with regard to the Welsh Church Bill; whether they had it or not now depended on the House of Lords. It would be quite possible to let the Chairman select suggested amendments for discussion. As to the projected Amending Bill, he saw less hope of a settlement than there had been six months earlier; the Government must either (1) submit the Bill to the country, (2) coerce Ulster, (3) or exclude Ulster. While refusing all responsibility for Home Rule, the Unionists, if it were to be carried, would do their best to help the Government to carry it without civil strife. The only conversations of any interest would be those between the Prime Minister and Mr. Redmond. He attributed the Ministerial refusal to disclose the Amending Bill to Mr. Redmond's insistence that the Home Rule Bill should pass before Whitsuntide, so as to strengthen the Nationalist position. When it had passed, however, the Nationalist members[Pg 103] would find it difficult to make concessions, and the Ulstermen would have no confidence that the Amending Bill would pass, and so there would be a real and unnecessary risk of bloodshed.

Mr. Gladstone (L., Kilmarnock Burghs) protested against the suppression of the suggestion stage for the Welsh Church Bill as a bad precedent and an encroachment on the independence of members. Later, Mr. Balfour (U.) said that the suggestion stage, for which the Speaker had had to improvise the machinery, was ill thought out at first and excessively difficult to work in practice. He complained that the House was asked to force through under the Parliament Act a Bill admittedly requiring amendment without knowing how it was to be amended. They were to vote without knowing what the real measure was which was being forced on the House. The Chancellor of the Exchequer retorted that, if every offer by the Government was to be treated as an admission that their proposal was defective, that was the way to promote civil war (a declaration which caused a stormy scene). He added that the proposals embodied in the Amending Bill were known to be those made by the Premier (p. 39), and that a suggestion stage on the Welsh Bill would be useless if, as had been intimated, the House of Lords meant to reject it. The Opposition wanted one, in order to waste time and to embarrass the Government. Mr. Redmond said that the Government had had another lesson as to the inevitable effect of making advances to the Opposition. He could not, however, approve of the Prime Minister's decision to introduce an Amending Bill even if the negotiations between the leaders should fail, and if one were introduced after such failure he held himself absolutely free to deal with it. It could not be passed except by agreement, and every fresh offer by the Government only hardened the Opposition, who had made no concession. He was prepared to run great risks and make great sacrifices for a peaceful settlement, but the position in which it was sought to put the Nationalists was unfair and intolerable. They had the consolation of knowing that the vision which had sustained them would be realised. (Mr. Redmond's closing words were greeted with prolonged Liberal cheers.) Later, Sir A. Griffith-Boscawen (U., Dudley) moved an amendment declining to restrict the time for discussing the remaining stages of the Home Rule and Welsh Church Bills till the Government had given an opportunity for discussing suggestions for amendment. Eventually this was rejected by 293 to 217; but, at the instance of Mr. Cassel (U., West St. Pancras), an opportunity was given for discussing the financial resolution under the Home Rule Bill. The Government's motion, thus amended, was carried by 276 to 194.

Just before the first of these divisions a Unionist victory was announced at the Grimsby bye-election, due to the death of Sir George Doughty (Chron., May 12). The Unionists retained the[Pg 104] seat, but with a reduced majority, on a heavier poll than at the last general election; but the Liberal candidate, though no politician, was popular (as the late member had been) among the fishermen, and the Liberals had hoped to win.

The financial resolution necessary for the Welsh Church Bill was discussed for three hours on May 13. It authorised the issue out of the Consolidated Fund of any sums necessary to pay the principal and interest of money borrowed by the Commissioners for the purposes of the Bill—no money being available from the endowments taken until life interests began to fall in. The object of the resolution was to enable the Commissioners to borrow at a lower rate than they could have without this Treasury guarantee. It was still doubtful whether the Church would accept commutation, and the Opposition pressed in vain for the Commissioners' names. Ultimately an amendment omitting "principal" was rejected by 215 to 304, and the resolution was carried by 306 to 218.

The "Federal Solution" of the Home Rule problem was indirectly touched upon on May 15, when the second reading of the Government of Scotland Bill was moved by Mr. Macpherson (L., Ross and Cromarty). He explained that the Bill was practically the same as that of 1913 (A.R., 1913, p. 124), except for the inclusion of a clause giving the suffrage to women. It was not a Separation Bill, and the seventy-two Scottish members would remain at Westminster pending a complete scheme of devolution; but Scotland sought control of limited and local functions peculiarly her own. The Bill was the first plank in the Scottish Liberal programme, and devolution was supported by the Royal Convention of Scottish Burghs and was necessary to end the neglect of Scottish interests—especially education, the land law, and the fishermen's vote. Mr. W. Young (L., Perthshire, E.), seconding, dissented strongly from the clause introducing women's suffrage. The Bill was opposed by Mr. Mackinder (U., Glasgow, Camlachie), who, while approving of devolution, objected to the retention of the Scottish members at Westminster, which would rivet the Liberal tyranny on England; the financial clauses would create friction, and Scotland would lose her influence on Imperial affairs. The objects of the Bill might be attained by a Standing Committee sitting in Scotland. Subsequently Mr. Clyde (U., Edinburgh, W.) argued that industrial and trade legislation should be assimilated in England and Scotland, and that one Parliament could do this better than two. The two countries, however, might well revise their common administrative system. Mr. Balfour (U.) said that none of the supporters of the measure had dealt with its practical operation, and that nothing would be done by giving administrative or even legislative Home Rule to Scotland to facilitate the expression of Scottish nationality; it was only after the Union that Scotland showed what she could do in litera[Pg 105]ture, art, government and war. The advocates of the Bill were mixing up two questions—separate administration and Scottish nationalism. A system of devolution was impossible if the different local Parliaments and Executives were to have different powers. If such crazy methods were adopted, how could the Imperial Parliament be relieved? England would not approve a system under which it would have less power to manage its own affairs than Scotland or Ireland. Claims would be made for the removal of restrictions in the Scottish Bill which were absent from the Irish, and then the Imperial Parliament would be again plunged into discussing the re-hash of our Constitution. The machinery established would tend further to disintegrate the Union. For devolution there must be a thought-out plan equally applicable to each several part of the United Kingdom. After a reply from the Scottish Secretary, who commented on the absence of Unionist Federalists, and described the question as simply one of administrative and legislative convenience, the Bill was talked out; but the speech of the Scottish Secretary, coupled with previous Ministerial utterances, led some Scottish members to press, though vainly, for the introduction of a Government Bill.

The Welsh Church Bill finally left the House on May 19, after two days' debate. In reply to a question, the Home Secretary announced the names of the Commissioners—Sir Henry Primrose, Sir William Plender, and Sir J. Herbert Roberts (L., Denbighshire, W.). (Only the first named accepted a salary—1,500l. annually.) The Report of the financial resolution and the resolution suppressing debate on the Report stage of the Bill were carried on the previous day, each by precisely the same numbers (298 to 204), and then, on the third reading, the rejection was moved by Mr. Hume Williams (U., Notts, Bassetlaw). He laid stress on the demonstrations and "miles of petitions" against the Bill, and said that it had only been carried by the Nationalist vote. What good, he asked, would Disendowment do to any one? Mr. E. Wood (U., Ripon), seconding the rejection, quoted the Dean of Ripon, a Liberal and Broad Churchman, as saying that the Bill would intensify the difficulties in the co-operation of Churchmen and Nonconformists, and laid stress on the danger of weakening the Church in the struggle for social reform and the conversion of the heathen. Mr. W. Jones (L., Carnarvon, Arfon) said that the Nonconformist quarrel was not with religion or with the Church, but with Establishment. Petitions only showed what a grand thing the ballot box was. In all the great divisions on the Bill, if the Ulster members were eliminated as well as the Nationalists, the British majorities ranged from 27 to 42. The movement for separation of Church and State originated in the Welsh religious revival, which had transformed the moral, religious and intellectual life of the people. The endowments were wanted for[Pg 106] the nation; and he laid stress on the multiplication of Welsh Nonconformist and Welsh Anglican Churches, without State endowment, in London, Liverpool, North America and Argentina. Young Churchmen in Wales were going to the national Colleges instead of to Lampeter, and, after the Bill had passed, a great religious spirit apart from Anglicanism and sectarian domination would flow and commingle for the regeneration of Wales. In the second day's debate, the Home Secretary announced that the King had placed his interests in bishoprics and other ecclesiastical dignities and benefices in Wales and Monmouthshire at the disposal of Parliament; and then the Under-Secretary for the Home Department spoke. He said that unless the Welsh dioceses were separated from the Province of Canterbury the English Church would predominate in governing the Welsh Church. By ending the traffic in the cure of souls, giving more power to the laity, enabling congregations to choose their own clergymen, and helping to reconcile national sentiment to the Church, the Bill would do good. What with the fabrics, the rectories and vicarages, the movable property, and the income left to the Church, capitalised, the Church would retain a capital of 10,000,000l. for 200,000 communicants. The Church desired to retain its Establishment and endowments, and to be free from State control. Lord Hugh Cecil (U.) said that there was nothing behind Disestablishment but the will of the Welsh representatives; Welsh Nonconformity was only 103 years old and was in a state of flux. He laid stress on the prospective injury through Disestablishment to religion in other countries, and described the Bill as immoral and unjust. Later Mr. Cave (U., Surrey, Kingston) contended that the House had a right to have the suggestion stage, and that, even had the suggestions been accepted by the House of Lords and the Bill rejected there, they would have been part of the Bill sent up for the Royal Assent. The endowments were not given to "the Church," or in trust, but for religious purposes, and to secularise them broke the cy-près rule. On disendowment no Parliamentary majority was even relevant, The Chancellor of the Exchequer, after commenting on Mr. Cave's first point, said that disendowment followed inevitably on Disestablishment. The Opposition claimed at once that the Church was endowed as a great national institution and as a sect. Would not the pious founders have been shocked to learn that their gifts were being used to support a married clergy? The title was not legal but Parliamentary, and much of the property was derived from an Act of Parliamentary spoliation. The payment of stipends to ministers was the least of the functions recognised by the founders, and Parliament was recognising the trusts and restoring them. Mr. F. E. Smith (U.) declared that the Welsh could long ago have had Disestablishment without disendowment; they were after the money, and he noted that the Government had not attempted to deal with lay impropriators.[Pg 107] The Bill was passing by a bargain with the Nationalists. The Home Secretary, in his reply, said that the Church was being disendowed because it held national property. Half the parochial endowments belonged to parishes with 27,800 communicants, some with less than five, the other half to parishes with 163,000. After Disestablishment, the total income of the Church if the voluntary subscriptions remained constant would be 511,000l. instead of approximately 556,000l. as in 1906. The loss of 45,000l. would be met by amalgamating parishes. The Bill would restore freedom to the Welsh Church. The third reading was carried by 328 to 251.

The financial resolution requisite for the Home Rule Bill was the subject of a stormy debate next day (May 20). The President of the Local Government Board explained its meaning and effect. It proposed to authorise the payment into the Irish Exchequer each year of a fixed sum based on the cost of the services to be administered by the Irish Government on the passing of the Bill, plus a subsidy of 500,000l. annually. The President of the Local Government Board explained that in 1912-13, when the Bill was introduced, Irish revenue amounted to 10,600,000l., expenditure on Irish services to 12,600,000l.—a deficit of 2,000,000l. But the increased revenue due to the pending Budget was estimated for 1915-16 as follows: Income tax, 185,000l.; supertax, 175,000l.; estate duty, 75,000l. As about 35,000l. of this was arrears, the normal yield of the new taxes in Ireland would be 400,000l. The additional grants would be in all 765,000l.,—education, 112,500l.; other services, 517,500l.; Post Office wages, 3,000l.; tuberculosis nursing and laboratories, 65,500l.; insurance, 65,000l.; collection of duties, 1,500l. After the Budget changes in 1915-16 the revenue would be 11,450,000l., the expenditure 14,150,000l., and the deficit 2,700,000l. No calculation, he told Sir E. Carson, had been made as to the amount of the new grant which would go to additional purposes in Ulster. The grants would be handed over to the Irish Parliament to dispose of as it pleased. He was much questioned by members, and Mr. T. Healy (I.N.) declared that Ireland was being tricked and over-taxed, while Mr. A. Chamberlain said that the Government were increasing the grievance that the Home Rule Bill was supposed to diminish—that Ireland had to keep up to the level of England, the richer country. Every time the burdens on Great Britain were increased, a heavier subsidy was to be paid out of British taxes to Ireland. The Chancellor of the Exchequer replied, saying that under Home Rule it would be possible to leave local services to the local Parliament. If money was to be raised from Ireland, it must be treated like Great Britain in distributing the funds, Ireland had been contributing 1,800,000l. to Imperial taxation; she was now getting 2,000,000l. After an amendment moved by Sir F. Banbury, providing that the payment in con[Pg 108]nexion with Irish services should not fall on the British taxpayer, had been rejected by 305 to 213, the resolution was carried by 303 to 215.

The remaining stages of the Home Rule Bill were to have been completed next day, May 21, but they were deferred through an outburst of passion on the part of the Opposition. At question time the Prime Minister, in answer to inquiries, stated that the Home Rule Bill would be introduced in the House of Lords, but he could not name the date, and refused to anticipate the disclosure of its contents there by a statement in the Commons. This course, he told Mr. Bonar Law, would be contrary to all Parliamentary precedent. This was resented by the Unionists and by some Liberals, among them Mr. Hogge (L., Edinburgh, E.). After the Report of the money resolution (p. 107) had been carried by 316 to 228, and the Bill reported to the House without amendment by 316 to 227, Lord R. Cecil (U.), amidst a rising storm, moved the adjournment of the debate, on the ground that the Bill was to be passed before the House knew how it was to be amended. These amendments might change its whole character. The procedure of the Government was an insult to the Commons. Either they had not yet made up their minds, or they knew that their proposals would imperil the progress of the Bill. Mr. Worthington Evans, seconding, said the Government hoped again to raise the cry, "Peers versus People." The Prime Minister said that the language of the two last speakers would be appropriate if they were the dominant party dictating terms of surrender to an impotent minority. The Home Rule Bill had passed all its stages by substantially undiminished minorities, and represented the deliberate and considered judgment of the Commons. In its principle, details, and machinery it was a wise and statesmanlike measure; whenever the Government made any proposal towards peace it was treated as a hypocritical sham. Still they had made proposals in order to remove any possible sense of injustice and coercion, allowing the people to vote as to whether any would come in. But they must have as a preliminary the firm and deliberate judgment of the House on their main proposals. For that reason, the Amending Bill was to be introduced in the House of Lords. They had been told that whatever was done, that House would reject the Home Rule Bill. It would be waste of time to ask the Commons to spend weeks in elaborating suggestions which might be summarily rejected. The last voice in the matter would be that of the House of Commons. Mr. Bonar Law retorted that the Commons, after all, represented the people. If the Home Rule Bill was wise and just, why amend it, and why was the Commons not to know how it would be amended? He himself believed that the Prime Minister desired a peaceful settlement, but considered only what would give him a majority. He had gone back at Leeds on his speech at Ladybank (A.R., 1913, pp. 243, 219), and in his pro[Pg 109]posals on his speech on the Address (pp. 39, 21). He would not let the House know the proposed amendments because the Nationalists would not let him. They meant to pass the Home Rule Bill, and force the Prime Minister to use all the forces of the Crown to drive loyal men out of the Union. The course adopted was an insult to the Commons. A discussion of the third reading of the Home Rule Bill was an absurdity, and he could see absolutely no use in taking part in it. Among subsequent speakers, Mr. A. M. Scott (L., Glasgow, Bridgeton), Sir H. Dalziel (L., Kirkcaldy Burghs), and Mr. Pringle (L., Lanarkshire, N.W.) protested against the withholding of the terms of the Amending Bill, and Mr. Amery (U.) was sharply and repeatedly rebuked by the Speaker.

The motion for adjournment was rejected by 286 to 176, and Mr. J. H. Campbell (U., Dublin University) came forward to oppose the third reading of the Home Rule Bill. Before he had uttered a word the Unionists started a concerted cry of "Adjourn, adjourn." After it had continued for five minutes the Speaker rose, and asked the Opposition leader whether this was with his consent and approval. This unexpected and unprecedented question provoked an outburst of protest from the Opposition, and Mr. Bonar Law, after the cheers that greeted his rising had at length subsided, replied, speaking evidently under great excitement, "I would not presume, Sir, to criticise what you consider your duty. But I know mine, and that is not to answer any such question." The Opposition cheered savagely and waved handkerchiefs and papers, and the Speaker suspended the sitting in view of the grave disorder. The Opposition cheered their leader wildly as he passed out; some of them shouted taunts at the Ministerialists; one, carried away by excitement, stood before the Prime Minister and shouted abuse at him; the Liberals and Nationalists, meanwhile, laughed good-humouredly and made no response to the Opposition taunts. When the Prime Minister went out, however, they rose and cheered him enthusiastically.

The disturbance was thought to have been preconcerted, possibly in the lobbies during the division on the motion for the adjournment, and to have been suggested by Mr. Bonar Law's concluding words on that motion. At any rate it was in conformity with advice long ago given by the Observer (A.R., 1912, p. 156).

Moreover, the North-East Derbyshire bye-election (Chron., May 20) resulted in a Unionist success, due, indeed, to a split between the Liberal and Labour parties, whose joint aggregate poll had increased largely as compared with that of December, 1910, though the Unionist poll had also somewhat increased. But still it meant a Unionist gain, to be followed by many others if the split were not speedily closed. Again, a keen electoral contest was in progress at Ipswich (Chron., May 25). For the[Pg 110] seat vacated by the sudden death in the United States of Mr. Silvester Horne (L.), Mr. Masterman, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and recently defeated in Bethnal Green, was the Ministerial candidate, and the struggle in an always uncertain constituency was so acute that both Sir Edward Carson and the Chancellor of the Exchequer went down on the last day to speak for their respective sides. The former laid stress on the determination of the Ulster people to resist Home Rule, and declared that he had never been so proud of his leader as he had been on the occasion of the scene in the House; the latter declared that the scene was part of a deliberate plot for destroying representative government, because the Tories saw that the people meant to use it for their own redemption. Ipswich had 1,700 old-age pensioners; it was getting 21,400l. a year on that head, 35,000l. out of the Insurance Act, and some 15,000l. out of the new Budget; the weary and the heavy laden in all climes were looking with hope to England. All this, of course, the Unionists denounced as a direct appeal to the cupidity of the people. And, in an essentially working-class constituency, the Liberals lost the seat. Not only was Mr. Masterman defeated by 532 votes on a poll of 12,675, but the combined Liberal and Socialist vote was 137 below that given to the Unionist victor.

Possibly the Unionist satisfaction at this new success helped to intensify the calmer feelings brought by the week-end, and by the diversion of the attention of members to a non-party measure, the Weekly Rest Day Bill. At any rate, when the House reassembled on Monday, May 25, it reverted to its best traditions. After the introduction, amid enthusiastic Unionist cheers, of the two new members, Major Bowden (U., Derbyshire, N.E.) and Mr. Ganzoni (U., Ipswich), the Speaker made a personal explanation. He now understood that the Opposition had had some reason when they interrupted the debate on May 23 to expect that a statement would be made by the Prime Minister; and with regard to the Opposition leader he was betrayed into an expression he ought not to have used. He did not mean to imply that Mr. Bonar Law was responsible for the demonstration, and he was sure that he might always look to the leaders to maintain order. He suggested that the Prime Minister should give further information as to the Amending Bill. Mr. Bonar Law expressed his gratitude to the Speaker for his generous statement, and then the Prime Minister, after associating himself with the tribute paid by the Opposition leader to the dignity and impartiality of the Chair, stated that the Amending Bill would give effect to the terms of agreement if arrived at, and, if not, to the proposals outlined on March 9 (p. 39). Mr. Bonar Law, while acknowledging the conciliatory tone of the Prime Minister's speech, held that it had not altered the situation. The strain on the minority was more than they could stand. The climax was reached then, when the House[Pg 111] was asked to give a final verdict on the Irish policy of the Government without knowing what it was. It was useless to discuss the third reading. Ring down the curtain, the sooner the better. The Government had the power to carry their Bill through Parliament, but not in the country.

The Prime Minister replied with dignity that he held his office not as the slave of taskmasters, but by the consent and with the confidence of the majority of the House. He contrasted the ample opportunities of debate enjoyed by the Opposition since 1906 with the position of the Liberals in the preceding Parliament, and declared that it was because the balance had been redressed against the Liberal party that the Opposition took up its present attitude. The Amending Bill was introduced, not because Ministers thought the Home Rule Bill imperfect, but for the sake of peace.

Mr. W. O'Brien (I.U.) denounced the "resurrecting of the House of Lords" and the introduction of the Amending Bill as designed merely to put off the day of disillusion. So long as it was clogged by an Amending Bill, partitioning Ireland, it was a Bill for the murder of Home Rule.

The third reading was passed by 351 to 274. A scene of great Nationalist enthusiasm followed. Then, after a brief and discursive debate on the occasion of the adjournment, the House adjourned for the Whitsun recess.

Two Liberals (Sir Clifford Cory and Mr. Agar-Robartes) voted against the Bill, and Mr. Pirie abstained, as did the eight Independent Nationalists. Three Nationalists and two Labour members were absent through illness.

Mr. Redmond that evening told a representative of the Freeman's Journal that "the Union, as we have known it, is dead," and that, while no amendment of the Bill was desired by either the Government or the Nationalists, it was worth paying a great price to ensure that the Bill should come into operation peacefully. He appealed earnestly to Irish Unionists for a conciliatory discussion of points on which they required further safeguards. There was no disorder, as had been feared, in Ulster; but the strain was severe, and Sir Edward Carson, speaking at Mountain Ash, South Wales, three days later, declared that the third reading was only the first act in a gruesome tragedy, and that the Government would only hold Ulster as a conquered province, if at all.

Two minor Bills, described by the Nation as "signs of a new spirit of freedom sweeping powerfully through the world," proposed respectively to prohibit the traffic in recommendations for titles and honours, and to permit any holder of a peerage or baronetage to disclaim it by deed poll lodged in the Chancery Division, in which case it would lapse. The former was introduced by Mr. O. Locker-Lampson (U., Hunts, Ramsey), the latter by Mr. Ponsonby (L., Stirling Burghs). Neither got very far, and the former was not quite untinged with party politics; but they at any rate marked a[Pg 112] reaction against a craving for artificial distinctions which had reached proportions hitherto unknown in English life.

More definite signs of social change were exhibited in the series of further outrages by militant suffragists. As usual, some were very grave in character, others merely vexatious and even childish, but all were carried out with great determination by women for whom the punishments provided by the law appeared to have no terrors. On April 17 the pier pavilion at Yarmouth had been burnt down, apparently through the explosion of a bomb; on April 28 the Bath Hotel at Felixstowe, just made ready for the season, was also burnt, the damage being estimated at 35,000l.; on May 4, at the first public view of the Royal Academy Exhibition, a portrait of Mr. Henry James, the novelist, presented to him by his admirers and painted by Mr. Sargent, R.A., was damaged with a chopper by Mrs. Mary Wood; a week later (May 12) a similar outrage was committed on Herkomer's portrait of the Duke of Wellington in the same exhibition; at the gala performance in honour of the King of Denmark at the Italian opera (May 11) there were unsuccessful attempts to interrupt the performance by addressing King George V.; while on May 14 the houses of Lord Lansdowne and Sir Edward Carson were picketed by suffragists to emphasise the contention that the Ulster leaders should also be treated as in revolt. A few days later a cricket pavilion was burnt at Harborne, near Birmingham (May 15), and a like fate befell the grandstand and offices on the Birmingham racecourse; and on May 21 a deputation of women, in defiance of the principles of British constitutional government, attempted to force their way to Buckingham Palace to present a petition against forcible feeding to the King. The police had formed a cordon around the Palace, and a crowd had naturally assembled; the procession appeared suddenly to emerge from it near the top of Constitution Hill, and the painful and distressing spectacle was presented of a conflict, before a jeering crowd, between a group of women and the police. Sixty-six women and two men were arrested, and, for the most part, was sentenced to be bound over to keep the peace; they refused to be bound over, and were sentenced in default to one day's imprisonment. Others, sentenced to longer terms of incarceration, were speedily released after hunger-and-thirst strikes. Mrs. Pankhurst, who had appeared in the front of the procession, was rearrested, but released again after four days' thirst-and-hunger strike, and her arrest was the signal for fresh outbursts. The day after it five very valuable Italian pictures at the National Gallery were damaged, as well as a picture by Mr. Clausen, R.A., at the Royal Academy; and hence the National Gallery, the Wallace Collection, the Tate Gallery, and a few days later the Watts Gallery near Guildford, were closed till further notice. Again, at a special matinée of "The Silver King," attended by the King and Queen (May 22), a woman stood up and addressed[Pg 113] His Majesty as "Russian Tsar"; another interrupter had chained herself to her stall; and others in the galleries showered suffragist literature on the audience. Next day Mr. Lavery's portrait of the King in the Royal Scottish Academy was damaged, and an attempt was made to cut off the aqueduct supplying Glasgow with water from Loch Katrine; but the criminals in this last case escaped. Finally, windows were broken at Buckingham Palace on May 27. The two Felixstowe incendiaries were sentenced at the Suffolk Assizes (May 29) respectively to nine months and two years' imprisonment, but the "Cat and Mouse Act" afforded them a certain, though painful, escape. A more efficient method of suppression was foreshadowed by the raiding of a flat on May 21 at Maida Vale, where several women and a man were arrested, and stones, hammers, and choppers were seized. Two days later, the offices of the Women's Social and Political Union in Kingsway were raided also, and the secretary was charged with conspiring with the inmates of the Maida Vale flat. The accused persons, following the example of the Felixstowe criminals, behaved outrageously in court, and their conduct and, indeed, the whole of the outrages, probably gave a severe set-back to the suffragist cause.

The Labour outlook, too, continued alarming. The railway servants' leaders decided on May 16 to demand the recognition by the companies of their trade union, a forty-eight hours' week, and an increase of wages in all grades by 5s. weekly; and in the building trade, the ballot taken upon an offer of compromise by the employers, which the men were advised by their leaders to accept, resulted, on the contrary, in its rejection by 21,017 votes to 5,705. The struggle was causing extreme suffering, and was kept up with a determination ominous of its long continuance. And behind all these signs of multifarious social unrest loomed the spectre of civil war.


The brief Whitsuntide recess was a time of gloom and anxiety alike for politicians and for the people at large. It was overshadowed by the almost certain prospect of a national lock-out in the building trade and by the sinking of the Canadian Pacific liner, Empress of Ireland, the greatest disaster, except the loss of the Titanic, in the history of the mercantile marine (Chron., May 29). Politically the situation was becoming more and more critical. Ministers had lost much of their prestige both in the country and in Parliament; one Minister had gone; another had failed to find a seat; of seven bye-elections since the session began they had lost four; they were suffering from the effects of Labour and Nationalist[Pg 114] estrangement, and their supporters in Parliament were divided on the Budget, the "Federal solution" of the Irish question, the treatment of the incipient rebellion in Ulster, and the policy exhibited in the introduction of the Amending Bill. A general election towards the end of July was freely predicted; but, while a Liberal victory might have provoked an explosion of rebellion in Ulster, an indecisive result or a Unionist victory would almost certainly have led to prolonged and grave disturbance. In Ulster there were Church parades of Ulster Volunteers, militant speeches, popular demonstrations, and every sign of determined preparation to resist Home Rule. Sir Edward Carson, who spent the recess in the province, said (at East Belfast, June 2) that he "had come to make arrangements for the final scene"; that he "was going to have more Mausers"; and that he had scant faith in the Amending Bill. It was not surprising under these circumstances that several deputations, including Liberal and Labour working-men, and sent over, generally by Unionist aid, to see the condition of affairs in Ulster for themselves, declared themselves converted to Unionist views. On the other hand, the probable consequences of the triumph of those views were indicated by the growth of the National Volunteers. They were stated to number nearly 130,000, of whom 5,000 had joined in the last week of May; their numbers were estimated at 41,000 in Ulster, 42,000 in Leinster, 27,000 in Munster, and nearly 19,000 in Connaught; drilling was going on daily, and they were assured of the assistance of many retired military officers of repute. The movement had begun independently of the Nationalist party (A.R., 1913, p. 267), and was stated by its leaders to be non-political; but the Nationalist leaders were now endeavouring to secure its assistance and to obtain control. The position was described by Viscount Milner (at Rothwell, May 30) as "smouldering war"; and trustees and others were transferring securities from the North of Ireland to Great Britain for safety, while preparations were being made in England for the reception and housing of Ulster Protestant refugees.

Speaking at Criccieth, however, on June 2, to members of the Bristol Radical Association who had come on a day's excursion, the Chancellor of the Exchequer showed that the Government stood firm. It would definitely reap the full harvest of the Parliament Act, and would decline to dissolve until the existing Parliament had carried the measures which the people had empowered it to carry. Were the Parliament Act swept away, a Labour Parliament in five years' time might find itself confronted by a powerful plutocratic Second Chamber more firmly entrenched than ever. No Government dissolved Parliament for the loss of a few bye-elections. The real rock ahead for Liberalism was not the "little temporary trouble" in Ulster, but the dissensions between Labour and Liberalism. Ipswich had been lost owing to this dissension, and to its occurrence in North-East Derbyshire. The[Pg 115] nation as a whole wanted to go forward, and to go faster, and in the villages the land programme was creating enthusiasm.

A host of Unionist speeches and impressive demonstrations took place at the week-end (June 5, 6) at Hull, at Newcastle, at Eastbourne and elsewhere; and at a garden party at Mr. Joseph Chamberlain's residence at Birmingham Mr. Austen Chamberlain spoke, and Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, in a bath-chair, received the greetings of a few local Unionist leaders. But these speeches merely conveyed the impression that the Ulster crisis was becoming graver. On the other hand, the Lord Chancellor, at the combined dinner of the Russell, Palmerston, and Eighty Clubs at Oxford, while recognising Sir Edward Carson's efforts to keep the peace, said that his Ulster army had caused the raising of the National Volunteers; both forces were illegal and unconstitutional, but the Government had decided, he thought wisely, to leave events to take their course. As to the Amending Bill, the Government were prepared, as the Premier's speeches had shown, to make offers towards a settlement, and to consider suggestions from the other side. Two days later the Archbishop of York pleaded earnestly in The Times for some form of exclusion of Ulster accompanied by a scheme of devolution; and on June 10 an earnest appeal was published by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York against Disestablishment both in Wales and generally, partly on the ground of the need of a National Church, for which they were prepared to agree to a larger measure of self-government.

Parliament reassembled on June 9, and began by giving a second reading to three non-contentious measures—the National Insurance Act, 1911 (Pt. II.), Amending Bill, and two Milk and Dairies Bills, for England and Scotland respectively. The first named was described by the President of the Board of Trade as designed to remove administrative difficulties, to diminish the working cost, and to remove certain delays inevitable in the first administration of a new Act of the kind. He gave particulars (too detailed to be reproduced here) and said that the Bill would not increase the total charge on the Treasury, but would give relief to employers and workmen, and might lead to the extension of the Act to new trades, and to the extension of the benefit or reduction of the contribution. He had been surprised at the small number of grievances under the Act; it had not only stimulated organisation among working-men, but had enabled many employers to increase the stability of employment and to regularise their work. Some of the Labour members' speeches were much less optimistic, but the Bill passed its second reading without a division. The Milk and Dairies Bill, introduced by the President of the Local Government Board, empowered that Department with the approval of the Board of Agriculture, to make regulations preventing the supply of contaminated or dirty milk, which would be laid before Parliament before becoming operative. Means would be[Pg 116] provided for tracing and stopping the source of diseased milk, and for punishing the real adulterator, and a single inspection would replace the existing multiple inspections. Similar precautions would be applied to imported foreign milk. The Bill was supported by Mr. C. Bathurst (U., Wilts, Wilton) and other members, and criticised in detail by Mr. Forster (U., Kent, Sevenoaks) and Mr. Astor (U., Plymouth), who suggested various amendments, and, after a reply by the President of the Local Government Board, was read a second time without a division. So, after a very brief conversation, was the corresponding measure for Scotland.

The Post Office Vote was further discussed, according to promise, on June 10. Sir Henry Norman (L., Blackburn) complained of the delay in establishing the Imperial wireless chain (A.R., 1912, p. 199), and ascribed the loss on the telegraph service largely to the old-fashioned methods in use. Mr. Joynson-Hicks (U., Middlesex, Brentford) said that the badness of the telephone service—of which there had been countless complaints since the transfer to the Post Office—was largely due to the discontent of the staff. Other members laid stress on the postal servants' grievances, and Sir T. Whittaker (L.) and Mr. Ramsay Macdonald (L.) suggested that a special and permanent Board should be set up to deal with them, representing the Government, the Departments, and the employees. The Postmaster-General promised to set up a Committee or Commission to inquire into the future relations of the State with its employees, and to take action on its report, partly to free members from political pressure and to ensure a competent and impartial tribunal. A reduction of the Vote was defeated by 275 to 221.

Previously Major Archer-Shee (U., Finsbury, Central) had obtained leave under the ten-minutes' rule, to introduce a Foreign Companies Central Bill, requiring foreign companies raising money in the United Kingdom to comply with the requirements of British company law—a measure occasioned by the circumstances of the flotation of the American Marconi Company, and thus a sequel of the Marconi scandal. It got no farther.

Next day, on the Home Office Vote, the House discussed the pressing and vexatious problem of the treatment of militant suffragism. Wargrave Church, near Henley, a picturesque edifice containing historic monuments, was burnt down on the night of May 31; the same gang were responsible for an attempt a few hours later to set fire to a country house near Windsor; the services in St. Paul's, Westminster Abbey, and the Brompton Oratory were disturbed by women protesters against forcible feeding; a picture was destroyed in the Doré Gallery; and at the King's Court (June 4) a lady fell on her knees when passing Their Majesties and cried out, "Your Majesty, won't you stop torturing women?" They took no notice, and she was carried out. She proved to be Miss Mary Blomfield, daughter of an[Pg 117] eminent architect and a descendant of a famous Bishop of London. Two days later an empty house was burnt at High Wycombe; and, among minor disturbances, windows were broken by women at Criccieth during Mr. Lloyd George's speech (June 2), and would-be interrupters of Sir E. Carson in Ulster were all but lynched. Miss Sylvia Pankhurst was rearrested (June 10) in the East End while heading a deputation of suffragists to Parliament, though part of it reached the Houses of Parliament and saw the Liberal Chief Whip, who naturally gave them no satisfaction. To repress these outrages, "cat and mouse" treatment had evidently proved ineffective; but the offices of the militant organisation at 17 Tothill Street, Westminster, were raided (June 9), and it was hoped that the names might be obtained of subscribers to the funds, and that they could then collectively be made pecuniarily responsible for the damage done.

The possible methods of combating militancy were the topic principally discussed on the Home Office Vote (June 11). Previously the Home Secretary, in reply to questions, had stated that no general relaxation of prison rules had been made for militant offenders, and that no official statistics of arson by them were available. In moving a reduction of 1001 in the Vote, Lord Robert Cecil (U., Marylebone, E.) referred to the number of the outrages recorded (Times, June 4; pp. 112, 116), and said that the gravest circumstance was the open defiance of the law. What was going on in Ireland might be rebellion, but this was anarchy; the public irritation was increasing, and was venting itself on peaceable suffragists. He believed the militants' leaders now cared more for the existence and power of their society than for the ultimate success of its propaganda. The followers, however, where they were not paid to commit outrages, were acting from honest motives. They were devoted to Mrs. Pankhurst, and she and her daughters were the people almost wholly responsible. But the continuance of militancy was largely due to the repeated mistakes of the Government. Repudiating the suggestion that the suffragist members should postpone their efforts till militancy had ceased, he strongly advocated deportation, and welcomed the design attributed to the Government to attack the militants' funds. He suggested, also, that the French Government should be asked to take proceedings against Miss Sylvia Pankhurst.

The Home Secretary said that the phenomenon they had to deal with had no precedent in history. The number of women actually committing crimes was small, the number of sympathisers with them extremely large. But the number of militants committed to prison in 1906, the first year of the agitation, was 31; in 1909 it was 156; in 1911, 188 (six being men); in 1912, 290 (two being men); in 1913, 183, and in the current year 108. The "Cat and Mouse" Act had therefore greatly reduced the number of offences, but these had become much more serious. He did not[Pg 118] think the irritation which was the aim of the campaign would recoil on the Government. Dealing with the recent acts of rudeness to the King, he said that while all subjects had the right of petitioning His Majesty in respectful language, there was no right to a personal audience of him; the Home Secretary's duty was to submit petitions to him and advise action on them, and they were presented even if the action requested was illegal, unconstitutional, or impracticable. The militants' action had been an effective advertisement, and he wished that the Press would not give it prominence. On the other hand, many of the fires attributed to the suffragettes were really cases of ordinary crime, and the whole number was an insignificant percentage of the total. He discussed the four alternative methods proposed of treating the militants. (1) To let them die was the most popular, but he had the authority of a great medical expert for saying that they wished, and actually tried, to die in prison. Such deaths would be the greatest possible incentive to militancy, and, as they multiplied, there would be a violent reaction against the Government. Even supposing the necessary Act were passed relieving the prison officials of responsibility, a humane prison doctor could not let a woman die whose only offence had been obstructing the police. (2) Supposing they were deported, say to St. Kilda, if it were not treated as a prison they would be speedily rescued; if it were, they would still refuse food. (3) To treat them as lunatics would require medical certificates, which would not be given. (4) To give them the franchise was hardly a remedy for the existing lawlessness. They were, in fact, more severely punished by their hunger-and-thirst strikes than by imprisonment. Statistics showed that the "Cat and Mouse" Bill had been effective. Of the eighty-three persons discharged under it, fifteen had given up militancy, six had fled the country, twenty were in hiding, possibly abroad; the rest, mostly women who had obstructed the police in the recent procession to Buckingham Palace, were either legally at large or were at addresses known to the police. Just before the Act came into force, a report had been made to him showing that the women coming into prison were physically defective; they were sent there to die, and the offenders were paid to commit crime. The Act had been effective in diminishing the number of crimes, but not their seriousness, which naturally increased as the movement was combated. As to other possible steps, the militants' funds were doubtless lodged in banks abroad, but the raids on the militants' society's offices had provided the Government with evidence enabling them, they hoped, to proceed against the subscribers and make them personally liable for the damage done. Criminal proceedings might also be possible, and the insurance companies would doubtless bring actions besides. The militants, he declared, lived only by the subscriptions of rich women, who paid their tools 30s. or 2l. a week to go about and commit outrages. If the means of revenue of the Women's Social[Pg 119] and Political Union could be totally destroyed, the power of Mrs. Pankhurst and her friends would be ended.

In the subsequent debate the Government was severely criticised for its vacillation and ineffective action; other speakers dealt with the maltreatment of ponies employed in mines, street accidents in London, and police pay. The debate was adjourned.

While Mr. McKenna was concluding his speech, about 5.30 P.M., a bomb exploded under the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey, but fortunately did only slight damage to the Chair and the famous Coronation Stone. It had probably been deposited by some member of a large party which was being conducted over the Abbey by a verger; and two innocent foreign lady tourists were detained for a short time by the police, and protected from the crowd. The bomb was made of two domes of a large double cycle bell, wrapped round by wire, containing a chlorate explosive and iron nuts; and it was hung over the back of the Coronation Chair. The criminal was not discovered.

It must be added that a joint protest against militancy was issued on June 12 by the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies and the Conservative and Liberal Unionist Women's Franchise Association, declaring militant methods to be "a negation of the very principles for which we stand," as making physical force the ultimate basis of government. This view was emphasised next day by Mrs. Fawcett at a suffrage meeting; and a similar manifesto had been issued on June 11 by the Women's Liberal Federation. But a bomb, which did little damage, exploded on June 14 in St. George's Church, Hanover Square; and a solicitor's clerk (June 13) was fined for conveying to a suffragist prisoner an emetic drug intended to nullify the effects of forcible feeding; thus so weakening the patient as to secure her immediate release.

Meanwhile the gun-running in Ulster, and the efforts of the British "Covenanters" to avert the coercion of the Unionists, had temporarily transferred the Home Rule controversy to the platform. A group of Liberals, among whom Sir William Byles (Salford, N.) and Mr. Neil Primrose (Cambs, Wisbech) were conspicuous, were holding meetings in the great towns to strengthen the hands of the Government against incipient rebellion; and the Covenanters undertook a campaign against "the coercion of Ulster" in Scotland, of which the chief features were Mr. Bonar Law's speeches at Inverness (June 11), to an audience of 6,000 drawn from all parts of the Highlands, and at Glasgow next day at St. Andrew's Hall. There was little new to be said, but in the Inverness speech, described by the Spectator as one of the best fighting speeches that Mr. Law had ever made, he appealed from the House of Commons to the people, and reiterated the charge that Ministers had "torn open the old wounds" of Ireland to secure themselves a majority. He charged the Government with provoking the prevalent spirit of lawlessness by acting as dictators in[Pg 120] the name of the King; he elaborately attacked their contention that Home Rule was before the electorate at the last general election; and even had they had a mandate for it, he said, the projected resistance of Ulster had completely changed the situation. Moreover, they had not redeemed their pledge to give the country a reformed Second Chamber, which would certainly have forced an appeal to the people. In spite of the Prime Minister's declaration of 1906, he was dealing with Home Rule without an independent majority. The Government would not appeal to the country either because they knew they would be defeated or because of a bargain with the Nationalists. There were two sections of them—the drifters and the gamblers; the latter had been let loose by Mr. Churchill's speech at Bradford, followed by a concentration of force against Ulster greater than any made by Great Britain since the Crimean War. They were saved by the accident of the resistance of the Army. The cry of "the Army against the People" was started by the Labour members, who had been bought by the Government through their salaries. The Unionists had appealed, not to the Army, but to the nation. He dwelt at length on the results of the thirty-eight bye-elections, in which the Unionists had gained eleven seats, and the Coalition majority had fallen off 40 to 50 per cent. It was a conflict between the Government and the nation, and the nation was bound to win. As at the siege of Derry, the Ulstermen had been shut off from British help by the Parliament Act. He appealed to the people of Great Britain to break the boom.

Next day at Glasgow Mr. Bonar Law amplified his speech, especially in regard to the Ulster situation. He repeated his charges against Ministers of subservience to the Nationalists, and described the proposal of exclusion by counties as insane. It meant that Ulster, which then was strong, should lay down its arms and come in when weak.

An incident of this campaign was an Irish Nationalist attempt to break up a Unionist demonstration, 25,000 strong, on Woodhouse Moor, near Leeds (June 13), at which the Duke of Norfolk and Lord Milner were among the speakers; but the attempt was a failure. Efforts were made—notably at a meeting two days later at Oxford—to advocate a search for a "Federal solution." But the campaign did not affect the attitude of the Government.

The Plural Voting Bill finally passed the Commons on June 15, Mr. Sanders (U., Somerset, Bridgwater) moving the rejection. Little remained to be said; Mr. Sanders mentioned that when Mr. Gladstone was Premier a proposal to abolish plural voting found only forty supporters; the President of the Board of Education replied that the plural vote had been abused since 1885 through increased facilities of transport. Ministers were quite ready to negotiate with the Opposition to secure "one vote, one value." Later, Lord Hugh Cecil revived the charge of dishonourable[Pg 121] behaviour against the Government in connexion with the Franchise Bill fiasco (A.R., 1913, pp. 20-24). Their honour was "post-Impressionist" and smudged. Eventually the rejection was negatived by 320 to 242.

This subject was now worn out; but Home Rule was entering a new phase. A Provisional Committee, mainly self-elected, was about to devise a constitution and appoint leaders for the Irish Volunteers (A.R., 1913, p. 267). The Nationalist leaders felt, like Sir Edward Carson in Ulster, that the force must not continue uncontrolled; and Mr. Redmond (June 9) issued a statement announcing that his party, which had thought the movement premature, had been converted by the events at the Curragh and the gun-running in Ulster, and for the past six weeks had given it their support. Since then it had "spread like a prairie fire"; and he suggested that the existing Provisional Committee should be immediately strengthened by the addition of twenty-five representatives nominated by the Nationalist party and in sympathy with its policy and aims. The reorganisation might then be completed, and a Conference might elect the permanent governing body. This proposal was not at once accepted by the Provisional Committee; and on June 12 Mr. Redmond issued a further manifesto, urging the Nationalists—who were 95 per cent of the force, though only a minority of the Provisional Committee—to organise county committees independent of that body. The Nationalist party, he warned the Committee, would not submit to dictation on questions of policy. The members of "Sinn Fein" and other advanced Irish patriots resented this interference, and Unionist spectators did their best to promote a breach. But the local leaders generally saw that the union was necessary, and therefore favoured Mr. Redmond's intervention. The combination of the Volunteer and the Nationalist forces tended necessarily to strengthen the influences at work in Ireland, both against the exclusion of Ulster and for the revocation of the prohibition of the import of arms (p. 66), of which the validity had been upheld (June 15) on appeal by the Dublin Court of King's Bench, though only by two Judges to one.

The new development was discussed in both Houses on June 16. A day earlier the House of Lords had been told that the Amending Bill would be introduced in the following week and the second reading of the Government of Ireland Bill put down for June 30. Complaint was made by the Opposition that the conversations between leaders, on which the Amending Bill was to be based, had not taken place; and on June 16 the Marquess of Lansdowne called attention to the position and to the delay in producing the Amending Bill. After saying that he distrusted "triangular" conversations, in which Ministers had to submit the proposals made them to the Irish Nationalists, he ascribed the Amending Bill to fright on the part of the Government. They were drifting towards an overwhelming catastrophe. The Amending Bill ought to have[Pg 122] been introduced long ago in the Commons, and the House of Lords, the constituencies, and the House of Commons—through the suppression of the suggestion stage—had all been defrauded. The two Bills were to be carried, one by Nationalist votes, the other by those of the Ulster members. The Amending Bill, if limited to the terms offered on March 9 (p. 39), would not be acceptable. The Unionists in that House would accept an Amending Bill to avoid civil war, but would take no responsibility for it.

The Marquess of Crewe said that the delay in the Amending Bill was caused by the desire that it should represent an agreement. The conversations would be quadrangular rather than triangular, as the views of British and Ulster Unionists did not agree. The delay might have been avoided had that House given the Home Rule Bill a second reading and amended it, for under the Parliament Act the second reading in that House did not imply assent to the principle. The Lords could amend the Amending Bill into any shape they pleased, and he hoped the measure would pass in a form which, though perhaps in some respects acceptable to no one, would receive general acquiescence. He thought no body in Ireland wanted to engage in conflict, so that the Government was still wise in refraining from interference. Viscount Milner complained that no conversations had yet taken place; this was partly contradicted by the Marquess of Crewe, but it eventually appeared that there had only been "communications," and after Lord Macdonnell had declared that the Volunteer forces did not desire to fight each other, and several Unionists had spoken in the same strain as their leader, the subject dropped.

In the Commons on the same evening Lord Robert Cecil (U.) moved the adjournment to call attention to the growing danger caused by the existence of the two Volunteer forces and the failure of the Government to deal with the situation. He said that the Irish Volunteers were ready and even anxious to fight Great Britain, and existed to secure and defend Home Rule. In proof of this latter statement he quoted a recent speech by Mr. Devlin, and he declared that it demolished all the safeguards in the Home Rule Bill. The Prime Minister had said the day before he hoped that when Home Rule became law the activity of both forces would be diverted into constitutional channels; but the Government were simply drifting. When the Ulster Volunteers were formed they should either have made concessions or prepared to coerce Ulster; were they going to submit to the National Volunteers or resist them, and were they going to make real concessions in the Amending Bill? The position was a scandal to the Government and to civilisation. Mr. Amery (U.) said that the position in Ireland was paralleled only in Albania. The only way out was to go to the people. The Chief Secretary for Ireland replied that the drillings of the two forces were legal with the permission of two magistrates; so was carrying arms, with a proper licence. It[Pg 123] would be difficult to prove that the purpose was seditious to the satisfaction of a Belfast or Donegal jury. The history of Ireland showed the vanity and futility of trying to suppress the expression of public opinion by British State prosecutions. The creation of one Volunteer force entailed that of the other. The Ulster gun-running was almost as much admired among the Nationalists as among the most fervent Protestants; many strong opponents of Home Rule were proud of the inclusion of many old soldiers and fine young men in the Nationalist Volunteers; a feeling might quite possibly arise in favour of a united Ireland. The Volunteer movement itself did not add greatly to the dangers of the situation; discipline and the ability to use firearms were good things, and discipline under responsible men did not readily lead to action against the law. He hoped a solution would be found of the existing difficulties; the Government must continue in their path of securing for the Irish people responsibility for the conduct of their own affairs. Mr. Bonar Law said that no strong Government would have submitted for a moment to Sir Edward Carson's challenges to put down the Ulster Volunteers. The Government had done nothing because they knew the people were not behind them, and to interfere with the Ulster Volunteers would have brought about an election. Pending an election, the British Unionist party must support Ulster. The Government were still drifting. Mr. Dillon (N.) said the Volunteers of the South had arisen spontaneously, and for purely defensive purposes. They were prepared to maintain the law, because it was going to do justice to Irish liberties. When the Ulster Volunteers realised that 250,000 Nationalists were enrolled, they would be slower to break the peace. The Government had taken the right course in abstaining from coercion; Nationalist Irishmen who had undergone it knew its effect. After speeches from Sir W. Byles (L.) and Mr. Neil Primrose (L.), who complained of Mr. Churchill's volte face (pp. 52, 87), the motion was rejected by 288 to 223.

It may be added that the Nationalist addition to the Committee, giving the party substantial control, was effected at the end of June, and that a "Defence of Ireland Fund" was started in July to purchase arms and ammunition for the force.

The day following this debate (June 17), the attention of the House was diverted to a development of the Government's policy of oil fuel for the Navy (A.R., 1913, p. 167), which caused misgivings in both political parties, more especially among advanced Liberals. A concession obtained in 1901 from the Persian Government, with the consent of certain local chieftains, had passed in 1909 to the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (a subsidiary of the Burmah Oil Company) and gave it the exclusive right for sixty years to work oil deposits and prospect for oil throughout Persia, except in Khorasan and the provinces bordering on the Caspian—where, however, there was no sign of oil. The Government had[Pg 124] now contracted, on terms which were (very properly) kept secret, with the Anglo-Persian Company for a large supply of oil fuel for the Navy during a term of years; and, to enable it to control the company's management, it proposed to invest 200,000l. in the debentures, and 2,000,000l. in the ordinary shares, the capital to be applied to the improvement of the pipe lines, tanks, etc., necessary to the fulfilment of the contract. The existing pipe line ran from Tembi, near Shustar, by Wais and Ahwaz, to Muhamrah and Abadan Island at the mouth of the Karun River, the site of the refinery. An expert Commission under Admiral Slade, and including three eminent geologists, had reported favourably on the scheme; the upper sections of the pipe line were policed by the Bakhtiari tribes, the lower sections and the refinery would be protected by the Sheikh of Muhamrah. As a business arrangement the plan seemed excellent, but the properties in question were practically all in the neutral sphere under the Anglo-Russian Agreement (A.R., 1907, p. 375), and Sir Edward Grey (A.R., 1908, p. 25) had seemed inclined to avoid taking risks in that region. A protest meeting of persons interested in the petroleum trade had been held in the City on June 5; but in other quarters it was held that the risks of local disorder or interruption of the supply in war time might be serious, or that the step might provoke Russian jealousy and so lead further towards the dismemberment of Persia.

The arrangement was discussed (June 17), on the resolution in Committee of Ways and Means required as the basis of the necessary legislation. The First Lord of the Admiralty said that oil was necessary for the Navy, and the question was solely the policy and soundness of the proposed arrangement. The Government would not depend on oil supply from any one quarter; coal would for many years continue to be the main motive power of the Fleet; oil would be purchased from companies in all parts of the world, British or foreign; the home supply of shale oil would be further developed, and experiments made for the production of liquid fuel from shale and coal, and support would be given to the search for new oilfields in the Empire. An unlimited amount of oil was obtainable if the Government was willing to pay for it and had command of the seas. The oil reserve obviated any fear of an oil famine in the first days of war. During war, oil from this field could easily be brought by the Suez Canal or the Cape. The problem was really the price during peace. There were two dominant oil corporations, the Standard Oil, and the Shell and Royal Dutch. The only notable independent company was the Burmah Oil Company and its offshoot, the Anglo-Persian. In the past few years the price paid for oil by the Admiralty had more than doubled; and the Anglo-Persian field had been kept in view since the previous Unionist Administration, when Lord Strathcona came forward, at the instance of the hon. member for Chelms[Pg 125]ford (Mr. Pretyman), to keep the company commercially independent and British, A Special Commission had reported; the northern field, near Shustar, would suffice for Admiralty requirements, but besides that the Government got control of an oil region of 500,000 square miles, some of the indicated sources being near the sea or the Indian border. A great military Power could only cut off the supply as an incident in a world-wide war, and the only effect on the Navy would be that the price of its oil would be higher. Local disturbances could do even less, and the development of the district would tame the wild tribes and strengthen the Persian Government. The Admiralty must have power to control an oilfield somewhere, and neither Trinidad nor Egypt offered a practical alternative, nor would Scottish shale oil be adequate for years. The Government took 200,000l. in debentures and 2,000,000l. in shares. This latter sum would be used in developing the company. The Government would obtain control and would also be the company's principal customer. The company would supply less than half the total amount needed for the Navy, and the prices would be on a sliding scale according to the profits. The money would come from the Consolidated Fund—l,500,000l. diverted from the New Sinking Fund by the Finance Act of 1912, and 750,000l. representing the Old Sinking Fund for 1913-14. The oil was necessary for the Navy, and the criticisms came from representatives of the Shell Company. The only difficulty of the Admiralty with this company was price. It was easier to pay what it asked and let the matter alone; but Parliament must decide between taking a fair commercial risk and the certainty of overcharge following monopoly.

Several members from both sides remarked on the difficulty of defending the wells and the danger of fresh complications resulting in Persia; the Foreign Secretary, in reply, made little of the first objection, and said that the Russian Government had not been consulted, because the contract was earlier than the Anglo-Russian Agreement. The Government would encourage production from the home fields and research to make it available. Later Mr. Pretyman (U.) said that it was at the instance of the Admiralty under the Unionist Administration that the Anglo-Persian Oil Company had not been sold to a foreign syndicate, and that Lord Strathcona and the Burmah Oil Company had undertaken to form an exploration company. Lord Strathcona had characteristically only asked one question—Was it in the interest of the Navy that the scheme should go on and that he should take, part in it? Mr. Dillon (N.) also anticipated that the risks would be too great; Lord Charles Beresford (U.) said that the scheme was "a purely speculative gamble," because the Admiralty had built oil-driven ships before they had oil storage. Mr. S. Samuel (U., Wandsworth) protested against the attack on the Shell Company. The resolution was carried by 254 to 18.

[Pg 126]

In the intervals of these exciting debates some ordinary business was done. The Vote for the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries (344,027l., the largest on record) was briefly debated on June 16. The President of the Board referred in his statement to the outbreaks of foot and mouth disease, which had stopped the export trade in breeding stock to Argentina. He indicated that the outlook was brightening; but swine fever was far more serious. Experiments were being made in its treatment; research scholarships were being created in veterinary science. The small holdings movement was not going to break down. There were 11,000 small holders, and 1,400 holding under associations. On June 13 193,000 acres had been or were being acquired, over 4,000,000l. had been invested, and 65,000l. was being paid in rent of the land hired for the purpose by local authorities. Over 6,000 approved applicants had not yet been satisfied, and 90,000 acres would be required to meet them. Comparatively few labourers had acquired small holdings, their wages being so low that they could not accumulate the necessary capital. After referring to the work of the Agricultural Organisation Society, to premiums paid for breeding stock, and to the desire for scientific knowledge, he said that agriculturists were being repaid some of the money taken from them by the Budget of 1909. Mr. C. Bathurst (U.) and other speakers complained of the restrictions in connexion with swine fever; but the debate was cut short by the discussion on the Irish Volunteers and never resumed.

On the Local Government Board Vote the debate (June 18) dealt mainly with the housing problem, and Sir A. Griffith Boscawen (U., Dudley) moved a reduction of 100l. in order to call attention to the administration of the Housing Act. He complained that the Government omitted to house their own employees (e.g. postal servants and navvies at Rosyth) and that Mr. John Burns, when President of the Board, had neglected to remedy administrative difficulties, and that local authorities had been incited to close houses while provision was not made for rehousing. This latter charge was endorsed by Lord Henry Cavendish Bentinck (U., Nottingham, S.) and Mr. H. W. Forster (U., Kent, Sevenoaks). The latter said that one cause in rural districts of the deficiency in housing was the permission given, very properly, for the retention of cottages by occupants past work. The new President of the Board said that under the Act of 1909 the local authorities had compelled owners to repair 130,000 houses unfit for habitation, and in the current year to the end of May loans had been sanctioned amounting to 979,000l. for building new houses, while in four years (1910-13) the loans sanctioned amounted to 1,400,000l. During the Unionist rule of 1886-1905 only 2,000,000l. in all had been spent on building new houses, and in the rural districts 47,000l. on 233 new cottages. He promised a Housing Bill sanctioning larger loans to local authorities for rehousing. Of town planning, which was equally[Pg 127] important, about ninety schemes, dealing with 200 square miles, had come before the Board, and 142 other schemes had not yet reached it. He touched also on health administration, nursing, new Poor Law circulars, one requiring that children over three years old should not be kept in the workhouse, another contemplating relief to widows with children, and advising that the relief should be adequate and the unity of the family respected, and he foreshadowed an increase in the number of women inspectors. He mentioned also the clearance effected of houseless poor from the Thames Embankment by directing them to charitable agencies, and successful efforts for the diminution of vagrancy. An Intelligence Department was to be established by the Department to report periodically on housing, land, tuberculosis, and health questions. Mr. Long (U., Strand) while commending this statement generally, regarded the part of it relating to housing as wholly unsatisfactory, and held that demolition had gone too fast under the Act of 1909. After other speeches, and a reply by the Secretary of the Board, the reduction was negatived by 233 to 106.

Outside Parliament, meanwhile, two notable advances in existing social movements must be chronicled. The Labour movement seemed to be entering on a new stage with the approval by the Conference of National Railwaymen at Swansea (June 18) of the projected alliance of their union with the Miners' Federation and the Transport Workers' Federation. The exact details were left for future adjustment and the settlement was subject to final completion by a National Conference. Several of the speakers described the combination as a reply to the establishment of the fund of 50,000,000l. to fight trade unionism; and Mr. Thomas, M.P. (Lab., Derby), warned the members against hastily using it for sympathetic strikes (A.R., 1913, p. 255). It should be resorted to only as a last resource.

The other advance was due to a section of the militant suffragists, whose activities otherwise continued to estrange popular feeling; a deputation waited on the Prime Minister of six working-women from the East-End of London, which was sent by Miss Sylvia Pankhurst's organisation, the East-End Federation of Suffragettes (June 20). It was headed by Mrs. John Scurr, and accompanied by her husband, recently the Socialist candidate for Ipswich, and by Mr. Lansbury (A.R., 1912, p. 245), and the statements of its members as to their conditions of life and labour evidently much impressed the Prime Minister. Mrs. Scurr said they were asking for a vote for all women over twenty-one. The Prime Minister complimented them on their presentation of their case, which was, he said, that the economic conditions of a community like East London could not be relieved by legislation or administration unless women had votes. Some improvements, he said, had been made by the Trade Boards Act, and by the appointment of[Pg 128] women as factory inspectors, and other problems referred to admitted of no speedy remedy. But he agreed with them fully on one point: the franchise, if given to women, should be given on the same terms as men. In conclusion, he promised to consult the Home Secretary as to the case of Miss Sylvia Pankhurst.

But less remote means of improving social change were contemplated by the supporters of the Budget.

Speaking at Denmark Hill on June 20, amid some disturbance through suffragist interruptions, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, after declaring that the Government would not tolerate the exclusion of Ulster, said that the Budget carried on the Government's policy of strengthening the national defences against possible enemies abroad and actual enemies at home—poverty, disease, unhealthy homes, the suffering arising from bad social and economic conditions; and a fair contribution had been levied on wealth. Replying to a prophecy just made by Mr. J. J. Hill, an American railway magnate, that "the false humanitarianism of British social legislation" would destroy the sources of wealth in Great Britain, he declared that since the recent social legislation had passed there had been unprecedented prosperity, and that "the Power that governs the world does not punish with bankruptcy" nations that do kindnesses to the old, the feeble, the broken, and the sick. While Trust magnates were looking on with dismay, the great democracies of the West were looking towards Great Britain with a new hope. Beaten at home, "these American buccaneers" were coming over to stop the deluge at its source, but they had failed and would fail again.

But the Budget, as embodied in the Finance Bill, was threatened not only by the opposition of the rich but by the rules and precedents of Parliamentary practice. On June 15 a deputation of more than thirty Liberal members (mostly very wealthy), led by Mr. Holt (Northumberland, Hexham) had protested to the Prime Minister against the invitation to the House to sanction fresh taxation before it had approved of the objects on which the proceeds were to be spent. Dissatisfied with his reply, they issued a protest (June 17) urging that the new taxation should be deferred until the passing of the Bill establishing the machinery for separate assessment of site values and improvement values, since, should a Unionist Government take office in the interval, the valuation would be dropped, and the temporary grants, repugnant to all Liberal principles of finance, would become permanent features of the financial system. Unless the valuation Bill passed, moreover, the Government would be unable to pay to the local authorities any of the money provided by the new taxation. Either it would be hastily devoted to some new purpose, or it would pass to the Sinking Fund. Neither application would have been contemplated by Parliament when voting the Budget. They did not object to taxing those best able to bear it, but money should not[Pg 129] be voted unless its objects were determined and the machinery for raising it was in existence.

Mr. Gibson Bowles had attacked the Finance Bill on somewhat the same lines in The Times; and Mr. Asquith had promised the dissentients that the Commons would not part with the Finance Bill (imposing taxes) until the Revenue Bill (securing the allocation of the proceeds) should have passed the Lords; but the completion of both Bills within the four months' limit laid down by the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act (A.R., 1913, p. 86) was seen to be impracticable. And, when the Finance Bill came before the House on June 22, Mr. Cassel (U., St. Pancras, W.) asked whether it was in order, inasmuch as it went beyond the money resolution on which it was based, which did not cover either the proposed allocation of grants in relief of rates to local authorities or the reduction of the charge on the National Debt; and Sir F. Banbury (U., City of London) raised other points, one being that the Bill increased the "transferred sum" under the Home Rule Bill, and was thereby out of order as going beyond its title. The Speaker dismissed this latter point; in regard to the others, matters could be set right by introducing a new resolution in Committee of Ways and Means, citing a precedent of May, 1894; but he deprecated the recent practice of including in the Finance Bill matters not purely financial. In moving the second reading, the President of the Local Government Board said that two principles of the Bill were that new sources of income should be provided for local authorities, and that personalty should contribute to local taxation; but, as a local income tax was, for reasons which he specified, impracticable, the Bill adopted an alternative method. About 38,000,000l. annually, or one-third of the total expenditure of local authorities in the United Kingdom, would eventually be provided under the Bill from the Exchequer. Education, public health, poor-law services, and main roads, were of national concern as well as local, and the central authority should see that they were well administered, and that the relief given should be given to the part of the rating which fell on local improvements, not to that on bare land values. The existing system of rating adopted "the methods of the Eastern taxgatherer." The rates would be levied in two parts—on land value, and on building and improvement value, and in the current year the Revenue Bill would provide for the collection of the information necessary to enable the division to take place in 1915. The case of the Liberal dissentients could be met by procedure. An instruction would be moved to divide the Bill into two parts, one containing the provisions relative to the new taxation and the National Debt, the other those relating to the new grants to local authorities. Both Bills and the Revenue Bill would be proceeded with. This would unfortunately mean the abandonment for the current year of the temporary grants on the new basis to local[Pg 130] authorities. The increased taxation to meet these would be unnecessary, and the income tax would only be 1s. 3d. in the pound. This was a postponement, not a release.

Mr. Holt (L.) abandoned an amendment in the sense of the dissentients' protest, but objected both to the huge expenditure on armaments and to the excess of the actual over the estimated cost of recent social reforms. Members themselves, he thought, were in fault for pressing for more expenditure. It was increasing more rapidly than income, and a decline in trade was at hand. He and his friends did not object to the character of the new taxation; direct taxation was preferable to indirect; but it would be impossible to pass the Finance Bill as it stood and the Revenue Bill by August 6, as required by the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act. It invited obstruction, which would be met by the guillotine closure. He and his friends, therefore, would cordially support the revised programme of the Government.

Mr. Long (U., Strand) congratulated the dissentient Liberals on their success. The great Budget was crumbling already. But was there any law left in the House? Income tax was being collected at a rate for which there was no Parliamentary authority; what would be done where it had been already collected "at the source"? Would the Irish proposal (to increase the "transferred sum") be abandoned as well as the English? The Unionists had thought of moving to adjourn the debate, but had preferred to state their case for further information at once. Every one wanted social reform, but were they not really burdening the weak? The Treasury had become a spending instead of a supervising department, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer one of the most powerful causes of public expenditure. In every department of public expenditure there was an enormous increase, due either to hasty legislation or to want of control by the Minister whose duty it was to exercise control. Employment on estates was diminishing, and the increase in the death duties imposed unequal burdens. He was unable to understand what the rating proposals were. By thus changing their plan the Government had insulted the House. Later the Chancellor of the Exchequer explained that only some 50,000l. had been collected in regard to the 1d. of income tax now dropped, and the banks would adjust the matter on the next dividend payment. Some Budgets had been altered while before the Commons, e.g. the wheel and van tax in 1890.

The House adjourned early in view of the King's Birthday dinners, and next day (June 23) Mr. Hayes Fisher (U., Fulham) moved an amendment expressing regret that the promised grants to local authorities were not to be made in the current year, and condemning the new system of valuation by which these grants were to be conditioned. He agreed with the views of the dissentient Ministerialists about the Bill (p. 128) and suggested that money might be found by taxing imports; the Port of London[Pg 131] Authority already charged dues on 2,200 articles. Would the Chancellor repeat his Ipswich speech now? He strongly protested against central control of valuation. Mr. Cassel (U.) seconded the resolution. Among later speakers, the Secretary for Scotland said that the only difference to the local authorities would be that they would not receive the four months' grants during the current year. Mr. Healy (I. N.) attacked the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the bases on which the grants were allotted to Ireland. Mr. G. Roberts (Lab., Norwich) said his party profoundly regretted the capitulation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The President of the Board of Education said that there was no danger of the abolition of free education. Next day (June 24) Mr. J. F. Hope (U., Sheffield, Central), in a speech characterised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as fresh and interesting, suggested that 200,000l. a year might be saved on payment of members, and the Development Commission and the Road Board might be abolished. The Estimates should be sent to a special Committee for scrutiny. He favoured higher import duties on foreign luxuries and a graduated tax on amusements. He feared for local freedom and knowledge in administration. After other speeches, the Chancellor of the Exchequer replied. He said that nothing had been said about the taxes; reduction of expenditure had been suggested on armaments, but it had no support, at any rate from the Opposition, and on the Development Commission and Road Board, but nearly all the expenditure on the former had gone to agriculture, and the primacy of Great Britain in roads was due to the tax on motor petrol. The Opposition had constantly pressed the Government to spend millions to relieve the ratepayers; when this was attempted, they tried to wreck the Bill. The industrial districts were strangled with rates due to absolute necessities, such as education; the projected readjustment of the grants would save some of those hardest pressed between 1s. and 2s. in the pound. Housing, which had been so often pressed, could not be undertaken unless the rates were relieved, and yet members rummaged in the dustbins of ancient precedents for obstacles to the Budget proposals. The truth was, the Opposition wanted to obstruct, for they had rather do the job themselves. Interference with local authorities had a precedent in the case of education and the existing valuation by overseers was a farce. The separation of improvement values from site values was regarded as insane, but it worked well in British Columbia. When the Colonies proposed to tax corn they were our kith and kin; when they taxed land they were lunatics. The abolition of the sugar tax had been suggested, but the penny was wanted, and abolition would mean an increase next year on the income tax. Those who voted against the Bill would be voting against means to increase the efficiency of the people and make a stronger and more enduring State.

[Pg 132]

Mr. Austen Chamberlain (U.) said that the Chancellor's speech gave no idea of the Bill, and he seemed not to have read the amendment. The relief of rates being of the utmost urgency, it was dropped, with trifling exceptions, for the current year, and made contingent for the next year on the passage of other Bills and a system of valuation of which the main features were still obscure. The proposals as to settled estate duty broke a bargain. Social reform could not be conducted regardless of its cost, and it was only on domestic expenditure that economies were possible. After protesting against the attack on Mr. Cassel for defending the rules and practice of the House, he said it was the conditions imposed by the Chancellor which made it impossible to give the strangled municipalities relief. Were the grants intended to relieve rates or to extend municipal activity? He recalled the Chancellor's speech at Ipswich, and described his electioneering as a crude form of bribery of a kind, for a less serious instance of which a Liberal Whip had been obliged to apologise.[1] He protested against centralised control as tending to extravagance, and attacked the valuation scheme. It was the Chancellor who by his attacks on property, adopted "the methods of the Eastern taxgatherer." He was using his conditions of relief to cover up the mess he had made.

After other speeches on that day and the next, the Prime Minister rose (June 25). He began by remarking that the predictions of financial disaster owing to increased expenditure and so-called confiscatory taxation had been made when the Corn Laws were repealed, when succession duties were begun in 1853, on Sir William Harcourt's Budget in 1894, and on the Budget of 1909. But since 1894 there had been the largest investment of capital recorded in British history; the capital which had gone abroad had found itself subjected to far larger exactions than in Great Britain; and the experts had been refuted by experience. Between 1905-6 and 1914-15 national expenditure had risen by 57,000,000l. Of this, the Navy had taken 18,000,000l., the Civil Service, including social reform, 30,500,000l., of which 20,000,000l. were due to old-age pensions and insurance, and 2,500,000l. to Imperial expenditure on education. The revenue derived from taxation had increased in the same time by 41,000,000l.; the non-tax revenue, mainly from the Post Office, by 11,000,000l., or nearly 50 per cent. In 1905-6 direct taxation produced 50.3 per cent. of the tax revenue, indirect 49.7 per cent.; the proportion now was 59.5 per cent. to 40.5 per cent., and of the latter only a little more than 7 per cent. was derived from the non-sumptuary taxes. This Mr. Asquith treated as an argument against using the 1d. taken off the income tax to reduce the sugar duty.

[Pg 133]

Meantime Great Britain, almost alone among nations, had been reducing her national debt. In principle he had always been a rigid economist, but expenditure on the Navy certainly could not be reduced, and that on social reform was likely to increase. Treasury control was in fact being vigorously exercised; the mainspring of additional expenditure was in the Commons, which had largely expanded the scheme of old-age pensions and other social reforms. The increase in indirect taxation had been wholly in sumptuary taxes. As to direct taxation, income-tax law had become to the ordinary man a Chinese puzzle, and he repeated that there ought to be a thorough revision of the system of collection. As to the present problem, the injustice of the existing system of local rating was unquestionable, and a local income-tax, which he would have preferred, being impracticable, the fairest way to reach personalty was through the income tax and supertax payers. That was the first principle of the Chancellor's proposals, the second was that the grants must be accompanied by security for efficiency, which would involve no interference with local autonomy; the third was that the increased subvention to local authorities should be accompanied by a new system of valuation. Every one admitted that the existing system was unfair and ineffective. They desired to assist the local authorities with expert advice. The need for expenditure on these objects was much more urgent than the relief of the sugar duty. The Government meant to obtain in the current year three distinct things: (1) the maintenance intact of the provisions for necessitous school areas, feeding of school children, nursing, measures against tuberculosis, and national insurance; (2) statutory authority for a more generous system of payment of grants during the next financial year; (3) statutory authority for a new system of valuation separating site from improvement value. Anyone who voted for the amendment was tending to put off social reform.

The subsequent speeches exhibited in various ways the dissent among a section of Liberals from the proposals of the Government. Eventually Mr. Bonar Law rose. After saying that the change in the Budget was really due, not to the Speaker's ruling, but to the Liberal dissentients, he remarked that the plan for relieving local rating conflicted with the Report of the Committee, and asked why, if the separate valuation of site value was so simple, it was not put into the Bills? Because Ministers generally would only agree to an inquiry. He then elaborately attacked Mr. Lloyd George's financial methods. The Chancellor ignored regularity in procedure; he utterly failed to control expenditure; he ignored the maxim that taxes should not be imposed which involved an excessive cost of collection; and he and other new Liberals promised, not retrenchment, but extravagance. With the Chancellor of the Exchequer extravagance was a principle. He was trying to use Budgets to correct the inequalities of[Pg 134] wealth. That could not be done by taxation. The Chancellor's theory of life was based on the strictest system of predestination. It was mere luck whether one was industrious and thrifty or an idler and wastrel, and so the duty of the former was to support the latter. Mr. Bonar Law closed by warnings against the excessive taxation of the rich and against depleting the resources of the country in regard to tax revenue and loans in time of war.

The Attorney-General, in the course of a brief reply, remarked that nothing was now heard of Tariff Reform; and the amendment was then rejected, but only by 303 votes to 265, and the second reading agreed to. One Liberal voted with the Opposition, as did seven Independent Nationalists; thirty-five Labour members abstained, and it was only the Nationalist vote that saved the Government from defeat. It was felt that they, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer in particular, had received a severe check; and the confusion caused by the provisional collection "at source" of the 1d. on the income tax now dropped was only increased by the instructions sent out by the Treasury.

The aim of the framers of the Budget was eloquently set forth by the Lord Chancellor at a National Liberal Club dinner on June 26. There had been three great Budgets, he said, dealing respectively with the past, the present, and the coming generation. Old Age Pensions in 1908, national insurance, which was raising the level of the people, in 1911, and the pending Budget of 1914. This latter was productive expenditure. Since 1868 the total national income had risen from 860,000,000l. to 2,400,000,000l., while the cost of government had risen in about the same proportion, from 70,000,000l. to 207,000,000l. Everywhere democracy was demanding a larger share of the total wealth produced, and the demand was partly met by the relative decline of indirect taxation (p. 132). It was necessary to meet the decrease of the birth rate—itself not wholly an evil—by reducing infant mortality, which amounted to 128 per 1,000 in the first twelvemonth of life, and still-births, which were 150 per 1,000, half of them due to syphilis, which accounted also largely for deaf mutes and deformity, and many due to phthisis. Mothers, therefore, must be looked after and trained; at school the child must be cared for in body and mind, it must be encouraged, and its parents assisted, to choose a definite career; continuation schools must prepare their pupils for trades; and the ablest pupils should have a chance of university education. The Budget would have been impossible ten years earlier; the growth of science had made it possible; and he hoped some day to see a Ministry of Public Health. He laid stress on the curriculum of German continuation schools and the need of equality of opportunity. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a short speech, said that the Lord Chancellor had had a large share not only in framing the Budget, but in its initiation and inspiration. Had the taxes imposed been larger, the majority of[Pg 135] thirty-eight would have been doubled. The Unionists were determined to defeat land reform, and absolute Ministerialist unity was necessary to frustrate their design.

We must now turn to the House of Lords, where the Government of Ireland Amending Bill was introduced on June 23 by the Marquess of Crewe. After regretting that his statement as to communications with the Opposition leaders had been misinterpreted (p. 122) he said that the Bill was introduced to meet the religious forebodings of Ulster and its fears regarding the business capacity of the men of the rest of Ireland. The exclusion of Ulster was clearly not liked by the Opposition leaders or the Nationalists, and Disraeli had repudiated the doctrine that Ireland was two nations. The Government had had a preference for giving autonomy to Ulster, but this the religious forebodings of the Protestants precluded. To exclude the whole of Ulster was impossible; it would be not a "clean cut," but a "ragged cut," owing to the great Roman Catholic majorities in Donegal and Cavan. The Bill would, therefore, embody the Prime Minister's offer of March 9—viz., that within three months after its passing any Ulster county should be entitled to take a poll, and if there was a majority for exclusion, the Government of Ireland Act should not apply to it. The exclusion would be for six years from the first meeting of the Irish Parliament. At the end of that period there would be, not automatic inclusion, but obligatory reconsideration. It would be unfair to leave the question of exclusion to be then fought over again from the beginning or postponed by other questions. The civil government of those areas would be exercised by the Lord-Lieutenant through such officers of departments as he might direct by Order in Council; a Minister of the Crown would deal with Irish business in Great Britain; no members of Parliament would go to the Irish House of Commons, but every constituency in the excluded area could send a representative to the House of Commons; the Joint Exchequer Board would take the cost of Irish services for the whole of Ireland, would divide them in proportion to population, and that portion which was due to be paid to the included area would be deducted for the purposes of the excluded area, and in addition to that it would be necessary to give the Board power to vary the charges in those cases in which it was possible. With respect to judicial arrangements, where any cause was tried, or where the party to any cause was ordinarily resident in the excluded area, he could claim to have his case tried either by one of the existing judges or by some judge appointed by His Majesty in pursuance of this section. Arrangements would be made for the allocation of civil servants to carry out the necessary duties in the excluded area. He invited amendments, and declared that, whatever modifications were made in the existing state of things, the Government would not hold the Opposition responsible. The Marquess of Lansdowne expressed his profound disappoint[Pg 136]ment with the Bill. The separate treatment of Ulster was fore-doomed to failure, and the time limit was intended to avoid a confession of failure by the Government. The Bill would not suffice to avert civil war. If the Prime Minister's terms were insufficient on March 9, they were doubly insufficient after the appearance of the Irish National Volunteers. The Government seemed to expect that the Opposition would make the Bill workable, but was not this undignified on their part? Apparently the Bill itself was to be amended by Orders in Council. Earl Grey regretted the refusal of the Prime Minister in the autumn of 1913 to entertain the offer of the Opposition leaders to consent to a Federal solution. In the Dominions the universal opinion was that he was not a free statesman. Even now, the Government should summon a Constitutional Convention to consider the questions of Ireland and of the Second Chamber. Otherwise the sooner a general election came the better, but he hoped that the Unionist leaders would undertake, if returned, to summon a Convention and be guided by its recommendations. The Bill was read a first time.

The Welsh Disestablishment Bill had been read a first time in the House of Lords on June 23; but the second reading was deferred until after the appointment of a select committee moved for by Viscount St. Aldwyn on June 25, and agreed to by the Government. This Committee was to inquire (1) whether the constitution of the Convocations of the Church of England had ever been altered by Act of Parliament without the assent and against the protest of Convocation, and (2) whether the memorials attributed to Welsh Nonconformists against disendowment represented a real and increasing objection to it among them. Viscount St. Aldwyn referred to the recent protest of the Convocation of Canterbury against the separation of the Welsh dioceses, pointing out that this separation might set up a breach in the spiritual unity of the Church in the case, for example, of the pending revision of the Prayer Book, and suggested that, notwithstanding the Bill, the Archbishop might still summon the Welsh Bishops and clergy to Convocation, or they might come of themselves. As to disendowment, the opponents of the Bill had become keener, and the support of it was waning. The Committee could conclude its labours during the session. The Marquess of Crewe agreed, rather doubtfully, to the proposal; the Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed it, laying stress on the great services rendered by Convocation, which the Bill now proposed to mutilate. Other Peers were favourable, the Bishop of St. Asaph denouncing the "dishonourable balance-sheet" which gave the sum alienated from the Church at 51,000l. a year, whereas it was really 157,000l. The Bishop of Hereford, however, thought the purpose of the motion would be regarded as dilatory. The Select Committee, nominated July 2, consisted of the Marquess of Bath, the Earls of Halsbury and Crawford, Viscount St. Aldwyn, and[Pg 137] Lords Barnard, Stanley of Alderley, and Courtney of Penwith; and the opposition to the Bill was further emphasised meanwhile by a demonstration in Victoria Park, London (June 27).

During these Parliamentary conflicts the King and Queen had paid a brief visit to the Midlands (June 24-26) as the guests of the Duke and Duchess of Portland at Welbeck Abbey. An official reception at Nottingham, a lunch with Lord and Lady Middleton at Wollaton Hall, and a tour of various hosiery, lace, and cotton factories, filled the first day; a visit to Mansfield and the surrounding coal-mining district the second; on the third their Majesties opened the King George Dock at Hull, and the chief magistrate of the town was permanently dignified with the title of Lord Mayor. Everywhere their reception was enthusiastic, and, as usual, they conversed with the workers and visited some of them in their homes.

The following week saw the first step towards a great catastrophe. The murder of the heir to the thrones of Austria and Hungary at Sarajevo on Sunday, June 28, was destined to change the whole course of European history; but, for the moment, it merely shocked and horrified public opinion in Great Britain, and the apprehensions it aroused were limited to the fortunes of the Dual Monarchy and the peace of the Near East. It was only referred to parenthetically in the rambling debate on the Foreign Office Vote (June 29), from which, indeed, but one fact of importance seemed to emerge—that the British Government was beginning to protest against the forward policy of Russia in Persia. After various speeches, chiefly about Persia, whose desperate position, financially and otherwise, was insisted on, but also on other topics, the Foreign Secretary made a comprehensive reply. He began by expressing his personal sympathy with the Dual Monarchy and its Imperial family in view of the assassination of the heir to its thrones, mentioning the goodwill of the late Archduke to Great Britain and the pleasure he and his consort had derived from their visit to the King in 1913. Every Foreign Minister in Europe knew the support given by the life of the Emperor of Austria to the cause of peace. The settlement of the Panama tolls question was due, not to any British diplomatic pressure or finesse, but to the respect of President Wilson for treaty rights. As to the Persian oil concession, Great Britain had got no rights which did not exist before the Anglo-Russian Convention. It was improbable that the oil wells would require military protection, and new developments would naturally be near the coast. No new obligation could be placed on Japan under the alliance with Great Britain unless disturbances in the region were the result of causes operating much more widely. The arrangement gave no increase of imperative obligation; the oil could not be got within the British dominions, and where, outside it, could it have been got with fewer and less dangerous commit[Pg 138]ments? The Government desired that the Anglo-Russian Convention should not be the means of further diminishing the independence and integrity of Persia, and had begun to discuss the existing situation under the Convention with the Russian Government. The financial situation in Persia was very serious, the control over expenditure being weak; but the Government, while not proposing to lend money for general expenses, had decided to advance 50,000l.—half from India—to prevent the gendarmerie officered by Swedes from collapse. It would be secured on the Customs. The Baghdad railway would stop at Basra, and so would not unsettle the position in the Persian Gulf; the rights of Messrs. Lynch on the Euphrates were assured, and there would be a Turkish company, half British, and with a British casting vote. Turkey also recognised the status quo in the Persian Gulf, and Great Britain would agree to an increase of 4 per cent. in the Turkish Customs duties, i.e. to 15 per cent. In Armenia the Inspectors-General would have wide powers, enabling them to realise the desired administrative reforms. The Powers were not prepared to set up an International Commission for the protection of minorities in the Near East. The root of the difficulty in Armenia was that the thing was beyond control. He would not send British troops, but if other Powers did, Great Britain could not well object. The working of the condominium in the New Hebrides was being reviewed by a conference, and the publication of papers might lead to friction. After touching on the opium conference at the Hague, he said that greater Parliamentary control of treaties could hardly be discussed on the Foreign Office Vote. Their reference to a Committee of the House would be undesirable. Incidentally, he ridiculed the statement that in 1911 Great Britain had been within twenty-four hours of war.

Next day Addresses to the King were moved in both Houses, requesting His Majesty to express to the Emperor of Austria their abhorrence of the crime of Sarajevo, and their profound sympathy with the Imperial and Royal Family and the Governments and peoples of the Dual Monarchy. In moving the Address in the Commons, the Prime Minister described the murder as "one of those incredible crimes which almost make us despair of the progress of mankind." The victims, recently guests of the King, had "left among all those who had the privilege of seeing and knowing them a gracious and unfading memory." He spoke of the example set to other rulers by the almost unparalleled assiduity of the aged Emperor in the pursuit of duty, as the unperturbed, sagacious, and heroic head of a mighty State, "rich in splendid traditions, and associated with us in this country in some of the most moving and precious chapters of our common history," and tendered, in the name of the Commons and the nation, "our most heartfelt and most affectionate sympathy," Mr. Bonar Law, in seconding,[Pg 139] said that no living Sovereign enjoyed in fuller measure than the aged Emperor the respect, confidence and love of his people. In the Upper House the Marquess of Crewe described the Emperor as "the most dignified and lonely figure in the waste places of the world"; and the Marquess of Lansdowne laid stress on the impression of "manliness, simplicity of character, ability, and interest in public affairs" left by the murdered Archduke during his visit to India in 1893, and his appreciation of the stupendous difficulty of governing a country so composite as the Austrian Empire.

In this connexion it may be added that on June 11, in reply to an inquiry from Mr. King (L., Somerset, N.) as to the existence of an Anglo-Russian naval agreement, or negotiations to that end, the Foreign Secretary had distinctly replied in the negative, saying that the Prime Minister's answer of the year before (A. R., 1913, p. 70) still held good, and that, if any agreement, were concluded modifying it, such an agreement, in his opinion, should be laid before Parliament.

The dignified tributes to the murdered Archduke were followed in the Commons, by a storm. In Committee of Supply on the Treasury Estimates, Mr. J. F. Hope (U.) attempted to revive the Marconi scandal by moving to reduce the Premier's salary as a protest against a recent refusal by him to warn Civil servants against speculation in stocks. Despite repeated calls to order, Mr. Hope managed to mention Lord Murray, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Sir Rufus Isaacs; Major Archer-Shee (U.) added fuel to the flame; the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not allowed by the Chairman to reply by citing "more pertinent illustrations"; the Prime Minister treated the suggestion that a warning was needful as a reflection on the honour of the Civil Service, and ultimately the reduction was negatived by 274 to 122.

The rising excitement of the Opposition was partly accounted for by the increasing difficulties of the Government. The Finance Bill was taken in Committee on July 1 and 2; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer had already found that the course of his plans must be cleared and their burden lightened by dropping its second part and putting the additional grants to local authorities into the Revenue Bill. This was announced in the House on June 29. On July 1 the President of the Local Government Board moved an instruction empowering the Committee to provide for amending the law relating to income tax (including supertax), death duties, and the National Debt. This was intended mainly to enable members to discuss grievances relating to the taxes in question, but Mr. Cassel (U.) moved to extend it so as to empower the Committee to deal with grievances affecting general taxation. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a bitter speech, opposed this as an obstructive manœuvre; Mr. Austen Chamberlain, who described him as "a bad loser," said that the amendment was de[Pg 140]signed to revert to the old procedure of discussing grievances before imposing fresh taxation—a procedure imperilled by the practice adopted in 1913 of dividing the Finance Bill; for the second part of that Bill might be dropped, or delayed too late for adequate discussion. Eventually, however, the amendment was rejected by 271 to 185; another amendment moved by Sir F. Banbury, excluding the National Debt from the purview of the Committee—in order, he said, to prevent the reduction of the Sinking Fund—was defeated also by 276 to 182. In Committee, amendments (1) to graduate the tea duty ad valorem, and (2) to give a preference of 1d. per lb. to tea grown in the British Empire, were rejected, after discussion, by 241 to 130 and 258 to 165 respectively. On the first, Mr. Snowden (Lab., Blackburn), speaking for the Labour party, said that ad valorem duties on tea were barred by insuperable difficulties, and that, while his party disapproved of indirect taxation, they would support the Bill as intended, broadly, to increase direct taxation. On the second, the Attorney-General pointed out that 270,000,000 lb. of tea came from British India and Ceylon, 11,000,000 lb. from China and 31,000,000 lb. from other countries.

Next day (July 2) the Chancellor of the Exchequer moved an amendment reducing the income tax from 1s. 4d. to 1s. 3d. (p. 130). He explained that the alternative lay between taking off this additional penny and reducing the older taxation. But the amount saved by postponing the grants to local, authorities would not suffice to relieve the death duties, or to take off the sugar duty, and the income taxpayer, especially in the lower rates of income, deserved relief more than the payer of supertax. The inconvenience of the change to bankers had been greatly exaggerated, and, as soon as they had been officially told to deduct 1s. 4d. on dividends till the House otherwise ordered, the position became simple. The reduction was passed after a long debate by 251 to 56. The Committee was resumed on July 13 after the introduction of the guillotine (post, p. 146).

Meanwhile the debate on the second reading of the Amending Bill had begun in the House of Lords on July 1. After a preliminary objection by Lord Willoughby de Broke, that it proposed to amend a non-existent Act, had been overruled by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Morley of Blackburn moved the second reading. The Bill, he said, afforded a better solution than Earl Grey's proposed Convention; had it not been introduced, Home Rule would have been wrecked by the sectarian prejudice which hampered the Union at its outset. The Government believed there could be no better opportunity for discovering the common ground existing in Parliament for attaining an effective peace in Ireland. The situation in Ireland had a historic base for which neither party could escape responsibility. As to exclusion, no part of Ulster was homogeneous. The National Volunteers had dispelled the[Pg 141] illusion that the masses in the South and West of Ireland had lost their care for Home Rule. The danger was that the constitutional agitation for self-government might give place to the older methods of violence and disloyalty. He hoped the House would have no hand in promoting the change.

The Marquess of Lansdowne described the Bill as a "freak Bill," fit for a museum, and wholly inadequate to avert a calamity. Exclusion, on its merits, had probably no friends at all; and the form of it in the Bill was futile and vicious. It had been accepted by the Nationalists only because they thought Ulster would refuse it; so that the original proposal was insincere. The plan of voting by counties was most unfortunate, for in some of the counties Roman Catholics and Protestants were almost equal, and the voting would set up a saturnalia of intimidation and corruption. The time limit was vexatious and superfluous. After criticising in detail the system of government for the excluded areas, he said that the Opposition would not resist the second reading, but would move amendments in regard to the area excluded, the duration of the exclusion, and the conditions of government in the excluded area. But any revision of the Government of Ireland Bill was hopeless, and they would not deal with minute points of the Amending Bill, but leave the Government to make it "watertight." They would be misrepresented and misunderstood, but failure of this last effort might mean an irremediable misfortune to the country. When Æneas descended to Hades, the final and most dread of all the spectres he met was War. But they would support the second reading as that of a makeshift emergency measure meant solely to gain time. The meshes of the Parliament Act left them no other way, but, were a better way offered, they would be ready to explore it. They fully recognised that there was a great Irish problem, requiring to be handled with courage and sympathy, and that they could not adopt a policy of mere negation or destructive criticism.

Viscount Bryce, as an ex-Chief Secretary for Ireland, pointed out that the Lord-Lieutenant would have to act on the advice of the British, not the Irish Minister, and thought future Irish parties would be formed on different lines. Personally he would have preferred to give certain northern areas local autonomy, with an appeal to England against any measure which they thought objectionable. He defended the provisions as to exclusion, while admitting the great difficulty as to areas.

The Archbishop of York said that a general election would now give no chance of a settlement; and he suggested a Statutory Commission in two sections, to consider devolution from the point of view respectively of Ireland and of the United Kingdom. They had suffered all along from shortness of view; let Parliament stand aside and allow the Irish people to come to an agreement. The chances, however, were not propitious.

[Pg 142]

After other speeches, Lord Willoughby de Broke moved the rejection of the Bill. The Home Rule Bill might never become an Act. The Irish policy of the Government had broken down, and with it the Parliament Act, and they were asking the despised House of Lords to help them out. Nobody wanted the exclusion of Ulster, and to vote for it was to support a Parliament in Dublin. He spoke strongly for the maintenance of the Union. Lord Macdonnell urged that the problem might be solved by proportional representation and Home Rule within Home Rule, rather than by exclusion. Of later speakers, the Earl of Mayo, opposing the Bill, did not believe in the danger of civil war.

The debate was resumed next day (July 2) by the Marquess of Londonderry, who asked whether the Prime Minister would tell Mr. Redmond that the Government would insist on the acceptance of the far-reaching amendments invited by the Marquess of Crewe? If not, the House had better reject the Bill. Lord Wimborne, in a vigorous speech, charged the Unionist party with having exceeded their constitutional rights in their opposition to Home Rule. The Government did not admit any imperfection in their main Home Rule measure, nor their inability to put it into operation. They were not asking for relief; they did not believe that the provisional government that was contemplated was practicable, or that the electors would tolerate it. They proposed temporary exclusion only to enable passions to cool and apprehensions to be allayed. The salvation of Ireland must be won in Ireland, and he hoped all parties would work together for a solution. The Earl of Dunraven said that the only solution was by conference. The essence of the Amending Bill was apparently that Ireland must be governed by Orders in Council. As the provisions of the Bill as to Customs and Excise did not apply to the excluded areas, the confusion would be inextricable and the administration impracticable. Still, he would vote for the second reading in the hope that the Bill might be shaped into something that would avert a catastrophe. Viscount Midleton condemned the provocative character of Lord Wimborne's speech, and said that they must hope that the Bill would avert civil war, but an election must follow, and then both Bills must be revised. He asked that (1) the minority should be assured impartial trials; (2) attention should be given to the land question; (3) the graduation of taxes common to Ireland and Great Britain should not be different in Ireland, and provision should be made against the discriminating taxation of land. Even so, the Opposition would not accept the Bill, but they would pass it from patriotic motives. Lord Islington, a former Colonial Governor, favoured a Commission of Inquiry to devise amendments along with the passing of the two Bills. The Earl of Halsbury felt that the Bill should be read a second time to avoid civil war, though he would have naturally voted for its rejection. Lord Sydenham favoured a Statutory Commission, or[Pg 143] some other effort towards settlement by Consent. Lord Courtney of Penwith said that unless the Nationalist and Ulster leaders would consent to a Conference, a Royal Commission would defer the solution under circumstances which gave no prospect of eventual accomplishment. He pleaded for "Home Rule within Home Rule." Among later speakers, the Duke of Abercorn (an Ulster Volunteer) said the whole of Ulster would have to be excluded without a time limit, and the Earl of Crawford, who described the Bill as "vague, nebulous, and amorphous," said that the six years' limit was not a truce, but a provocation, and the whole of Ulster must be excluded. The suggestion of a statutory convention was too vague. The Earl of Denbigh, as a Catholic Unionist, scouted the idea of religious persecution, but opposed Home Rule as weakening Great Britain. He supported the Bill as gaining time.

The debate was resumed and concluded on July 6. Viscount Milner commented on the lukewarmness of the Ministerialists towards the measure, and, while approving of a Conference as an entirely fresh start towards solution, urged the Government to facilitate such a fresh start by a general election or a referendum. The Amending Bill, however, might be useful if it were so entirely remodelled as to reassure the Ulstermen, and nothing would do that but a frank and complete assurance at once that they would never be subjected to the authority of an Irish Parliament and Executive without their own consent. If Ulster remained free to decide, she might conceivably some day join the rest of Ireland, but to conquer her would make a united Ireland impossible, and, were the Army and Navy employed to do it, the British Empire would not long survive the shock. The Amending Bill was a temporary expedient which might tide over an interval of great danger. He feared nothing could be done for the Unionist minority in the South and West of Ireland, though he hoped for some relief to them by proportional representation, and indirectly by inducing the Nationalists to treat them well in order to attract Ulster. He therefore supported the Bill. Earl Roberts said that to use the Army to force the Home Rule Bill on Ulster would mean its utter destruction. He denied absolutely that the Army had conspired with the Unionist party to defeat the Home Rule Bill. The Army had no politics, but this was no mere political crisis, but one which affected the roots of our national existence. Following the example set by Viscount Wolseley in 1893, he had warned the Government, and subsequently the Prime Minister, that any attempt to use the military forces of the nation to coerce Ulster would break and ruin the Army. Discipline, as in the British Army, might override human nature under almost every imaginable circumstance, but there was a stratum in every one which was impervious to it. The solution must be taken in hand at once, and the consequences of delay might be irreparable.

[Pg 144]

After several Irish Peers had either condemned or very reluctantly accepted the Bill, Earl Curzon of Kedleston summed up against it. After dwelling on the paradoxical character of the situation, he declared that the debate had shown (1) that the Bill was forlorn and friendless, and they were really discussing another and an undefined Bill; (2) that exclusion was thoroughly unpopular, and was only considered as a makeshift; but if it were to come, "better a clean cut than a cut with ragged edges and festering lips." He looked forward to a reunited Ireland, managing some portion of her local affairs, but subject to the Crown; but that could only be accomplished by Irishmen themselves; (3) the debate had shown that no ultimate settlement could be found but by a Conference. An immediate Conference seemed impracticable and relief had to be provided for the immediate emergency. The Amending Bill, which he called a Peace Preservation Bill, and the Home Rule Bill, would prove unworkable, and a Conference would have to come. Meanwhile, did Ministers still propose to adhere to the impossible time-limit and the even more impossible scheme of voting by counties?

The Marquess of Crewe, summing up for Ministers, replied to a number of questions of detail raised in the debate. Bills not yet law had been amended or repealed by other Bills in 1851 and 1907. As to judicial proceedings, the parties to them in the excluded area were safeguarded at all stages. For the excluded area an independent Land Commission must be established. The question raised by Lord Midleton as to income tax and supertax had no bearing on the exclusion of Ulster, but the Government did not apprehend oppressive taxation by the Irish Parliament. Customs and Excise were not mentioned because it was felt that no splitting up of Ireland could be permanent. All serious amendments would be considered, but what was called "looking facts in the face" ignored the existence of Nationalist Ireland. Were Ulster totally excluded, would the Opposition guarantee Ireland and Great Britain against civil conflict? A Conference would be impossible if it pre-supposed the scrapping of Liberal policy, but otherwise, if it took place between leading Irishmen and were backed by strong public opinion, it would be the best augury for some permanent arrangement.

The second reading was passed by 273 to 10.

The resumption of this debate had been preceded by tributes from the leaders on both sides to the memory of the most conspicuous figure in the Unionist party for the twenty years preceding 1906. Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, disabled in that year by paralysis, had since then made but few and brief public appearances, and on July 2 he had passed away painlessly at his home at Highbury, near Birmingham. He was buried on July 6 at the Key Hill Cemetery at Birmingham, after an impressive funeral service at the Church of the Messiah (Unitarian), conducted, at his own desire, by the Rev.[Pg 145] Prof. Jacks of Manchester College, Oxford. The church was filled with representatives of the City Council and of local institutions and political associations; vast crowds lined the streets, and messages of sympathy were sent from the King, the King of Spain, the President of the French Chamber, the Dominions, and all parts of the world. Meanwhile a memorial service, held at St. Margaret's, Westminster, was attended by representatives of the King, foreign Powers, and the Dominions, and by many members of the Cabinet and the two Houses. In the House of Lords, three hours later, the Marquess of Crewe spoke of Mr. Chamberlain's greatness alike as a Colonial Secretary, as a debater, and as "the greatest civic figure ever engaged in British politics," as well as of his "serene family life "; the Marquess of Lansdowne bore witness to his merits as a colleague and a leader, and Viscount Milner testified that Mr. Chamberlain was "an incomparable chief." The House of Commons marked the occasion by adjourning for the day, after the Prime Minister and the actual and former leaders of the Opposition had paid their tributes to the memory of a great Parliamentarian and promoter of the Empire. The Prime Minister, analysing Mr. Chamberlain's Parliamentary career and character, said that neutrality was impossible to a man of his temperament and convictions. He was the pioneer of a new generation, and a new type of personality in the House, introducing and perfecting a new style of speaking, and giving the impression of complete and serene command of his material and himself. The Prime Minister further touched on Mr. Chamberlain's genuine sympathy for the victims of the strain of social and industrial life, on the imaginative quality that touched his ideals in the larger issues of national policy, on his unsurpassed confidence and courage, and on his generosity as an antagonist. It was fitting that within those walls, where the echoes of his voice seemed still to linger, they should suspend for a few hours the clash of controversy and join in acknowledging their common debt to his life and example. Mr. Bonar Law expressed the gratitude of the Opposition for Mr. Asquith's tribute. Mr. Chamberlain, he said, was his hero when he entered Parliament, and had continued so, and he described him as a great fighter and a great friend. Two principles were at the basis of his political action—a desire to improve the condition of the people, and an intense, perhaps almost aggressive, national pride. He almost alone had changed the whole spirit of the reciprocal relationship of different parts of the Empire, and had thus laid strong the foundation on which others might build. Mr. Balfour added his tribute, as one of the very few left who had served with Mr. Chamberlain in Cabinets. The future historian, he thought, would think of him mainly as an Imperial statesman. As Colonial Secretary he had done the greatest work that had ever fallen to a statesman in Great Britain. He had recognised that the Dominions must be[Pg 146] treated with absolute equality, and that there must be a bracing feeling of common patriotism. He was a great idealist, a great friend, a great orator and a great man.

This commemoration of a great Parliamentarian had secured a day's intermission in party strife, but it broke out afresh on July 7, when the Prime Minister moved that the remaining stages of the Finance Bill should be limited to seven days. He pointed out that ten and a half days had been spent already on various stages of the Budget, and, under the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, 1913, the Finance Bill must become law on August 4, while standing orders required the Estimates to be disposed of by August 5. Of the sixteen Parliamentary days (omitting Fridays as not full days) available before August 5, six and a half were needed to Supply, and seven given to the Finance Bill would leave two and a half for contingencies. He reviewed the progress made, promising a day and a half for the new clauses, and said that if there were ever a Tariff Reform Budget, there would certainly have to be an allocation of time for it. He would prefer that such allocations should be the duty of an independent tribunal, and hinted that the committee then sitting on procedure might make them so. Mr. Bonar Law (U.) moved an amendment repudiating and condemning, as a dangerous innovation, proposals for the curtailment of discussion on measures tending to impose heavy burdens of new taxation. He pointed out that the main business of the House was finance, and that a guillotine had never before been imposed for the Finance Bill. The Government might suspend the 11 o'clock rule, and use ordinary and kangaroo closure. The Government had taken every precaution to ensure that they would be short of time. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had despised the real work of his office, and had used the Exchequer to help electioneering. Several Liberals defended the proposal as necessary, though Mr. Leif Jones (L., Notts, Rushcliffe) and, later, Mr. D. Mason (L., Coventry) spoke against it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer declared that the experience of the Budget debates in 1909 showed that closure was necessary. Other and more important Budgets, e.g., those of 1842 and 1860, had produced similar attacks on the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that of 1842 was only discussed for sixteen days. He agreed, however, that better methods of examining the Budget might be found. Mr. Balfour (U.) said that, while it was true that the art of obstruction had been perfected, the difficulty arose mainly from the fact that more members were able and eager to speak than formerly, and that the constituencies watched them more. The Government should have found a remedy long ago. With the guillotine, no Minister was required to explain, or even to understand, his Bill. The amendment was rejected, but only by 269 to 263, many Liberals abstaining, among them the group who had followed Mr. Holt (L.) in objecting to the Budget (p. 128).[Pg 147] The majority of 269 contained but 181 Liberals, the rest being Nationalist and Labour members. Various amendments involving an extension of time were defeated that day and the next by majorities varying from 79 to 124, and finally the motion was carried by 265 to 175 (July 9).

The rest of the week in the Commons was devoted to less contentious business. On the Board of Trade Vote (July 9) the grievances alleged by members concerned chiefly the mercantile marine, London traffic, and the absence of official statistics in regard to agricultural wages, which Mr. Peto (U., Devizes) demanded in order to facilitate a correct judgment on the land controversy before the general election. The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Burns), in reply, promised these statistics by January, which would be quite time enough for the election. For the mercantile marine, he said, existing sight tests must be maintained, for the safety of life at sea. As to health, he had noticed that from 1891 to 1911 the death-rate in that calling fell only from 4.9 to 4.7 per 1000, as compared with falls in the Navy from 4.7 to 2 per 1000, in the Army from 9 to 3.6 per 1,000, and in the civil population of ages corresponding to those in these callings from 8 to 4.7 per 1000. This might be accounted for by the men coming from a poorer class than formerly, or from an inferior class to those represented by the Army, Navy, and industrial population. He had appointed an expert Inquiry Committee. Much had been done, meanwhile, to increase the number of cargo steamers having hospitals. He promised closer inspection, preferring good administration to bad legislation. The pending International Convention on timber deck loads would only be frustrated if, as some members desired, questions as to other deck loads were introduced. With London traffic the concern of the Board of Trade was purely statistical and historical, but, with 600 people killed annually and 20,000 injured, something must be done. He would report the views expressed to the Prime Minister. After further discussion, the Vote was agreed to.

The debate on the Foreign Office Vote (p. 137) was continued next day (July 10), according to promise. A number of questions were raised by various members on both sides; and Mr. Bonar Law introduced a party note by scornfully remarking that the Foreign Secretary had been lectured on the duty of keeping peace throughout the world, when his ability to do so at home was doubtful. Sir E. Grey ignored this taunt, and after commenting on the vast amount expected from the Foreign Office by members, replied specifically on the points raised. He repelled the charge of inaction as to railway concessions in Asia Minor and China; he had much rather that concessions should be given willingly than obtained under pressure. He believed that under the new agreement as to navigation on the Euphrates and Tigris the British position would be better and more secure. He was not in favour of[Pg 148] securing the survey of the Muhamrah-Khoramabad railway by force, or of pushing British trade or concessions at excessive cost. As to the oil concession the British position was the same as in regard to trade in Southern Persia. After dealing hopefully with a pending arrangement regarding Chinese railway concessions, with the Portuguese West African labour question, and other matters, and specially acknowledging the release by the Portuguese Government of nearly all its political prisoners after a popular agitation in Great Britain, he mentioned that the Dutch Government had just invited Great Britain to send a representative to an International Committee in June, 1915, to draw up a programme for the Hague Conference. As to expenditure on armaments, direct suggestion of reduction was resented on the Continent, and neither it nor the improvement of the relations of the Great Powers had produced much result. Great Britain was not responsible for the increase, the most notable part of which had been military, not naval. He saw no remedy except the interference of public opinion when things became intolerable. The Government would do its best to encourage reduction, but not by direct suggestion. He looked rather to the promotion of good relations with other Powers. After a speech by Mr. Dillon the Vote was agreed to.

In the intervals between dealing with the Amending Bill the House of Lords disposed (on June 30 and July 7) of the Council of India Bill, a measure attributed (though inaccurately) mainly to Mr. Montagu, late Under-Secretary for India, and carrying out the developments of Liberal policy indicated in 1913 (A.R., 1913, p. 187 seq.). The salient feature was that the Council of the Secretary of State for India, which was now to contain from seven to ten members instead of from ten to fourteen, must always include two natives of India, to be chosen by the Secretary of State from a panel nominated by the Indian elective members of the Viceroy's Council and the Provincial Legislative Councils. Changes were also made in the working rules of the Council, partly to expedite its business, and one, which was severely criticised, provided that it should meet not, as heretofore, weekly, but only when summoned by the Secretary of State. The actual rules of procedure were extremely cumbrous, and it appeared from Ministerial statements made in the debate that it took nearly a month to get the most ordinary piece of business through the Council, and that in fact the Secretary had often, for practical purposes, to come very near evading the law. The Bill had been supported by a deputation from the Indian National Congress, though some organs of native opinion held that the elective provisions did not go far enough. It was strongly opposed both in The Times and by Peers with Indian experience, including Lords Ampthill and Harris; and Earl Curzon of Kedleston moved its rejection, as diminishing that element in the Council that possessed administrative experience,[Pg 149] rendering procedure by Committees impossible, and making the Secretary of State into an autocrat. The presence of Indian members he thought entirely desirable, but the methods of selection would bring in platform speakers rather than competent advisers on questions of administration. The opposition to the Bill had gathered force by the second day's debate (July 7) when it was strongly defended by Lord Morley of Blackburn, and Lord Reay, and opposed no less strongly by Lords Ampthill, Harris, and Sydenham, Earl Roberts, and Viscount Midleton, while Lord Faber commended its proposals for simplifying financial business, and other Peers urged the House at least to give it a second reading. Lord Courtney of Penwith had desired to refer it to a Select Committee, but in spite of these arguments, and an able defence by the Marquess of Crewe, it was rejected on second reading by 96 to 38.

Next day (July 8) the Lords proceeded completely to transform the Amending Bill. They struck out, by 158 to 35, the provision that any county in Ulster might vote itself out of the Home Rule Scheme for six years, the Earl of Selborne, who moved this deletion, laying stress on various complications which the provision would set up, and explaining that, as an advocate of the Referendum, he desired that it should not be associated with an experiment that could only end in disaster; and Lord Killanin said that if no time-limit were imposed, Ulster would be free to come in voluntarily. Next, the House rejected, by 196 to 20, Lord Macdonnell's scheme for establishing in Ulster "Home Rule within Home Rule," in the form of local administrative control through an Ulster Council elected by proportional representation. To this Council would be transferred the Departments concerned with education, local government, and agriculture and technical instruction, and possibly portions of others. The expenses incurred by the Ulster Council would be provided by the Irish Parliament, or, in default, deducted from the transferred sum by the Joint Exchequer Board. The Marquess of Crewe said that the proposal would be rejected by the various parties to the controversy; Earl Loreburn, Lord Courtney of Penwith, and, later, Viscount Bryce supported it; the Lord Chancellor, while admitting that the exclusion of Ulster was a most unfortunate solution, said that the Government only proposed it because the Opposition were deaf to all appeals. The latter were forcing the country into proximity to a great danger. They hoped soon to take office, but had no clear idea how they would deal with the situation.' To this Earl Curzon of Kedleston retorted that they at any rate had a consistent policy and would not flinch from the issue. After this division the Marquess of Lansdowne moved an amendment permanently excluding the whole of Ulster from the operation of the Home Rule Bill, advocating this course as the most likely way to avert a conflict, though the Opposition could[Pg 150] not guarantee that it would do so. The Archbishop of Canterbury thought that a division based on religious differences was the worst possible, and that only a geographical division was practicable. Lord Macdonnell protested strongly against the exclusion of Cavan, Donegal, and Monaghan from the control of the Irish Parliament, but the amendment was passed by 138 to 39. Among other amendments passed one substituted a Secretary of State for the Lord-Lieutenant as the executive authority in the excluded area. Another reduced the representation of Ireland in the Imperial House of Commons from 42 members to 27. A third, moved by the Earl of Halsbury, continued the existing method of judicial appointments and of appeal, to the House of Lords instead of to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as provided in the Bill. This was supported next day by several Unionist Peers, the Earl of Desart urging that under Home Rule one party would be permanently in power, that the Judges would therefore be under special pressure, and that attacks on a Judge would probably have the sympathy of the Irish Parliament. The Marquess of Crewe urged that the amendment would be a slight on the Irish Government; the Marquess of Lansdowne supported it, partly as tending to reassure the Unionists outside Ulster. It was passed by 166 to 42. An amendment by Lord Macdonnell, making the administration of the Land Purchase Acts a reserved service, was next adopted. The Marquess of Lansdowne supported it, but explained that the Opposition had limited themselves to framing amendments to the provisions intended to avert civil strife, and had, therefore, abstained from attempting to protect minorities outside Ulster. The Marquess of Crewe intimated that, if the Bill were altered after discussion between the Houses, the alteration need not be confined to Ulster. Lord Macdonnell then proposed a scheme for proportional representation in the Irish Parliament; but the question, after debate, was deferred to the Report Stage. Some other amendments were negatived; one, moved by the Earl of Kenmare, was passed, keeping the Royal Irish Constabulary under the Imperial Government; and a new clause, moved by the Earl of Selborne, provided that nothing in the Home Rule Bill should prejudicially alter or affect the powers and rights of any person in the excluded area.

Meanwhile the Labour and suffragist disturbances continued to promise fresh complications. The London builders' dispute had resisted all attempts at settlement; and a strike similar to those which had caused the dispute arose at Woolwich Arsenal (July 3), where an engineer in the Carriage Department refused to erect machinery on a concrete base prepared by a non-unionist. At first only the men in certain departments were called out, but by July 6 over 10,000 had ceased work. On July 7, however, the Prime Minister stated in the House that the contract under which the base had been laid ran from 1912 to 1915, that no question as[Pg 151] to non-union labour under it had been raised previously, and that the men had left work without notice. A Court of Inquiry, however, was appointed—two representative employers, two trade unionists, and Sir George Askwith as Chairman, and on July 9 the men returned to work.

Though this fresh extension of the Labour unrest was happily checked, the Suffragist militancy which was gradually estranging public sympathy did not abate. On July 3, Ballymenoch House, near Belfast, was burnt, the damage done being estimated at 20,000l.; an attempt was also made to burn Carmichael Church, Lanark, and on July 9 to destroy Robert Burns's birthplace at Alloway. A day earlier Mrs. Pankhurst had recovered sufficiently to visit the militant headquarters, and to submit to rearrest as the prelude of her ninth hunger-and-thirst strike; and two women (whose behaviour in court was disorderly) had been convicted of conspiracy to destroy windows, and sentenced to three months' imprisonment, while a sentence of two months had been passed on the printer of the Suffragette. The King's visit to Scotland had occasioned futile and fatuous attempts to gain the Royal attention by throwing leaflets into the carriage or shouting protests (during his visit to the Clyde) through a megaphone; and on Mrs. Pankhurst's arrest, a bomb was deposited in St. John the Evangelist Church, Westminster (July 12); the depositor, however, was arrested, and no harm was done. Nevertheless there was a strong feeling that the true remedy for the agitation had not been found, and it was intensified by the publication of a letter from the Bishop of London (Times, July 5), in which, however, he disclaimed support of militancy. But two real successes were obtained by the promoters of the "emancipation" of women. On July 9 the Representative Church Council of the Church of England (consisting of the members of the Convocations and the Houses of Laymen of the two Provinces) decided by a large majority of clergy and a small one of laymen to give women votes in the elections of Church Councils and enable them to sit on parochial councils; and on June 17 deputations from societies connected with the protection of women and children obtained from the Home Office a promise of favourable consideration of the appointment, for special duties, of women police.

While all these causes seemed tending to set up a great crisis, the King and Queen, with Princess Mary, had been spending a busy week in Scotland (July 6-13). Making Holyrood Palace their headquarters, they paid a state visit to Glasgow (July 7) where the King laid the foundation-stone of the new Municipal Buildings, opened a new block at the Royal Infirmary, and were received at the University; next day they visited the Fairfield shipbuilding yard at Govan, where His Majesty walked underneath the hull of the super-Dreadnought Valiant, in course of construction, and visited H.M.S, Benbow, completing; the day[Pg 152] following they witnessed the stages of manufacture of the 15-inch gun at Parkhead Steel Works, visited Lord Newlands (who marked the occasion by giving 25,000l. to the Western Infirmary) and the Duke of Hamilton; next day they visited Dundee and Perth, and on the Saturday Dunblane Cathedral, Stirling Castle, and the ruined ancient palace of Linlithgow. On the Sunday they attended service at St. Giles's Cathedral, Edinburgh, and on Monday returned to London. Everywhere they were enthusiastically welcomed, and, save for the few futile militant interruptions, the visit was an entire success. The King, as the Spectator remarked, was enabled by these visits to know his own country better than the best informed of his subjects.

However, less pleasant matters were soon to engage His Majesty's attention. The "historic Twelfth" was approaching, in Ulster; the Ulster Unionist Council was to take the opportunity of meeting (July 10); and on the previous day Captain Craig, M.P., made a statement, in the course of which he read the preamble to the Constitution of the Ulster Provisional Government. This document declared that, trusting to Divine aid, the signatories, "the people of the counties and places of Ulster represented in the Ulster Unionist Council," undertook to resist to the utmost the claims of an Irish Nationalist Government to exercise powers over them hitherto exercised by the Crown and the Imperial Parliament, and resolved to ignore the Irish Parliament, and to assume and exercise within the Ulster area, pending the restoration of direct Imperial Government, all powers rendered necessary by the withdrawal of such Government for the maintenance of peace and order and the protection of the rights and liberties of His Majesty's subjects; but such powers were to be exercised in allegiance to the King and in trust for the Constitution, to the intent that the Ulster area should continue an integral portion thereof. The laws in force, other than the Home Rule Act, would be maintained and all judges and others acting under the direct authority of the King protected. After contrasting the aims of the Nationalist and of the Ulster leaders, Captain Craig added that the outlook was as dark as it could be. This view was emphasised by the landing of machine guns for the Ulstermen, and of consignments of arms for both sides, and by the announcement that "rest stations" were being arranged in England for Ulster refugee women and children, at Eaton Hall and elsewhere; while the National Volunteers were stated to number 200,000. On July 10 Sir Edward Carson had an enthusiastic welcome at Belfast, and he and Mr. Long, addressing a meeting of Ulster delegates, left the impression that the moment of supreme crisis was at hand. Possibly through the confidence of the rank and file in their leaders, the celebrations of the Boyne anniversary on Monday, July 13, though more numerously attended than ever, passed off without disturbance. Seventy thousand men marched from Belfast[Pg 153] to Drumbeg, where Sir Edward Carson again emphasised Ulster's determination to resist; "Give us a clean cut," he said, "or come and fight us."

Liberal journals stated that Lord Northcliffe's newspapers, in particular The Times and the Daily Mail, were making the most of these demonstrations by means of a host of special correspondents and photographers, and an important Unionist paper, the Birmingham Daily Post, also thought the alarm exaggerated. But the House of Lords increased the impression already produced by its treatment of the Amending Bill. The Report Stage was disposed of on July 13. An amendment was negatived which was proposed by Lord Weardale, modifying the provision for the exclusion of Ulster by enabling a poll to be taken on the question upon a requisition from 10 per cent. of the electors in any four counties; and then Lord Macdonnell renewed in a simplified form his proposal for proportional representation, by moving that each constituency in the Irish Parliament should return not less than three members. He advocated this in the interest of the Unionists outside Ulster. Viscount St. Aldwyn supported this scheme; Viscount Bryce held that it was a corollary to the exclusion of Ulster; but the Marquess of Crewe objected to making the Irish Parliament a corpus vile for experiment, and Viscount Morley of Blackburn doubted if Irish peasants would understand the "single transferable vote." On a division being challenged, the leaders on both sides abstained; and no "Not Contents" appeared. The amendment, therefore, was declared carried.

On the third reading next day, the Marquess of Crewe pointed out that the exclusion of Ulster raised, in a new form, the difficulty of governing Irish Nationalists from Great Britain, which had been somewhat masked by the concessions of certain Unionist Ministers in the past to Irish ideas. He reminded the House that the Irish Councils Bill of 1907 was accepted reluctantly by the Nationalist leaders, but rejected by their followers, and hinted that legislation could not depend solely on the legislators; politics were not a game of chess. The Marquess of Lansdowne, reviewing the Bill as amended, declared that the coercion of Ulster was dead. Lord Joicey, as a Liberal Peer, protested against the refusal of the Government to assist in altering the Bill. But the interest of the debate lay mainly in a new clause moved by the Earl of Dunraven, after the Bill had been read a third time without a division, providing that the Home Rule Act might be suspended by Order in Council until a Commission had reported on the relation of Ireland to other parts of the United Kingdom. He desired, he said, to avoid "the horror of the dismemberment of Ireland," ensure a stable peace, and indicate the line of a future final and satisfactory settlement. Viscount Morley opposed the amendment as against the whole spirit of the Constitution, and treated, the action of the Peers[Pg 154] as only an elaborate way of rejecting the Home Rule Bill. The Archbishop of York and Lord Ribblesdale supported the amendment; Earl Beauchamp indicated that, while the Government could not accept a Statutory Commission, they would, if there were any desire for it, agree to a voluntary conference. The Marquess of Lansdowne held it undesirable to put the Constitution in the melting-pot on the chance of getting Ministers out of a purely domestic difficulty in Ireland, and refused to accept the amendment as a substitute for the Unionist demands; were they conceded, an inquiry might be of advantage. The clause was then added to the Bill without a division.

Thus the main changes in the Home Rule scheme effected by the Bill were as follows: Ulster was entirely and permanently excluded from the Home Rule scheme, and was to be administered by a Secretary of State through offices and departments different from those exercising authority under the Home Rule Bill, and set up by Order in Council, subject to the acquiescence of both Houses of the Imperial Parliament. Ulster would continue to send members to the Imperial Parliament, in which Irish representation would be reduced to twenty-seven. Judges would be appointed as under the existing system, and the appeal from Irish courts to the House of Lords would continue. Land purchase would be reserved, so would the Royal Irish Constabulary, and the Lord-Lieutenant would control the Dublin metropolitan police.

The House of Lords next day continued its protest against the Parliament Act by rejecting (July 15) the Plural Voting Bill. The debate was, however, languid. The Marquess of Crewe, in moving the second reading, hoped that the inherent impropriety of plural voting would have in any case led Ministers to introduce the measure; the party advantage it gave was, in fact, only occasional, and unknown before 1884. He repeated the promise (p. 84) of a Redistribution Commission. Lord St. Audries said that such promises were idle; the general election would come as a thief in the night, and would find the Redistribution Bill in bed. In fact, most plural voters had but two votes, one for their residence and one for their place of business or their University, and agriculture, commerce, and industry should be adequately represented. Lord Newton traced indirectly to the Bill the militants' agitation, stimulated by the juggling over the Franchise Bill in 1913, and the Irish crisis, as the general election was being postponed till the plural voter was abolished. Earl Grey held that the Bill aggravated the existing inequality of representation. The Marquess of Lansdowne said that the debate was unreal. The authority of the Government in the country was waning, and they hoped the Bill would save something out of the wreck. The second reading was postponed by 119 to 49.

This division, of course, meant little; and it was clear that the Government and the majority of the Commons would not accept[Pg 155] the Lords' transformation of the Amending Bill. But the division on the guillotining of the Finance Act had left the Government weaker, and they had been compelled to strain their supporters' patience by announcing a new session "in the early winter" after a Prorogation in August, to enable the essential provisions of the Revenue Bill to be carried in time for the insertion of the grants to the local authorities in the next Estimates. Before the Prorogation they would take the Amending Bill, the Indian Budget, and the resolutions on the Reform of the House of Lords.

For the moment, they proceeded with the Committee stage of the Finance Bill (July 13, 14, 15, 16), but only a brief notice of a few features of it is possible here. An amendment moved by Mr. Worthington Evans (U., Colchester) to allow a payer of supertax to deduct the duties on mineral rights and undeveloped land from his sources of income, on the ground that he would otherwise be paying part of his tax twice over, was defeated by 257 to 115, the Chancellor of the Exchequer rejecting his arguments; and he was also unsuccessful in his opposition to the provisions regarding income tax in respect of property abroad, which he contended would be ineffective as well as unfair. He outlined, indeed, an ingenious method of evasion, and contended that it was unjust to tax income which never reached Great Britain, but was reinvested abroad, as also income already taxed in the country of its origin. From both sides of the House the unfairness of the provisions was insisted on; and an amendment moved by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, intended to afford some relief to insurance companies and others who had habitually invested abroad the proceeds of their foreign investments, was carried by 280 to 190. Next day (July 14) on the clause altering the estate duties (p. 95) the usual complaints were made of the incidence of the death duties on large estates, especially agricultural estates; and Sir A. Henderson (U., St. George's, Hanover Square) declared that the necessity of selling stock to meet them was one cause of the fall in Stock Exchange securities, which he estimated as aggregating over 1,000,000,000l. since 1909. The critics were reinforced by Mr. Balfour (U.) who contended that the tax came out of capital, and might thus decrease employment suddenly where the estate was that of a great landlord or manufacturer; besides, it was diminishing the national emergency reserve. The Chancellor of the Exchequer replied that the money had to be found, and savings were diminished whether it was raised by death duties or by income tax; if expenditure on defence, education, or public health were inadequate, securities would then depreciate also. The fall in them had been heavier abroad, and also at home before 1905. Some of the burden must come out of capital; Germany got it thus, but from the living. The clause was passed by 301 to 207. On the clause abolishing settlement duty and relief in respect of settled property (p. 95), an attempt was made by Mr. Cassel (U., St. Pancras) to prevent[Pg 156] its retrospective application where estate duty had been paid before the passing of the Bill. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, invoking the example of Pitt, contended that each generation had a right to adjust its own taxation. Members on both sides strongly condemned the clause, Mr. Bonar Law citing as a parallel Mr. Larkin's "To hell with contracts" (A.R., 1913, p. 208). The Solicitor-General said that the Government proposed, first, that the full settlement estate duty that had been paid should be repaid; next, that during the whole of the period over which that duty failed to frank the estate interest should be allowed on the amount. He contended that it was a fair equivalent. The amendment was rejected by 297 to 208, and the clause passed by 295 to 204.

The following day (July 15) attempts were vainly made to extend the relief in cases of quick succession to property where it consisted of land or a business, first, by removing this limitation so as to take in personalty, next, by extending the five years' interval allowed between payments of the entire estate duty to fifteen. The former the Chancellor of the Exchequer found too costly; the latter was rejected on a division by 297 to 175. An attempt by Sir F. Banbury (U.) to prevent the reduction of the annual charge for diminution of the National Debt from 24,500,000l. to 23,500,000l. (p. 95) was rejected, after a long discussion, by 281 to 176. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that, while the greatest previous reduction of the Debt—Mr. Goschen's—had been 39,000,000l. in six years the Liberal Government had effected a reduction of 103,000,000l. The retort was made, of course, that it had also increased expenditure permanently by 40,000,000l. annually, and some of the money, it was contended, was wasted—on the land valuation and payment of members, for instance. Next, the relief to be given to married persons in respect of income tax was challenged as inadequate by Mr. Cassel (U.) and other members. A new clause in the Bill provided that income tax and supertax should be assessed, charged, and recovered on the incomes of husband and wife separately, as if they were not married. This met two grievances—that the husband was called on to pay tax on his wife's income, but could not recover it from her (A.R., 1913, p. 224), and that the wife could not make a return or claim abatement; but it did not meet a third and far more general grievance—that their two incomes were still added together and treated as one, so that they paid more than two persons with equal incomes living together unmarried. The Chancellor of the Exchequer argued against any concession on this head, but agreed that there should be special exemption for married people, and the clause was adopted. Next day, however, attempts were made so to amend it as to modify or relieve this grievance. An amendment providing that the separate incomes of husband and wife should be treated as one for purposes of exemption or abatement[Pg 157] only when they together exceeded 500l. was rejected by 267 to 139, partly as involving too great a sacrifice of revenue; another, preventing a husband's goods from being liable for distraint for his wife's income, was also rejected by 271 to 166. A new clause providing that private firms, like companies, should not be taxed on profits made abroad, was criticised as enabling such firms to escape taxation by transferring their business abroad. The Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted this was done already, but not often enough to make it worth while to stop it, and the clause was adopted by 225 to 95. Another amendment, providing for deductions in respect of inherently wasting assets, was rejected by 208 to 113, and, after the rejection of other amendments, the Committee stage was completed under the guillotine.

Next day the usual "Massacre of the Innocents" took place, but subsequent events so increased the numbers that the list need hardly be given here. In the evening the Chancellor of the Exchequer dealt with the situation at the annual Lord Mayor's dinner to bankers and merchants at the Mansion House. A quieter period of trade, he said, was opening; but in twenty years the international commerce of the country had doubled, the clearances of the London banks had trebled; in 1914, 160,000,000l. of new capital had been issued in London, as against 125,000,000l. in 1913. Trade depressions were now shorter, and there were healthy signs. He referred to the great progress set up by British capital, comparing its effect to irrigation in the Sudan; and he mentioned that in fifty years 3,700,000,000l. of British capital had been advanced for development, though in war and war preparations the world's expenditure during the past ten years had been 4,500,000,000l. He looked to finance to arrest this "creeping catastrophe." But peace was needed at home also; there was the industrial crisis, as to which he was hopeful, and the Irish crisis, and the two together would set up the gravest situation Great Britain had had to face for centuries. It was, the duty, therefore, of responsible men of all parties to work for peace.

But the Irish crisis was approaching a climax. The Amending Bill, as transformed by the Lords, was to be taken in the Commons on Monday, July 20; it was certain that it would be accepted neither by the Nationalists nor by Ministers; but a minority in the Cabinet, said to number four out of nineteen, were alleged to favour concessions to Ulster beyond those originally embodied in the Bill. Conferences between the different leaders were held informally, and on July 17 the Cabinet met twice, A great naval display had been arranged at Spithead on the occasion of the test mobilisation; the King was to leave London to review the Fleet at 9.30 A.M. on Saturday, July 18; but he was detained till the afternoon, and various communications passed in the morning between him and the Prime Minister. The two, however, travelled together to Portsmouth, where the most powerful Fleet[Pg 158] ever assembled, numbering some 200 vessels in all, was drawn up in eight lines, extending over some twenty-two miles altogether, and manned by some 70,000 officers and men. The forces afloat were supplemented by five squadrons of four seaplanes each, with a squadron of eight aeroplanes, and four airships. The King was able to witness the illumination of the Fleet on Saturday evening; on Sunday he visited some of the ships informally; on Monday the ships moved to sea past the Royal yacht, as did a procession of aircraft, and, after witnessing tactical exercises, the King returned to London late on Monday evening. The display and assemblage proved to have an unforeseen value.

The curtailment of the King's visit was explained by the momentous revelation made by The Times on Monday morning, July 20, that His Majesty had issued invitations for the following day to a Conference on the Ulster question at Buckingham Palace, consisting of two members each from the Government, the Opposition, the Nationalists and the Ulster Covenanters. This step was believed to have been initiated by the King, but taken with the knowledge and consent of the Ministry, though without previous consultation with the leaders of the Nationalists or of either the British or Ulster section of the Opposition. The Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer would represent the Ministry; the Marquess of Lansdowne and Mr. Bonar Law the Unionists of Great Britain; Mr. John Redmond and Mr. Dillon the Nationalists; Sir Edward Carson and Captain Craig the Ulstermen. It was rumoured that the Government, though not prepared to accept the transformed Amending Bill, had virtually abandoned the time-limit, and were ready to exclude from the operation of the Home Rule Act not only Armagh, Down, Derry, and Monaghan, but parts of Fermanagh and Tyrone. The dispute now centred, therefore, on the question whether parts of these latter counties should be excluded or the whole.

The Amending Bill was postponed pending the Conferences; and the Prime Minister in announcing the postponement (July 20) repeated the statement of The Times, adding that the Speaker would preside. Mr. Bonar Law announced that the Opposition leaders had "loyally accepted" the King's command; Mr. Redmond, while disclaiming responsibility for the calling of the Conference, said that he had "of course accepted" likewise. Mr. Ginnell (I.N., Westmeath, N.) asked, as an independent Irish Nationalist, what authority the Prime Minister had to advise the King to place himself at the head of a conspiracy to defeat the decision of the House; but Mr. Asquith and the Speaker ignored the question. In the House of Lords, Lord Courtney of Penwith asked for assurances that the Government took the responsibility for the Conference, and that the final decision would rest with Parliament; and the Marquess of Crewe made a satisfactory reply.

[Pg 159]

The action of The Times was severely criticised, as tending to jeopardise the success of the Conference; but its information, as the Prime Minister assured the House, was not derived from official quarters, and seemed to have been obtained by inference from the movements of Ministers and of the King. The Conference itself was received with misgiving by the Nationalists, the Labour party, and a section of the Liberals, the first named feeling that they could not go much further in concession, the two others suspecting that the King had initiated it, and in so doing had exceeded the limits set by constitutional usage to the powers of the Crown. It had been rumoured that the King had intimated that he would not sign the Home Rule Bill except in conjunction with an Amending Bill; so that the Unionists need only make the Amending Bill impossible to ensure a crisis, ending probably in the dismissal of Ministers and a general election. The Daily News called the Conference "a Royal coup d'état"; the Labour party's views were expressed by Mr. J. H. Thomas (Derby) in his constituency on July 21. He objected to it as a deliberate attempt to defeat the Parliament Act, and also because two rebels had been invited to take part; Labour leaders who had used such language would have been arraigned at the Old Bailey. Liberal feeling was manifested at a meeting of members on that day, summoned in order to express anxiety for the supremacy of Parliament; but a more moderate resolution was passed, declaring that the party was determined to stand by the Nationalists, and that the Government should not appeal to the constituencies before completing the whole of its programme under the Parliament Act.

The misgivings of the Liberals were heightened by the speech with which the King opened the Conference at Buckingham Palace at 11.30 A.M. on Tuesday, July 21. It was as follows:—

Gentlemen,—It is with feelings of satisfaction and hopefulness that I receive you here to-day, and I thank you for the manner in which you have responded to my summons. It is also a matter of congratulation that the Speaker has consented to preside over your meetings.

My intervention at this moment may be regarded as a new departure. But the exceptional circumstances under which you are brought together justify my action. For months we have watched with deep misgivings the course of events in Ireland. The trend has been surely and steadily towards an appeal to force, and to-day the cry of civil war is on the lips of the most responsible and sober-minded of my people.

We have in the past endeavoured to act as a civilising example to the world, and to me it is unthinkable, as it must be to you, that we should be brought to the brink of fratricidal strife upon issues apparently so capable of adjustment as those you are now asked to consider, if handled in a spirit of generous compromise. My apprehension in contemplating such a dire calamity is intensified by my feelings of attachment to Ireland, and of sympathy with her people, who have always welcomed me with warm-hearted affection.

Gentlemen, you represent in one form or another the vast majority of my subjects at home. You also have a deep interest in my Dominions oversea, who are scarcely less concerned in a prompt and friendly settlement of this question. I regard you, then, in this matter as trustees for the honour and peace of all.

Your responsibilities are, indeed, great. The time is short. You will, I know, employ it to the fullest advantage, and be patient, earnest, and conciliatory, in view of the magnitude of the interests at stake. I pray that God in His infinite wisdom may guide your deliberations so that they may result in the joy of peace and honourable settlement.

[Pg 160]

Unfortunately, the "responsible and sober-minded persons" referred to were taken by the Westminster Gazette (and many readers) to be the Ulstermen and their aiders and abetters; and the Manchester Guardian feared that the King had been "unduly alarmed by the reports of certain of his unofficial counsellors," with consequences that might be serious (for the Constitution) unless he henceforth listened to his official advisers only. Unionist papers pointed out that a host of prominent people, independent of party politics, had talked of civil war, and the Prime Minister, in reply to questions, expressly took the responsibility for the speech, and interpreted His Majesty's words as meaning merely that apprehension of civil strife had been widely entertained and expressed by responsible and sober-minded persons, "among whom I may, perhaps, include myself." The House laughed, but the Liberal objectors were not wholly satisfied. There was some resentment felt, too, at the selection of Buckingham Palace for the Conference. But this, at least, protected the members from journalistic enterprise.

While the Conference was sitting the House of Commons took, among other business, the Report stage of the Finance Bill; but the minds of members were mainly elsewhere. Among the unsuccessful attempts made to obtain alleviations of the income-tax law we may mention proposals (a) to exempt lands and property occupied by any charity, which was asked for especially in the interest of residential hostels at the newer Universities; (b) treating income arising from capital earned by the recipient as unearned income; (c) providing that income from British Colonial investments should be assessed to income-tax and supertax after deduction of any Colonial income-tax; (d) providing for deduction from the taxed income of sums spent in the education of children; making provision for the case of insurance against death duties; (e) exempting income neither taxed nor received in the United Kingdom. Some slight concessions, however, were made by the Government; but a fresh attempt to avert the abolition of the settled estate duty was also unsuccessful. On the first day, complaints were made of the absence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but, on his arrival, he explained that he was detained by a duty not of his own seeking, but which he had no option but to accept.

The debates were cut short by the guillotine, and the third reading followed on July 23. Mr. Austen Chamberlain remarked on the change in the character of the Bill, and regretted the increase of the death duties, the treatment of settled estates, and the raiding of the Sinking Fund. As to the effect, welcomed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in breaking up landed estates, he desired to see many more small estates, especially occupying ownerships, but he thought the effect would be felt rather by those of moderate size than by the great ones; estates would be[Pg 161] starved, and the taxpayers would feel themselves unjustly treated, and attempt evasion. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was eminently fair when doing business, but, when convinced that he could not afford to give way, he mis-stated his opponent's case, and showed himself a master in irrelevancy. The new arrangements affecting the Finance Bill deprived the House of its control of finance, and took away its opportunity of reviewing the whole field of taxation. He laid stress on the growth of expenditure, and predicted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would himself convert the country to fiscal reform. The President of the Local Government Board replied that the Bill had set up a better graduation of the income-tax system, including supertax; out of 1,215,000 income-tax payers 214,000 still paid virtually less than 1d. in the pound, and 750,000 less than 6d. As to the provision for reduction of debt, he doubted whether the taxpayer was not being asked for too much. The Liberal Budgets marked a new departure in finance—a march against preventable poverty. After other speeches, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the new proposals had been fully discussed, and the Opposition had had difficulty in finding speakers. The changes in the Bill were a proof that the Commons still controlled finance. He defended the death duties, and thought that the financial interests of the world were feeling alarm at the total expenditure of 350,000,000l. a year on armaments; he saw signs of reaction, but the movement must be cosmopolitan. It was a duty to raise money for social reform. After further debate, the Bill was passed without a division.

The Conference meanwhile had failed. It met on four successive days (July 21-24), beginning at 11.30 A.M., and closing at 12.30 or 1 P.M.; and there were latterly frequent consultations between various political leaders. A large and attentive crowd, mainly, however, of idlers, and kept by the police at a convenient distance from the Palace, watched the arrival and departure of its members, and cheered them all impartially; and Mr. Redmond and Mr. Dillon, who walked back on the second day through Birdcage Walk, were enthusiastically cheered at the Barracks by the Irish Guards, whose honorary Colonel, it was noticed, was Earl Roberts, a decided Unionist. Two suffragists, Lady Barclay and the Hon. Edith Fitzgerald, attempted in vain to enter the Palace during the Conference, in order to submit the claims of women to the King. As was expected from the first, no solution was reached. After the final meeting on July 24 there was a Cabinet Council, and the Prime Minister announced the failure at the close of the sitting of the House of Commons. He read the official report, signed by the Speaker, stating that the possibility was considered of finding an area to be excluded from the operation of the Home Rule Bill, and that the Conference, "being unable to agree, either in principle or in detail, on such an area,[Pg 162] brought its sittings to a conclusion." Mr. Asquith added that the Amending Bill would be taken on July 28.

It was stated that the deadlock arose over the exclusion of Fermanagh and Tyrone, and especially as to whether Tyrone, in which the Nationalist voters were slightly the more numerous, should be allowed to vote itself out by "a bare majority." The personal relations of all the members it was stated, had been excellent, and each set had genuinely attempted to appreciate the difficulties of the others. It was thought that the Ministerialists, and even the Cabinet, might split. The First Lord of the Admiralty and four other Ministers were said to favour further concessions to Ulster, and the situation was described as almost desperate.

It was made even worse, however, two days later by a daring act of gun-running, leading to an affray in Dublin between the populace and British troops. On Sunday morning, July 26, about a thousand National Volunteers, some unarmed, others armed with long staves, assembled at Fairview, two miles from Dublin on the Howth road, and started, apparently on a route march, to Howth. Arriving there at midday, they marched to the pier, where a white yacht, steered (it was said) by a lady, had just arrived. Those with staves guarded the entrance to the pier; the rest, assisted by Boy Scouts, unloaded 2,500 Lee-Enfield rifles and 125,000 rounds of ammunition. Each Volunteer shouldered a rifle; the balance was loaded into motor cars and distributed to hiding-places throughout the county. A policeman and some coastguardmen were prevented from interfering, and the latter telephoned to Dublin. Mr. Harrel, the Assistant Commissioner of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, after sending out a large force of constables, telephoned the facts to the Under-Secretary at 2 P.M., and was directed to meet him at the Castle at 2.45; but he did not do so, having gone to the barracks, where he requisitioned, on his own responsibility, two companies of the King's Own Scottish Borderers, who were sent to Fairview by tram. The Volunteers on their return were met at Clontarf by a body of police and 160 soldiers; the police were ordered to disarm the Volunteers; some refused, and were arrested by the soldiers; others succeeded in disarming the Volunteers in front, after a scuffle in which two soldiers were wounded by pistol-shots, as well as three Volunteers and a policeman; hereupon the Volunteer leaders ordered a parley, during which the rear ranks of their own body dispersed, taking their rifles with them. Meanwhile the Under-Secretary, not finding Mr. Harrel, had left a Minute directing him that forcible disarmament of the Volunteers should not be attempted, but that their names should be taken and the destination of the arms traced. Later the troops, on their way back to Dublin, were stoned in Bachelors' Walk by a mob; their commanding officer expostulated, and some of the rear-rank men,[Pg 163] losing patience, fired without orders; three of the crowd were killed (including one woman) and thirty-two wounded, and a number of the soldiers were severely injured with stones. At 10.30 P.M. a crowd attacked the gate of the barracks, but were driven off by the police.

Statements on these events were made in both Houses on Monday, July 27. In the Commons the Chief Secretary, replying to a question from Mr. Redmond, read the Minute left by the Under-Secretary for Mr. Harrel, and stated that the latter had been suspended, and that an inquiry into the conduct of the military would be held at once; and, in answer to Mr. Devlin, he stated that on the previous Saturday 5,000 men, with five machine guns, had marched through Belfast, that General Macready, the military magistrate, was then in the city, and that the police had not been ordered to interfere. The subject was debated as a matter of urgent public importance that night, after a statement by the Foreign Secretary on the European situation (post, p. 167) which was rapidly becoming graver, and an announcement by the Prime Minister of the further postponement of the Amending Bill, since the Nationalist party, which had arranged a conference for that day to consider it, had had its attention taken up by the events in Dublin. A brief and non-party discussion on minor naval votes also preceded the debate.

In moving the adjournment, Mr. John Redmond condemned the Arms Proclamation, and stated that on June 30 he had written to the Chief Secretary, declaring it a failure and likely to lead to collision between the Nationalists and police. He went on to refer to the march of the previous Saturday through Belfast, and asked who was responsible for this monstrous attempt to discriminate in the administration of the law. Where was Mr. Harrell's chief, Sir John Ross of Bladensburg, who had proved himself thoroughly incompetent during the strikes of 1913? After referring, in impartial terms, to the shooting, he demanded from the Government—the suspension and trial of Sir John Ross, an immediate inquiry into all the facts, a judicial and military inquiry into the action of the troops, with (if they were found guilty) proper punishment; removal of the regiment from Ireland; revocation of the Arms Proclamation; and finally, and very emphatically, an impartial administration of the law.

The Chief Secretary agreed that no distinction could be made in the treatment of the Ulster and Nationalist Volunteers, and spoke of Mr. Harrel's "act of extraordinary indiscretion." Mr. Harrel had taken the whole responsibility, but if Sir John Ross were associated with the act, he ought to be suspended also. He dissociated the Volunteers wholly from the shooting and from the attack by the mob, and referred the question of the removal of the regiment to the Prime Minister as Secretary for War.

Mr. Bonar Law declared that the question put to Sir John[Pg 164] Ross was most improper; he could not now say it was wrong to suspend Mr. Harrel, but why did not the Under-Secretary send after him? The Government in Ireland had hunted out a scapegoat to save their own skin. The incident was only possible because the Government had abrogated authority in Ireland and had ceased to govern. He did not blame the Nationalist Volunteers, but the Government, for the first time in history, refused to carry out the law and yet continued to hold office. They did not vindicate the law because Mr. Redmond would not let them. The Government had never been able to make up their minds as to their proper policy and risk their fate on the consequences.

The Prime Minister replied. He was not going to follow the example of the Opposition leader, who was "a past master of vituperation," but, as Secretary for War, he put in a plea for the troops. They were exposed to great provocation, and what happened, much as it was to be lamented, was not a fitting subject for condemnation. After promising a full inquiry, he refused to see that it was unfair to ask Sir John Ross whether he associated himself with his subordinate. "It is a question put to me once a week." When Mr. Harrel acted, the proclamation against the importation of arms had already exhausted itself. He denounced the attacks on the Under-Secretary, and said that the importation of arms was relatively of minor importance. If the proclamation was maintained, it should be impartially applied. The real crux of the question was in the attitude of the Government and the Opposition to the maintenance of the authority of the law. The Opposition had greatly increased the inherent difficulty of governing Ireland by proclaiming that violation of the law was a cardinal virtue. Till an agreement was reached as to respect for law, the Unionists, when they came in, would find the government of Ireland an impossible task.

Mr. Balfour shared Mr. Bonar Law's suspicions as to the Minute, and thought the whole story had not been told. The Government had been persistently blind to the feelings of Ulster, and now were up against facts. They had taken and kept power, and had allowed the whole system of law, order, and government to crumble. Every one knew that Ireland had been brought into a condition from which it seemed almost impossible for any courage, statesmanship, or heroism to extricate it.

After other speeches, Lord R. Cecil (U.) moved the closure, which was defeated by 249 to 217. The motion was thus talked out, and a division averted on the main question. It might have imperilled the Government.

It was elicited next day that, as Mr. Balfour apparently had divined, Sir James Dougherty's Minute had in fact been written at 5 P.M., after the affray was over, but that it contained the instructions which Mr. Harrel, had he waited, would have received three hours before. But the occurrence was already ob[Pg 165]scured by events of greater moment. The Commission, appointed a week later, consisted of Lord Shaw, Mr. Justice Molony, and the Rt. Hon. W. D. Andrews, a retired Irish judge; and the story may be ended here by stating that its Report (published Oct. 1) declared that the employment of the police and military was illegal, that General Cuthbert, who allowed the military to be used, was wrong in doing so, that they were not justified in firing, and that the twenty-one soldiers who fired did so without orders, but believing that they had them.

At the time, however, it seemed possible that this affray, coupled with the dispute over the Amending Bill, might bring about complications delaying the establishment of Home Rule; and an enthusiastic demonstration of Liberals, Labour men, and Nationalists, held at the London Opera House on July 29, demanded that the Government should complete their legislative programme and thus secure the effective operation of the Parliament Act. Sir James H. Dalziel (Kirkcaldy) presided; Mr. Neil Primrose (Cambs, Wisbech), Mr. Rowlands (Dartford), and Mr. Devlin (Belfast, W.) were among the speakers, and there were 50,000 applications for admission. Incidentally the Chairman mentioned—what soon became obvious—the very grave effect produced on the international situation by the reports that civil war was impending in Ireland.

In the interval before the resumption of the debate on the Amending Bill, the House dealt, more briefly than usual, with the Colonial Office Vote and the Education Vote (July 28) as well as with other non-contentious subjects needing no special notice here. On the Colonial Office Vote the points raised were dealt with by the Colonial Secretary in his reply as follows: He must decline to give information as to future policy in Somaliland which would be useful to the Mullah; but they were getting 450 camel constabulary and 400 of the Indian contingent, of whom 150 would be mounted and would strengthen the camel corps. Burao would be occupied by the new commandant early in September, and they would then enable the friendlies to reoccupy their grazing at the mouth of the Ain Valley. He would not decrease the existing native reserve lands in East Africa. As to Tasmania, he had only laid down the rules generally regarded as binding on a Governor, and Sir W. Ellison-Macartney's appointment was based on his work as a Civil Servant and irrespective of politics. The incident, he thought, was closed. The South African Native Lands Act was the outcome of a commission appointed by Viscount Milner, and was temporary; Parliament ought not to intervene except on proof of gross injustice to natives, and there had been none. The Malaya Dreadnought was not a tribute, but a voluntary gift from allies; the taxation of the Malay people was practically nil. He gave encouraging figures as to the decreasing consumption of opium in the British[Pg 166] possessions in the Far East, but it was ominous that large quantities of cocaine and morphia had been seized. As to the Ceylon excise, the Government proposed to put up an experimental distillery in each district to get rid of the existing distilleries, but they might be directed by private enterprise, though not at the cost of creating vested interests. The supposed increase in the consumption of arrack was due to the gradual cessation of illicit drinking. He suspended his decision as to the Chartered Company's Charter pending consultation with Lord Gladstone.—The Vote was agreed to.

On the Education Vote, after criticisms and comments had been passed on various points in the Board's policy by several members, the President of the Board of Education paid a tribute to the memory of Sir William Anson, and bore testimony to the efficiency of the staff of the Department. Among other matters of interest, he touched on school hygiene, mentioning that 317 education authorities had established medical inspection, in which 1097 medical men, eighty-four women, and 300 specialists were engaged. Half the children needed dental treatment, and the expenditure on the medical service had increased from 47,000l. in 1912-13 to 175,000l. in 1914-15. For mental and physical defectives there were 365 schools, and the grants were increased. They had 945 places in open-air schools for ailing children, but 500,000 children needed them. Provision was made for feeding 358,000 children, but they hoped to be able to contribute half the cost to local authorities by a supplementary grant of 77,000l. Physical training was invariably part of the course, and England was behind no nation in providing for it. He mentioned also schools for mothers, play-grounds, and a projected grant in 1915-16 of 50,000l. to aid local authorities to deal with epidemics. There was no evidence that the teaching of the three R's had generally deteriorated; the children were more alert and responsive, and happier at school than ever. The wastage of teachers could only be met by making the career more attractive. Lodgings for women teachers were a difficulty, and hostels for teachers were the only solution. The State would find two-fifths of the cost. Children left school just when a good teacher could do most for them, but he thought the prosperity of the country from the point of view of education was assured.

Amid all the prevalent excitement, little attention could be paid to the Report of the Welsh Land Inquiry Committee (July 27). This body, of which Sir A. Mond (L., Swansea) was chairman, had been appointed at the request of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to inquire into and report on the special circumstances of Wales in respect to land tenure and agricultural conditions, and the Report, which claimed, fairly enough, to be judicial and dispassionate, contained some 350 pages of documents and comment, leading up to the following main conclusions. Legislation was[Pg 167] urgently needed in the interests of agriculture; the crops, except in roots, were much poorer than in England, partly from the inferior productiveness of the soil, but largely through insecurity of tenure, and also because of high rents, fear that rent would be charged on tenants' improvements, inadequate compensation, and onerous conditions of tenants' agreements. The Committee recommended absolute fixity of tenure, and the establishment of a Land Court with power to fix fair rents and settle reasonable conditions of tenancy. The rural housing conditions were deplorable; there were often not enough cottages, and in no district was there an ample supply of suitable cottages large enough for an average family. The effect was bad for health and morals. The administration of the Small Holdings and Allotments Acts was unsatisfactory and varied greatly in different counties, and the machinery was too cumbersome. At the end of 1912, 1,100 approved applicants were still waiting for land.

The Amending Bill was to be taken on July 30; and its prospects had been perhaps improved by the remarkable pamphlet published a week earlier by Sir Horace Plunkett, announcing his conversion to Home Rule (post, Chap. VI.). But all domestic difficulties were rapidly being obscured and effaced by the rapid gathering of war-clouds in Central Europe. The news of the Dublin shooting was published the same day as that of the rejection by Austria-Hungary of the Serbian reply to her ultimatum; and between question time in the House of Commons and the excited debate on the affray later on that day (July 27) party strife was visibly suspended in both Houses, while substantially identical statements on the European situation were made respectively by Sir Edward Grey and the Marquess of Crewe. The former, replying to a question by the leader of the Opposition, stated that, after hearing of the Austro-Serbian rupture, he had asked the French, German and Italian Governments, through the respective British Ambassadors in their capitals, if their Ambassadors might meet in Conference in London; he had also asked the Austro-Hungarian and Serbian Governments to suspend operations meanwhile. It appeared next day that Italy and France accepted at once; but Germany refused the British invitation, alleging that negotiations between the several Governments would be preferable; Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and seized Serb vessels at Orsova; and Russia prepared (July 28) to mobilise fourteen Army Corps. Under these circumstances The Times (July 29) urged British parties to "close ranks" and suspend their strife, that the Government might devote all its energies to limiting the area of the war. Sir Edward Grey, it declared, was indispensable as Foreign Minister; and the Ulster question might be provisionally settled by the exclusion of Fermanagh and Tyrone from the Home Rule area. That day, however, the situation became graver; seven Stock Exchange firms failed; and the[Pg 168] Prime Minister could only tell the Commons that the Government were doing their best to "circumscribe the area of possible conflict." But on the day following (July 31) he announced that the Amending Bill must be postponed. In an impressive speech to a profoundly attentive House, he stated that the issues of peace and war were hanging in the balance, and with them the risk of a catastrophe of which it was impossible to measure either the dimensions or the effects. It was, therefore, of vital importance in the interest of the whole world, that Great Britain, who had no interests directly at stake, should present a united front and be able to speak and act with the authority of an undivided nation. Hence they would deal with necessary non-controversial business. Mr. Bonar Law agreed, saying that it should be made clear that British domestic differences did not prevent members from presenting a united front in the councils of the world; and that he spoke not only for the Unionists, but for the Ulstermen.

Next day, however (Aug. 1), the situation became worse. German troops were preparing to invade France; Russia had proclaimed a general mobilisation; martial law was consequently proclaimed in Germany; in Great Britain steps were taken to guard magazines, railway bridges and tunnels, and dockyards; the booms defending British naval ports were placed in position; and telegrams from the Dominions exhibited their eagerness to aid the mother country by sending troops. In London, the Stock Exchange, an hour after its opening, was closed sine die; business was active at Lloyd's in insurances against war risks; the Cabinet met in the morning, and the Prime Minister in the afternoon was received by the King. Ministers cancelled their week-end engagements, and, just before the House rose, the Prime Minister stated that the news from Germany indicated that she would follow Russia in mobilisation. Next day the bank rate was advanced to 10 per cent.—its highest point since the Overend-Gurney crisis in May, 1866; the Cabinet met twice, and a conference was held between some of its members, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the financial situation; and the King, as a last effort to preserve peace, sent a direct personal telegram to the Tsar, offering mediation, which arrived, however, after Germany had declared war on Russia.

Unwonted and varied excitement characterised Sunday, August 2. Throughout the country prayers for the preservation of peace were offered in the churches, in accordance with a suggestion made some days earlier by the Archbishops, and also in Nonconformist places of worship. In Trafalgar Square a "war protest meeting" organised by Mr. Hyndman, Mr. Ben Tillett, Mr. Keir Hardie, Mr. Barnes, M.P., and other prominent representatives of Socialism or Labour, passed a resolution calling on the Government to take every step to secure peace, and on the workers of the world to use their industrial and political power to avert war;[Pg 169] but it was interrupted by a large dissentient element, which, however, ultimately seceded peacefully and held a "patriotic" meeting at the Admiralty Arch. During the day the Cabinet met twice, and frequent informal conferences were held between Ministers; and it was stated that the divisions of opinion previously existing among them disappeared in the course of the day almost entirely. The King held a Council at 4.30 P.M., and it was announced, first, that the Government had taken control of all wireless telegraphy, next that a "moratorium" of a month was established for certain bills of exchange; and the Admiralty called out the Naval Reserves, including naval and marine pensioners under the age of fifty-five, and the Royal Volunteer Reserve. On the announcement of this last step, through the medium of special late Sunday editions of various newspapers, a crowd of some 6,000 people marched up the Mall to Buckingham Palace, where it sang the national anthems of Great Britain and France. The King and Queen were called for, and came out to acknowledge the greetings of their enthusiastic subjects.

Next morning London awoke to a new kind of Bank Holiday. The morning papers announced the Germans' violation of the neutrality of Luxemburg and their invasion of France and their ultimatum to Belgium; many of the railway excursion arrangements had perforce been cancelled; and the streets were thronged by disappointed excursionists, reinforced by others who had come in from the country for further news. Miniature British and French flags found a ready sale in the streets; special editions were issued of the evening papers; crowds gathered outside Buckingham Palace and Whitehall, impartially cheering Ministers and Unionist leaders. In the City a conference of bankers and merchants invited the Government to extend the Bank Holiday for three days by proclamation; the House of Lords had been hastily summoned; but interest centred in the Commons.

Here, indeed, as in the country, the attitude of a large section of the Liberals was still uncertain. Many of them condemned all wars, or almost all, as criminal; many more held that the Foreign Office was prejudiced against Germany, and abhorred the notion of fighting to preserve the balance of power in Europe, or to strengthen Russia, reputed a far less civilised Power than Germany, and the historic foe of the British Empire in India. Protests against any departure by Great Britain from neutrality were specially noticeable in the Manchester Guardian and the Daily News; and manifestoes in a similar sense were issued by various groups of important personages; the Bishops of Lincoln and Hereford, the British Neutrality Committee, and others. A group of learned men, chiefly belonging to Cambridge University, declared that war against Germany in the interest of Russia and Servia would be "a sin against civilisation"; and the Labour Leader appealed to "the organised workers" to demonstrate[Pg 170] everywhere that the war must be stopped. But these views were greatly modified, not only by the news of German action in Luxemburg and Belgium, but by a statement published on the Monday afternoon with the authority of the German Embassy, intimating that, if Great Britain remained neutral, Germany would undertake not to attack France in the north by sea, nor to make warlike use of the Dutch or Belgian coasts. Thus, it was contended, Great Britain, as a neutral, could aid France as well as by going to war. This offer was felt to be ridiculous; and the conversion of the vast majority of those Liberals who were still adverse to war was completed by the speech delivered in the House of Commons by Sir Edward Grey. It was described by Lord Lansdowne as "of rare courage," and The Times declared that it would remain memorable in the history of the world.

The centre of interest lay in the Commons, and Sir Edward Grey's speech practically served for both Houses. All questions to Ministers were postponed, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced, without notice, a Postponement of Payments Bill, supplementing the Moratorium proclamation (p. 169) by empowering the Government to declare a general moratorium on occasion. By agreement, it was passed through all its stages at once; indeed, but for a protest from Mr. McCallum Scott (L., Glasgow, Bridgeton) it would not even have been read. The Bank holiday was prolonged for three days; but the stoppage was not to involve a general suspension of work and wages.

Then Sir Edward Grey spoke. He said that Ministers, then as always, had worked for peace, but in vain. As to British obligations he had told the Russian Foreign Minister in 1908 that he could promise no more than diplomatic support, and in the existing crisis, till the day before, he had promised nothing more. During the general election of 1906, at the crisis which led to the Algeciras Conference, he had been asked if, should a Franco-German war break out, Great Britain would give armed support; he had replied that he could promise nothing which would not be fully supported by public opinion, but, if war were forced on France through the Anglo-French entente regarding Morocco, British public opinion would rally to her support. The French Government had then suggested conversations on this support between military and naval experts; and he had agreed, after consulting Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Lord Haldane, and Mr. Asquith—since he could not, owing to the general election, consult the Cabinet—on the understanding that such conversations should in no way bind the Government. In the Agadir crisis he took the same line, and on November 22, 1912, he exchanged letters with the French Ambassador to this effect, but agreeing that if either Great Britain or France had grave reason to expect an attack by a third Power or a menace to the general peace, both Governments should consult whether they should co[Pg 171]-operate and what measures they should take in common. But the British Government remained perfectly free to decide whether it should intervene. In the Morocco question, however, it was pledged to diplomatic support; in the existing crisis France was involved because of its obligation of honour to Russia, which did not apply to Great Britain, a Power which did not even know the terms of the Franco-Russian alliance. But in view of the Anglo-French friendship, let every man look into his own heart and construe the extent of the British obligation for himself. In view of that friendship, the French Fleet was concentrated in the Mediterranean, and if, in a war which France had not sought, her unprotected coasts were bombarded, he felt that Great Britain could not stand aside. And, from the point of view of British interests, suppose the French Fleet withdrawn from the Mediterranean and Italy involved in the war, Great Britain, if she now stood aside, might be exposed to appalling risks. He had, therefore, on the previous afternoon given the French Ambassador an authorised assurance that, if a hostile German Fleet came into the Channel or North Sea the British Government would give France all the assistance in its power. He had just heard that the German Government would be prepared, were Great Britain pledged to neutrality, to agree that the German Fleet should not attack the northern coast of France (p. 170); but that was far too narrow an engagement. There was also the question, hourly becoming more serious, of the neutrality of Belgium. In 1870 Prince Bismarck had acknowledged the sanctity of the Treaty of 1839, and the Government could not take a narrower view of its obligations than Mr. Gladstone's Government took in 1870. He had asked in the previous week the French and German Governments whether they were prepared to respect that neutrality; and he quoted the replies: France had promised to do so, Germany had delayed replying. Belgium had promised neutrality. But Germany had sent Belgium an ultimatum; and the British Government had been asked in the past week whether an assurance would satisfy it that Belgian integrity would be preserved after the war. It had replied refusing to barter away its interests or obligations in Belgian neutrality. The King of the Belgians had that day telegraphed to King George, appealing to the British Government to safeguard the integrity of Belgium. Great Britain had great and vital interests in the independence of Belgium, and integrity was the least part of that independence. Compliance with the ultimatum would be fatal to that independence, and that of Holland would then perish also. If Great Britain stood aside, ran away from her obligations, and merely intervened at the end of the war, her material force would be of little value, in view of the respect she would have lost. She would suffer terribly in the war in any case, but if she stood aside, she would be in no position after it to prevent Europe falling under the domination of one[Pg 172] Power, and her moral position would be such as to have lost her all respect. The Fleet was mobilised, the Army was mobilising, but no engagement had yet been taken to send abroad an Expeditionary Force. The one bright spot was Ireland. The feeling there made the Irish question a consideration that need not be taken into account. Unconditional neutrality was precluded by the commitment to France and the consideration of Belgium. To stand aside would be to sacrifice the good name of Great Britain without escaping the most serious economic consequences. The forces of the Crown were never more ready or more efficient; the Government had worked for peace to the last moment, and beyond it; when the country realised the situation, they would have its united support.

Mr. Bonar Law promised emphatically the full and unhesitating support of the Opposition, mentioning also, as another bright spot, the certainty of that of the Dominions. Mr. John Redmond, in a speech that made a profound sensation, declared that the events of recent years had completely altered the Nationalist feeling towards Great Britain. He recalled the support given by Catholics to the Irish Volunteers in the eighteenth century, and said that the Government might withdraw all its troops from Ireland: her coasts would be defended by her armed sons, and the Nationalist Volunteers would gladly join in doing so with their brethren of the north. Mr. Ramsay Macdonald (Lab.) contended that the Foreign Minister had not shown that the country was in danger, the Crimean and South African Wars were fought on the plea of British honour; and the conflict could not be confined to the neutrality of Belgium. The Labour party wanted to know what would happen to Russia, and the annihilation of France was impossible. He admitted that the feeling of the House was against his followers, but they held that Great Britain should have remained neutral.

The sitting was suspended till 7 P.M., when the Royal Assent was given to the Postponement of Payments Bill, and the debate was continued discursively, several Liberal and Labour members condemning, and others supporting, the course taken by the Government. Eventually Mr. Balfour pointed out that all this was "the mere dregs and lees of the debate," and would be misunderstood abroad as representing the opinion of the House. He urged that it should be ended, and after a few words of protest from Colonel Seely (L.) the advice was taken.

Next day the proceedings in the Commons commenced with a momentous statement by the Prime Minister, embodying the earlier telegrams in the series, of which the substance is given below; the outstanding Votes in Supply were then passed, and a Message was read from the King announcing the Proclamation calling out the Army Reserve and embodying the Territorial Force; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer outlined the scheme[Pg 173] of the Government for insurance against war risks, so as to secure the continuance of overseas trade. It had been devised by an expert sub-committee of the Imperial Defence Committee, and conditions in the shipping trade had changed since such insurance had been discountenanced by an expert Committee in 1908. Details cannot here be given; but, substantially, the State took 80 per cent. of the risks on vessels trading oversea (which were mainly insured through three great mutual societies) and received 80 per cent. of the premiums, charging no premium on vessels on a voyage on the outbreak of war, and allowing the cancellation of a policy if a voyage were delayed by the Admiralty. For cargoes a State Bureau was opened, to insure cargoes despatched after the outbreak of war. A flat rate was to be charged, subject to certain variations from time to time, and a strong Advisory Board established. Mr. Austen Chamberlain (U.) and Mr. A. Henderson (Lab.) approved the scheme, the latter urging the Government to consider the organisation of distribution; but here, as it proved, there was no need for alarm.

Meanwhile the Government prepared actively for war in other ways. It assumed the control of the railways, vesting it in a Committee of General Managers under the Board of Trade; it took over the two Dreadnoughts completed and nearly completed in Great Britain for Turkey, and the two destroyer leaders building for Chile; Field-Marshal Sir John French was appointed Inspector-General of the Forces, and it was understood that he was to command the Expeditionary Force; and Admiral Sir John Jellicoe was appointed to the supreme command of the Home Fleets, with Rear-Admiral C. E. Madden as his Chief of Staff. The King, too, issued a Message to the Overseas Dominions expressing the "appreciation and pride" with which he had received the Messages from their respective Governments. "These spontaneous assurances of their fullest-support," the Message continued, "recall to me the generous, self-sacrificing help given by them in the past to the Mother Country. I shall be strengthened in the discharge of the great responsibility which rests upon me by the confident belief that, in this time of trial, my Empire will stand united, calm, resolute, trusting in God."

In the country generally the action of Germany and Sir Edward Grey's statement had driven the great mass of the Liberal and Labour parties to agree that war was inevitable and just. In the Ministry some members were still unconvinced. On Monday, August 3, four members of the Cabinet, it was said, still advocated peace; by next day there were but two, Lord Morley of Blackburn, Lord President of the Council, and Mr. John Burns, President of the Board of Trade. They, however, resigned office; but it was stated that they had decided to do so independently and at different stages of the controversy, and largely to avoid hampering the freedom of the Cabinet in a great[Pg 174] emergency. Their example was followed by Mr. Charles Trevelyan (Yorks, W.R., Elland), the Secretary of the Board of Education. These three were replaced respectively by Earl Beauchamp, Mr. Runciman, and Dr. Addison.

The breach between Germany and Great Britain became definitive on Tuesday, August 4. Following his statement of the previous day in the Commons, Sir E. Grey telegraphed in the morning to the British Ambassador in Berlin, protesting against the violation of Belgian neutrality by Germany, and asking for an immediate reply. Before it came he received official Belgian intimations that the violation had already been announced to Belgium and had taken place. The German Government also telegraphed to the German Ambassador in London, instructing him to repeat most positively the formal assurance that, even in the case of an armed conflict, Germany would under no pretence whatever annex Belgian territory, and that she had disregarded Belgian neutrality to prevent what was to her a question of life or death, the French advance through Belgium. Thereupon the British Government sent an ultimatum to Berlin, asking for an unequivocal assurance that Germany would respect the neutrality of Belgium identical with that given the week before by France both to Belgium and to Great Britain, and for a satisfactory reply by midnight to it, and to Sir E. Grey's telegram of the morning; otherwise, the British Ambassador was instructed to make what was, substantially, a declaration of war. Late that night this request was refused: and on Wednesday morning, August 5, Great Britain found herself called to be once more the saviour of Europe.


[1] Mr. Gulland (L., Dumfries) had made a speech in the Wick bye-election contest (A. R., 1913, p. 257) which was interpreted as a promise of a new harbour if the Liberal were returned. He had disclaimed this interpretation in February.


The war had come suddenly upon Great Britain, but it found a Government well prepared to withstand the enemy and a Parliament and a people whose divisions—on which the Germans had staked their hopes—were rapidly closing, and whose determination to carry on the contest to a victorious issue was being quickly perfected by a growing knowledge of the real position. Promises of help began to pour in from all parts of the Empire; at home steps were at once taken to detain Austrian and German reservists, and to seize or capture enemy ships within reach of British or French cruisers or lying in British ports. Twenty such vessels were taken on the first day of the war; the following days added many others and German oceanic trade was stopped at once. The British Fleets, brought together at Spithead (p. 158) had taken up their stations in the North Sea, and cruisers had been sent to protect the great trade routes from German warships,[Pg 175] or from "auxiliary cruisers" in the shape of fast German liners, armed, and partly coaled, at sea. Horses and motor-lorries were hastily requisitioned for war purposes, and even harvesting was impeded by the (illegal) seizure of farm horses by too zealous agents; and preparations, perfectly well known in the ports, were actively made for the despatch to France of the British Expeditionary Force; but it was only by inadvertence that hints of their nature were published in the Press, and most of the papers patriotically suppressed the news. Then began that system of secrecy as to movements and details, loyally observed by all concerned and rigorously enforced by authority, which was kept up throughout the year by all the belligerents. Baffling to the contending commanders, it was still more so to the contemporary historian; and, for the first few days, it obscured the gravity of the contest.

The first day of war was marked in the Commons by the announcements of the resignations of Ministers (p. 173), of the violation of Belgian neutrality, and of an impending Vote of Credit—which was loudly cheered—for 100,000,000l.; and then two war measures were passed almost without debate. The first amended the procedure in Prize Courts in accordance with the findings of a recent Departmental Committee, the second empowered the Crown, in time of war or national emergency, to impose restrictions on aliens, especially with a view to the removal or detention of spies. Next, on the adjournment, the Chancellor of the Exchequer made his statement on the financial position. The emergency, he said, was due to temporary causes, largely to the stoppage of remittances from abroad to enable the discount market to meet its liabilities; there was no failure of credit. After conferences at the Treasury it had been decided not to suspend special payments, but to take steps to suspend the Bank Charter Act, in order to economise the supply of gold. After strongly condemning the hoarding of gold as helpful to the enemy, he stated that on August 7 Government notes for 1l. and 10s. would be issued, convertible into gold at the Bank of England, postal orders would also be legal tender, and similarly convertible, and would be issued free of charge. The Bank rate would be reduced to 6 per cent., and the moratorium extended for a month. Bills and cheques would be dealt with as usual, subject to the discretion of the bankers in preventing an abnormal withdrawal of gold. This satisfactory account of the position was fully endorsed by Mr. A. Chamberlain.

Late that evening a White Paper was officially published (Cd. 1467) containing correspondence respecting the European Crisis. It embodied nearly 160 documents, and could not be rapidly grasped; but it eventually enabled the British people to form their own opinion as to the responsibility for the war. Later it was republished, with additions, in pamphlet form at the price[Pg 176] of a penny, and German and French translations were circulated abroad.[2]

The course of events, so far as Great Britain was concerned in them, in the fortnight preceding the war, was as follows: The Austrian Note to Serbia, which was in fact an Ultimatum, was delivered at Belgrade on July 23, and a reply was demanded within forty-eight hours. Sir Edward Grey, while earnestly deprecating any time-limit to this Note, had laid stress, before knowing its contents, on the appalling consequences that would follow should it lead to a European war between four Powers—a complete collapse of European credit and industry which, in great industrial States, would mean "a state of things worse than that of 1848." But he declined to express an opinion on the merits of the Austro-Serbian dispute. Between the presentation of the Note and the expiry of the time-limit, however, Great Britain made three attempts at peace. In conjunction with Russia, whose Foreign Minister described the Note as "provocative and immoral," she urged the extension of the time-limit on Austria, and pleaded with Germany to do the same. Next, she proposed that Germany, France, and Italy should work together at Vienna and St. Petersburg in favour of conciliation. Italy, France, and Russia assented; Germany had no objection, if Austro-Russian relations became threatening. Thirdly, the Russian, French, and British representatives at Belgrade were instructed to advise Serbia to go as far as possible to meet Austria. Serbia, in fact, conceded very nearly all the Austrian demands; but Austria had determined on war, and Germany, when Sir Edward Grey urged her to persuade Austria to accept the reply, merely "passed on" his message to Vienna. The time-limit having expired, Sir Edward Grey proposed (July 26), by telegram to the British representatives at Paris, Berlin, and Rome, a Conference in London between himself and the French, German and Italian Ambassadors, to discuss the best means towards a settlement. France and Italy accepted; Russia agreed, if direct explanations with Vienna should prove impossible; Germany, however, said that the Conference would practically amount to a court of arbitration, but subsequently "accepted in principle" mediation by the four Powers between Austria and Russia. But Austria now declared war against Serbia. On July 28, however, Sir Edward Grey was informed through the German Ambassador that Germany was endeavouring to mediate between Russia and Austria. He then sent word to the German Government asking them, if they did not like the Conference he had proposed, to suggest any other form of mediation.

The German Chancellor's answer was to invite the British

[Pg 177]

Ambassador, Sir E. Goschen, to call on him, late at night, on July 29. He intimated that, should Austria be attacked by Russia, a European conflict would become inevitable; he thought it clear that Great Britain would not allow France to be crushed, but this was not Germany's aim; if Great Britain's neutrality were certain, Germany would promise, if victorious, to make no territorial acquisitions at the expense of France. But he was unable, on being asked, to give a similar undertaking in regard to the French colonies. Germany would promise to respect the integrity and neutrality of the Netherlands so long as her adversaries did likewise. German operations in Belgium, he said, depended on the action of France, but, after the war, Belgian integrity would be respected if Belgium had not sided against Germany. He hoped that these assurances might lead to an Anglo-German understanding, and ultimately to a neutrality agreement. Sir Edward Grey replied (July 30) with an absolute refusal; France, without further territory being taken from her in Europe, could be so crushed as to become merely subordinate to Germany, and it would be an indelible disgrace to Great Britain to make this bargain at the expense of France; nor could she bargain away any obligation or interest she had regarding Belgian neutrality. The one way of maintaining the good relations between Great Britain and Germany was by the co-operation of the two Powers to preserve the peace of Europe. But, if the peace of Europe could be preserved, he would endeavour to promote some arrangement to which Germany would be a party, by which she and her allies could be assured against any aggressive or hostile policy on the part of France, Russia, or Great Britain. He had desired and worked for this as far as possible during the Balkan crisis, and, Germany having a like object, Anglo-German relations sensibly improved. The idea had hitherto been too Utopian for definite proposals, but he hoped for some more definite rapprochement between the Powers when the existing crisis was over.

On the same day, July 30, M. Cambon reminded Sir Edward Grey of a letter written by the latter on November 22, 1912, agreeing that while consultations between military and naval experts of their two nations did not pledge their Governments to co-operate, yet, should either Government have grave reason to expect an unprovoked attack by a third Power, or something that threatened the general peace, it should immediately discuss with the other whether, and by what measures, they should co-operate in opposition. M. Cambon also showed a letter from the French Foreign Minister, indicating that Germany was preparing to invade France. Sir E. Grey answered next day, after a Cabinet Council, that as yet Great Britain could not definitely pledge herself to intervene. The preservation of the neutrality of Belgium might be an important factor in determining the British attitude. Sir E, Grey also asked the French and German Governments,[Pg 178] through their Ambassadors, whether they were prepared to respect Belgian neutrality provided it was not violated; and he asked the Belgian Government whether it would remain neutral. France and Belgium replied affirmatively at once. The German Government temporised, and eventually gave no answer, though Sir Edward Grey had warned the German Ambassador on August 1 of the probable effect of a violation on public feeling in Great Britain.

Meanwhile Russia and Austria were still negotiating (July 30, 31). On the 29th Germany had suggested to Austria that she should content herself with occupying Belgrade. That night Russia offered to stop all military preparations if Austria would recognise that the Austro-Serbian conflict had become a matter of general European interest, and would eliminate from the ultimatum the points involving a violation of the sovereignty of Serbia. Austria now agreed at last to discuss the whole question of her ultimatum, and Russia asked the British Government to assume the direction of these discussions.

But the hope of peace thus held out was wrecked by the German ultimatum requiring Russia to countermand her mobilisation. Germany, meanwhile, had gone further towards mobilisation than Russia; the German Secretary of State refused to discuss a last proposal from Sir Edward Grey for joint action of Great Britain, Germany, France, and Italy, pending a reply from Russia; and on the afternoon of August 1 Germany declared war against France. Next morning the Germans violated the neutrality of Luxemburg. British merchant ships had already been detained at Hamburg—though the detention was temporarily countermanded on representations from the British Ambassador—and the only question now left for the British Government was whether Great Britain should remain neutral. The determining factors proved to be the violation of Belgian neutrality and the danger to France; and the position was fully explained by the Foreign Secretary on August 3 (p. 170) and by the Prime Minister two days later.

The Prime Minister moved the Vote of Credit (Aug. 5) in a speech continuing the noblest traditions of Parliamentary eloquence. After an emphatic tribute to the unremitting efforts of the Foreign Secretary to preserve peace both in the Balkan crisis and to the very last stage of the recent negotiations, he quoted from the German Chancellor's communication to the British Ambassador at Berlin the appeal for British neutrality, the refusal to undertake to respect the integrity of the French colonies, and the treatment of what, to himself personally, had always been a crucial and almost the governing consideration—the position of the small States. The proposal, Mr. Asquith said, amounted to this—as regarded France, free licence to Germany to annex, if successful, the whole of the French possessions out[Pg 179]side Europe; as to Belgium, the British reply to the pathetic appeal of the King of the Belgians would have been that "without her knowledge, we should have bartered away to the Power that was threatening her our obligation to keep our plighted word." He characterised the German proposal as infamous; and in return Great Britain was to get a promise—nothing more—from a Power "which was at that very moment announcing its intention to violate its own treaty obligations and inviting us to do the same. Had we even dallied or temporised with such an offer, we, as a Government, should have covered ourselves with dishonour." He quoted at length from Sir E. Grey's reply, which showed that the Foreign Secretary, who had already earned the title of the peacemaker of Europe, persisted to the last in his efforts for peace. "The war has been forced upon us." Every member of the Government had had before him throughout the vision of the almost unequalled suffering entailed by war, not only to the present generation, but to posterity and the whole prospects of European civilisation. Nevertheless, they had thought it to be the duty as well as the interest of Great Britain to go to war. They were fighting, first, to fulfil a solemn international obligation; secondly, to vindicate the principle that small nationalities were not to be crushed, in defiance of international good faith, by the arbitrary will of a strong and overmastering Power. He believed no nation ever entered into a great struggle—and this was one of the greatest in history—with a clearer conscience and stronger conviction that it was fighting, not for aggression or the maintenance of its own interest, but for principles whose maintenance was vital to the civilised world. "With the full conviction not only of the wisdom and justice, but of the obligation to challenge this great issue," and in order to ensure that the whole resources of the Empire should be thrown into the scale, he asked for a Vote of Credit of 100,000,000l. not only for naval and military operations, but to assist the food supplies, promote the continuance of trade, industry, business, and communications, relieve distress, and generally for all expenses arising out of the state of war. This gave the Government a free hand, and the expenditure would be subject to the approval of the House. He asked also, as War Secretary, for a Supplementary Estimate for men for the Army. He had taken that office in order that the unfortunate conditions existing should be ended and complete confidence re-established; and he believed and knew that it had been. There was no more loyal and united body, none in which the spirit and habit of discipline were more deeply ingrained and cherished, than the British Army. It was unfair that his own attention should be divided, and Lord Kitchener, with great public spirit and patriotism, had undertaken the office. He was not a politician, and his acceptance did not identify him with any set of political opinions. On his behalf, the Prime Minister continued, he him[Pg 180]self was asking for power to increase the Army by 500,000. India was proposing to send two divisions; every one of the Dominions had already tendered unasked the utmost help, in men and in money, that it could afford to the Empire in time of need. The mother country must set the example, while responding to these filial overtures with gratitude and affection. "We have a great duty to perform, a great trust to fulfil, and confidently we believe Parliament and the country will enable us to do it."

Mr. Bonar Law, speaking for the whole Opposition, gave their whole-hearted support to the Government. He had said in his first speech on foreign policy as Opposition leader (Nov. 27, 1911) that an Anglo-German war would be due to human folly; it was due to human folly and wickedness; but neither were in Great Britain. Though she was under no formal obligations to take part, the Triple Entente was understood to mean that, if any of its members were attacked aggressively, the others would be expected to aid. Berlin might have prevented war, but a miscalculation had been made about Russia and Great Britain. He endorsed entirely the Prime Minister's view of the position. The struggle was Napoleonism once again. "Thank Heaven, so far as we know, there is no Napoleon." There was danger, not of a scarcity of food, but of a fear of scarcity, and he warned the country against panic. With the command of the sea Great Britain would have freedom of trade with the colonies and the whole of the American Continent, without the competition of her enemies or her allies. He offered the Government the full services of any member of the Opposition.

After further debate, which exhibited the progress of the Liberal conversion to the necessity of the war, the motion was agreed to, and also the increase of the Army by 500,000 men and the Navy and Coastguard by 67,000.

Subsequently, on the second reading of the Appropriation Bill, the President of the Local Government Board summarised the measures to be taken to prevent or relieve distress. For the prevention of unemployment, manufacturers were making patriotic efforts to keep their businesses going, and working short time instead of discharging employees; additional employment would be provided by the Road Board, the Development Commission, and various Government Departments, while Distress Committees and Local Authorities were invited to plan relief works. As to relief, the Prince of Wales's Fund would, it was hoped, supersede local funds; local authorities were being asked to see to the feeding of school children, local representative committees were to be formed for the distribution of the Prince of Wales's Fund, and a Central Advisory Committee had been formed with himself as Chairman, and including Mr. Long, Mr. Burns, and Mr. Ramsay Macdonald. He invited suggestions. The Poor Law was kept in reserve, as a last line of defence.

[Pg 181]

The Prince of Wales issued his appeal, endorsed by the Queen, on August 6, and the response was immediate. In the first two days the subscriptions amounted to 400,000l.; they ultimately passed 4,000,000l. Queen Alexandra also issued an appeal for soldiers' and sailors' families, and hosts of other appeals followed for Red Cross and hospital work and other matters; to these also response was generous.

Meanwhile the British Navy had achieved its first success and suffered its first disaster. On August 5 the third Destroyer Flotilla, shepherded by H.M.S. Amphion, and patrolling the approaches to the Channel, found the small Hamburg-American converted liner Königin Luise laying mines off the estuary of the Thames. She was chased by a destroyer and sunk by a torpedo, some fifty being saved out of a crew of 130. Early next morning, however, the Amphion herself struck a mine and was sunk, and about 130 of the crew and one officer—a paymaster—were lost, besides twenty German prisoners. In officially announcing the disaster to the House of Commons (Aug. 7) the First Lord of the Admiralty said that this indiscriminate scattering of mines, imperilling even neutral merchantmen, was a new fact calling for the attention of the nations. He added, however, that the strict censorship of the Press permitted the rise of many alarming rumours, and a Press Bureau would therefore be appointed under Mr. F. E. Smith, M.P., which would give out "a steady stream of trustworthy information" from both the War Office and the Admiralty, and he emphatically commended the patriotic reticence as to war preparations shown by the Press. (The Press Bureau, however, hardly fulfilled this forecast.)

The first instalment of emergency war legislation was completed before the adjournment (Aug. 10) of both Houses as follows. The Defence of the Realm Act empowered the King in Council to issue regulations authorising the trial by court-martial and the punishment of persons contravening regulations designed to stop certain specified forms of espionage, such as obtaining information to assist the enemy, tapping wires, or blowing up railway bridges or docks. The Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks (Temporary Rules) Act extended the powers of the Board of Trade to make rules under the Patents and Designs Act, 1907, and the Trade Marks Act, 1908. Its object was essentially to enable the Board to allow the rights in patents or trade marks owned by enemies to be ignored in the United Kingdom during the War. An Electoral Disabilities Removal Act prevented members of the Militia, Reserves, Yeomanry, and Territorial Forces from being disqualified by absence on the military or naval service of the Crown, or by the grant of poor-law relief towards their families during such absence. Another Act enabled the Government to requisition food, forage and stores for the Army; another empowered it to requisition foodstuffs withheld "unreason[Pg 182]ably," i.e. in order to raise their price. Finally, a Housing Act revived for one year, in order to reduce unemployment, the powers conferred on the Government by the dropped clause of the new Housing Act (post, p. 209). The Board of Agriculture in rural districts, the Local Government Board in towns, were authorised to acquire land and buildings and to arrange for housing with local authorities or authorised societies. It was explained that they would proceed by lending money to such societies, and use the other powers given them only in the last resort. This Bill was amended, at the instance of certain Unionists, so as to require the concurrence of the Development Commission—an amendment to which some Liberals reluctantly agreed in order to avoid imperilling the Bill. This done, the Houses adjourned for a fortnight, and it was announced that the leaders would attempt to avert controversial debates.

The efforts to compose the Home Rule conflict were not entirely successful (post, p. 203); but less menacing differences were settled or suspended at once. The contest in the London building trade, which had been somewhat mitigated in July by sectional submissions on the part of several of the Trade Unions concerned, was settled on August 6 by the abandonment of the project of a general lock-out by the masters, and the withdrawal on the part of the men of their refusal to work with non-unionists; and settlements were also effected of a dockers' strike at Liverpool, of various sectional railway disputes, and of a coal strike in South Wales, which for a day or two had seemed likely to interfere with the supply of coal for the Fleet. Political propaganda, too, was formally suspended, notably by the Women's National Liberal Association and the Land Union; and the appointment of Earl Kitchener as a non-political War Minister was followed by rumours of the impending establishment of a coalition Government. The only approach made to this, however, consisted in the invitations to Mr. Austen Chamberlain, Mr. Long, Mr. F. E. Smith, and other Unionist leaders, to give their counsel and assistance in various departments to the Government; and they accepted cordially. A general amnesty was announced (Aug. 11) both for suffragist prisoners and for persons convicted of offences in connexion with industrial disturbances; and both the non-militant and the militant groups of the suffrage societies provisionally abandoned their agitation (though a few of the militants made a scene at the Home Office on August 27), and organised themselves for the relief, in various ways, of the women and children sufferers by the war. Admirable work was done in these directions by the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies, and by the Women's Emergency Corps; and Miss Christabel Pankhurst, on her return from Paris a little later, repaid the Government by speaking at meetings designed to encourage recruiting for the "new Army."

[Pg 183]

Earnest appeals had already been issued for recruits; the response was immediate; and on August 9 Earl Kitchener, as War Minister, issued a circular to Lord-Lieutenants of Counties and Chairmen of County Territorial Associations, asking for 100,000 men to form a new Army. Recruits came in for it at the rate, at first, of 3,000 daily; most of the members of the Universities' Officers' Training Corps applied for commissions in the Territorials or Special Reserve; those who asked to be appointed to the latter were offered commissions in this "New Army," and sent (if they accepted) to officers' training camps, whence they were despatched by instalments to join their units elsewhere. Retired officers and non-commissioned officers largely returned to the colours and were used in these units, which formed additional "Service Battalions" of the existing infantry regiments, their numbers following those of the Territorial Battalions. This Army was formed into six (territorial) divisions each of three brigades. By the end of the year there were also a second and a third new Army formed, or in process of formation, on the same lines. The officers' training camps, however, had been given up.

The Navy, meanwhile, was active. Cruisers were guarding the great trade routes and patrolling the North Sea; a German submarine attack on the First Cruiser Squadron was repulsed, and it was announced on August 10 that the German submarine U 15 had been sunk by H.M. cruiser Birmingham. The German cruiser Karlsruhe had been surprised (Aug. 7) by H.M.S. Bristol 200 miles south of Bermuda while coaling from the Hamburg-American liner Kronprinz Wilhelm and had escaped after a 200 miles' chase; the German battle cruiser Goeben and the light cruiser Breslau, after the latter had shelled Tunis, escaped from a pursuing Allied Fleet through the Straits of Messina, and proceeded to Constantinople, where they were bought by the Porte. (Rear-Admiral Berkeley Milne, commanding the Mediterranean squadron and Rear-Admiral Troubridge, commanding the pursuing fleet, were exonerated from responsibility for their escape.)

Further events were reassuring for the British public. The German wireless station at Dar-es-Salaam, the only good harbour in German East Africa, was destroyed (Aug. 9) by a British force; another British force occupied Togoland in West Africa (Aug. 7); and Japan (Aug. 5) and Portugal (Aug. 10) formally announced that they recognised the obligations imposed by their respective alliances with Great Britain.

Help was tendered lavishly from the Dominions and Crown Colonies; at home private houses and other buildings were freely offered for hospital purposes, yachts were converted by their owners into hospital ships, and the great London hospitals allotted beds for the wounded. Great activity—sometimes marked by zeal rather than knowledge—was shown in preparing for Red Cross work, and in making clothes for soldiers and others. The Queen[Pg 184] issued an appeal to all needlework guilds throughout the British Isles (Aug. 10) to send in underclothing for soldiers and sailors, and ordinary garments for their wives and children and such of the civil population as might suffer through unemployment; steps were taken locally to consider how distress might be mitigated, and the newspapers were full of suggestions for help. But, after the first shock, the great mass of British citizens kept their heads, responded as far as possible to the call for "business as usual," and prepared to face bravely the prospect of lessened income—already visible in the withholding of many interim dividends—and the huge sacrifices demanded by the contest.

In two respects only there had been at the outset a tendency to panic. Before the Bank Holiday there had been some attempt by private persons to lay in large stores of food, and to draw gold from the banks; when the shops reopened on August 4, there was a rush to buy provisions in many great provincial cities; next day the alarm spread to London; the great stores were besieged; one of them had to close its provision department, another refused to supply customers with more than ordinary quantities; many of the small shops were speedily sold out; in the East End certain wholesale dealers, to encourage a rise in prices, actually provided purchasers with money; and, in the West End and some southern residential towns on that day and for some days afterwards, well-to-do people personally loaded hundredweights of stores into their own motor-cars, and packed their houses to the roof. But there was no real lack of foodstuffs; steps were taken at once by the Government to keep open the foreign sources of supply by a scheme of insurance against war risks; it took over the flour mills; and a Consultative Committee on Food Supplies met the representatives of certain great distributive companies and of the Grocers' Federation, representing some 17,000 shops, and lists of maximum retail prices were issued, as given below. The interruption was mainly in the supply of sugar from the Continent, and in that of butter, bacon, and eggs from Denmark. The following list (given in The Times, Aug. 7) shows the first effect of the war on wholesale prices.

July 28. August 6.
s. d. s. d.
Sugar, Cubes 1 ¾ 4   
Beef, English
    "     Chilled 6   
    "     Frozen
Mutton, English 8   
Bacon, Danish 10½
Cheese, Colonial
Butter 1    1    1    3   

The following lists of maximum retail prices were agreed on by the Advisory Committee:—

[Pg 185]

August 7. August 11.
s. d. s. d.
Granulated sugar per lb. 0 0
Lump sugar 0 5    0
Butter(imported) 1 6    1 6   
Cheese, Colonial 0 0
Lard, American 0 8    0 8   
Margarine 0 10    0 10   
Bacon, Continental (by the side) 1 4    1 2   
      "       British       " 1 6    1 3   

The prices of sugar were conditional on supplies being obtainable at the prices submitted by wholesale merchants. Sugar had jumped up from 15s. to 38s. per cwt. owing to the war. Of flour and imported meat there was no shortage. A Special Committee, with Sir Ailwyn Fellowes as chairman, was appointed by the Board of Agriculture and Foodstuffs and held its first meeting on August 10. But there proved to be little for it to do. The harvest, too, was promising, and the weather, except for one short spell of cold and some rain early in August, exceptionally fine.

In one other respect there was, for a long time, a considerable alarm. Many stories had been circulated during recent years as to the presence of an army of German spies in Great Britain, and even of the existence of a host of German reservists, for whom arms were said to be stored in London and elsewhere for immediate use at the outbreak of an Anglo-German War (A.R., 1909, p. 117). Some provision against these dangers was made by the posting of Territorial troops (and in some cases Boy Scouts and Scoutmasters) to guard railways, bridges, and waterworks, and by the formation of a force of special constables within the Metropolitan police area. That there was some ground for fear had been shown by the numerous trials for espionage; and the feeling, intensified by jealousy of the Germans as trade rivals, continued to find expression in a portion of the Press. Owing to the necessity of secrecy imposed by pending trials for espionage, it was not till October that the Home Department could defend itself fully against the charge of inaction. But on the outbreak of war the Aliens Restriction Act enabled the Government both to require all enemy alien residents to register, and to restrict their freedom of movement and residence; and an official statement was published later (Oct. 9) of the steps taken to check espionage. In 1909 a special Intelligence Department had been established for that purpose by the Admiralty and War Office, and had since acted in close touch with the police; the law was amended and extended by the Official Secrets Act, 1911, and the ramifications of the German spy system in England were discovered in 1911-14. Despite immense efforts and lavish expenditure, the German Government had got little information of value. The agents were watched and shadowed, and arrested only when plans or documents of value were about to be sent abroad. On August 4 twenty-one known spies were arrested, and 200 suspects noted and mostly interned. Any fresh organisation was impeded by a[Pg 186] postal and cable censorship; certain areas were cleared under the Act above-mentioned; aliens were forbidden to possess wireless or signalling apparatus or homing pigeons; private wireless stations were forbidden, and a special system devised of wireless detection. The Defence of the Realm Act (p. 181) made espionage a military offence. The success of these measures was shown by the ignorance of the German generals on August 21 of the despatch a fortnight earlier of the British Expeditionary Force. The writers of letters to the Press alleging cases of espionage had been unable effectively to assist the police. Owners of homing pigeons had been registered, and the importation of the birds or their conveyance by rail prohibited. No trace had been found of a conspiracy to commit outrage; no bombs, and practically no effective arms had been found after search; and 9,000 Germans and Austrians of military age were held in detention camps as prisoners of war.

The interruption of national intercourse had made itself acutely felt in other ways. Alien enemies not of military age were allowed to leave Great Britain up to August 10 by certain specified ports, but after that date only with special permits; but graver difficulties arose with the hosts of British and American travellers for health or pleasure on the Continent who were cut off by the declaration of war. From Germany and Austria some hurried back at once without much difficulty, others experienced hardships and even brutality from the German officials and populace; those were in worst case who tried to pass from Germany into Belgium after the invasion had begun. But many British subjects, even invalids at health resorts, with their families, were detained in Germany and Austria, while those of military age were treated as prisoners of war. The care of British subjects was confided to the American Embassies and Consulates, but their friends in England were rarely able to communicate with them. By August 8 it appeared that France and Belgium were almost emptied of British tourists. But Switzerland, as usual, contained a host of them, whose letters of credit, cheques, and even British coin, were now refused, and who were unable to return owing to the stoppage of ordinary traffic on the French railways through mobilisation. But the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs was able to state in the Commons on August 11 that funds had been advanced to His Majesty's representatives at Berne, Lausanne, and Paris, to relieve the more pressing necessities of British subjects stranded abroad, and provide for their return. Some of those in Switzerland came by sea from Genoa; most, however, reached England only in the first days of September, by special trains, but after much discomfort and delay. Had war broken out a few days later, however, the numbers would have been far greater.

The case of American tourists for a time seemed even worse.[Pg 187] The number in Europe at the outbreak of the war was estimated at 80,000; and they were impeded, not only on their way to England, but by the irregularity of the services across the Atlantic, and by the interruption of the international exchanges between New York and London. A Committee was formed to deal with them; it sat at the Savoy Hotel, and arrangements were made to cash letters of credit. But the liners leaving for the United States were overcrowded; even the steerage was given up to cabin passengers; berths were sold by holders at a huge premium, and a group of Americans even bought a steamer, the Viking, and charged 100l. to 125l. for passages. The Committee, however, did excellent work both in relieving the needs of the stranded passengers and repatriating them, and by the end of August the worst was over.

Meantime the Churches had done their part in impressing on the people the gravity of the situation, the need for endurance and sacrifice, and the righteousness of the British cause. On August 6 a Form of Public Intercession authorised by the Archbishops and Bishops was circulated to all incumbents in England and Wales for use on August 9, the first Sunday of the war; and on that day crowded and reverent congregations filled the places of worship of all denominations throughout the country, and special sermons were preached emphasising the coming trial and the duty of the nation. Friday, August 21, was appointed as a special Day of Intercession for the soldiers and sailors, frequent services were held at the churches and chapels throughout the kingdom; the King and Queen attended the afternoon service at Westminster Abbey; and the day was observed by the Roman Catholic Church and the Free Churches generally. With very rare exceptions, which included neither the Society of Friends nor the great mass of pacifists, the British people had made up its mind that the war was just and righteous, that it must go on at all costs till the arrogance of Prussian militarism was finally humbled, and that no peace would be acceptable which did not secure a general reduction of armaments and a better method of settling national disputes. It must be in short "a war to end war."

Meanwhile public feeling was encouraged by the checks given to the German invaders at Haelen and Liège, by the French advance in Alsace, and by the announcements (Aug. 12, 13) that twenty-four British and some French cruisers were searching for the five German cruisers known to be in the Atlantic, and that that ocean was clear of enemy warships as far south as Trinidad. On the other hand, the Admiralty warned shipowners that the North Sea had been rendered unsafe by the promiscuous strewing of German mines in it; but the Danish steamers were diverted from Harwich to more northern ports, and one at least of the Dutch regular services to London suffered little interruption.

The area of the war also continued to extend. War had been[Pg 188] declared on August 12 between Great Britain and Austria-Hungary, not from any direct cause of quarrel, but through the menace of the latter towards France; and the Austrian Embassy was sent home by the British Government in a specially chartered liner to Genoa. The breach with a Power long friendly to Great Britain was generally regretted. On the other hand, the Germans had put themselves in the wrong at starting, and their conduct in Belgium exasperated British feeling more and more. The German feeling was expressed in an alleged proclamation—published in England at the end of September, but issued August 16, though its authenticity was denied at Berlin—in which the Kaiser directed his troops to "annihilate the contemptible little English army."

The arrival in France of the British Expeditionary Force was announced officially in England on August 18, though the French papers had published the news of its arrival ten days earlier on the authority of the French War Office. The delay had given rise to disquieting rumours, and it was officially stated that no casualties had as yet taken place among the troops. The route taken was mainly by way of Southampton to Havre and Boulogne; and it was learnt from the naval despatches (Oct. 23) that two destroyers and the eighth submarine flotilla had watched continuously to attack the German fleet had it interfered. The South-Western Railway Company dealt with the huge traffic admirably. At the same time (Aug. 18) there were published a Message from the King and Instructions from Earl Kitchener. The former, delivered before their departure, was as follows:—

You are leaving home to fight for the safety and honour of my Empire.

Belgium, whose country we are pledged to defend, has been attacked, and France is about to be invaded by the same powerful foe.

I have implicit confidence in you, my soldiers. Duty is your watchword, and I know your duty will be nobly done.

I shall follow your every movement with the deepest interest, and mark with eager satisfaction your daily progress. Indeed, your welfare will never be absent from my thoughts.

I pray God to bless you and guard you and bring you back victorious.

The following instructions were issued by Lord Kitchener to every soldier in the Expeditionary Army, to be kept in his active service pay-book:—

You are ordered abroad as a soldier of the King to help our French comrades against the invasion of a common enemy.

You have to perform a task which will need your courage, your energy, your patience.

Remember that the honour of the British Army depends on your individual conduct.

It will be your duty not only to set an example of discipline and perfect steadiness under fire, but also to maintain the most friendly relations with those whom you are helping in this trouble.

The operations in which you are engaged will, for the most part, take place in a friendly country, and you can do your own country no better service than in showing yourself in France and Belgium in the true character of a British soldier.

Be invariably courteous, considerate, and kind. Never do anything likely to injure or destroy property, and always look upon looting as a disgraceful act.

You are sure to meet with a welcome and to be trusted; your conduct must justify[Pg 189] that welcome and that trust. Your duty cannot be done unless your health is sound. So keep constantly on your guard against any excesses. In this new experience you may find temptations, both in wine and women. You must entirely resist both temptations, and, while treating all women with perfect courtesy, you should avoid any intimacy.

Do your duty bravely. Fear God. Honour the King.


The concentration of the Expeditionary Force in France was completed on August 21; but it was not till some days later that its location was even approximately known. Meanwhile the hopes set up in England by the earlier accounts from France and Belgium gradually gave place to anxiety as the Germans occupied Liège and advanced to Brussels, and the French retired in Alsace; and the sudden and as yet unexplained fall of Namur (Aug. 25) caused dismay. This event, it was announced, necessitated the retirement of a portion of the Allied troops from the line of the Sambre to their original defensive position on the Franco-Belgian frontier; but the British position was not fully revealed till Sir John French's despatch was published (Sept. 10). On August 22, he stated, he had moved the troops to positions for commencing operations in pursuance of General Joffre's plans (apparently to cover the French left on the Sambre). They occupied a line of about twenty-five miles in length from Condé westwards through Mons to Binche, the Second Corps extending from Condé and Mons, the first from Mons to Binche, the 6th cavalry brigade on the extreme right at Binche. After cavalry reconnaissances on August 22 and 23, the actual engagement began at 3 P.M. on the 23rd; but, having believed himself faced only by one or at most two German Army Corps, he learnt at 6 P.M. from General Joffre that there were at least three—a reserve corps and the 4th and 9th Corps, while a fourth was engaged in a turning movement on his left flank, and the French on his right were retiring before the Germans, who on the 22nd had secured the passages of the Sambre between Charleroi and Namur. He therefore began to retire at daybreak to the line Jeulain-Maubeuge, some ten miles farther back, a position previously surveyed, but difficult to hold, and reached it before nightfall. During this retirement the Second Cavalry Brigade, under General De Lisle, attempted a flank attack on the enemy's infantry, but was stopped by a wire entanglement, and the 9th Lancers and 18th Hussars suffered severely. Supported by the 19th Infantry Brigade, the Second Corps, under General Smith-Dorrien effected a retreat, but with two German corps on its front and one threatening the flank, it suffered great loss. From the new position, however, a retreat was necessitated by the efforts of the enemy to outflank the British force and drive it on Maubeuge, and on the 25th a further retirement was effected to a line some sixteen miles to the S.S.W., running from Cambrai by Le Câteau to Landrecies.[Pg 190] The 4th Infantry Division now came up to assist; and the First Corps reached Landrecies at about 10 P.M. But the enemy, though much exhausted, came on, and the 4th Guards Brigade in Landrecies were heavily attacked by the 9th German Army Corps, which itself suffered tremendous loss in the narrow streets. Meanwhile the First Corps, under Sir Douglas Haig, was heavily engaged south and east of Maroilles; but, mainly through his skill, and with the assistance of two French reserve divisions, it was extricated in the night and resumed its march at dawn. The next day, August 26th, was the most critical. At daybreak it became apparent that the enemy was throwing his main strength against the left of the position occupied by the Second Corps and the 4th Division; General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien could not continue to retire, and no support could be sent him, nor had there been time properly to entrench the position; but the troops showed a magnificent front to a terrible fire, the Artillery, outnumbered by four to one, making a splendid fight; and at 3.30 a retirement was commenced, of necessity, and heroically covered by the Artillery and protected by the Cavalry. The left wing was saved by General Sir H. Smith-Dorrien's skill, to which Sir John French paid a very high tribute. The retreat was continued till the 28th, when the troops halted on the line Noyon-Chauny-La Fère, along the Oise some twelve to twenty miles south of St. Quentin. The British losses were very serious, but inevitable, inasmuch as the British Army, only two days after a concentration by rail, had had to withstand the attack of five German Army Corps. The enemy, however, was too exhausted by the 26th to pursue effectively. The services of officers and men were acknowledged by the Commander-in-Chief in the highest terms, and special note was taken of the gallantry of the Flying Corps, both in reconnaissance and in aerial combat.

But as yet only part of the truth was allowed to emerge in Great Britain. When Parliament reassembled on August 26th, Earl Kitchener made a statement in the House of Lords—his maiden speech, though he had been a Peer since 1898. As a soldier, he said, he had no politics, and his term as War Secretary was that of the new Army—for the war, but not for longer than three years, a term selected because others would then be ready to replace them. The Expeditionary Force, having advanced to near Mons, had then been for thirty-six hours in contact with a superior German force, and had maintained the traditions of British soldiers and behaved with the utmost gallantry. Since the beginning of active operations rather more than 2,000 had been placed hors de combat. Mobilisation had taken place without a hitch; the Expeditionary Force proved itself wholly efficient, thoroughly well equipped, and immediately ready to take the field. The Press and the public had aided the Government by a discreet and necessary silence, the civilian population by meeting requisi[Pg 191]tions; the railways had justified the confidence of the War Office, the troops, thanks to the Admiralty, had been conveyed across the Channel without any untoward incident. After laying stress on British moral support to France as "a factor of high military significance," and expressing hearty sympathy with Belgium, he pointed out that Great Britain's military system enabled her still to have a vast reserve from herself and the Dominions. Sixty-nine Territorial battalions had volunteered for service abroad; the hundred thousand recruits asked for had been practically secured; behind these were the Reserves. While the maximum force of the adversary Empires was constantly diminishing, Great Britain's reinforcements would steadily and increasingly flow out till she had an Army in the field not unworthy of the British Empire. The new Field Army might rise in the next six or seven months to a total of thirty divisions, continually maintained in the field. Should the war be protracted and its fortunes varied or adverse, exertions and sacrifices beyond any yet demanded would be required from the whole nation and Empire, and would not be denied by Parliament or the people.

In the Commons that day the chief business was a statement by the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the arrangements for repatriating and assisting British subjects stranded on the Continent, the introduction of much emergency legislation—to be summarised later—and the announcement by the Speaker of the receipt and acknowledgment of a congratulatory message from the Russian Duma. Next day (Aug. 27) the Prime Minister, in reply to a question, declared emphatically, in view of Lord Kitchener's statement, that compulsory military service was unnecessary; the sinking of the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse was announced, also the engagement of the British force, and the British occupation of Ostend (p. 193); and in the course of a discussion regarding the Moratorium, the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that while bankers, financial houses, and merchants favoured its continuance, manufacturers were two to one in favour of bringing it to an end. But the feature of the day was the speech of the Prime Minister in moving an Address expressing admiration for the heroic resistance offered by Belgium to the invader, and pledging Great Britain's support to her gallant ally. After a reference to the cause of the war he insisted on the binding obligation on Great Britain to intervene. We did so only when confronted with the choice of keeping or breaking solemn obligations, between the discharge of a binding trust and a shameless subservience to naked force. "We do not repent our decision." The issue was one which no great and self-respecting nation, certainly none bred and nurtured like ourselves in this ancient home of liberty, could have declined without undying shame. He recalled the struggles for integrity and national life made by small States, by Athens and Sparta, the Swiss cantons, and the Netherlands; never had the duty of asserting the preser[Pg 192]vation of that life been more clearly and bravely acknowledged and more strenuously and heroically discharged than by the Belgian King and people. The defence of Liège would always be one of the most inspiring chapters in the annals of liberty. The Belgians had won for themselves the immortal glory that belonged to a people who preferred freedom to ease, to security, and even to life itself. "We are proud of their alliance and their friendship." We were with them heart and soul, because we were defending with them the independence of small States and the sanctity of international covenants, and he assured them, in the name of Great Britain and the whole Empire, that they might count on our unfailing support.

Mr. Bonar Law, in seconding the motion, fully endorsed the Prime Minister's eulogies and promises. The events in Belgium confirmed the view that the war was a struggle of the moral influences of civilisation against brute force. Belgium had deserved well of the world and had placed Great Britain under an obligation, which would best be discharged by realising that for both countries the war was a struggle for life and death, and by employing all British resources to bring it to a successful end. Mr. John Redmond eloquently associated Ireland with the motion, eulogising Belgium, and suggesting that the loan contemplated (p. 216) should rather be a gift. The resolution was agreed to nem. con. In the House of Lords a similar Address was moved by the Marquess of Crewe, who said that Germany would have to make full reparation, and seconded by the Marquess of Lansdowne, who said that to Belgium was due the difference between the existing situation and that at the same time in 1870.

Next day (Aug. 28) a message was read in both Houses from Sir John French, describing the British resistance in the Cambria and Le-Câteau district; and Lord Kitchener, after communicating it to the House of Lords, announced that two divisions and a cavalry division, besides other troops, would be sent from India to France. The Marquess of Crewe added that the wonderful wave of enthusiasm and loyalty passing over India was largely based on the desire of the Indian people that Indian soldiers should stand side by side with their British comrades in repelling the invasion of France and Belgium. It was known in India that French African troops had been assisting in France, and "our loyal Indian fellow-subjects" would be disappointed if Indian troops could not assist British. The Indian frontiers would be fully held, and the popular enthusiasm precluded any internal trouble. It pervaded all classes, and found expression, among the princes, in munificent gifts for the service of the troops.

The British people did not yet know the whole story of the fighting in France, and Lord Kitchener's appeal for another 100,000 men did not excite alarm. The public disquiet might have been greater had the newspapers published particulars of the[Pg 193] precautions taken on the East Coast—constant patrolling by destroyers and seaplanes, destruction of houses which might obstruct the line of fire on a hostile fleet or serve the enemy as sea-marks, extinguishing of street lamps on the sea front or in streets visible from it, prohibition or restriction of the lighting of such rooms in private houses as were visible from the sea, and eventually the temporary extinction, for the first time in 100 years, of all lighthouses and lightships. But these things were only revealed in private conversation or correspondence.

Meanwhile the British public was confirmed in its conviction that Great Britain had acted justly by the publication of the despatch from Sir Edward Goschen describing his final interview with the German Foreign Secretary and the Imperial Chancellor.[3] The refusal of the former to refrain from violating Belgian neutrality on the ground that "rapidity of action was the great German asset," and the phrase of the latter, that Great Britain was going to war "just for a scrap of paper," seemed to place Germany hopelessly in the wrong. The naval warfare, too, was encouraging. The Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse had been sunk by H.M.S. Highflyer off the Rio del Oro in West Africa—in neutral waters, according to the German contention; Ostend had been occupied by British marines; and the German cruiser Magdeburg had been blown up in the Gulf of Finland. Still more encouraging news came on the evening of August 28, of a British victory that morning in the Bight of Heligoland. The official account, given in despatches published October 22, was substantially as follows. Information having been received from the submarines patrolling the North Sea of the probable movements of the enemy's ships, an attempt was made to draw them out; on August 26 and 27 the area to be occupied was searched for hostile submarines by the destroyers Lurcher and Firedrake, and, at daylight on August 28, three submarines (E 6, E 7, E 8), followed by these destroyers, headed for Heligoland, the submarines running on the surface, to invite a German attack. Other British submarines were watching, submerged, in the area. Near Heligoland a mist settled on the water, facilitating a German surprise. In rear of these craft was the Arethusa, a new light cruiser just commissioned, with the First and Third Destroyer Flotillas. A German torpedo squadron was sighted making for Heligoland, and was attacked by the Arethusa and the Third Flotilla. Then, at 7.57 A.M. two German cruisers, respectively with four and two funnels, were sighted; the Arethusa engaged the nearest, and was attacked by both, and by several destroyers. All her torpedo tubes were disabled and all but one of her guns, and for a few minutes she was on fire. At 8.25 A.M., however, she shot away the fore bridge of the two-funnelled cruiser, which made off towards Heligoland. The four-funnelled [Pg 194]cruiser had meanwhile turned on the Fearless, but the Germans drew off and retreated into the haze. Before their retreat, the British and German destroyers were engaged; the German commodore's destroyer (V 187) was sunk, and the crews of the British destroyers, having launched their boats to save life, had to retreat under a fire from a German cruiser, abandoning two boats. Thereupon the submarine E 4 (Lt. Com. Leir) proceeded to drive off the cruiser, which escaped her, covered the destroyers' retreat, and then took aboard, at great risk of attack, the British crew of one of the boats, with three Germans, leaving the other Germans, for whom, he had no room, and of whom some were badly wounded in the boats, to proceed to Heligoland. He left a German officer and six men to navigate them, and provided water, biscuit and a compass. Having effected temporary repairs and got all her guns but two in working order, the Arethusa, with the Fearless, proceeded in vain to search for the Lurcher and Firedrake (which, however, escaped the German cruisers), and then, though her speed had been reduced by the damage received, went forward again towards Heligoland. At 10.55 A.M. a four-funnelled German cruiser (possibly the Yorck) fired on her; the Fearless and the First Flotilla came up, and the assailant disappeared in the mist. Ten minuter later she returned, but failed to get the range, and was driven off. A few minutes later three British ships sighted the German light cruiser Mainz, and after twenty-five minutes' action she was on fire, disabled and sinking; the Light Cruiser Squadron came up and finished her destruction, but 220 of her crew were saved by the Lurcher, many of them badly wounded. The Battle Cruiser Squadron under Admiral Beatty had been called up, and at 12.30 the Lion drove off and pursued a four-funnelled cruiser, the Köln, which was engaging the Arethusa; the Lion, after firing two salvoes at the German cruiser Ariadne, which disappeared into the mist, on fire and sinking, returned to the chase of the Köln, and sank her with all hands. Soon afterwards the Queen Mary, battle cruiser, and the Lowestoft, light cruiser, were attacked by submarines, but avoided them, the former narrowly and with great skill. The Laurel and Arethusa were towed into Sheerness and Harwich, the latter being taken in tow by the Hague, with no light but two hand lanterns. Two German destroyers at least were sunk and eighteen or twenty badly damaged. The British vessels Goshawk, Laertes, Ferret, Laurel, Laforey, and Liberty were among those specially distinguished.

This news was accompanied by another stimulant to British action—the announcement of the atrocious and deliberate destruction of Louvain, "the Oxford of Belgium." In Great Britain, as elsewhere, it excited the deepest horror and indignation; and it gave additional force to a letter from the Prime Minister to the Lord Mayors of London, Edinburgh, Dublin, and Cardiff—the[Pg 195] capitals, so to speak, of the four divisions of the United Kingdom—announcing that the time had come for a combined effort to stimulate and organise public opinion and effort in the greatest conflict in British history, and proposing meetings throughout the country at which the justice of the British cause should be made plain, and the duty of every man to do his part should be enforced. He suggested that these four principal cities should lead the way, and offered to address a meeting in each; and he added that he could count on the co-operation of the leaders "of every section of organised public opinion."

But, while hope was encouraged by this movement (which had been previously suggested in the Press) and by the Russian successes in Galicia, London was horrified on August 30, by accounts of the retreat from Mons published in the Daily Mail and Times, the latter speaking of "a retreating and a broken army," the former of a "pitiful story," and of an incessant German advance, and the gaps left by the Censor's editing suggested that the whole truth might be worse. The Daily Mail telegram closed with an appeal for reinforcements at once. For a few hours this news produced something like a panic; but its diffusion was restricted as the day was Sunday, and in the afternoon the War Secretary issued a report of the four days' battle, showing that since the 26th, apart from cavalry fighting, the British Army had rested, reinforcements covering double the loss suffered had already joined, and that the French armies had that day stopped the German advance. A decisive British victory in France, it was added, would probably be fatal to the enemy; the continuance of Anglo-French resistance "on such a scale as to keep in the closest grip the enemy's best troops, could, if prolonged, lead only to one conclusion." Next day, in Parliament, these alarmist accounts were severely condemned by the Lord Chancellor and the Prime Minister, the latter describing them as a regrettable exception to the patriotic reticence of the Press; but it appeared that the Press Bureau had actually requested their publication, and that the closing paragraph, urging the necessity of reinforcements, was actually due to the head of the Bureau, Mr. F. E. Smith, himself.

This was the last discussion before the House adjourned till September 9. It had been preceded by the rapid passing of another batch of war legislation, and by a somewhat bitter debate on the treatment of the Home Rule and Welsh Church Bills. This instalment of war legislation included, inter alia, Bills authorising the appointment of special constables and making certain provisions regarding them; enabling licensing authorities, and, in London, the Chief Commissioner of Police, to restrict the hours of sale of liquor both in licensed premises and in clubs; empowering the military authorities to exercise control under the Defence of the Realm Act in training areas; extending the[Pg 196] list of articles the importation of which might be prohibited; giving powers to seize goods unreasonably withheld (including farm produce and feeding stuffs); giving powers to deal with all patent licences and registered designs where the benefit accrued to an enemy; extending billeting to include the naval as well as the military force; remitting death duties on the property of those killed in the war, or dying within twelve months after it from wounds or disease contracted in the field; giving emergency powers to the courts (for the protection of debtors) in regard to the recovery of debts; and a War Loan Bill, empowering the Government to raise a loan, the amount and the method of raising it being alike left undefined.

On the adjournment, and before the explanations as to the Press Bureau, a discussion arose which showed that political divisions had by no means been healed by the war. The Prime Minister repeated that the Government wished that no party should gain or lose by the suspension of domestic controversy. Their intention was to put the Home Rule and Welsh Church Bills on the Statute Book, but they would regard it as most unfair to resort to a snap prorogation as though the Amending Bill had never been introduced; and with regard to it he hoped for a settlement. As to the Welsh Church Bill, the war had set up special conditions, in view of which the Government made a proposal. Mr. Bonar Law (U.) concurred; Mr. John Redmond (N.) hoped that the Home Rule Bill would not be prejudiced by the adjournment; whereupon Mr. Balfour protested against dealing with subjects of "acute political discussion" under present conditions, while disclaiming any desire to make party gain from the situation. The discussion was stopped after appeals from Mr. Cave (U.) and the Prime Minister, and the House passed on, before its adjournment, to the discussion of the Press Bureau and The Times. But the old passions reappeared later.

For the moment, however, party feeling was stilled by the imperative need of union and of greater preparation for efforts in the field. The flow of recruits, encouraged by the destruction of Louvain and the retreat from Mons, was further stimulated by the preparations in France to resist a siege of Paris, and by the specific accounts (Sept. 1) of German atrocities given by the Belgian Mission which visited London on its way to the United States, and was cordially welcomed at Buckingham Palace by the King. A Joint Parliamentary Committee of all parties was formed to promote recruiting; Sir Edward Carson advised the Ulster Unionist Council (Sept. 3) that all qualified Ulster Volunteers should at once enlist in Kitchener's Army, and, without receding from its ultimate intentions, it endorsed his recommendation; the Parliamentary Committee of the Trade Union Congress issued a manifesto welcoming the response of the Labour members to the appeal to aid in recruiting, announcing that it had given assist[Pg 197]ance to the Parliamentary Committee for that end; it urged recruits to come forward to avert compulsory service and maintain democracy, and pressed the claims of their dependants on the State.

In the absence of details about the military operations a strange rumour arose, which for about a fortnight seemed better attested than many accepted facts in ancient history. Towards the end of August people told each other (though the newspapers were studiously silent) that trainloads of Russian troops had been landed at Leith from Archangel, presumably to escape the German cruisers and mines in the North Sea, and were being conveyed, with the blinds of the carriages drawn, on Saturday nights and Sundays, to Dover and other south-coast ports, en route for Belgium or France. Specific details gave the story verisimilitude, and independent testimony came in from all parts of the area supposed to be affected, and was accepted by people likely to be well-informed, while corroborative evidence seemed to be provided by the great number of transports taken up by the Admiralty. At last a Daily News correspondent said he had seen the Russians in Belgium, and a Cardiff paper published a statement from a marine engineer that he had travelled with 2,500 of them from Archangel and in the hundred and ninety-third train of them that had passed through York. Hereupon the Press Bureau (Sept. 15) issued an absolute denial of the rumours; and this was officially confirmed in Parliament on November 18. But for a time many people persisted in believing that the troops had indeed been sent, but had gone not to France or Belgium, but to seize the Kiel Canal. How the rumour arose was a mystery.

To return to solid facts, the Prime Minister opened his "educational campaign" at a crowded and eminently representative meeting of the citizens of London at the Guildhall on September 4. Three years earlier, he said (A.R., 1911, p. 92), he had spoken in the Guildhall on support of the Anglo-American arbitration movement, and its supporters were still confident in the rightness of their position, when reluctantly, but with a clear judgment and clear conscience, the whole strength of the Empire was involved in a bloody arbitrament between might and right. But how if they had stood aside? Sooner than be a silent witness—which meant a willing accomplice—of the intolerable wrongs done in Belgium, he would see Great Britain blotted out of the page of history. The cynical violation of Belgian neutrality was only a first step in a campaign against the autonomy of the free States of Europe, whose free self-development was a capital offence in the eyes of those who had made force their divinity. This was not merely a material but a spiritual conflict. The British Government and the Foreign Secretary had made repeated efforts for peace; the responsibility for the refusal of his offers rested with Germany alone. In the spirit which animated Britain in her struggle against Napoleon,[Pg 198] they must persevere to the end. After reviewing the resources of the Allies and Great Britain, and laying special stress on the offers of the Dominions and India, he said that the response up to that day to Lord Kitchener's call for recruits was between 250,000 and 300,000, 42,000 having been accepted in London. But they wanted more men, men of the best fighting quality, and they would endeavour that men desiring to serve together should be allotted to the same regiment or corps. He asked also for retired non-commissioned officers and officers, to train men for whom no unit could at once be found; and as regarded the war he thought that in every direction there was abundant ground for pride and comfort, and recalled how England responded to Pitt's dying appeal to save Europe by her example. "Let us go and do likewise."

Mr. Bonar Law followed with a speech of notable force. The key of peace had been in Berlin. The head of the German Government had drawn the sword; "may the accursed system for which he stands perish by the sword." Great Britain was fighting for her national existence, and for the moral forces of humanity. After commenting on the German Chancellor's saying, "You are going to war for a scrap of paper," and on the deliberate German outrages in Belgium, he dwelt eloquently on the answer given by the fight of the past week to the German estimate of Britain as decadent, and appealed to those who remained behind to remember the dependants of those who went. Then Mr. Balfour and the First Lord of the Admiralty each made brief, stirring, and confident speeches, expressing the invincible resolve of the nation to persevere and conquer.

Lord Rosebery, as Lord-Lieutenant of Linlithgowshire, spoke in the same sense next day at Broxburn; and British feeling was further roused by the sinking of H.M.S. Pathfinder and the Wilson liner Runo, which struck mines in the North Sea, and by the capture of fifteen British fishing vessels (Chron., Sept. 5). But the tide seemed to be turning. By a declaration signed in London (Sept. 5) the British, French, and Russian Governments agreed that they would not conclude peace separately, and that when terms came to be discussed, none of them would demand terms without the consent of the other two. Moreover, an official sketch of the operations in France was encouraging. It mentioned great, though merely incidental, rearguard battles, singling out that in which the First British Cavalry Brigade and the Guards Brigade had been engaged near Compiègne. The British left, it stated, was now covered by the Seventh (really Sixth) French Army, which, with the Fifth French Army on the British right, relieved the British force of much of the previous strain. After twelve days' continuous marching and fighting, September 2 had at last been a quiet day. Many men were missing, partly because in the course of the retirement in order on a wide front, they had missed their[Pg 199] way and got separated, but a considerable number of them would safely rejoin. The losses were 15,000, not a third of those inflicted on the enemy; but the spirit of the force was not affected, drafts amounting to 19,000 men had arrived or were approaching, and, the interval of quiet since September 1 had been used to fill up the gaps and refit and consolidate the units. The British Army was south of the Marne, in a line with the French forces on its right and left; the enemy was neglecting Paris and marching south-eastwards, having apparently abandoned its flanking movement on the Allies' left. [This change in the German plans was made about Sept. 3.] It was added that the British troops had definitely established their superiority to the Germans alike in rifle fire and in cavalry and artillery work. Striking incidents of the fighting were mentioned; despite the heat, men and horses were in excellent condition; but "we must have more men."

This account must here be supplemented from Sir John French's despatch of September 17, published October 19. On August 28 the British retirement was followed closely by two German cavalry corps, moving south-east from St. Quentin; the Third and Fifth Cavalry Brigades, under General Gough and General Chetwode, respectively repelled the Uhlans of the Guard south of the Somme and routed the eastern German column near Cerizy. Next day the Sixth French Army got into position on the British left; but the German numbers were overwhelming. After a visit from General Joffre, Sir John French agreed to retire towards the line Compiègne-Soissons; and, as his communications with Havre were threatened, the British base was changed to St. Nazaire (on the Atlantic near Nantes) with an advanced base at Le Mans. General Joffre, however, ordered a general retirement to the line of the Marne, until he could reach a position enabling him to assume the offensive. Rearguard actions were frequent, and on September 1 the First Cavalry Brigade, south of Compiègne, were overtaken by German cavalry; they momentarily lost a Horse Artillery battery, but with the help of detachments from the Third Corps they recovered it and captured twelve German guns. The First Corps were also engaged at Villers-Cotterets, the Fourth Guards Brigade suffering considerably. On September 3, when the British forces were in position south of the Marne between Lagny and Signy-Signets, and Sir John French had taken steps to defend the passage of the river, General Joffre invited him to retire twelve miles farther, to a position behind the Seine. The enemy crossed, and there were several outpost actions; on September 5 General Joffre announced his intention of taking the offensive, and, at his request, the British Army changed front to its right, its left coming to rest on the Marne and its right on the Fifth Army. On September 6, the new battle began.

Some further encouragement was given by the announcement (Sept. 10) that the Fleet had swept the North Sea up to and in[Pg 200]cluding the Bight of Heligoland without finding any German ships or being troubled by German interference.

The character, now becoming visible, of the contest as a "war of attrition" was fully recognised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer when (Sept. 8) a deputation from the Association of Municipal Corporations invited the Government to raise, as part of the war loan, money to be lent to municipalities at cost price for new works, and to make corporation mortgages and the stock of all boroughs of 20,000 inhabitants or more trustee investments by Act of Parliament. He agreed to their first request, but intimated (in accordance with the declared intention of the deputation) that the money must be spent solely on works undertaken to relieve or avert distress. It was the last few hundred millions, he declared, that would win the war.

In a war of such a character, help was eminently needed from the whole Empire; and when Parliament reassembled (Sept. 9) statements were made in both Houses of the wonderful offers of service and money made from India. In the Commons Mr. Charles Roberts, Under-Secretary for India, read a telegram from the Viceroy telling how the rulers of the Native States, in all nearly seven hundred, had offered their personal services and the resources of their States. A number of Princes and nobles had been selected for active service. The veteran Sir Pertab Singh, Regent of Jodhpur, would not be denied his right to serve the King-Emperor; his nephew, the Maharajah, aged sixteen, accompanied him. Twenty-seven of the Native States maintained Imperial troops, and all these were put at the service of the Government. Contingents had been accepted from twelve States, including a camel corps from Bikaner, and most had already embarked. The Maharajah of Mysore had placed fifty lakhs of rupees (about 330,000l.) at the disposal of the Government for the Expeditionary Force. A hospital ship; thousands of horses for remounts from the Chief of Gwalior and other rulers; camels and drivers from the Punjaub and Baluchistan; large subscriptions to the Indian Relief Fund and Prince of Wales's Fund; loyal messages and offers from the Khyber tribes and Chitral; large donations from the Durbar and Maharajah of Nepaul; and—as a climax—even an offer of 1,000 troops from the Dalai Lama of Tibet, accompanied by a statement that throughout that country thousands of Lamas were praying for British success. The same spirit had prevailed throughout British India; offers of service and money had poured in from religious, political, and social associations of all classes and creeds, Moslem, Hindu, Sikh, or Parsee; meetings had been held to allay panic, keep down prices, and maintain confidence and credit; and generous contributions had poured in from all quarters to the Indian Relief Fund. The message was loudly cheered, and it was promised that it should be circulated throughout the Empire. It was also read in the Upper House by the[Pg 201] Marquess of Crewe, together with an account of the demonstration of loyalty and sympathy made by the Legislative Council, and it was welcomed by the Marquess of Lansdowne, who laid stress on the magnitude and value of this loyally offered aid.

A message from the King to the Governments and peoples of his self-governing Dominions (published Sept. 9) was as follows:—

"During the past few weeks the peoples of my whole Empire at home and overseas have moved with one aim and purpose to confront and overthrow the unparalleled assault upon the continuity of civilisation and the peace of mankind.

"The calamitous conflict is not of my seeking. My voice has been cast throughout on the side of peace. My Ministers earnestly strove to allay the causes of strife and to appease differences with which my Empire was not concerned. Had I stood aside when, in defiance of pledges to which my kingdom was a party, the soil of Belgium was violated and her cities laid desolate, when the very life of the French nation was threatened with extinction, I should have sacrificed my honour and given to destruction the liberties of my Empire and of mankind. I rejoice that every part of the Empire is with me in this decision.

"Paramount regard for treaty faith and the pledged word of rulers and peoples is the common heritage of Great Britain and of the Empire. My peoples in the self-governing Dominions have shown beyond all doubt that they whole-heartedly endorse the grave decisions which it was necessary to take.

"My personal knowledge of the loyalty and devotion of my oversea Dominions has led me to expect that they would cheerfully make the great effort and bear the great sacrifices which the present conflict entails. The full measure in which they have placed their services and resources at my disposal fills me with gratitude, and I am proud to be able to show to the world that my people overseas are as determined as the people of the United Kingdom to prosecute a just cause to a successful end.

"The Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, and the Dominion of New Zealand have placed at my disposal their naval forces, which have already rendered good service to the Empire. Strong Expeditionary Forces are being prepared in Canada, in Australia and in New Zealand for service at the front, and the Union of South Africa has released all British troops and has undertaken important military responsibilities, the discharge of which will be of the utmost value to the Empire.

"Newfoundland has doubled the numbers of its branch of the Royal Naval Reserve, and is sending a body of men to take part in the operations at the front.

"From the Dominion and Provincial governments of Canada large and welcome gifts of supplies are on their way for the use both of my naval and military forces and for the relief of the dis[Pg 202]tress in the United Kingdom which must inevitably follow in the wake of war.

"All parts of my overseas dominions have thus demonstrated in the most unmistakable manner the fundamental unity of the Empire against all its diversity of situations and circumstance."

In a special message to the Princes and Peoples of the Indian Empire His Majesty repeated the first part of the foregoing, and added:—

Among the many incidents that have marked the unanimous uprising of the populations of my Empire in defence of its unity and integrity, nothing has moved me more than the passionate devotion to my Throne expressed both by my Indian subjects and by the Feudatory Princes and the Ruling Chiefs of India, and their prodigal offers of their lives and their resources in the cause of the Realm.

Their one-voiced demand to be foremost in the conflict has touched my heart, and has inspired to the highest issues the love and devotion which, as I well know, have ever linked my Indian subjects and myself. I recall to mind India's gracious message to the British nation of goodwill and fellowship, which greeted my return in February, 1912, after the solemn ceremony of my Coronation Durbar at Delhi, and I find in this hour of trial a full harvest and a noble fulfilment of the assurance given by you that the destinies of Great Britain and India are indissolubly linked.

Next day in Committee of Supply the Prime Minister moved an additional vote for the land forces of 500,000 men for the current year, and it was passed unanimously. At the outbreak of war, he said, Parliament had voted 186,000 men for the Army; the Army Reserve and Special Reserve, which then became available as part of the Regular Forces, brought the number up roughly to 400,000. On August 6, another half million were voted, making 900,000. The recruits since the declaration of war numbered nearly 439,000. On one day, Sept. 3, the total enlisted was 33,204. In the past ten days the daily number of recruits was equal to that of a year in peace time, and no machinery could have met the emergency. The War Office had sent abroad the Expeditionary Force of about 150,000 men without the loss of a man or a horse, had provided for immediate and future wastage of men and material, and for everything except this enormous increase in the Regular Forces. The Territorial County Associations had been appealed to, the training centres multiplied; there had been congestion and consequent discomfort, and municipal buildings might have been used more fully for the men. But the first necessity was to get the men, and he was sure they would come forward. Men would now be allowed to go home after attestation until called on for training, and, while waiting, would be paid 3s. a day. With this half million, the Army in the field would number some 1,200,000, exclusive of the Territorials, the National Reserve, and the Indian and Dominion troops. It must now be made clear to recruits that every possible provision would be made for their comfort and well-being, and that they would take their place in the magnificent Army which had never shown itself more worthy of long centuries of splendid tradition than in the past fortnight. Mr. Bonar Law assured the Government of the support[Pg 203] of his party, and insisted that the sacrifice must not come exclusively from the men who were coming forward with splendid spirit to risk their lives.

Parliament did not sit again till September 14; but on September 11 a great demonstration to aid recruiting was held at the London Opera House, under the joint auspices of the National Liberal and Constitutional Clubs. The First Lord of the Admiralty, while warning his audience that the war would be long and sombre, declared that the situation was far better than could have been expected at this early stage, and he was certain that it could be brought to a victorious conclusion. We were building on a sure foundation. The Navy had searched the so-called German Ocean without discovering the German flag; the attrition on which the Germans had counted had been only on their side; the health of the Fleet was better than during peace; and our naval control and sea power might be kept up indefinitely. "By one of those dispensations of Providence which appeal so strongly to the German Emperor, the nose of the bulldog has been slanted backward so that he can breathe in comfort without letting go." In the next twelve months more than twice as many great ships and three or four times as many cruisers would be completed for Great Britain as for Germany. It was now necessary to make a great Army, an Army of a million men. The Army in the field could be raised to 250,000, by the new year to 500,000, and by the early summer of 1915 to twenty-five Army Corps. An Army so formed would be the finest in the world. Germany could draw on no corresponding reserve of manhood. This would decide the issue. Let the British people concentrate their warlike feeling on fighting the enemy in the field, and let it be said, after the war was over, that "they fought like gentlemen." Germany in her three great wars had been the terror and bully of Europe. Let Great Britain fight for great and sound principles for Europe, the first being nationality. The British people and Empire were at last united, and while they remained so no forces were strong enough to beat them down or break them up. Mr. F. E. Smith declared that Great Britain was fighting for treaty obligations, for self-preservation, and for the existence of international law. Terms of peace would be arranged in London or Berlin, and we were encouraged to believe it would be in Berlin by the extraordinary spontaneity with which the whole Empire was springing to arms. There had never been anything like it in history. Mr. Crooks said that the fight was for liberty and home. "He would rather see every living soul blotted off the face of the earth than see the Kaiser supreme anywhere."

Unfortunately the patriotic unity of parties was presently marred by a sharp difference as to the treatment to be given to the Home Rule and Welsh Church Bills. Negotiations for a settlement between the leaders had failed, and it was announced in the[Pg 204] Press on September 14 that the session would be wound up at once, and these Bills would become law automatically under the Parliament Act, but that the Government would introduce a Bill postponing their operation till after the war; and it was understood that it would also pledge itself to introduce an Amending Bill dealing with the Ulster question before the Home Rule Bill should become operative. On the other hand, the Marquess of Lansdowne would introduce a Bill providing that the Home Rule and Welsh Church Bills should be taken up after the war at the stages they had reached on July 30, 1914, so that their advantages under the Parliament Act would not be lost. The Opposition held that the Government plan violated the pledge that no party should be prejudiced by the cessation of party controversy; but at a meeting of Unionist members of Parliament at the Carlton Club (Sept. 14) it was agreed (Lord Hugh Cecil dissenting) that the party must maintain the national unity; they would support Ulster after the war, but for the present would merely protest and withdraw from the debate.

The Prime Minister briefly made his announcement that afternoon in the Commons, mentioning that the new Bill would provide that neither the Welsh Church Act nor the Home Rule Act should be put into operation for twelve months in any event, or, if the war were not then terminated, to such further date not later than its termination as might be fixed by Order in Council; and the Marquess of Crewe stated the views of the Government in the House of Lords. Failure to pass the Bills would mean an Opposition triumph; an Amending Bill would involve an undesirable platform campaign in Ireland to induce the two parties to accept it, and this was not the moment to bring Home Rule into operation. No responsible Government could contemplate imposing Home Rule on Ulster by force; but a Government might come in at the end of the war on some novel issue, and Ireland might thereby lose its chance of Home Rule. He gave, at greater length, the same pledges as the Prime Minister, promising an Amending Bill within the next twelve months, not necessarily excluding Ulster or part of Ulster; he claimed that no unfair advantage was being taken, and predicted that, when the Home Rule Bill became law, the whole of Ireland would rush to enlist. The Marquess of Lansdowne complained that the Ministerial decision must shatter the hope of a change in party relations. But the Unionists would not sulk. It was not a moment to rekindle controversy. The undertaking as to the Amending Bill was vague; the Welsh Church Bill had been referred to a Committee (p. 136) and it would be hard to raise an endowment fund after the war. The controversy on the last Amending Bill had established that the exclusion of Ulster was hateful and offered an almost insoluble problem; and he noted that Ulster was not to be coerced—though he was not quite satisfied with the assurance[Pg 205] given on that point. He defended and introduced his own measure, the Legislation (Suspension during War) Bill (p. 204), but stated that his party was ready to meet the fear that the rise of new issues might shut out Home Rule by extending for the current Parliament the five years' time limit in the Parliament Act to six.

After further debate this Bill was read a first time.

Next day (Sept. 15) the Prime Minister introduced his Bill in the Commons. He said that the Opposition proposal would place the Bills at the mercy of a chapter of accidents. If the term of this Parliament were extended by a year, as had been suggested, the war might not be over, and the postponement of Home Rule would have damped the patriotic feeling of Irishmen not only in Ireland, but in the Dominions and the United States. He stated the Government proposal, promised an Amending Bill for the following session, and repudiated as unthinkable the idea of coercing Ulster in the existing patriotic atmosphere. As to the Welsh Bill, disendowment would necessitate a voluntary Sustentation Fund, which would be hampered by the war burdens and by new taxation. But disendowment was necessarily connected with disestablishment, and, subject to relatively formal matters, this Bill would be delayed like the Irish Bill. He was not troubled by the charge of breach of faith. He would leave his honour in the hands of his countrymen.

Mr. Bonar Law declared regretfully that the Government had taken advantage of the patriotism of the Unionists to betray them. As to the Welsh Bill there was no breach of faith, though the time-limit was inadequate, and it would have been better to await the report of the Select Committee (p. 136), but it was wrong to shock the consciences of its opponents at such a time. But the Government held that the Home Rule Bill and the Amending Bill hung together, and they were breaking solemn pledges in dealing with the former alone. On the morning of August 4 he and Sir Edward Carson had suggested to the Prime Minister that an acrimonious debate should be avoided, and the Prime Minister had promised that until the discussion of the Amending Bill was resumed, no controversial legislation should be taken—on which the Ulster Unionists drew up a resolution agreeing to the adjournment of that Bill—and also that by the postponement of controversial legislation no party to the controversy should be placed in a worse position. The Prime Minister had also told the House that the Home Rule Bill would not be presented for the King's assent till the Amending Bill had been disposed of in the Commons. He had said that circumstances made it inconvenient to fulfil this pledge, but was his new pledge stronger? Amid protests from the Ministerialists, some of whom, headed by the First Lord of the Admiralty, ostentatiously left the House, Mr. Bonar Law likened it to the German promise which the Prime Minister[Pg 206] had contemptuously dismissed as valueless (p. 179). He stated that in the negotiations of some ten days earlier the Prime Minister offered the Unionists two alternatives: (1) his present course, which they refused to consider; (2) another suggestion which they accepted. [What this was did not transpire, but the Prime Minister, intervening, made clear that it was put forward only as a basis for criticism and further suggestion by the Opposition.] The Unionists, Mr. Bonar Law continued, had been prepared to agree to a Bill extending the operation of the Parliament Act to the succeeding session, and to the postponement of a general election till after Home Rule was settled. Mr. Redmond's speech (p. 172) was a promise of conditional loyalty; but he blamed him less than the Government. Ulster and the Unionists, in spite of all, would help the Government to preserve the country till the war was over; but they would withdraw from a debate which, under present circumstances, was indecent.

Mr. John Redmond (N.) said he would not waste time by replying to Mr. Bonar Law's speech. But the settlement was not a party triumph, but a severe disadvantage for the Nationalists, owing to the delay of the Home Rule Bill. But the moratorium was necessary, and he hoped it would lead to a very different Amending Bill. The two things he cared for most were, (1) that autonomy for Ireland should extend to the whole country, (2) that no county should be coerced into Home Rule. These things were then incompatible, but when Nationalists and Irishmen had fought side by side on the Continent and drilled together for home defence, he believed a real Amending Bill would be offered to the Government by agreement. Meanwhile the Nationalists must cultivate a spirit of conciliation. His speech (Aug. 3; p. 173) was not an offer of conditional loyalty, but an appeal to the Ulster Volunteers to allow the Nationalist Volunteers to fight by their side in defence of their country, and to the Government and the War Office to enable the Nationalists to do their duty. He regretted that it had found no response. Ireland had furnished proportionately a larger quota to the Army than Great Britain. In 1885 the numbers per thousand of the male population were Irish born 76, British born 42; in 1893 75 to 47, in 1903 69 to 44, in 1913 42 to 32. That was the record when Irish sentiment was completely out of touch with British; what would it be now, when Irish sentiment was wholly with Great Britain in the war? The little groups of Irishmen who were opposing enlistment were the bitterest enemies of the Nationalists. Ireland felt now that the British democracy had kept faith with her; she was specially moved by the fact that the war was undertaken in defence of small nations and oppressed peoples. Like South Africa, Ireland had been transformed from "the broken arm of England" into one of the strongest bulwarks of the Empire.

After other speeches, the Bill was brought in amid cheers.

[Pg 207]

In the House of Lords, meanwhile, the second reading of the Home Rule Bill was moved, but ultimately adjourned by 93 votes to 29. Violent attacks were made on the Government by Viscount Midleton and the Marquess of Londonderry, and its course was defended by the Lord Chancellor and the Marquess of Crewe. The latter said that any expectation on the Continent of civil war in Ireland had been encouraged quite as much by the threats from Ulster as by any action of the Government. What was important was that the Home Rule Bill and the Amending Bill should come into operation at the same time. The Marquess of Lansdowne said that the Unionist complaint was that the Government were enabling the Nationalists to obtain without a struggle what would otherwise have cost them a very serious struggle. They desired adjournment, partly because prolonged and minute discussion of Irish questions would just then be futile or mischievous, partly because they had no security that there would be an Amending Bill.

A similar motion adjourning the Welsh Church Bill was also carried by 89 to 27. The Archbishop of Canterbury said that there was no need for haste, save on purely political lines. The Bill now would be devastating to the Church. The Government were taking advantage of the war to do them an intolerable wrong. Other Peers also spoke. Lord Lansdowne's Legislation (Suspension during War) Bill was then passed through all its stages.

Sir Edward Carson issued an indignant manifesto to the Ulster loyalists, attacking the Government for taking advantage of the war to pass the Home Rule Bill, but reminding them that their motto, now as always, was "Our Country First," and that they must go on with their preparations to assist it to victory. But they would never have Home Rule—never!

Next day, however, the Commons, on the motion of the Home Secretary, disagreed with the Lords' amendments to the Suspensory Bill. He described that relating to the Welsh Church as "essentially absurd"; and the Lords gave way.

But interest that day centred in Earl Kitchener's second statement on the military situation. After paying an emphatic tribute to Sir John French's "consummate skill and calm courage," to the ability of his generals, and to the bravery and endurance of the officers and men, he said that the tide had turned, and there were good reasons for confidence. There were in the field rather more than six divisions of British troops and two cavalry divisions, which were being maintained at full strength; further Regular divisions and additional cavalry were being organised from units withdrawn from oversea garrisons and replaced where necessary by Territorials who had patriotically volunteered for service abroad. Troops were coming from India and the Dominions, and the response at home to the call for recruits had afforded a remarkable demonstration of the energy and patriotism of the young men. The[Pg 208] difficulties in accommodating the recruits had been overcome; the War Office had had to deal with an ordinary year's supply of troops in a day. This "splendid material" was to be organised into four new armies, of which the first two were collected at training centres, the third was being formed at new camping grounds, the fourth formed by adding to the establishment of the reserve battalions, from which the units would be detached and organised like the other three. The Special Reserve and extra Special Reserve Units would be maintained as feeders to the Expeditionary Force. He referred also to the various local battalions being raised outside these Armies, to the progress of the Territorial Force and its volunteering for foreign service, and to the division of marines and bluejackets then being organised by the First Lord of the Admiralty. He spoke also of the means of providing officers, but said the chief difficulty was in material rather than personnel, but it was being overcome. By the spring the new armies would be well trained and formidable opponents to the enemy. He added details, also given by the Prime Minister in the Commons, of the increased allowances to wives of soldiers (wife 12s. 6d. with additions of 2s. 6d. for each child up to three and 2s. for the fourth. Provision was also foreshadowed for dependants of unmarried soldiers and naval men, and other matters.) The Marquess of Lansdowne said a few words expressing the "profound admiration and gratitude" of the House for the feat of arms of the Expeditionary Force, and its full concurrence in Earl Kitchener's praise of Sir John French.

Parliament was prorogued next day (Sept. 19) by Commission, after wholly unprecedented proceedings. The House of Lords was nearly empty; the Commons' and other galleries were crowded. The Royal Assent was given by Commission to a number of Bills, and then, in a new formula, to the Government of Ireland and Established Church (Wales) Act, "duly passed under the provisions of the Parliament Act, 1911." Loud cheers followed from the galleries, and no attempt was made to suppress them. Then the Lord Chancellor read the King's Speech as follows:—

My Lords and Gentlemen, I address you in circumstances that call for action rather than for speech.

After every endeavour had been made by My Government to preserve the peace of the world, I was compelled, in the assertion of treaty obligations deliberately set at nought, and for the protection of the public law of Europe and the vital interests of My Empire, to go to war.

My Navy and Army have, with unceasing vigilance, courage, and skill, sustained, in association with gallant and faithful allies, a just and righteous cause.

From every part of My Empire there has been a spontaneous and enthusiastic rally to our common flag.

Gentlemen of the House of Commons, I thank you for the liberality with which you have met a great emergency.

My Lords and Gentlemen, We are fighting for a worthy purpose, and we shall not lay down our arms until that purpose has been fully achieved.

I rely with confidence upon the loyal and united efforts of all My subjects, and I pray that Almighty God may give us His blessing.

[Pg 209]

In the Commons, after one or two questions, members were summoned to the House of Lords as usual, and, on the return of the Deputy Speaker, loud cheers greeted his announcement of the passing of the Home Rule Bill, as also the last clause but one of the Royal Speech. Then, before the customary leave-taking, Mr. Crooks (Lab., Woolwich) asked if it would be in order to sing "God Save the King," and, after a moment's pause, began to do so. Every member rose and joined; so did the strangers in the galleries; Mr. Crooks, after calling for three cheers, which were heartily given, exclaimed "God save Ireland," to which Mr. J. Redmond responded "God save England." Members then took leave of the Deputy-Speaker, and thus this most exciting and astonishing session came to its close.

The war had produced much "emergency legislation," of which the most important items have been noticed; it had also increased the "massacre of the innocents," besides eliminating the debate on the Indian Budget. Of Government Bills passed and not previously noticed at length we may mention the Nationality and Status of Aliens Bill (tending to make this status uniform throughout the Empire), the Criminal Justice Administration Bill (extending the time for the payment of fines in lieu of imprisonment, and extending the probationary treatment of youthful offenders on the "Borstal system"); the Elementary Education (Defective and Epileptic Children) Bill, facilitating the establishment of residential schools for such children by local education authorities, the Board of Education finding half the cost; a Merchant Shipping Bill, giving effect to the chief recommendations of the International Conference (p. 9), the National Insurance Act, Part II., Amendment Bill (p. 115), the Milk and Dairies Bills (p. 115), and a Housing Bill. This originally empowered the Board of Agriculture to build cottages in rural districts at a cost of 3,000,000l. and to house workmen at Rosyth (where the lack of houses was a scandal, at a cost of 2,000,000l.), but it was eventually cut down to apply to Rosyth only, and subsequently extended again to provide employment during the war (p. 182). An Importation of Plumage Bill, prohibiting such importation in the case of certain foreign birds mercilessly destroyed—often during the breeding season—was strongly supported by zoologists and humanitarians, but opposed by the trade and by a very few members as destroying British industry, and was drastically amended in Committee and finally crowded out.

Among private members' Bills which became law, we may mention the Education (Provision of Meals) Bill, extending the existing provision (A.R., 1906, pp. 41, 252) to vacations and instituting it everywhere in England and Wales; a non-party Agricultural Holdings Bill, giving compensation to tenants for unreasonable disturbance with a view to the sale of their holdings; a Grey Seals Protection Bill (saving a species threatened with ex[Pg 210]tinction), and a Bill prohibiting the exportation of worn-out horses (in which there had been an extensive and very cruel traffic to Belgium), unless they were certified not to be permanently incapacitated for work, and requiring horses not so certified to be slaughtered at the ports.

Among private members' Bills discussed and dropped were two Bills restricting the sale of intoxicants on Sunday; a Weekly Rest Day Bill, which the Commons rejected (May 21) by 117 to 105, mainly because it was badly drafted; a Bill facilitating the further creation of small holdings in Scotland; a Children's Employment and School Attendance Bill, raising the age of leaving school to fifteen, enabling local authorities to compel attendance at continuation schools, abolishing half-time, and forbidding street trading to boys under fifteen and girls under eighteen; this was strongly opposed by a small minority, and dropped for want of time. A Unionist Housing Bill, setting up a Housing Department of the Local Government Board and providing a Government grant, preceded the first Government Housing Bill above mentioned and failed through Ministerial refusal to provide the grant. A Health Resorts and Watering Places Bill would have allowed local authorities to advertise the attractions of their borough or urban district to an extent limited by the yield of 1d. rate. It passed its second reading in the Commons by 109 to 28. Four unsuccessful essays at legislation in the House of Lords must also be mentioned—the Criminal Law Amendment Bill for the better protection of young girls, presented by the Bishop of London, greatly amended, and eventually withdrawn; a Moneylenders Bill; Lord Newton's Betting Inducements Bill, modified from that of 1913 (A.R., 1913, p. 196), which passed the House of Lords; and Lord Gorell's Matrimonial Causes Bill, based on his experience as Judge of the Probate and Divorce Division. This made the grounds for divorce the same for both sexes, and allowed a marriage to be nullified on account of insanity, incipient mental unsoundness, and epilepsy; but after a debate of the usual character (July 28), it was withdrawn to be reintroduced in 1915.

The Prime Minister had not waited for the prorogation to leave for Edinburgh, where he spoke at a meeting of 3,500 persons, primarily consisting of those eligible for the new Army, on September 18. Great crowds were unable to enter, and were addressed either by him at an overflow meeting or by speakers outside. Lord Provost Inches, who presided, mentioned that Edinburgh had enlisted 11,000 men in the new Army. Mr. Asquith began by referring to the origin of the war, and to Sir Maurice de Bunsen's despatch (p. 215), as showing that, largely through Sir Edward Grey's efforts, a peaceful settlement was already in sight when, on July 31, Germany deliberately made war a certainty. The only attempt to controvert the facts was by circulating such wanton falsehoods as that France was beginning to violate Belgian terri[Pg 211]tory. England was at war (1) to vindicate the sanctity of treaty obligations and the public law of Europe; (2) to assert the independence of small States; (3) to withstand in the interest of civilisation the claim of a single Power to dominate Europe. Rebutting the German charge that England had never cared for treaties save in her own interest, he quoted Pitt's speech in 1793 on the French annulment of the treaties guaranteeing to Holland the navigation of the Scheldt, and cited Mr. Gladstone's action regarding Belgium in 1870 and his vindication of it at Edinburgh in 1880. The Germans practically did not contest the British statement that their aim was to dominate Europe. They avowedly believed that the supremacy of German culture was best for the world. Mankind owed much to Germany, but her specific share in the movement of the past thirty years had been intellectually the development of the doctrine of the prerogative of material forces, and, practically, primacy in the fabrication and multiplication of means of destruction. To those accepting this gospel treaties were merely pieces of parchment, and talk about the rights of the weak and the obligations of the strong merely threadbare and nauseating cant. Their creed had proved a purblind philosophy; they had miscalculated the strength of the British Empire, the feelings of the Colonies and India, the state of Great Britain. The fruits of this culture were seen in their action in Belgium and France—Louvain, Malines, Termonde, their proclamation at Reims. The British task might take months or years, but the economic, monetary, and military and naval position was encouraging; but more men were needed, and he eloquently appealed for them, reminding them of their hardships and dangers, and of their noble opportunity.

Next day the Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke for a similar purpose at a meeting of Welshmen at the Queen's Hall, London. He said that no man detested war more than himself, but it could not have been avoided without national dishonour. France had respected Belgian neutrality at Sedan at the cost of her own ruin; Prussia's interest was to break the treaty, and she had done it. The German Chancellor called treaties "scraps of paper." Then let them burn their bank-notes; they were only scraps of paper. "What are they made of? Rags. What are they worth? The whole credit of the British Empire." The machinery of the world's commerce had stopped; it was moved by bills of exchange—wretched little scraps of paper, which yet moved great ships with precious cargoes across the world. What was the motive power behind them? The honour of commercial men. Treaties were the currency of international statesmanship. German merchants were as honourable as any, but if the currency of German commerce was to be debased to that of her statesmanship no trader would ever look at a German signature again. The German doctrine was the straight road to barbarism. It was as[Pg 212] if one removed the magnetic pole whenever it was in the way of a German cruiser. The tales about conspiracy of France and Belgium had been vamped up afterwards. He dwelt on the outrages in Belgium, and on the Austrian treatment of Servia; and he remarked that, the greatest art, the most enduring literature, even the salvation of mankind had come through little nations. He contrasted the Russian action to free Bulgaria with Bismarck's saying that "Bulgaria was not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier." German civilisation was hard and material; the Emperor claimed to be God's Viceregent; "there has been nothing like it since the days of Mahomet." He did not mean all his speeches, but the men around him did. They meant to destroy Christianity; the new diet of the world they held was to be blood and iron. Britain was not fighting the German people, who were under the heel of the military caste. The Prussian Junker was "the road hog of Europe." If the old British spirit was alive, that bully would be torn from his seat. It would not be easy to beat them, but in the end we should march through terror to triumph. It was a great opportunity, and a greater blessing was emerging—a new patriotism, richer, nobler, more exalted than the old. We had been living in a sheltered valley; the stern hand of fate had scourged us to an elevation whence they could see the great peaks of honour—Duty, Patriotism, Sacrifice. We should descend again, but this generation would carry in their hearts "the image of those great mountain peaks whose foundations are not shaken, though Europe rock and sway in the convulsions of a great war."

Speaking at a recruiting meeting at Nottingham (Sept. 21) the Marquess of Lansdowne attributed to Germany a design to establish a great military despotism from the North Sea to the Adriatic, and described the action of the Dominions and India as unparalleled in history. The response to Lord Kitchener's appeal was magnificent, but two men in training were needed for every one in the field. The First Lord of the Admiralty on the same evening at Liverpool said that circumstances had so far been unexpectedly favourable to the Allied cause; if the British Empire had the time—and the Navy would give it—he thought, if its resolution did not fail, it could finally settle the fight as it chose. Without a battle, Great Britain was enjoying the advantages of a battle in which the German Navy had been destroyed. If the German ships did not come out, "they would be dug out like rats in a hole." Mr. F. E. Smith and Mr. T. P. O'Connor spoke also, and it was announced that the former was leaving for the front.

Mr. Churchill's speech, unfortunately, was promptly followed by the sinking of three British cruisers in the North Sea, with a heavy loss of officers and men; but encouragement was given by the news of the daring British air raid on Cologne and Düsseldorf, by the indignation roused throughout the civilised world by the Ger[Pg 213]man bombardment of Reims Cathedral (post, Chron., Sept. 20, 22), and still more by the announcement that, on the eleventh day of the Battle of the Aisne, the Allies were gaining ground. No full account, however, was given of the doings of the British Army in France till Sir John French's despatch was published, October 19; and we may here continue the story (p. 199) by summarising his account of the movement from the Marne to the Aisne.

The battle on September 6, he said, began on a front running from Ermenonville through Lizy, Mauperthuis, Cortecon, Esternay, Charleville, to a point north of Verdun. About noon a German retreat began, and a series of battles followed till, on the evening of September 10, the enemy, driven back to a line running from Compiègne to Soissons, were preparing to dispute the passage of the Aisne. He specially mentioned the forcing of the passage of the Petit Morin River (Sept. 8) by the First British Corps, and of the Marne by the First and Second Corps, and of the battle on September 10, when these Corps, assisted by the Cavalry division on the right and the Third and Fifth Cavalry Brigades on the left, drove the enemy northwards, capturing thirteen guns, seven machine guns, some 2,000 prisoners, and much transport.

A further despatch, dated October 8, but published with the first, practically completed the history of the fighting on the Aisne. On September 12, Sir John French stated, the enemy made a stand, and prepared to dispute the passage of the river (somewhat to the east of Soissons). The river valley, he explained, ran east and west; the bottom was flat, the hills bordering it were about 400 feet high, with numerous spurs and re-entrants; they were backed on the north by a high plateau with patches of wood, admirably adapted for concealing troops. The enemy held a very strong position on the north of the Aisne (a winding stream, 170 feet wide, and unfordable), commanding all the bridges, and with great facilities for concealment. On September 13 the British forces were ordered to advance and make good the Aisne. Portions of them that day crossed at various points a distance of about twelve miles from Bourg to Venizel (the latter some three miles east of Soissons), with comparative ease on their right, with great difficulty on their left, the Fifth Infantry Brigade, in particular, crossing in single file under heavy fire on the broken and only remaining girder of a bridge. The crossing was not completed till the evening of the 13th, when the enemy (though still holding some points on the Aisne) effected a general retirement and entrenched on the high ground two miles north of the river, leaving, however, detachments of infantry supported by powerful artillery, in commanding points on the slopes of the spurs of the high ground. The river was further bridged, under heavy artillery fire, by the Royal Engineers, and on the 15th there was a general advance, to ascertain whether the enemy intended to hold his position[Pg 214] or was only halting. This cannot here be described in detail; a few points must suffice. The First Corps, under Sir Douglas Haig, gained positions on that day by "skilful, bold, and decisive" action which alone enabled the British forces to maintain their foothold on the north bank during three weeks' severe fighting; the most difficult part of this work was achieved, round Vendresse and Troyon, by the Loyal North Lancashires, the Royal Sussex, the King's Royal Rifles, and the Northamptons, reinforced by the Coldstream Guards. The enemy was found to be making a determined stand against the Allies in a strongly entrenched position along the whole line from Compiègne to Reims, supported by heavy artillery set free by the fall of Maubeuge. The British troops, therefore, had to entrench thoroughly, and eventually to establish a regular system of relief in the trenches, the cavalry men taking their turn, and also to obtain heavy howitzer batteries from England, which were first used September 24. On the 16th the Army was reinforced by the 6th Division. On the 17th, 18th, 19th, the Germans heavily bombarded the trenches and the First Corps was heavily engaged; on the 17th the Northamptons crept in mist to within 100 yards of the enemy's trenches, and then cleared them with the bayonet; on the night of the 18th the Gloucesters advanced near Chivy, filled in the German trenches and took two Maxim guns. From the 23rd to the 26th the enemy was less active; but on the 26th, and especially on the night of the 27th-28th, there were renewed German attacks, which were beaten off, and were the last great German effort in the battle. Sir John French eulogised the conduct alike of officers and men; the total casualties in four weeks were 561 officers and 12,980 men, and the heavy rain and cold during most of the battle imposed a severe tax on the endurance of the troops. The German losses, it must be noted, were far heavier; and after the end of September the German resistance died down and permitted the removal of the British troops to Ypres.

All this was as yet only known vaguely; but a possible danger to London had been impressed afresh on the public by the issue through the police authorities of an Admiralty statement of the measures taken to protect the capital against an air raid. More searchlights had been mounted, as well as special guns; at Hendon aerodrome men and machines of the Naval Air Service were held ready to pursue the raiders. Naval airships were to pay surprise visits, to test the effectiveness of the diminution of lighting; and for many months the darkness of the London streets, the consequent reduction in evening performances at the theatres, and (after the middle of November) the regulation that suburban trains must have their blinds drawn after nightfall, served as a reminder of the newest peril of modern war.

Besides all this, the conviction that Germany was essentially responsible for the war had been, if that were possible, intensified;[Pg 215] first, by Sir Edward Grey's effective reply to a bungling attack on the sincerity of Great Britain made through the Danish Press by the German Chancellor (Sept. 15, 16), and next by the issue of two important diplomatic publications: (1) Sir Maurice de Bunsen's lengthy despatch (Sept. 16) which showed that the Austro-Hungarian Government had pressed on the war against Serbia in harmony with the wishes of the population of Vienna and other leading cities, and that Germany had by her intervention destroyed the last hopes of a peaceful solution; (2) the Russian Orange Book (Sept. 21; see post, For. Hist., Chap. II., III.).

It was amid these impressions that the Prime Minister addressed a great meeting at the Round Room of the Dublin Mansion House on September 25, the Lord Mayor in the chair. A small section of the National Volunteers had issued an anti-recruiting manifesto in the morning, and police and National Volunteers were ready to avert a disturbance, but these precautions were not needed. Mr. Asquith, who had an enthusiastic reception, said that he could base his title to speak on such service as he had tried throughout his political life to render Ireland. The Empire, as a family of nations, was united in defending principles vital to it and to civilisation and the progress of mankind. The proofs that Germany was responsible for the war were patent, manifold, and overwhelming; Germany had been preparing for a generation past, and had seized the opportunity of the Austro-Serbian dispute. But she made two profound miscalculations; as to the resistance of Belgium—to which he paid an eloquent tribute—and as to the attitude of England. She believed England to be paralysed by domestic disaffection and without interest in the conflict. But England had at stake her plighted word and the maintenance of the whole system of international goodwill. In 1870 Mr. Gladstone had said that "the greatest triumph of our time would be the enthronement of public right as the governing idea of European politics." That meant that the small nations must have as good a title as the large ones to a place in the sun, and finally the establishment of a real European partnership, based on the recognition of equal right and established and enforced by a common will. The victory of the Allies would bring this within the range of European statesmanship. The cause of the small nations specially appealed to Ireland. Let her take her share in the war. The British Empire had always been proud of its Irish regiments and their leaders; and he specially appealed to the National Volunteers (after a brief reference to the contests which had become unthinkable) to form an Irish Brigade, or, better still, an Irish Army Corps. Local associations would be maintained as far as possible, and officers of the Volunteers might receive commissions. He was certain that the Volunteers would become an integral part of the defensive forces of the Crown. Old animosities were dead; what was needed was the free-will offering of a free people.

[Pg 216]

The Earl of Meath, the Unionist Lord-Lieutenant of co. Dublin, also spoke; and Mr. John Redmond said that Ireland would feel bound in honour to take her place beside the other autonomous portions of the King's Dominions. She had been profoundly moved by the sufferings of Belgium, and he had promised Cardinal Mercier that Irishmen would avenge Louvain. Ireland's highest material interests were at stake in the war. After referring to the high proportion of Irishmen in the Army from the Peninsular War onwards he said that Ireland wanted an Irish Army Corps, and at the same time the Irish National Volunteers would be kept intact, and would be an inexhaustible source of strength to the new Army Corps and Army. Speaking for an overwhelming majority of the Nationalists, he said to the Prime Minister and Great Britain: "You have kept faith with Ireland; Ireland will keep faith with you." The Lord-Lieutenant, the Chief Secretary, Mr. Dillon, and Mr. Devlin spoke also, and the meeting closed with the singing of "God Save the King," "God Save Ireland," and "A Nation Once Again."

A day earlier the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in an impromptu speech at Criccieth, had mentioned that France and England had agreed that each should lend Belgium 10,000,000l. without interest, and that the Bank of England had been ready to let him have 40,000,000l. or more; and he urged Wales to be forward in recruiting for this eminently righteous war. He repeated this appeal at a great meeting in Cardiff (Sept. 29) called to promote the raising of a separate Welsh Army Corps. Wales, he said, would have under compulsory service to raise 250,000 men; it ought to provide 40,000 to 50,000 volunteers for the new Army. The war must be national, and conviction was essential to confidence. It was no picnic; but their war memories would compensate them. The Welsh were not a martial race; but neither were the men who composed Cromwell's Ironsides. If they failed through timidity, ignorance or indolence Welshmen would be unable to live down their evil repute for generations. In two months 36,000 men had joined the Army from Wales. If Welshmen came out manfully, the sons of Wales would have laid up for their native land treasures of honour and glory.

On the previous day, September 28, Belfast had celebrated the second anniversary of Ulster Day, which had not been dropped owing to the alleged breach by the Government of the "truce" (p. 204). But the proceedings were very largely a demonstration of a broader patriotism. Sir Edward Carson, indeed, announced that after the war he proposed to summon the Provisional Government, which would repeal the Home Rule Act as affecting Ulster and enact simultaneously that the Volunteers should carry out this decision; meanwhile, let them throw themselves whole-heartedly into the patriotic action demanded by the time. And Mr. Bonar Law, at a great demonstration that evening, after giv[Pg 217]ing a formal pledge that the whole Unionist party would support Ulster unconditionally; repeated that Ulstermen had no ill-will to their Catholic fellow-countrymen, and went on to deal with the war. The meeting was called to stimulate Ulstermen to join the Army; such hesitation as there had been at first was due to the suddenness of the war, and it had not lasted long. The pressure put on individuals to join seemed to him detestable, and was utterly unnecessary. The Germans had been shown that we were not a decadent nation. We had reason to be proud of the Army, the Volunteers, and the spirit shown throughout the Empire. After urging the need of better allowances for dependants of soldiers, Mr. Bonar Law described the war as one of the greatest of crimes, due to one nation and largely to one man. The Germans had pulled down their spiritual altars and erected a temple to naked Force. It was Napoleonism without Napoleon. Apart from their Army they had made every possible mistake—with Italy, with Belgium, in neutral countries, as regarded the Dominions and India. The British people had no desire to humiliate the German people, but they were determined that the dread spectre that had haunted them should not do so again, and that the law of right, not of might, should govern the world.

Meanwhile the moral strength of the British case was emphasised by the elaborate reply of British theologians (Sept. 30) to an appeal issued by German theologians to Evangelical Christians abroad. This appeal described Germany as "confronted in other lands by a systematic network of lies." It attributed the war to the interference of Russia in the Servian dispute, complained that Russia had been joined by those who "by blood and history and faith are our brothers," and said that against a world in arms, Germans had to defend their existence, individuality, culture, and honour. "Unnameable horrors" had been committed against Germans living peaceably abroad, women and children, wounded and physicians; heathen Japan had been called in under pretext of an alliance; the mission fields indicated as most important by the World Missionary Conference, mid-Africa and Eastern Asia, were now the scenes of bitter rivalry between the peoples specially responsible for their Christianisation; the signatories, for the sake, not of Germany, but of the world-task of the Christian peoples in the decisive hour of the world-mission, addressed themselves to Evangelical Christians abroad, and repudiated German responsibility for the war and its consequences to the development of God's kingdom on earth. The British reply, signed by the two English Archbishops, the Primates of Ireland and Scotland, the Bishops of London, Winchester, and Ossory, the Chairman of the World Missionary Conference, and a host of other Anglican and Free Church divines and University dignitaries, began by a calm review of the origin of the war, and the violation of Belgian neutrality. It went on to note the absence of reference to the[Pg 218] teachings of Treitschke and Bernhardi, questioned the allegation of atrocities, deplored the signatories' severance from German Christians and the effects of the war in the mission field, and declared that, dear to them as was the cause of peace, the principles of truth and honour were yet more dear. They took their stand for international good faith, the safeguarding of smaller nationalities, and the upholding of the essential conditions of brotherhood among the nations of the world.

But, though the British people supported the war with practical unanimity, it was found necessary to stimulate recruiting by a platform campaign. A more effective method would doubtless have been to give news from the front; but few details were given of the great battle on the Aisne, and the feats of particular corps were not mentioned for fear that the enemy should find out what troops it had to face. War correspondents, again, were not allowed at the front, and arrangements to permit them were vetoed, after long waiting, by the War Office. An official account, by an "eye-witness," was supplied to the Press; but it contained little that was definite. Popular feeling was encouraged by the surrender of Duala and the investment of Tsingtau, and exasperated by the Emden's raid on Madras; but recruiting was encouraged only by advertisement and by speech-making, following the Ministerial lead.

The Prime Minister concluded his part in this campaign at Cardiff, where he addressed a thoroughly representative meeting of 9,000 persons (Oct. 2). He began by laying stress on the unparalleled unity of the British Empire in the war, which was due neither to ambition nor to ill-will. In regard to Germany in particular, British policy had aimed at establishing a firm basis for cordial relations; Ministers had repeatedly said that friendships with certain Powers did not imply coldness or hostility to others; but, as the Foreign Secretary had said (Nov. 27, 1911), "One does not make new friendships worth having by deserting old ones." Mr. Asquith then made an important disclosure. In 1912 the Cabinet had formally notified the German Government that Britain would "neither make nor join in any unprovoked attack on Germany." "Aggression upon Germany is not the subject and forms no part of any treaty, understanding, or combination to which Britain is now a party, nor will she become a party to anything that has such an object." But the German Government asked Britain for an absolute pledge of neutrality if Germany were engaged in war, and this at a time when Germany was enormously increasing both her aggressive and defensive forces, especially at sea. Only one answer was possible, but the British Government had continued, especially during the Balkan crisis, to work for peace. Both from a domestic and an international point of view the war could only be regarded as among the worst of catastrophes for Britain, but not the worst. In the four weeks since his Guildhall speech (p. 197)[Pg 219] every day had increased the sombre and repulsive features of the German invasion—"worthy of the blackest annals in the history of barbarism." Had not Great Britain shown herself ready to strike with all her forces at the common enemy of civilisation and freedom she could only have gone down dishonoured to her grave. The world was as ready as ever to respond to moral issues. The new school of German ethics had taught for a generation that force alone was the test of right. But in the British Empire they still believed in the sanctity of treaties, the rights of small nationalities, and the worth of freedom; and they looked forward at the end of the war to a Europe in which those simple and venerable truths would be guarded for ever against the recrudescence of the era of blood and iron. Britain was confronted by the greatest emergency in her history. There was no ground for apprehension that the new Army would interfere with the Territorials, who were fit, according to the considered opinion of one of the most eminent generals, for any part either in home defence, in garrison, or in the battle lines at the front. He asked Welshmen to fill up the ranks of the Welsh Army Corps. Let them remember their past and leave to their children the richest of all inheritances—the memory of fathers who in a great cause put self-sacrifice before ease, and honour before life itself.

The recruiting campaign was now energetically carried on throughout the country; and in Ireland the Nationalist leaders took a prominent part in it. Mr. Redmond at Wexford (Oct. 4) did his best to secure the aid of the Irish National Volunteers, and to promote a general reconciliation on Home Rule; and he intimated that the Prime Minister had promised that there should be an Irish Brigade. Mr. Dillon the same day at Ballaghadareen, Mayo, condemned the efforts to check recruiting made by Sinn Fein and the Gaelic League; but these, unfortunately, were not ineffective. Complaints were made of the inadequate accommodation at the camps (which was mitigated by billeting, or even by allowing the recruits to live at home while under instruction), of the drunkenness caused by indiscreet treating by civilian sympathisers, and, in some cases, of immorality (Chron., Oct. 13), but voluntary effort did much to counteract these evils and to provide recreation for the men.

But the character of the war was being brought home to England by other means than the recruiting campaign. On the day the Premier spoke at Cardiff the Admiralty announced that the German mine-laying and submarine activities had constrained Great Britain to establish a minefield in the North Sea south of the German field (which extended to lat. 52°), and that it was now dangerous for ships to cross the area between lat. 51° 15' and 51° 40' and long. 1° 35' and 3°, but that navigation must not be supposed safe in any part of the south of that sea. This new minefield extended the danger area a line drawn from the mouth of[Pg 220] the Eastern Scheldt to the Thames. On the other hand, it was encouraging that the Germans were failing to make any impression on the Allies on the Aisne, and that the German destroyer S 167 had been sunk off Schiermonnikoog by the British submarine E9 (Oct. 6) which had recently sunk the Hela (Chron., Sept. 3); still more that Canada had decided to double her contribution in men and material; that British airmen had damaged a Zeppelin shed, and perhaps a Zeppelin, at Düsseldorf (Chron., Oct. 9); that the Home Office had taken effective measures against espionage (p. 185), though here the reassurance was only temporarily effective; and that alien enemy residents had been prohibited from changing their names, or continuing to use names changed since the outbreak of the war (Oct. 5).

But British confidence was shaken by the unexpected fall of Antwerp, where the Royal Naval Division, formed in September and consisting of two Naval Brigades and a Marine Brigade, in all 8,000 men, had reinforced the Belgian troops. The Marine Brigade of 2,200 men had arrived on the night of October 3-4, and relieved the Belgians in the trenches near Lierre, with an advanced post on the Nethe. Through the exhaustion of the Belgians—coupled with the superior numbers of the enemy, and the defenders' lack of heavy guns—they were driven back by several stages on the second line of defence, the Germans on the 5th forcing the passage of the Nethe, which was not under fire from the trenches. The two Naval Brigades reached Antwerp on the night of October 5-6; the first assisted in the withdrawal of the Marine Brigade (under a violent bombardment) on the following night from a position temporarily occupied to the second main line of defence, and the Naval Division occupied the intervals between the forts on this second line. The German heavy guns bombarded the town, forts, and trenches from midnight on October 7-8, the inability of the Belgians to hold the forts became evident during the 8th, and a retirement of the Division was decided on at 5:30 P.M., chivalrously facilitated by the Belgian commander, and carried out that evening under very difficult conditions. A large German force was in the rear, the roads were blocked by refugees, vehicles, and cattle, and for these and other reasons, partly fatigue, many of the First Naval Brigade were taken prisoners or crossed the border into Holland, where they were interned. The remainder entrained after an all-night march at St. Gillies-Waes, and completed their retreat; but the rearguard, a battalion of the Marine Brigade, entraining later with many refugees, found its journey interrupted by the enemy at Morbeke, and fought its way through with great difficulty, losing half its numbers; it then marched ten miles more to Selzaate and entrained there. The casualties altogether exceeded 2,500.

The full account was given in a report from Major-General Paris, published Dec, 4, and a covering despatch from Sir John[Pg 221] French stated that General Paris had handled the force with great skill and boldness; its action had considerably delayed the enemy and enabled the Belgian Army to be withdrawn and regain its value as a fighting force, and had also facilitated the destruction of war material which would have been of great value to the enemy; moreover, the moral effect of this "necessarily desperate attempt" to succour the Belgian Army had greatly conduced to their efficiency as a fighting force.

This latter despatch was virtually a reply to Press strictures on a step regarded as essentially the enterprise of the First Lord of the Admiralty, who had, in fact, visited the city during the British occupation; and the Morning Post of October 13 described it as "a costly blunder, for which Mr. Winston Churchill was primarily responsible"; the relief had come too late, and kept the Belgian Army there too long. In other quarters, however, it was pointed out that the despatch of the force must have been the act of the whole Cabinet, and that it had a moral value as a demonstration of sympathy with Belgium. Meanwhile, the Germans occupied Bruges and Thielt, bombarded Arras, and were evidently making a desperate effort to reach the coast at Dunkirk and Calais, hoping to interfere at least with British shipping in the Channel.

The capture of Antwerp, too, seemed to increase their means of interference. The defenders had destroyed the stores of petrol, and sunk or disabled the steamers in the port; and to have used it as a naval base even for submarines would have involved the violation of the neutrality of Holland. But it increased the danger of a Zeppelin raid on London; the Mayor of Gravesend issued a warning against hostile aircraft; and it opened the way for a German advance to the more suitable bases, at Zeebrugge and Ostend, for a naval or aerial attack.

The fall was accompanied by a fresh influx into England of Belgian refugees; in four days (Oct. 7-10) some 10,000 landed in Folkestone from Ostend; on Sunday, October 11, 4,250 landed there from Ostend and 900 from Flushing; by October 17 the total number in England was 100,000. Crowds reached other ports, notably Lowestoft, in sailing craft, amid great suffering. Belief was promptly given by committees at London and Folkestone, and shelter and hospitality was offered throughout Great Britain; while numbers of Belgian wounded were also provided for in improvised hospitals, private houses being frequently lent and fitted up by their owners with other voluntary aid. Many German spies were said to be among the refugees; and for this reason they were withdrawn from Dover and Grimsby.

The fate of Belgium was a powerful factor in the issue of a Labour manifesto (Oct. 15), signed by twenty-five Labour members of Parliament and thirty-five leading trade union officials, declaring that in view of Germany's conduct there must be no peace[Pg 222] till she was beaten, and that during the war combatants and non-combatants must be supported to the utmost, though after the war the party favoured arbitration. With the rarest exceptions, the whole British people was equally convinced that the war must be fought out; and there was no dismay at the news of the Maritz rebellion or the loss of the Hawke, against which indeed might be set the arrival of the first Canadian contingent and the sinking of German destroyers off the Dutch coast (Chron., Oct. 17). Such disquiet as there was showed itself in a revival of the fear of espionage, which was met by the internment of a number of Germans and Austrians (Oct. 21, 22), and in the destruction of German shops in South London (Oct. 17); and complaint was also made of an order (shortly afterwards rescinded) that enemy passengers were not to be taken out of neutral ships and of the permission of transactions with branches of German and Austrian firms outside Germany and Austria. Recruiting, however, was proceeding rapidly; within the British Isles there were already 1,200,000 men "in organised form," and 100,000 troops were available as "a first instalment" from the outer Empire.

Meanwhile a daring attempt, not fully revealed till six weeks later, had been made by Sir John French to outflank the German forces in Northern France. Details must be sought in his lengthy despatch (published Nov. 30); but the general idea was to effect a turning movement north of Lille, and then, with the aid of the cavalry under Sir Henry Rawlinson, who had been covering the Belgian retreat from Antwerp, to advance on Bruges and Ghent. The position on the Aisne (p. 214) permitted the transfer from that region of the British troops; and this delicate operation was carried out (Oct. 3-19) with the full concurrence of General Joffre and the cordial co-operation of the French General Staff. Broadly, the plan arranged with General Foch, in charge of the French operations north of Noyon, was that the Second, Third, and First British Army Corps should successively take up positions on the French right, beginning at a point on the Lille-Bethune road, on a line running thence through Armentières towards, and beyond, Ypres, the British right being directed on Lille, while Sir Henry Rawlinson's cavalry was to co-operate, and the First Corps was to make for Bruges. The great battle of Ypres-Armentières, the result of this attempt, began October 11, and was unfinished at the end of the year. Its first stage closed about October 31. The Second Corps, under Sir H. Smith-Dorrien, reached the line Aire-Bethune on October 11; its cavalry that day came in contact with the enemy, and the corps moved eastward to the line Laventie-Lorges, advancing with difficulty over ground cut up by mines and factory buildings, and endeavoured to wheel to the right to take the Germans in flank at the rear of their position at La Bassée, which defied capture throughout. From the[Pg 223] 13th to the 17th this corps fought its way on, the Dorset Regiment and the Artillery being specially commended, and at dark on the 17th the Lincolns and Royal Fusiliers took Herlies (three or four miles beyond the line) at the point of the bayonet. From the 19th to the 31st October they defended themselves against vigorous counter-attacks from much more numerous German forces, with the help, from the 24th, of Indian troops, but were forced back on to a line crossing their old one, and terminating slightly west of La Bassée. Meanwhile the Third Corps, under General Pulteney, coming through St. Omer and Hazebrouck, had moved forward towards the line Armentières-Wytschaete, and, fighting their way slowly forward amid rain and fog, occupied Bailleul (some six miles behind this line), secured the line of the River Lys from Armentières south-west to Sailly, and, till the 19th, attempted vainly to force the passage of the river, in order to be able to drive the enemy eastwards to Lille. Sir H. Rawlinson's force had already reached a line six miles east of Ypres, running from Zandvoorde to Zonnenboke, and an effort was made (Oct. 18) to capture Ménin (some twelve miles north of Lille), but this proved impracticable. The First Corps, under Sir Douglas Haig, had now arrived at a position between St. Omer and Hazebrouck; but it had to be sent to the north of Ypres to meet a German outflanking movement towards the Channel, which the exhausted Belgian Army could not have stopped without assistance. Sir Douglas Haig was therefore instructed (Oct. 19) to advance through Ypres north-eastwards to Thorout, on the Ypres-Bruges railway, with Bruges and Ghent as its eventual objective, but with the option, after passing Ypres, of attacking either the Germans on the north or those advancing from the east, French cavalry co-operating on his left and General Byng's Third Cavalry Division on his right. The British Army, Sir John French remarked, had a task arduous beyond precedent. "That success has been attained, and all the enemy's desperate attempts to break through our line frustrated, is due entirely to the marvellous fighting power and the indomitable courage and tenacity of officers, non-commissioned officers, and men." Never in all their splendid history had they answered so magnificently the desperate calls which of necessity were made on them.

The First Corps, however, was compelled to turn eastwards from Ypres, and was unable to advance beyond the line Zonnenbeke-St. Julien-Langemarck-Bixschoete, and had to remain on the defensive pending a French movement on its north (Oct. 21). A series of severe engagements took place in this neighbourhood on October 22-31, special mention being made of a recapture of trenches (Oct. 23) by the Queens, Northamptons, and King's Royal Rifles, and of the fighting round Gheluvelt (some six miles east-south-east of Ypres) against vastly superior numbers (Oct. 29-31), the village being retaken, on the 31st by a bayonet charge of[Pg 224] the 2nd Worcesters, during the most critical portion of the whole great battle. It was discovered that three German Army Corps had been charged with the task of breaking the line near Ypres, and that the Emperor regarded the issue of the attack as vital to German success in the war. The Fourth Corps, which had been formed partly out of the troops from Antwerp and had been co-operating with the First, was broken up at the end of October and incorporated in the latter, the Commander proceeding to England to supervise the mobilisation of his 8th division; and the British Army had meanwhile been considerably reinforced, while French troops had been supporting it.

Meanwhile the Third Corps, in the Centre, had been severely pressed, holding as it did an extended front crossing the Lys, with several weak points, while adequate reserves could not be provided. High praise was given to the skill of its commander and the courage, tenacity, endurance and unparalleled cheerfulness of the men; and special mention was made of the frequent repulse of attacks (Oct. 22-24), a German attack on Le Gheir (29th) and its recapture by the Middlesex Regiment, with the aid of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders; of trenches temporarily lost; of a counter-attack by the Somerset Light Infantry, and of much fighting by the Cavalry Corps. In the Third Corps the East Lancashire, Hampshire, and Somersetshire Light Infantry Regiments were specially commended, and the Indian troops were said to have displayed much initiative and resource.

It transpired on December 16 that Sir Henry Rawlinson's troops, the Seventh Infantry and Third Cavalry Divisions, which were landed in Belgium about October 6, to support the British forces at Antwerp, had been compelled to retreat, fighting almost continuously, by Thielt and Roulers to Ypres, and there to keep several German Corps at bay till Sir John French's Army had come up from the Aisne. When they were released, the infantry had only 44 officers left out of 400, and only 2,336 men out of 12,000.

Episodes in Sir John French's movement were revealed soon after it, inter alia the entry of the Indian troops into battle, the gallantry of the London Scottish (Territorials), of the Loyal North Lancashires, and other regiments. But attention at home was directed mainly to the struggle of the Belgians on the Yser, assisted by a British squadron, including the river monitors Severn, Mersey, and Humber, taken over at the beginning of the war from Brazil; their light draught and howitzer batteries enabled them to render effective aid. They left Dover on October 17, began to bombard the German forces at daybreak on the 19th, and landed detachments with machine guns; and the bombardment continued, with slight intermissions, for over a fortnight, H.M.S. Attentive, Wildfire, Brilliant, Rinaldo, the destroyer[Pg 225] Falcon, the battleship Venerable, and other vessels (some almost obsolete), taking part, and inflicting heavy losses on the German troops. The Germans strove to protect themselves by removing the Wielingen and Wandelaar lightships, and by placing mines along the coast.

German methods of warfare had meanwhile been illustrated by the attempt to sink the French steamer Amiral Ganteaume, crowded with refugees from Calais, in the English Channel (Oct. 26), and indirectly by the terrible wreck of the British hospital ship Rohilla off Whitby (Oct. 30), caused mainly by her keeping close inshore to avoid mines in an easterly gale, though she was believed to have struck one before stranding. On November 2 the Admiralty issued a warning that the Germans, through the agency of some merchant vessel under a neutral flag, had scattered mines indiscriminately on the route between America and Liverpool via the north of Ireland; the White Star liner Olympic had escaped them only by pure good luck; and, in view of the German practice, the whole of the North Sea must now be declared a military area; after November 5 any ship passing a line drawn from the north point of the Hebrides through the Faroes to Iceland must do so at its peril. Within the North Sea arrangements were made to prescribe safe routes for vessels trading with neutral countries, but even a slight deviation would be dangerous.

It was afterwards stated that the Olympic's escape was caused by her response to a call on October 27 from one of the newest British battleships, which had struck a mine off Ireland while on patrol duty, and whose crew she had been able to save, though not the ship. The Olympic was detained for some days in Lough Swilly, no one being allowed to land, and was then taken to Belfast. Particulars reached the American papers by mail and were published there with photographs and in neutral papers also, and rumours of the disaster had circulated in England for some time. But the Admiralty gave the story no official confirmation, and the name of the ship in question remained in the Navy List.

Apart from this, however, the naval war was sensibly drawing nearer to Great Britain. On October 27 the Admiralty closed all but one of the approaches to the Thames, and ordered vessels in a specified area of the estuary to anchor during the night and show no lights; H.M.S. Hermes was torpedoed in the Downs, only two miles off Deal, on October 31; and on the morning of November 3 a German squadron fired on H.M.S. Halcyon off Yarmouth, wounding one man, but were driven off by the approach of other British ships, and pursued by light cruisers, which failed to engage them. In retiring the Germans threw out mines promiscuously and the British submarine D 5 and two steam drifters were sunk. Rumour connected this advance with a German attempt at a raid.

[Pg 226]

But Germany had prepared also to attack in other quarters. The Porte entered the war on October 30, doubtless under German influence, by bombarding various Russian towns on the Black Sea; and on November 1 the Foreign Office issued a statement of the British position. At the beginning of the war Great Britain had assured the Porte that, if Turkey remained neutral, her independence and integrity would be respected during the war and in the terms of peace; ever since, the British Government had shown great patience and forbearance; but German officers had been sent in considerable numbers to Constantinople, the Goeben and Breslau had entered the Dardanelles, the Turks had attacked undefended towns, and had prepared to invade Egypt and excite a Holy War in Syria, and probably in India: and telegraphic communication had been interrupted without notice on October 30 with the British Embassy at Constantinople. The British Government, therefore, must take such action as was necessary to protect British interests, British territory, and Egypt. This statement was followed by the news that a British and French squadron had bombarded the Dardanelles, and that H.M.S. Minerva had driven a Turkish force out of Akabah, thus checking a possible invasion of Egypt by sea, by a British declaration of war with Turkey, and by the annexation of Cyprus by Order in Council (Nov. 5)—a step which got rid of the anomalous tenure devised in 1878, which had been one of the objections most strongly felt by British Liberals to Lord Beaconsfield's acquisition of the island.

At home, meanwhile, the campaign against alien enemies had culminated in an attack in the Globe on Prince Louis of Battenberg, the First Sea Lord, who had been popularly (but absurdly) reported for some time to be confined in the Tower on a charge of treason. On October 30 a letter from him was published tendering his resignation on the ground that his birth and parentage in some respects impaired his usefulness; and Mr. Churchill, in accepting his resignation, cordially testified to his great services, notably to his having taken the first step securing the concentration of the Fleet at the outbreak of the war. The attack, it need scarcely be said, was baseless; the Battenberg Princes had every reason to detest the Prussian Court, and Prince Louis had been an Englishman from boyhood, and had strenuously exerted himself to gain naval knowledge and apply it for the advancement of the British Navy. But he was regarded in some quarters as too compliant to the First Lord's demands, and he had not been forgiven for his disavowal of his alleged speech (p. 35). Lord Fisher of Kilverstone, however, proved an entirely satisfactory successor.

The new First Sea Lord was soon confronted with the task of avenging a grave British naval defeat. On November 6 it was announced that on Sunday, November 1, five German warships, the Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Leipzig, Dresden, and Nürnberg, had[Pg 227] concentrated off Santa Maria Island, near Coronel, Chile, and engaged a British squadron under Rear-Admiral Cradock, consisting of the cruisers Good Hope and Monmouth, the light cruiser Glasgow, and the armed merchant cruiser Otranto, and that the Good Hope and Monmouth had been sunk and the Glasgow seriously damaged. The details remained obscure for some time, even to the Admiralty; but it was eventually learnt that the British ships had been met near sunset by the German squadron, that the Admiral had determined to engage notwithstanding his inferiority in speed and gun-power, and had warned off the battleship Canopus, which was coming up from the Straits of Magellan, as her speed was insufficient to cope with the Germans, and had ordered the Otranto to keep out of danger; that the Germans forced the British ships into a position where the setting sun interfered with their aim, that the British guns were outranged and that the Monmouth was sunk, and the Good Hope blown up while making for the shore, the Glasgow escaping. The loss of men was heavy; so was the blow to British prestige.

It was tolerably clear, moreover, that the German ships, coming as they did from the Chinese coast, could not have obtained coal or provisions without some violation of neutrality; and it was found that they had been supplied by Kosmos liners from Chilean ports, by an American collier at Juan Fernandez, and by other ships at the Galapagos Islands, belonging to Ecuador. The Chilean Government had not been involved; but Ecuador and Colombia were suspected of breaches of neutrality. And in other quarters there were new dangers. The collapse of Maritz's rebellion at the Cape had been followed by a more serious rising led by Generals de Wet and Beyers; and the British forces had suffered a serious reverse on November 2 in German East Africa.

It was amid these impressions that the Lord Mayor's banquet was held at the Guildhall (Nov. 10). The first toast after the loyal toasts was that of "Our Allies," proposed by Mr. Balfour. He described the capture of Tsingtau as a most dramatic answer to one of the most insulting messages ever sent from one Sovereign to another [in 1897] and as a good omen for those still fighting the arch-enemy in Europe. Russia had shown not only dogged and boundless courage, but unexpected powers of organisation; the war had brought out the military genius not only of a nation, but of a man (the Grand Duke Nicholas). As for the gallant French, never would the time grow dim in which they and the British fought side by side against the common foe of civilisation. Serbia, to preserve the peace of the world, had been prepared to give up everything short of her national existence, but she had gallantly defended it, and there was no chance now that Austria would wrest it from her. The case of Belgium was even more tragic. Cynicism could go no farther than the Germans had carried it, and the memory of the accumulated infamy[Pg 228] of their transaction would be remembered after the crime, great as it was, had been adequately expiated. The Allies were fighting for civilisation and the cause of small States, and whether the war was short or long, they would triumph. They had behind them all the finest moral influences of the civilised world.

M. Cambon, the French Ambassador, in reply, said that Europe had suffered invasions of barbarians in the past, but had never yet seen barbarism raised to dogma and reinforced by science. But its professors had not foreseen that they would come into conflict with the conscience of the civilised world.

The First Lord of the Admiralty, responding to the toast of "The Imperial Forces of the Crown," said that it was thanks to the Navy that they were there. In a recent conversation with Sir John Jellicoe and his chief Admiral they had remarked that Cornwallis was three years off Brest and Nelson more than two off Toulon; they themselves were only just beginning, and their turn would come. The multiplied duties of the Navy arising from the curious and novel conditions of naval warfare forced them to expose a target to the enemy incomparably larger than any target exposed to our own daring and vigilant sailors. The Navy was making good the motto "Business as usual"; the economic stringency resulting from a blockade required time to reach its full effectiveness; but in the sixth, ninth, or twelfth month they would see results gradually and silently achieved which would spell the doom of Germany. The Navy, too, gave Britain and the British Empire the time to realise their vast military power. At the end of a hundred days of war the Navy was actually and relatively stronger than when war was declared, particularly in the branches most influential in the struggle.

Earl Kitchener, who also responded, said that every officer returning from the front said that the men were doing splendidly. He eulogised the Regular, Territorial, and Indian troops, and those of each Ally, remarking that General Joffre was not only a great soldier, but a great man. The British Empire was fighting for its existence; only if that fact were realised could there come the great national and moral impulse without which Governments and armies could do little. He had no complaint to make of the response to his appeal for men, and the progress in military training of those already enlisted was remarkable; but he would want more men, and, still more, till the enemy was crushed. He alluded, briefly, to the inevitable discomforts of the recruits, as having been already greatly diminished, and remarked that the German use of elaborate destructive machinery was facilitated by their having fixed the date of war beforehand. He referred briefly to the gallant conduct of the Army in the trenches, to the Dominion contingents, and to the 1,250,000 soldiers in training in Great Britain eagerly waiting for the call. Every man would, in doing his duty, sustain the credit of the British Army, which had never stood higher.

[Pg 229]

The Prime Minister, in responding to the toast of His Majesty's Ministers, referred to the annexation of Bosnia and the Turkish revolution, the first as the earliest cause of the war, the second as raising vain hopes of the renascence of Turkey. Not the Turkish people, but the Ottoman Government, had sent Turkey to her doom. Great Britain had no quarrel with the Moslem subjects of the Sultan; millions of Mohammedans were among the most loyal subjects of the King; she was prepared, if necessary, to defend their Holy Places against all invaders. The Turkish Empire had committed suicide. Reviewing the financial measures taken by the Government, Mr. Asquith made special mention of the services of the Lord Chief Justice (Lord Reading), and of Mr. Walter Cunliffe, Governor of the Bank of England, on whom a Peerage was conferred. He warned his hearers that, though little was seen of the war save darkened streets and a preponderance of khaki-clad men, it would be a long-drawn out struggle, but there was nothing in the warfare of the past 100 days to damp British hopes or impair British resolve. The enemy had tried in turn three separate objectives—Paris, Warsaw, Calais; from each in turn they had retired balked and frustrated; but that was not enough. We should not sheathe the sword until Belgium recovered all and more than all that she had sacrificed, until France was adequately secured against the menace of aggression, until the rights of the smaller nationalities were placed on an unassailable foundation, until the military dominion of Prussia was fully and finally destroyed. It was a great task, worthy of a great nation. The Primate and the Lord Chief Justice were among the other speakers.

On the same evening the Chancellor of the Exchequer addressed a great Nonconformist recruiting meeting at the City Temple. The principle that drew him to resist his own country in the Boer War, he said—defence of small nationalities—had brought him there. One of the greatest French generals, describing his own experience, had said to him that "the man responsible for this war had the soul of a devil." Great Britain was not responsible. We were organised for defence—against all the Powers of the world. We had raised the greatest Volunteer Army on record, and in a few months we should double it. For an aggressive war we could not have raised a tenth of it. At the outbreak of war we were on better terms with Germany than we had been for fifteen years. The vulture had been hanging over Belgium, but it pounced, not on a rabbit, but on a hedgehog, and had been bleeding and sore ever since. We now knew that the counsellors of Germany had planned and organised the murder of peaceful neighbours, and even fixed the date to suit themselves. Peace at any price was not a Christian principle. The surest way of establishing peace on earth was to make the way of the peacebreaker too hard for rulers to tread. After de[Pg 230]nouncing German action in Belgium and coupling the Turks of the East with their fitting comrades the Turks of the West, he referred to the cost of the war—which would not be grudged—and condemned those who approved of the war and left the necessary sacrifices to others. Could Britain, fighting one of the most chivalrous wars the world had ever seen, not rely on her children to rally to her honour?

The encouragement given by these speeches had already been begun by the news that the Königsberg had been shut up in East Africa by H.M.S. Chatham and the Emden destroyed by H.M.A.S. Sydney at the Cocos or Keeling Islands (Chron., Nov. 10); and the sinking of H.M.S. Niger by a submarine next day in the Downs, two miles off Deal, served merely as a salutary reminder that the war was near at hand. And the unity of the nation was further emphasised during the short session of Parliament which now began.

Parliament was opened by the King in person on November 11, with much the usual ceremony, save that the State coach with the famous cream-coloured horses was replaced by a glass coach with black horses. Many of the King's servants trained in Court ceremonial had gone to the front; the dresses of the Queen and most of the Peeresses in the House of Lords were black; and several members of the Commons wore khaki. (The members serving in the Navy, Army, and Auxiliary Forces numbered 126.) The King read his speech, of which only portions can be here given. The salient passage referring to the entry of Turkey into the war was as follows:—

My Lords AND Gentlemen,—In conjunction with My Allies, and in spite of repeated and continuous provocations, I strove to preserve, in regard to Turkey, a friendly neutrality. Bad counsels, and alien influences, have driven her into a policy of wanton and defiant aggression, and a state of war now exists between us. My Mussulman subjects know well that a rupture with Turkey has been forced upon Me against My will, and I recognise with appreciation and gratitude the proofs which they have hastened to give of their loyal devotion and support.

My Navy and Army continue, throughout the area of conflict, to maintain in full measure their glorious traditions. We watch and follow their steadfastness and valour with thankfulness and pride, and there is, throughout My Empire, a fixed determination to secure, at whatever sacrifice, the triumph of our arms, and the vindication of our cause.

The speech concluded as follows:—

Gentlemen,—The only measures which will be submitted to you, at this stage of the Session, are such as seem necessary to My advisers for the attainment of the great purpose upon which the efforts of the Empire are set.

I confidently commend them to your patriotism and loyalty, and I pray that the Almighty will give His blessings to your counsels.

The debates in both Houses, which cannot here be fully summarised, exhibited the unity of all parties regarding the essentials of the war, while there was some Opposition criticism of certain of its incidents. In the Upper House the Address was moved by Lord Methuen, who emphasised the pride of the nation[Pg 231] in its Army, and seconded by Viscount Bryce, who referred to the "streams of letters" from the United States evincing the width and depth of American sympathy, and declared that a conflict of principles like the war could not end till one or other principle triumphed. Earl Curzon, in the absence through illness of the Marquess of Lansdowne, took his place as Opposition leader, reviewing the situation and criticising the scale of allowances and pensions to dependants of soldiers, and the official reticence as to the deeds of the troops in the field. The Marquess of Crewe, replying, promised consideration of these points; the Earl of Selborne asked about the Antwerp expedition and the defeat off Chile, criticised the First Lord's practice of sending messages to foreign Powers and the Fleets in his own name instead of that of the Board of Admiralty, and declared the attack on Prince Louis of Battenberg to be "a national humiliation." The Earl of Crawford, supported subsequently by Lord Leith of Fyvie, made important allegations of official laxity in dealing with alien enemies in Fifeshire, stating that petrol had been exported and dynamite imported illegally, and that a neutral steamer had been found with sawdust in some of her coal-bunkers, indicating that she had been laying mines.[4] The Lord Chancellor said that what was done at Antwerp had to be done quickly, and was done by the First Lord after consulting the War Secretary; the Government took the responsibility, and thought the intervention had been useful. The First Lord of the Admiralty had not, he thought, sent communications in his own name to an inordinate extent, but he was anxious to conform to the best practice on the subject. The Government were grateful for the support given by the Opposition.

In the Commons the Address was moved by Sir R. Price (L., Norfolk, E.) and seconded by Mr. Middlebrook (L., Leeds, S.).

Mr. Bonar Law, after an eloquent reference to the bereavements sustained by members, and a hopeful review of the situation, said that the Opposition would press no amendment to a division, but would raise certain questions. He mentioned the Antwerp expedition and the naval disaster off Chile, the treatment of alien enemies, in which he hoped that the Government was not being influenced by clamouring newspapers, the secrecy as to the doings of the armies, and two special hindrances to recruiting—the fact that the dependants of soldiers did not get what they were promised, and the uncertainty as to the intentions of the Government regarding their future after the war. He suggested the reference of the subject to a small Committee.

The Prime Minister, after expressing confidence in the success of the Allies, declared that the responsibility for the Antwerp expedition rested with the whole Government, and that the [Pg 232]expedition was a material and useful factor in the campaign. The internment of alien enemies was preliminary to a sifting process. A censorship was inevitable in modern warfare, and news could only be published after consultation with our Allies. He defended the scale of allowances to childless widows (7s. 6d. as a weekly minimum) on the ground that a larger grant might depress the labour market. Moreover, the burden imposed by the existing scheme on the country for ten years after the war would be from 10,000,000l. to 15,000,000l. annually. He welcomed Mr. Bonar Law's proposal of a Committee, and mentioned that of the 1,186,000 men voted during the year for the Regular Army less than 100,000 were still lacking. He fully acknowledged the loyal co-operation of the Opposition and the Labour party.

Next day Mr. Henderson (Lab.), after promising the full support of organised Labour in maintaining the "splendid unity" of the nation, complained of the shocking lack of provision for recruits in the camps, the grievances of soldiers, and the ill-judged supervision exercised over their wives. Mr. Long (U.) dealt with the delays of pay and allowances, and the Financial Secretary of the War Office explained the inevitable difficulties set up by the novel conditions and the unprecedented strain on the War Office. Mr. Joynson-Hicks (U.) moved an amendment raising the question of danger from spies. The Home Secretary, after declaring that he ignored the unprecedentedly numerous Press attacks on himself personally, said that the responsibility for internment rested on the military authorities, and the Home Office acted under their direction. At first those interned were selected as being personally suspected, later as being out of employment and therefore possibly dangerous; in October the military question changed in aspect, and more were arrested at the wish of the military authorities, who again slackened their demand. He referred to an allegation unsupported by evidence, that the three cruisers (Chron., Sept. 22) had been sunk through espionage, and defended the Home Office against the charge of inaction. Mr. Bonar Law said that the better man a German was, the more likely he was to take risks for his country when it was at war; Lody (Chron., Nov. 5) was as much a patriot as any soldier killed in action. The Opposition wanted to see that the rounding up of spies was properly done. The enemy aliens most likely to injure England were the best educated and the best off. The Secretary for Scotland dealt with the measures taken in that country, but Sir H. Dalziel (L., Kirkcaldy Burghs) declared that petrol had been supplied from a Scottish port to German submarines through a Danish ship, and that some of the most dangerous spies were not Germans.

Sir W. Bull (U., Fulham) then moved an amendment complaining of the restrictions placed by the Press Bureau on the[Pg 233] publication of war news. The Solicitor-General's reply was regarded on both sides as disquieting. The Bureau, he said, should not stop criticism unless it would destroy confidence in the Government or cause alarm by inducing a belief that the situation was very grave. He mentioned incidentally that the Censors had much news of disasters to British capital ships, all of it false, and that certain articles on foreign policy had impaired British relations with neutral States. His thought was only of British soldiers and sailors. The Press Bureau alone stood between the Press and the untempered severities of martial law.

A revised scheme had been issued earlier in the week of pensions for soldiers and sailors and their dependants. A widow with four children would receive 20s., with three 17s. 6d., with two 15s., with one, 12s. 6d., with none, 7s. 6d. These might be increased on the recommendation of the Old Age Pensions Committee. The separation allowance would be continued for six months after widowhood. The minimum disablement allowances would be 14s. for unmarried men, 16s. 6d. for married men without children, rising to a magnitude of 23s. The estimated burden on the country would range, according to the duration of the war and the percentage of deaths and disablements, from 99,000,000l. to 202,000,000l.

At the opening of the following week—which was saddened by the unexpected news of the death of Earl Roberts—the Prime Minister moved a Vote of Credit for 225,000,000l., and an addition to the Regular Army of 1,000,000 men. He first explained—necessarily without details—that of the 100,000,000l. previously voted the largest portion had been spent on the operations of the war; other outlays were on loans to the Allies, a very large sum to secure the food supplies, especially sugar, wheat, and other necessaries, a considerable sum to obtain control of the railways, and expenditure on succour for refugees and destitute aliens. The bulk of the money now asked for would be spent on the Army and Navy; but loans not for the use of Great Britain would amount to 44,000,000l. This, however, would include a comparatively small sum possibly needed for the relief of local distress at home. The Belgian Government had already received 10,000,000l., the Servian Government 800,000l. The Government would relieve the Dominions of the responsibility of raising loans by advancing them 30,250,000l. The war had cost between 900,000l. and 1,000,000l. a day; the provision asked would last up to March 31, leaving a reasonable margin. The Estimates had been carefully considered and repeatedly revised, and represented the minimum which should be asked for in the greatest emergency in British history.

Mr. Long (U.) expressed satisfaction with the Prime Minister's statement, suggested improvement of the pay and allowances of officers, and urged that recruiting should be stimulated by[Pg 234] war correspondence and that greater power should be given to commanders to confer decorations. Sir H. Dalziel (L.) gave surprising and suggestive figures of the increased exports of coal, cocoa, tea, and other articles to the neutral countries near to Germany; and, among other speakers, Mr. Healy (I.N.) vigorously condemned the Press censorship. There was some divergence of opinion as to the degree of drinking among the troops.

The Prime Minister replied at some length to the points raised. As to war correspondence, the other Allies must have the decisive voice. The increased exports of coal to Scandinavia were caused by the cessation of German supplies; as to tea, there were ways by which the export to Germany might be stopped. Of the new Army not more than 15 per cent. had suffered from disease of any kind, and its average standard of conduct was worthy of the country and of the cause. The Regular Army now numbered 1,100,000; since the beginning of August 700,000 recruits had joined, besides at least 200,000 Territorials. He gave very high praise to the latter Force. But they wanted another million. The votes were agreed to, and the sitting closed with an energetic repudiation by Mr. Edgar Jones (L., Merthyr Tydfil) and the Government of attacks recently made by Mr. Keir Hardie (Lab., Merthyr Tydfil) on the Army.

Next day (Nov. 17) the proceedings in both Houses opened with tributes to the memory of Earl Roberts. In the House of Lords Earl Kitchener, Earl Curzon of Kedleston, and the Marquess of Crewe bore eloquent testimony to the late Field-Marshal's military achievements, his devotion to his country, his comradeship with his men, and his character as a Christian. In the Commons, the Prime Minister gave notice of an Address to the Crown, asking that a monument might be erected at the cost of the State, and spoke of Earl Roberts's consummate strategy, rare powers of leadership, a unique faculty of attracting the devotion of his men, and his mastery of the art of war, and of his eagerness, expressed in their last conversation, to be of use in any capacity in "this latest and greatest of our wars." Mr. Bonar Law found a parallel to his character in Thackeray's Colonel Newcome; Mr. John Redmond (N., Waterford) reminded the House that Earl Roberts was an honorary freeman of that borough, and mentioned that he had desired to speak at Dublin along with the Prime Minister and himself (p. 215); and Sir Ivor Herbert (L.) and Colonel Yate (U.) added their tributes as former officers of Earl Roberts's staff.

Earl Roberts's funeral took place on November 19 with simple but impressive ceremony. The remains, which had been brought back to his house at Ascot, were conveyed thence by special train to Charing Cross, whence they were borne on a gun carriage by the Embankment and Ludgate Hill to St. Paul's Cathedral,[Pg 235] escorted by troops representing the Territorials, the Guards, Infantry, Cavalry, and Artillery, a naval detachment, and a mountain battery; and Earl Kitchener, Sir Evelyn Wood, Lord Methuen, and Lord Charles Beresford, were among the pall-bearers, who attended the remains from the Embankment to the Cathedral. At the door the Cathedral choir and clergy met and preceded the coffin, which was followed by the pall-bearers, the Primate, and the King. Many hundreds of the public visited the grave in the afternoon. A memorial monument was to be erected at the public cost.

To return to Parliament: on November 17 the War Budget was introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. After giving figures (to be found in the appended table) showing that he had to provide for a deficit by March 31 of 339,571,000l., he argued that a substantial part of this must be raised by taxation, justifying this course by the precedents set by Pitt in the French wars and Gladstone in the Crimean War. This war would cost at least 450,000,000l. in the first full year; not to tax heavily for it would be a serious departure from honoured and unbroken national tradition. If Great Britain now rose to the heroic level of 1798, she would be raising a revenue of from 450,000,000l. to 700,000,000l., and no borrowing would be needed. It was wisest to assume that the war would be long; it would be folly to borrow to meet interest on loans and loss of revenue; four-fifths of the money raised would be spent in Great Britain, and during the war and after reconstruction there would be practically no competition in neutral markets, except from America. For four or five years, therefore, British industries would be artificially stimulated; but afterwards our customers' purchasing power would be crippled and much capital would have been exhausted. During the period of inflation, therefore, as much as possible should be raised by taxation. War, too, was a time of sacrifice and self-denial, and readiness to bear taxation would strengthen British credit. No taxes would be levied interfering with productive industries, but all classes would be reached. The income tax would be doubled, but in the current year would be collected on only one-third of the income, so that it would be 1s. 8d. from December 1 on unearned and 1s. on earned income. Arrangements would be made to meet serious cases of loss of income through the war. As to the class that did not pay income tax, Ministers had regretfully abandoned the idea of a tax on wages, owing to the difficulties of dealing with varying rates, casual labour, and half-timers, and of reaching small shopkeepers; and they had to resort to indirect taxation. Beer was taxed very lightly as compared with other alcoholic drinks. The half-pint was the commonest measure of consumption, and an additional duty of 17s. 3d. per barrel would enable an extra halfpenny per half-pint to be charged to the consumer, leaving a fair margin for the[Pg 236] brewer and publican; the lighter the beer, the larger the margin. The licence duty would be reduced proportionately to the curtailment of hours (p. 195), except near camping centres, and the brewer would be given a month's credit for payment of duty. The estimated increase of revenue from the source in 1914-15 would be 2,050,000l. and in 1915-16 17,600,000l. Increased duties on spirits would be unproductive, on wine undesirable, because much of it came from our Allies or the Dominions, and the consumption was diminishing. The "elusive teetotaller" could not be reached, as people supposed, by taxing mineral waters, three-fourths of which were drunk with alcohol; tea must be taxed; a graduated tax was impossible, so the tax would be increased by 3d. all round, to the figure of the Boer War. Finally, 2,750,000l. would be raised, as he showed at length, by partially suspending the Sinking Fund. This would still leave a deficit of 321,321,000l. Of this 91,000,000l. had already been borrowed by Treasury Bills. As he showed at length, it was eminently desirable to borrow enough to carry on beyond the current financial year, and the sum proposed would render a further appeal unnecessary up to July, 1915. After extensive consultation, it had been decided to issue a loan at 3½ per cent., a rate brought up to 4 per cent. by issue below par and the guarantee of early redemption. It would be a 3½ per cent. security issued at 95, to be redeemed by the Government at par on March 1, 1928, or, subject to three months' notice, at any time between March 1, 1925, and March 1, 1928, and the amount would be 350,000,000l., of which 100,000,000l. had already been offered firm. It would not be issued in sums of less than 100l., as that course would deplete the savings banks. After explaining the arrangements, Mr. Lloyd George stated that the Bank of England would be prepared, till March 1, 1918, to make advances against deposits of the loan taken at the issue price without margin at 1 per cent. below the ordinary Bank rate. It was of immense importance that the money should be subscribed, but it would be an excellent investment, because Great Britain's credit was still the best, and it would be a still better investment after the war. There would then be no more màlevolent talk about the decay and downfall of the British Empire.

Mr. Chamberlain, speaking for the Opposition, took no objection to the spirit and principles of the Chancellor's speech, but regretted that the proposals had not been made at the outset of the war, and that revenue was confined to so few fruitful channels. But he made no opposition to the general proposals, and was sure that every income-tax payer would bear his share.

We append a table (taken from The Times) showing "the Budget in brief."

[Pg 237]

New Estimate of Revenue 195,796,000
New Estimate of Expenditure 535,867,000
Deficiency 339,571,000
Deficiency made up of—
  Loss of Revenue due to War 11,128,000
  War Expenditure 328,443,000
Deficiency met by—
  New Taxation 15,500,000
  Suspension of Sinking Fund 2,750,000
  From Existing Loans 91,000,000
  From New Loan 230,321,000


Income-tax and supertax doubled and charged on one-third of the current year's income. 17s. 3d. on barrel of beer, equal to ½d. on a half-pint. 3d. per lb. on tea, making the tax 8d.


On earned incomes 1s. (instead of 9d.) for rest of current year and 1s. 6d. for 1915-16.

On unearned incomes 1s. 8d. (instead of 1s. 3d.) for rest of 1914-15 and 2s. 6d. for 1915-16.


Rest of Year
£ £
Income-tax 11,000,000 38,750,000
Supertax 1,500,000 6,000,000
Beer Duty 2,500,000 17,600,000
Tea 950,000 3,200,000
15,950,000 65,550,000
Less concessions on Licence Duty 450,000 500,000
15,500,000 65,050,000

The sacrifices demanded by the Budget were patriotically accepted by the nation, but concessions were made in regard to the income tax, supertax, and the beer tax. In the debate (Nov. 19) the Attorney-General explained that payers of income tax would be allowed, as they had been before 1907, to take into account their actual income for the year, and supertax payers would pay on the year's income instead of the three years' average, provided that in both cases their income had been reduced owing solely to the war; Mr. Henderson (Lab.) thought that the tea duty should have been increased by 2d. only, and that the only fair way to treat the working classes was by a graduated wage tax—a proposition which the Chancellor of the Exchequer accepted in principle, but declared to be impracticable at that time. Objections made to the increase of the beer tax were met (Nov. 24) by the concession of a rebate of 2s. per barrel up to March 31, 1916, and 1s. from that date to March 31, 1917, to enable the trade to adapt itself. The tax was calculated, it was explained, by gravity,[Pg 238] not by bulk, and the publican would gain most on the lighter beers. The concession, however, was regarded by Mr. A. Chamberlain and others as inadequate. A concession in respect of income tax was made also to members of the Army and Navy and Red Cross ambulance workers, allowing them to pay on actual instead of on average income.

The debates on the following days require little notice. A Committee of the Commons was appointed (Nov. 18) to deal with pensions and allowances to wounded soldiers, and to children and dependants of those killed in the war; and the Reports of Supply and the debates on the Consolidated Fund Bill provided opportunities for raising various questions connected with the war. It may be mentioned that Mr. Wedgwood (L.), who appeared in the House in uniform, asked the Government (Nov. 23) to direct the civil population what they were to do in the event of a German raid, improbable though such a contingency might be. He urged that every one ought to fight the Germans if they came. The Under-Secretary for War, however, replied that emergency committees to deal with the subject were being formed, but for the present it was undesirable to make public any instructions. [Such instructions were, however, issued privately to local authorities, parish clergy, and other prominent persons in certain districts.] We may mention also an emphatic protest by the Opposition leader against the restrictive interpretation put by the Solicitor-General on the powers of the Press Bureau (p. 233); as the result, the Government two days later agreed to qualify considerably the clause in the Defence of the Realm Bill giving them powers "to prevent the spread of reports likely to cause disaffection or alarm," and the Solicitor-General also qualified his previous utterance.

On November 25 the House was informed through the medium of the Under-Secretary for India, that Colombia and Ecuador had failed to observe an attitude of strict neutrality. Colombia, in spite of representations from the British charge d'affaires, had allowed the wireless station at Cartagena to continue working with its German staff, nominally under censorship, really under German influence; and German steamers in Colombian ports, though their wireless installations had ostensibly been dismantled, had continued to use them with the attachment of a muffler. As to Ecuador, its Foreign Minister had informed the British and French representatives at Quito on October 4 that German warships had used the Galapagos Islands as a naval base, and the Ecuadorean Government had not complied with the request of the British and French legations to prevent the use of the wireless station at Guayaquil as an intelligence centre for belligerents. The Government had therefore decided to appeal, in conjunction with that of France, to the good offices of the United States Government. [This was a notable recog[Pg 239]nition of the Monroe doctrine, but both the offending States were likely, from their recent history, to be specially resentful of American interference.]

The day following (Nov. 26) was marked by a grave naval disaster. The battleship Bulwark, lying off Sheerness, blew up at 7.35 A.M., probably through an internal magazine explosion, and only fourteen men were saved out of a crew exceeding 750. No reason was discovered for supposing that the disaster was not due to accident, but its precise cause was not ascertainable. In announcing the disaster to the House, the First Lord said that the mere loss of the ship did not sensibly affect the military position, and expressed, on behalf of the House, its sorrow and its sympathy with the relatives and friends of the victims.

Next, the Under-Secretary for India moved a resolution sanctioning the application of Indian revenues to war expenditure outside India, but not in Europe. He mentioned that the Indian troops, besides their work at Tsingtau, Fao, and Basra, were in force in Egypt, took part in the landing at Sheikh Said and in the attack, against great odds, in East Africa, and had speedily adapted themselves to the novel conditions of fighting in France. Of their record both India and England would be proud. He mentioned again the zeal and munificence of the ruling Chiefs, the reasoned loyalty of the Indian educated classes, as well as the "wave of instructive and emotional loyalty" that had swept over India, and announced the creation of an Executive Council in the United Provinces, and he indicated the hope of increasing friendship throughout the Empire which was encouraged by comradeship in arms.

In the miscellaneous debate which followed on the Consolidated Fund Bill the matter of most general interest was the action of the Government with regard to spies and alien enemies. The Home Secretary explained that while his Department was generally regarded as responsible for public safety throughout the country, he had no real power outside the metropolitan area. In this, since the war began, 120,000 cases of suspicion had been investigated, 342 persons interned, and 6,000 houses ransacked. Complaints had been made of favouritism towards Baron Schroeder and other wealthy Germans, but had the Baron not been naturalised his firm, the largest accepting house in the City, would have closed its doors, and there would have been a great commercial disaster. To lock up all Germans and Austrians, as some people desired, might lead to reprisals, and many of them were only technically foreigners. On the question of internment, the military authority was the decisive authority under the Hague Conventions. The really dangerous spies were those of British nationality.

The spy peril had been dealt with in the other House on the previous day (Nov. 25). The Earl of Crawford then admitted[Pg 240] that much had been done since his last speech (p. 231), but the complaints in it had been substantiated, and a clear statement should be given of the legal responsibilities of the authorities concerned, and the policy of the Government should be codified and simplified. Lord Leith of Fyvie complained that money was coming from German sources to Germans in Great Britain, that favouritism was being shown to rich enemy aliens, and that coal was being supplied to German warships from the West of Scotland and Ireland. The Lord Chancellor asked for concrete instances, stating that there was no evidence of these supplies, explained the distribution of powers between the Home Office, the War Office, and the Admiralty, who were closely co-operating, and said that cases of espionage were being carefully followed up, but the difficulty of defeating it was enormous, and the worst offenders were probably English.

But the most interesting part of the proceedings in the Upper House was the further statement (Nov. 26) by Earl Kitchener on the progress of the war in the past six weeks. He mentioned that the delay caused by the British expedition to Antwerp in the release of its German besiegers just gave Sir John French time to prevent the Germans reaching the northern coast of France; that the British cavalry divisions, extended for seven miles of front in trenches, threw back the fierce attacks of a German Army Corps for more than two days; that Sir John French's position was attacked at one time by eleven army corps, and that on November 11 a supreme—but unsuccessful—effort was made by the Prussian Guard to force its way through the British lines, and carry them at all costs by sheer weight of numbers. The British troops before Ypres, after fourteen days and nights in the trenches, had been relieved by French reinforcements, and several Territorial battalions had joined. The British losses, though heavy, were slight in comparison with the German. He acknowledged the "tenacity and endurance," and the high fighting qualities of the French Army, and the pluck and gallantry of the Belgian Army and the King, and he mentioned that on the Eastern front the Russians had checked and defeated the Germans, inflicting on them heavier losses than they had ever sustained before. After referring to the operations against Turkey, he said that the publication of news must be governed by the needs of the French Army, the larger force, but the Government desired to keep nothing back which could not be utilised by the enemy. The difficulties of providing and equipping the new Army were being successfully met, and he felt confident that further calls on the manhood of England would be responded to in a manner and spirit which would ensure the prosecution of the war to its successful conclusion. Later, Earl Kitchener said that recruits were coming in at the rate of 30,000 weekly besides the regiments then being formed by different localities; and the[Pg 241] Lord Chancellor promised that information should be given in the future as to the action of civilians during invasion.

On the Report of the War Loan Obligations Bill next day (Nov. 27) important statements were made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the First Lord of the Admiralty, reviewing the financial and naval position respectively. The former said that the Government had taken unprecedented responsibilities in the interest of the mechanism of international trade. In the Napoleonic wars practically all the countries were self-contained; Great Britain's total imports and exports amounted in value to some 86,000,000l.; in 1912 their value exceeded 1,400,000,000l. The international trade in the Napoleonic wars amounted to perhaps 200,000,000l.; in 1913 it was valued at 3,000,000,000l., and Great Britain provided the capital to raise and move the produce, and carried half the produce, of the world. Transactions between merchants in China and the United States, for instance, were paid for by bills of exchange on London. Very little of the business was done with gold; London in 1913 received 50,000,000l. in gold and paid out 45,000,000l. All this delicate paper machinery crashed into a war affecting two-thirds of the world. There was inevitable confusion, and a deadlock, due to a failure of remittances from abroad to cover bills representing 350,000,000l. to 400,000,000l. There was a complete breakdown of the exchanges, as if a shell had broken an aqueduct; Argentina owed Great Britain 400,000,000l., but the latter could not buy a single cargo of frozen meat. Had the machine been left broken, the general distress in Great Britain would have been unutterable. The Government had to save British industry, commerce, and labour. They had invited the assistance of men of great experience, and eventually had set up a permanent advisory Committee. He acknowledged the great assistance rendered by Mr. Chamberlain, Lords St. Aldwyn and Revelstoke, and the Lord Chief Justice, the latter, with Sir John Bradbury, constituting a Court of Appeal. They decided that something must be done at once to avert a run on the banks, and declared a limited moratorium, and then decided to advance to the banks Treasury notes up to 20 per cent. of their deposits. At first the banks availed themselves of this currency facility to the extent of 13,000,000l.; the sum outstanding was only 244,000l. The currency notes of 1l. and 10s. outstanding amounted to 33,892,000l., 25,696,000l. being in 1l. notes. Next, the Government guaranteed the payment of all bills accepted by British houses, giving them a reasonable time to collect them. Great Britain had assets of some 4,000,000,000l. of good foreign securities, and some 13,000,000,000l. worth of collieries, mines, factories, etc., at home; to allow its credit to remain doubtful for some 350,000,000l., all or nearly all owing to British subjects, would have been criminal. By these three steps the unimpeachable character of the British bill of exchange had[Pg 242] been guaranteed, and a financial catastrophe, probably without parallel, avoided. But they had to discriminate between bills, and experts could do so instinctively; and for this reason facilities had been partly refused in the case of Mr. Crisp, of which Sir A. Markham (L., Notts) had complained earlier in the debate. Only one member of an accepting house had been on the Committee of the Bank of England which examined the bills, and his business was with a neutral country. They discounted 57,000l. of Mr. Crisp's bills, but as collateral security for another 200,000l. he tendered only securities worth 72,000l. Only 50,000,000l. of bills, or about one-ninth of the total, would have to be put aside as dealing with belligerent countries or for analogous reasons. The loss would depend on the length and the issue of the war. Before ending the moratorium they had to consider: (1) the business specially affected by the war, such as the Scottish fishing industry, whose case they met by the Courts (Emergency Powers) Bill (p. 196); (2) the restoration of the foreign exchanges, which they effected by restoring the old-machinery, releasing the endorsers and drawers of Bills, and retaining simply the liability of the acceptors; (3) the restoration of the Stock Exchange, where the difficulty was that 70,000,000l. or 80,000,000l. of securities were hypothecated in respect of debts incurred before the war began. Had the banks pressed for these debts, the securities would have been placed on the market, their value would have been deplorably reduced, and the State, now the sole borrower, could have raised money only at incredible rates. The Government had left the banks to make their own arrangements with the Stock Exchange, but had agreed to advance 60 per cent. of the value of the securities on July 29 on condition that the banks undertook not to put their securities on the market till six months after the war; and had arranged that the Stock Exchange should only open with the sanction of the Treasury and under conditions to be imposed by it in the public interest. Not one application had been made for Government credit, either in respect of this arrangement or of a similar guarantee through which the Liverpool Cotton Exchange had been reopened. Provincial traders who had been sending goods to the Continent on credit, without receiving bills of exchange, had been promised Government assistance to the extent of 50 per cent. of the credit value of the interest, on condition that the local banks, who knew their men, undertook 25 per cent. Applications amounting to 16,000,000l. had come in in respect of these debts, and the Government hoped to do something at the earliest possible moment. Britain was still supreme in international commerce, its money market was better than any other, the gold at the Bank had risen during the war from 26,000,000l. to 85,500,000l. and they had raised in all 440,000,000l. with the Stock Exchange closed. The loan of 350,000,000l. (p. 236) had been over-sub[Pg 243]scribed, and there had been nearly 100,000 applications for small amounts, so the sum had been raised without any of the German expedients for raising a smaller loan at a higher interest. Unemployment had gone down, confidence had been restored, British credit had stood the strain, the market had been less affected than any in the world. The raising of the loan gave him confidence that British credit was built on foundations that no foreseeable contingency could destroy.

In the subsequent debate Mr. Austen Chamberlain paid special tributes to the services of the Bank of England, its Governor, its ex-Governor (Mr. Cole), and Lord Revelstoke; the President of the Board of Agriculture gave particulars of a proposed scheme for the manufacture of aniline dyes, hitherto made exclusively in Germany—the consumers to subscribe 3,000,000l., the Government, subject to certain conditions as to control, to guarantee debenture interest on another 1,500,000l.; and Mr. Bonar Law endorsed this scheme and criticised, in moderate terms, the recent purchase by the Government of 18,000,000l. worth of sugar, and the total prohibition of the import of sugar in consequence. The Home Secretary explained that the sole aim was to prevent sugar coming from neutral countries and being replaced there by German sugar. The Bill was subsequently read a third time.

On the adjournment, Lord Charles Beresford (U.) commented favourably, on the whole, on the naval position. The First Lord of the Admiralty, in reply, said that it was useless to discuss particular incidents, such as the battle off Chile, the loss of the Aboukir and her consorts, and the expedition to Antwerp, without the disclosure, at present impossible, of all the orders and the entire situation. The only rule as to publishing information was that the publication should not interfere with the operations of the war; and he expressed the gratitude of the Admiralty for the reserve shown by the Press. The incidents seen were a very small part of the work going on all over the world. The British Navy had been confronted in the event of war by four main perils—(1) surprise before it was in its war stations [which had been averted by the assemblage at Spithead]; (2) the escape of fast armed liners of the enemy, but only 1.9 per cent. of the mercantile marine had been lost, against an estimate before the war of 5 per cent.; (3) mines, but the limits of that danger could now be discerned and it was being further restricted and controlled; (4) submarines, a novel and very grave danger, but British power in submarines was far greater than German, and the only reason it could not produce greater results was the rarity of a target for attack. A fifth danger, oversea invasion, he dismissed curtly as an enterprise perilous for the invaders. Of British shipping 97 per cent. was plying, of German shipping less than 11 per cent. was plying or unaccounted for, and only ten German ships, it[Pg 244] was believed, were trading on the seas, while the Germans were becoming deficient in war material. The results of the German policy of attrition so far were not unsatisfactory to Great Britain. The losses of submarines had been equal, but the German loss proportionately was much larger, the British vessels being more numerous; of destroyers, the British loss was nil, the German eight or ten; of the older armoured cruisers, it was six to two, but the British were three or four times more numerous, and therefore more frequently exposed to attack; in fast modern light cruisers,—the most important class of modern vessels,—the proportion had been 36 to 25; Britain had lost one-eighteenth, Germany one-fourth. The British additions, recent and future, would make the British strength beyond comparison greater. In Dreadnoughts British superiority at the start was just under 60 per cent.—36 to 21; by the end of 1915 Germany could not possibly have more than three besides; Great Britain should have fifteen, including two taken over from Turkey, and one from Chile, and could afford to lose a super-Dreadnought a month and yet be in about as good a position as at first. There was no attrition by wear and tear. The health of the Fleet was twice as good as in time of peace, and the conduct of the men almost perfect. There was no reason whatever for nervousness, anxiety, or alarm. We had powerful Allies on the seas, but, even were we single-handed indefinitely, we might go on drawing our supplies and transporting our troops as we pleased.

After a short speech of concurrence from Mr. Bonar Law the House adjourned till February 2.

The war legislation passed in the first instalment of this new Session included Bills to consolidate and amend the Defence of the Realm Acts, based on the experience gained during the war; providing pensions for soldiers and their dependants; enacting that acceptance of a commission in the Army or Navy ["office under the Crown"] by members of the Commons should not vacate their seats; providing that members of local authorities should not be disqualified by absence, if they were on naval or military service; facilitating land drainage (as a means of employment); and, notably, amending the Trading with the Enemy Act. This last measure set up a custodian of enemy property in the person of the Public Trustee (in England and Wales; other arrangements were made in Scotland and Ireland) to whom must now be paid all dividends, interest, or share of profits which would otherwise have gone to an alien enemy, for him to hold till after the war, The Bill contained also provisions against the transfer of enemy claims, or stock or shares, to neutrals, and against the transformation of German into British companies; and it made even an offer to trade with the enemy a criminal offence.

About ten days before the adjournment, the work of recruiting for the new armies had been facilitated through the commence[Pg 245]ment of the issue by the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee (representing all parties) of a circular to every householder in the United Kingdom, asking for the names of such members of the household as might be able to enlist.

Meanwhile, the war had been going well for Great Britain. The Germans had clearly been foiled in their attempts to break through in Flanders; Zeebrugge was heavily bombarded by a British squadron (Nov. 23) consisting of three small cruisers and some destroyers and torpedo boats, with the effect, it was hoped, of destroying the German preparations for its use as a base for submarines. The British positions before Ypres had been held, and the floods between Dixmude and Nieuport had rendered a German advance there impossible. In the Vosges the French were advancing slightly, elsewhere they were holding their own. A daring air raid on the Zeppelin airship factory at Friedrichshafen had been undertaken from French territory (Nov. 21) by Squadron Commander E. F. Briggs of the Royal Naval Air Service, with Flight Commander J. T. Babington and Flight Lieutenant S. V. Sippe, who dropped bombs on the factory under heavy fire, and, it was believed, did, considerable damage. Commander Briggs was wounded and captured; the others returned safely. (This startling raid of 250 miles, 120 of which were in enemy territory, caused a complaint from the Swiss Government that Swiss territory had been violated, a contention which the British Government denied.) Even more encouraging was the news from the Persian Gulf that the British and Indian troops which had landed at the mouth of the Shatt-el-Arab, after defeating the Turks on November 15 and 17, had occupied Basra on the 21st, only seventeen days from the declaration of war. At sea the large German submarine U 18 was rammed by a British patrol vessel, surrendered, and sank (Nov. 23). On the other hand, it was disquieting that a German submarine should have sunk two merchant vessels near Havre at three days' interval; and the terrible explosion of the Bulwark (p. 239), though the ship was almost obsolete, reduced the personnel of the Navy by some 750 men.

The confidence of the British military authorities was exhibited by the visit paid to the troops at the front by the King—the first such visit by a British monarch since George II fought at Dettingen in 1743. On Sunday, November 29, His Majesty crossed to France in a warship; he was met by the Prince of Wales on landing, and next day, after inspecting some of the base hospitals (including one for Indian troops) he reached the British general headquarters. During the three ensuing days (Dec. 1-3) he made a tour of the Army Corps, visiting their headquarters, meeting the generals and staffs, and inspecting all the troops not in the trenches, who were lined up, in large or small bodies, to greet him as he motored past. On December 1 he[Pg 246] visited the Fourth Army Corps, and met President Poincaré, M. Viviani (the French Premier), and General Joffre, who accompanied him in his inspection; the last named he invested with the G.C.B., the two former dined with him. On December 2 he visited a Cavalry Corps and the Third Army Corps, and invested several French officers with British orders; on December 3 he invested Sir John French with the Order of Merit, inspected the First and Second Corps and some cavalry, and obtained a view of the battlefield, including Lille, Roubaix, and Ypres, where shells were bursting. On December 4 he made himself acquainted with the work of various departments of the Staff and of the auxiliary services; and he visited the Belgian headquarters and met King Albert on the last fragment of Belgian territory still unoccupied by the invader. On December 5 he saw the work of other auxiliary services, and visited the headquarters of the Royal Flying Corps. Throughout his visit this corps had "carried out a continuous aerial patrol" above him. That night he returned to England.

Before leaving, His Majesty issued a special order to the Army as follows:—

Officers, Non-commissioned Officers, and Men:

I am very glad to have been able to see my Army in the Field.

I much wished to do so, in order to gain a slight experience of the life you are leading.

I wish I could have spoken to you all, to express my admiration of the splendid manner in which you have fought and are still fighting against a powerful and relentless enemy.

By your discipline, pluck, and endurance, inspired by the indomitable regimental spirit, you have not only upheld the tradition of the British Army, but added fresh lustre to its history.

I was particularly impressed by your soldierly, healthy, cheerful appearance.

I cannot share in your trials, dangers, and successes, but I can assure you of the proud confidence and gratitude of myself and of your fellow-countrymen.

We follow you in our daily thoughts on your certain road to victory.

George, R.I.

General Headquarters, December 5, 1914.

The Prince of Wales, it must here be noted, had gone to the front at his own earnest desire six weeks earlier, and had proved himself, according to The Times military correspondent, "one of the keenest and hardest soldiers of the army." He was aide-de-camp to Sir John French; but he had had a varied experience, had visited the trenches, including those occupied by the Indian troops, and had been several times under fire.

Though few details as to the military operations were published, it seemed clear that the Germans would be dislodged only by much larger numbers; and enlistment was supposed to be hampered by the continuance of professional (Association) football. The matches attracted thousands, many of them, doubtless, needed by home industries, but these, it was contended, might have been better employed drilling than looking on; and the players were excellent military material, but were bound by contract to their[Pg 247] clubs. Attempts to induce enlistment from among the crowds of spectators in London (Nov. 21) brought only one recruit. An International Football Conference (representing the nations of the United Kingdom) decided at the end of November to drop the "international" matches, but not the cup ties, i.e. the matches determining the competitors for the Association Challenge Cup, decided at the Crystal Palace in the spring. The Scottish delegates, after consulting the War Office, decided to abandon both sets of contests till after the war; but the Council of the Football Association confirmed the decision of the Conference (Dec. 7). Its course was defended, partly because the matches provided recreation for workers who could not be spared, partly in view of the financial needs of the clubs and the players. The Association, it was urged, had done something for recruiting, and had contributed to the various war funds. The formation of a Footballers' Battalion was authorised by the War Office; but the episode provided another argument for the advocates of compulsory service.

The naval element in the war, however, seemed at least as important as the military; and here the signs were promising. It was true that extensive preparations against a raid had been made in the last week of November, though little was said of them in the Press; and also that the Admiralty had notified (Dec. 4) that lighthouses and buoys in the Channel on the east of a line drawn from Selsey Bill to Cape Barfleur, might be altered or withdrawn, and signals in this area changed or discontinued, without notice, and had specified stations where pilots could be obtained for the ports or areas affected—arrangements probably motived by the activity of German submarines off Havre (p. 245); and that the German merchant cruiser Berlin, which had run into Trondhjem short of coal and had been interned there, was believed to have been laying oceanic mines. But these were only temporary inconveniences; and the country was inspirited (Dec. 10) by the news of a great German naval defeat off Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, on December 8. Vice-Admiral Sir F. Sturdee, who had recently been Chief of Staff at the Admiralty, and had been in London at the time of the action off Chile (p. 226), had left Devonport (as afterwards transpired) about November 15, and with a squadron of six cruisers, the Kent, Carnarvon, Cornwall, Glasgow, Bristol and Macedonia, the latter a converted P. and O. liner, and the battle cruisers Inflexible and Invincible, had arrived at Port Stanley (where they met the Canopus) on December 7 to coal, before searching for the German squadron. Next day this squadron approached Port Stanley, intending, it was said, to occupy it as a coaling station. It consisted of the Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and three small cruisers, the Leipzig, Dresden, and Nürnberg, with a merchant cruiser, the Prinz Eitel Fritz, and two transports. On their approach the Canopus opened[Pg 248] fire; the other British ships at once came out, chased the Germans for nearly six hours, and then engaged them. The battle cruisers, assisted by the Carnarvon, concentrated their fire, first on Admiral von Spee's ship, the Scharnhorst, which sank, refusing to cease firing, about 4 P.M.; next on the Gneisenau, which sank two hours afterwards. The German cruisers had meanwhile diverged southwards; but the Glasgow overtook the Leipzig, and, with the Cornwall, sank her, after some hours' fighting, at 9.15 P.M.; the Kent, meanwhile, came up with the Nürnberg, and sank her about 7.30 P.M.; while her crew were being picked up, the Dresden and Prinz Eitel Fritz got away. The Bristol and the Macedonia sank the two transports or supply ships, the Baden and Santa Ysabel, which had gone off to the west. The Dresden was reported shortly afterwards at Punta Arenas, Straits of Magellan, but had not been heard of again by the end of the year. Some 2,000 Germans were lost, and less than a dozen British.

Two days after this news was published, a daring feat was achieved at the mouth of the Dardanelles. The British submarine B 11, Lieut.-Commander Norman Holbrook, dived under five rows of mines, sank the Turkish battleship Messudiyeh, which was guarding a minefield, and returned in safety—a feat which seemed to indicate that the entrance was not quite impregnable. For this feat Lieut.-Commander Holbrook received the V.C.

But now it was the Germans' turn. At 8 A.M. on the morning of December 16 three German warships appeared off Hartlepool, and bombarded it from 8.15 to 8.50, killing seven and wounding fourteen of the Durham Light Infantry who were stationed there, and also killing or wounding many of the civil population, who crowded into the streets. About the same time a battle cruiser and an armoured cruiser bombarded Scarborough, damaging several churches, the Grand Hotel, and many smaller buildings, and, rather later, two ships—probably the same—fired a few shots at Whitby, aiming at the signal station, but damaging the famous ruined Abbey and several buildings, though the casualties here were few. The ships, at any rate off Hartlepool, were attacked by British patrol vessels, and a mist facilitated their escape. Five British seamen were killed, fifteen wounded; the rest of the injured were civilians, including many women and children. At Hartlepool the total of deaths eventually mounted to 119, though a few victims lingered for some weeks; at Scarborough seventeen were killed and about twenty seriously injured; at Whitby two were killed and two injured. People were killed in the streets, while dressing, or at breakfast; and several of the dead were young children.

The raid was hailed with delight in Germany, where it was defended on the ground that the three towns were "fortified places"—which was hardly true even of Hartlepool; but in England it stimulated recruiting, and excited no panic. Prob[Pg 249]ably all the five German battle cruisers were engaged; and, if so, only British battle cruisers could have overtaken them. British opinion was expressed by the First Lord of the Admiralty in a letter of sympathy to the Mayor of Scarborough, pointing out that the effectiveness of British naval pressure was proved by the frenzy of hatred it aroused in the enemy. The letter closed as follows:—

Practically the whole fast cruiser force of the German Navy, including some great ships vital to their fleet and utterly irreplaceable, has been risked for the passing pleasure of killing as many English people as possible, irrespective of sex, age, or condition, in the limited time available. To this act of military and political folly they were impelled by the violence of feelings which could find no other vent. This is very satisfactory, and should confirm us in our courses. Their hate is the measure of their fear. Its senseless expression is the proof of their impotence and the seal of their dishonour. Whatever feats of arms the German Navy may hereafter perform, the stigma of the baby-killers of Scarborough will brand its officers and men while sailors sail the seas.

Only a small proportion of the property injured was insured against war risk; but it was announced that the Government would compensate the sufferers.

A few days earlier (Dec. 12) Mr. Balfour, at a recruiting meeting at Bristol, had denounced the German effort at world-dominion as a crime against civilisation, which would not succeed while there was one cartridge or one stout heart left in Great Britain. The superman, if he appeared, might be left to the police; the super-State was absolutely inconsistent with the true notion of a great community of nations. The whole international future of the world, in his judgment, was hanging in the balance.

Such disregard of the ordinary usages of civilised warfare as was evinced by this bombardment tended to strengthen this attitude, and with it the national unity achieved at the outset of the war; and on its achievement Mr. Bonar Law threw fresh light in a speech at an informal meeting of Unionist chairmen and agents of Parliamentary constituencies held at the Hotel Cecil to consider the means of co-operation as to the war and other matters. He stated that on Sunday, August 2, he had sent the following letter to the Prime Minister:—

Dear Mr. Asquith,—Lord Lansdowne and I feel it our duty to inform you that in our opinion, as well as in that of all the colleagues whom we have been able to consult, it would be fatal to the honour and security of the United Kingdom to hesitate in supporting France and Russia at the present juncture; and we offer our unhesitating support to the Government in any measures they may consider necessary for that object.—Yours very truly,

A. Bonar Law.

The Opposition, he claimed, had kept this pledge in letter and spirit; and it was the first time in the history of English Parliamentary government that an Opposition had refrained from harassing Ministers. They had determined to make no criticism which might injure the country; perhaps, indeed, they had not criticised the Government enough. But he preferred this mistake to that of criticising too much. After referring to the patriotic reserve of the Press in publishing news, he said that the country[Pg 250] could gain from the war only peace, and security for that peace in the future; and for this they must have a united nation. They could look forward to the future with complete confidence; never before had British soldiers shown such devotion and heroism, and the statements as to the insufficiency of recruiting were entirely unjustified. Great Britain had got, and would get, all the men she needed without resorting to compulsion.

For a short time this unity seemed again in danger through the refusal of a section of Liberals at Swansea to accept the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (pp. 27, 33, 109) as the successor of Sir D. Brynmor Jones, who had vacated his seat on appointment as Commissioner in Lunacy. A three-cornered contest was expected; but the Chancellor declined the nomination.

The unity of the Empire was not less notable. Gifts and offers of money or local produce had poured in since the war began from the Dominions, Crown Colonies, and Protectorates, for the use of the troops or for the relief funds; and the donors comprised not only the Governments, but local groups or associations, private firms, and the population as a whole. From the Dominions came flour and meat; Rhodesia sent tobacco; Jamaica cigarettes; Montserrat guava jelly; Mauritius sugar; South African farmers fruit and eggs; the Emirs of Nigeria gave 38,000l. which was applied to the military expenditure of the Protectorate; a body of Masai sent bullocks, the Kavirondo chiefs 3,000 goats; Niue, in the Cook Islands, sent 164l. to the Empire Defence Fund and offered 200 men, the chiefs describing their island as "a small child that stands up to help the Kingdom of George V." The Somali chiefs and those of Uganda expressed their strong desire to fight for the King.

While the Empire thus drew together, two notable developments occurred in its foreign relations. The first was the formal change in the legal status of Egypt, which was declared to be—what it had long been in fact—a British Protectorate (Dec. 18). The Khedive Abbas, who had become an open enemy, and was in Constantinople, was deposed; his successor, Prince Kamel Pasha, received the title of Sultan; and a British Resident—Colonel Sir Arthur MacMahon—was appointed with the title of High Commissioner instead of, as formerly, Consul-General.

A more novel change was the despatch of a British envoy to the Vatican in the person of Sir Henry Howard, whose mission was to last till the end of the war. Its exact scope was not stated; but it seemed probable that the Pope, whose attempt to effect a truce at the front for Christmas had been frustrated by the opposition of Russia, intended in due time to offer his mediation; if so, the mission was easily intelligible. But it caused some misgiving, and not only among extreme Protestants; for it might conceivably be interpreted abroad as implying some sort of recognition of the temporal power of the Papacy.

[Pg 251]

It was commonly felt that one of the conditions of peace, whenever it might come, must be the punishment of the persons responsible for the outrages and breaches of the laws of war committed by German soldiers in Belgium and France. Much evidence of these had been collected and sifted, and on December 16 it was announced that a Committee had been appointed to consider this evidence. It was a very strong one: Viscount Bryce was the Chairman; the other members were Sir Frederick Pollock, Sir Edward Clarke, K.C., Sir Alfred Hopkinson, K.C., Prof. A. L. Fisher, an eminent historian, and Mr. Harold Cox, sometime M.P. for Bath, and editor of the Edinburgh Review.

Meanwhile it was clear that the end of the war could only be hastened by sending more men into the fighting line; and Mr. Bonar Law again spoke at recruiting demonstrations in his constituency of Bootle on December 21. He said that it had been evident for years that Germany was preparing for war with Great Britain as her final objective; because he knew it, he had said (A.R., 1911, p. 262) in the Commons that he did not believe in inevitable wars; if war came, it would be due to the want of human wisdom, and the best and perhaps the sole guarantee of peace was that one country should realise the strength of the other. He had thought that the rapid growth of Russian resources would deter Germany, but she had struck precisely because of its rapidity. Like Napoleon, she had aroused against herself the moral forces of the world. She had not merely ignored these moral forces, but despised them; hence her mistakes. The coast raid had made the British people realise that they were fighting, not a superman, but a wild beast. He eulogised the British Army; no army equal in size to the new Army had ever been raised by voluntary enlistment, nor could it have been so raised anywhere but in Great Britain. We should get all the men we needed, but, if not, compulsion would be demanded by the nation. The Earl of Derby, who also spoke, remarked that Prince Henry of Prussia, one of the heads of the German Navy, knew that Scarborough was defenceless, having visited it in 1912 as a guest.

It was unfortunate that, while so many efforts were being made to stimulate recruiting, the military authorities should have issued a circular implying that soldiers' wives would be under the special supervision of the police. This called forth indignant protests from local authorities and trade unions; but it was explained to mean that the police desired lists of the wives of soldiers, in order to treat them leniently should they be charged with drunkenness. Their increased leisure and their Government allowances tended to increase their temptations to this offence.

A fresh stimulus to patriotic feeling, however, was provided by the group of air raids which marred Christmas peace in this amazing year. On Christmas Eve a British naval airman dropped twelve[Pg 252] bombs on an airship shed in Brussels, inflicting, it was hoped, considerable damage on the Parseval airship it was believed to contain. On the same day a German aeroplane attempted to drop a bomb on Dover Castle, but missed its mark by some 400 yards, and, beyond a hole in a bed of cabbages and some broken windows, no damage was done. On Christmas Day another German aeroplane was sighted over Sheerness at 12.35 midday; aided by fog, it went up the Thames as far as Erith, probably to drop bombs on Woolwich Arsenal; but it was chased by three British aeroplanes and fired at by aircraft guns, and an exciting conflict took place within sight of Southend about 1.30; but it escaped, though probably the airman was mortally wounded. Earlier on that day a British raid of considerable significance had been made on Cuxhaven and the German warships lying off that port. Seven naval seaplanes, starting from a point near Heligoland, and escorted by H.M.S. Arethusa and Undaunted, two of the newest light cruisers, and by a destroyer flotilla and several submarines, dropped bombs on the warships and on "points of military significance." The escort was attacked by two Zeppelins and several hostile seaplanes and submarines, but the Zeppelins were easily put to flight, the seaplanes missed the British ships, and the submarines were avoided. None of the other German warships came out; the British ships remained three hours, and re-embarked three of the seven British airmen with their machines, three without them; the seventh, Flight-Commander Hewlett, disabled his machine, which had met with an accident, and was picked up by a Dutch trawler, and allowed some days later to return to England. It was believed that a Zeppelin had been hit, and that the raid, which caused great delight in England, had set up a corresponding degree of disquiet in Germany.

But these exciting episodes had no direct bearing on the fortunes of the war. Its ultimate outcome was likely to depend partly on the cohesive and combative power of the British Empire, partly on the attitude of the greater neutral nations, partly on the economic pressure exercised on Germany by the British Navy, and partly on the ability of Great Britain to adjust her trade to the new conditions imposed by the loss of her best customer and of the sources of supply of the components of many of her manufactured goods. On all these the outlook as the year closed was encouraging. The unity of the Empire had never been more conspicuously manifested, and, as the year closed, it was seen to extend even to the Sudan. Recruiting at home, in spite of the pessimists, was not officially regarded as unsatisfactory, and the difficulties in the equipment of the three (or more) new Armies were apparently being overcome. Meanwhile numbers of men past the military age or unable to enlist for other reasons were serving as special constables or organising themselves into bodies of auxiliary troops. There were signs that Italy and Roumania[Pg 253] might soon be fighting on the side of the Allies in order to share in the heritage of the tottering Dual Monarchy; the sympathy of the great mass of the neutral nations was estranged from Germany, and the complaints of British interference with their trade were not regarded as giving ground for apprehending serious friction, even in the case of the American Note (post, For. Hist., Chap. VII.). At home, serious crime had become rare, and the economic outlook was unexpectedly hopeful. The sufferings predicted by Sir Edward Grey (p. 171) had not as yet been experienced; and unemployment, owing to the demands set up by the provision of the new Armies, was far less than it had commonly been in time of peace. It was seriously felt only in the cotton trade, in a few luxury trades, and in some of the fishing ports, owing to the interruption caused by the war and the loss of the German market for herrings. Pauperism in England and Wales had risen rapidly at the outset of the war; it had subsequently declined to a point only a little above the exceptionally low figures of a year earlier; in London it was actually below them. Doubtless this temporary prosperity was mainly due to an essentially unproductive consumption which would bring its own penalties; but it seemed probable that some compensation might be found for war losses in the capture of certain branches of German trade. A movement for the production in Great Britain of goods for which British consumers had hitherto been dependent on German or Austrian industry had been favoured by the Patents and Designs Act, through which British consumers were enabled to ignore the patent rights of alien enemies, and was energetically aided by the Board of Trade, which collected and supplied the fullest possible information as to the means of carrying out the processes, and providing the components, which had hitherto been left to German or Austrian industry alone. Business had begun to adapt itself to the new conditions, and the Stock Exchange was about to reopen. Finally, the Government had carried out a number of daring measures, which had collectively averted a colossal economic disaster. Some of these, notably its huge purchases of sugar and the subsequent prohibition of the importation of that commodity (Oct. 24, p. 243) in order to prevent the sale of the German surplus, were severely criticised by orthodox economists, and set up speculation as to the possibility of a complete change after the war in the financial and commercial policy of Great Britain. But as war measures they were generally received with acquiescence. On all grounds, therefore, the British nation felt itself entitled to look forward to the issue of the struggle with quiet confidence, and to possess its soul in patience until a vigorous offensive should become possible in the spring.

[Pg 254]


[2] The Introduction to this pamphlet has been used in the following sketch of the negotiations, The Belgian Grey Book (Oct. 6), the Russian Orange Book (Sept. 21) and the French Yellow Book (Dec. 1) further set forth the Allies' case. Many of the official documents were published as a pamphlet by the New York Times.

[3] "Great Britain and the European Crisis" (the "Penny Blue Book"), No. 107.

[4] A letter from the Scottish Secretary contesting these statements was published November 21.



The history of Scotland during this eventful year was even more interwoven than usual with that of Great Britain in general. The war and the land and suffragist agitation affected the whole country alike, though no general scheme of agrarian reform for Scotland was yet put forth by semi-official Liberalism. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, however, stimulated the controversy by his attacks on the Duke of Sutherland and others (p. 14), and drew from Mr. Munro Ferguson, M.P., the notable declaration (at Inverness, Jan. 3) that if the 250,000l. spent on reclamation by the third Duke of Sutherland had been devoted to afforestation, the land would now be worth millions. The Chancellor also managed to placate the "single taxers" (p. 13), who were strong north of the Tweed. As in England, it was complained that the creation of small holdings did not proceed with sufficient rapidity, and a Bill promoted by unofficial Liberals and designed to improve the machinery of the Act of 1911, which passed its second reading in the Commons on March 13 and got through a Standing Committee, was eventually dropped for want of time. The debate on the Government of Scotland Bill (May 15, p. 104) was notable for the marked difference of opinion among its supporters regarding women's suffrage. The serious deficiency of housing accommodation for the workmen employed by the Government at Rosyth excited severe comment in both Houses and was a factor in the introduction of the first Housing Bill (p. 209). Two minor legal reforms affecting land should perhaps be mentioned: the Entails (Scotland) Act and the Feudal Casualties (Scotland) Act, making highly technical, but important, changes in the Scottish law of real property.

The movement for reunion of the two great Presbyterian Churches made further progress. Early in May the Union Committee of the Established Church issued a draft constitution as a basis for discussion. It consisted of nine articles, and it specifically defined the creed of the Church of Scotland, and declared that that Church adhered to the principles of the Protestant Reformation and of the Westminster Confession of Faith, but reserved the right to modify the expression of the Confession and to interpret the constitution of the Church, subject always to agreement with the Word of God and the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. It claimed continuity with the historical Church of Scotland recognised in the Act of Union, and it explicitly declared that the Presbyterian form of Church government was the only form for that Church.[Pg 255] It recognised that the nation as a body should render homage to God and promote His Kingdom; but it expressly claimed liberty for the Church in things spiritual. A minority Report, signed by sixteen members out of 100, proposed to define the doctrine of the Church finally and more precisely, and to insist on the principle of Establishment. In the General Assembly, however (May 26), only about half a dozen members opposed the acceptance of the Report of the majority. The United Free Church Assembly, on the other hand, authorised its Committee to continue conference with the Church of Scotland; and an amendment, in effect postulating Disestablishment as a necessary preliminary to the union of the two Churches, was supported by only fifty or sixty members in an assemblage numbering about a thousand. On both sides, therefore, the extremists were diminishing, and the old cries were losing their force.

In February a Report of the Departmental Committee on Sea Fisheries (Cd. 7221) recommended the abolition or modification of the existing Fishery Board, and the development of the fisheries by various means, including the organisation of a Statistical and Intelligence Department, the employment of a chemist to study fish curing and of representatives in foreign markets, instruction in the habits of fishes and the action of fishing gear, and in motor-boat engineering, with a nautical course for boys in elementary schools. It did not favour State loans for fishermen.

The war, as in England, considerably affected the east coast, partly through the apprehension of naval and air raids and the excitement caused by allegations of espionage and aid rendered by alien residents to the enemy (pp. 231, 239), and, more substantially, by the interference with coasting traffic, with the export of coal, with the fisheries, and, most of all, with the trade in cured herrings, through the total closing of the German market and the difficulties of access to those of the other countries of Northern Europe. The embarrassment of the traders was partly relieved by the Courts (Emergency Powers) Act (p. 196). On the moors shooting was all but suspended; and tourists were few. As in England, labour disputes were hastily composed; the coal-owners abandoned their demand for a reduction of 1s. daily in the miners' wages, and the threat of a general stoppage of work was withdrawn. A pending strike of marine engineers was given up, as were also a host of minor conflicts. "Business as usual" was the popular motto, as in England; and recruiting was active. No figures of its progress were available, but the controversy as to the propriety of a continuance of football—of which there were said to be about 10,000 professional players—arose much earlier than in England, and, under the advice of the War Office, the abandonment of matches was much more extensive (p. 247).

Trade and industry were variously affected by the war. On[Pg 256] the Clyde a decline in the shipbuilding output was inevitable after the enormous production of 1913, but many orders were in hand, and though there was some slackening of work, there was no unemployment during the seven months of peace. On the outbreak of the war, three yards, those of Messrs. John Brown & Co., William Beardmore & Co., and the Fairfield Engineering & Shipbuilding Company, were entirely devoted to naval work, and several other firms were largely engaged in this likewise. Statistics of it were, of course, unattainable, but employment was abundant; and the output of mercantile shipping for the year was 307 vessels, aggregating 460,258 tons against 370, aggregating 756,975 tons in 1913. The most notable vessels were the geared turbine twin-screw Cunarder Transylvania, 14,300 tons, built by Scott's Shipbuilding & Engineering Company, Greenock; the Anchor liner Tuscania, of similar size and engine construction, built by Alex. Stephen & Son, Linthouse; and the P. and O. liner Kaisar-i-Hind, 11,430 tons, built by Laird & Co., Greenock. As soon as the war began to look more hopeful for the Allies, new orders came, the execution of which would only be delayed by want of men. The east coast yards produced about the same tonnage as in 1913.

Of other trades a brief mention must suffice. The export of coal decreased by about 15 per cent., chiefly through the closing of the German, Austrian and Russian markets by the war. The iron and steel trade, on the other hand, was stimulated through the removal of German competition. The mineral oil trade was greatly upset by loss of markets abroad and diminished consumption by reduction of lighting and interruption of fishing, which was largely carried on by motor boats. The jute trade declined from a height previously unattained to an unusually low level, owing to the war and to restrictions on the export of yarns. The linen trade also fell off greatly. The tweed trade found compensation for the loss of the German and Austrian markets in the demand for khaki cloth for the troops.


The first few weeks of the year saw the decay of the Dublin strike, and the conclusion of the inquiries which were its outcome into the conduct of the police and the conditions of housing in the poorest quarters of the Irish capital. The strike itself practically collapsed on January 19, with the return to work of many dockers and the reopening of the works of the Dublin Tramways Company, which had remained closed for nearly five months. The Commission of Inquiry into the conduct of the police held its first sitting on January 5. As it consisted only of two King's Counsel, its composition was regarded as unsatisfactory by trade unionists alike in Ireland and in Great Britain; and there was an angry scene on January 8, when Mr. Handel Booth, M.P. (Ponte[Pg 257]fract), who had seen the riot in August, 1913, and was permitted to cross-examine the witnesses, withdrew altogether, after a dispute with the counsel for the police. But the evidence showed that the riots had been organised, and the Commission reported to that effect, exonerating the police force generally, while admitting that some few constables had been guilty of assault and unjustifiable violence. The subject was debated on the Address (p. 30), but the Labour party declined to risk defeating the Government.

The Report of the Housing Inquiry Committee (A.E., 1913, p. 268) proved to be a very severe condemnation of the condition of the Dublin slums and of the conduct of the Corporation, some of whose members owned tenement property. Existing legislation, it declared, was neglected or abused. It condemned both the actual tenement system and the condition of the small houses, and held that every working-class family should be provided with a self-contained dwelling admitting of the separation of the sexes. It estimated that at least 14,000 new houses or dwellings were required, and it recommended, inter alia, State aid for rebuilding.

Such questions had, of course, to be left to be dealt with by a Home Rule Parliament; and this, when the year closed, was practically assured at the termination of the war, though the position of the Ulster Unionist constituencies and the precise extent of the Home Rule area were still undetermined.

The conflict has been so fully described in previous chapters that only a summary of it is needed here. Though the Nationalists ignored Mr. O'Brien's challenge at Cork (p. 6), the tendency to compromise manifested in such suggestions as those of Mr. F. S. Oliver, Sir Horace Plunkett, and many other individual publicists (p. 18), was further emphasised by the King's Speech and the debate on the Address, and found practical expression in the promise of an Amending Bill (March 9). But the Unionist apprehensions aroused through the postponement of any statement of its details, and the expectation that force would ultimately be used to overcome the resistance of Ulster, combined with the misunderstanding of the military measures contemplated by the Government to set up a grave, though temporary, danger. The debate on the second reading of the Home Rule Bill, however, further exhibited the tendency to compromise and the acceptance by the Unionists of some form of Home Rule as inevitable. The fanatics among the Ulster Unionists, too, were warned against expecting aid from Germany (p. 75), a warning, however, afterwards discredited by the conduct of the war by the German Government. The effect of the allegations as to the plot against Ulster, which were renewed in April, was considerably weakened by the gun-running from the Fanny (p. 84), which was followed by further negotiations, or approaches to negotiations, between the Unionist leaders and the Ministry with a view to the[Pg 258] partial or total exclusion of Ulster from the operation of the Bill. Agitation, meanwhile, was continued by the Unionists—- perhaps mainly as an element in driving the bargain—and roused a counter-agitation among the Liberal rank and file. Meanwhile the Irish Volunteer force had been growing, and the capture of the control of it by the Nationalist leaders converted it into a new and unexpected obstacle to the projected resistance of the Ulster Volunteers to the realisation of the Home Rule scheme. The Amending Bill (June 23, p. 135) provided for the optional and temporary exclusion of such Ulster counties as might desire to avail themselves of its provisions; but this measure was transformed by the House of Lords so as permanently to exclude the whole of Ulster from the operation of the Home Rule Bill—a solution which admittedly satisfied nobody, and which would certainly have been rejected by the House of Commons. Hence the Conference (p. 158) ascribed, rightly or wrongly, to the intervention of the King; but, after greatly narrowing (it was believed) the margin of difference, it reached a deadlock.

Just at this time Sir Horace Plunkett, well known for his promotion of co-operation in Ireland, and hitherto ranking as a moderate Unionist, published a pamphlet entitled "The Better Way; an Appeal to Ulster not to Desert Ireland," in which he declared that Home Rule was inevitable and even desirable, that it would not mean "Rome Rule," and that the exclusion of Ulster was bad in principle and might probably injure the industry and commerce of the province. Let Ulstermen, he urged, give Home Rule a chance. He restated his scheme for the inclusion of Ulster subject to an option of future withdrawal, and suggested a conference of Irishmen on the Home Rule Bill, and a scheme for combining the two sets of Volunteers in a Territorial Force.

Under other conditions, this plea from so high an authority might have proved very powerful; but its appearance was immediately followed by the failure of the Conference, and the situation was made much worse two days later by the Nationalist gun-running (July 26) and the affray in Dublin between the crowd and the police and troops (p. 162).

The situation was saved, however, by the European crisis. Doubtless the German Government counted on civil strife to paralyse British efforts at resistance to its schemes. But directly war became probable the Amending Bill was postponed; the Opposition leaders assured the Government of their support (p. 249); Mr. Redmond promised that the Nationalist Volunteers would co-operate with those of Ulster in defending Ireland, and assured the Government that it had the Nationalists' full confidence; and the contending political parties, with few exceptions, promptly rallied to the defence of the Kingdom and the Empire. The Nationalist and Unionist leaders alike used all their influence to persuade their[Pg 259] followers to join the colours (pp. 216, 229). The Nationalist rank and file were conciliated by the prospect of Home Rule and strengthened in their allegiance by the circumstance that Great Britain was avowedly fighting to protect the small nations, as well as by their traditional sympathy with France; and they were further confirmed in their attitude by the conduct of the Germans in Belgium, especially by the destruction of the great Catholic University of Louvain, with the vast collection of priceless Celtic MSS., which were among the chief sources of early Irish history. The Arms Proclamation was allowed to lapse, and the election contest at Derry, due to the death of Mr. Hogg (L.), which had been regarded with considerable apprehension, was averted by general consent. As in England and Scotland all election contests were avoided, save in one instance, due to a local dispute; in Ulster, as in England, the flow of recruits outran the provision made for them by the War Office, and by about the middle of October the Protestant districts had furnished some 21,000, of which Belfast alone had contributed 7,581 or 305 per 10,000 of the population—the highest proportion of all the towns in the United Kingdom. An Ulster Division appeared in the list of the new Armies at the end of the year.

The vigorous and continued efforts of the Nationalist leaders to promote enlistment were unfortunately opposed by small and virulently hostile bodies of extremists—Sinn Fein (A.R., 1907, p. 266), the Irish Labour party, led by Mr. Larkin, and entirely separate from the Labour party in Great Britain, some of the original promoters of the Irish Volunteer movement (A.R., 1913, p. 267), and other small groups. These bodies published papers, among them Irish Freedom, Sinn Fein, the Irish Volunteer, and the Irish Worker, distributed them and quantities of leaflets gratuitously, posted up seditious placards, sent out emissaries to discourage recruiting, and started or spread a rumour that the Government intended to institute compulsory military service, which caused a considerable emigration of able-bodied men to America in the autumn from certain areas in the West. They attempted a counter-demonstration to the Premier's meeting in Dublin (p. 215); and Sir Roger Casement, an Antrim man and a Liberal Home Ruler, who had honourably served Great Britain as a Consul and had exposed the atrocities on the Putumayo (A.R., 1912, p. 489; 1913, p. 493), was reported in November to have gone to Berlin via the United States, and to have obtained satisfactory assurances from the German Government, particularly with regard to the conduct that might be expected from a German invading force in Ireland. A prominent Irish American even stated that the Kaiser had promised Sir Roger that he would free Ireland if Germany were victorious. Sir Roger had previously tried to dissuade Irishmen from enlisting in the British Army. It was charitably suggested that, if these re[Pg 260]ports were true, his mental balance had suffered from his arduous and perilous work on the Putumayo. The extremists generally argued that the war was England's affair, that Ireland should be neutral, and that its Nationalists should co-operate with those of India and Egypt to exact favourable terms for themselves from Great Britain after her defeat, and join the Irish Volunteers against the day of reckoning.

It was suspected that this propaganda was supported by German money through Irish-American channels, and its real effect was probably not great. In parts of Ireland the "Sinn Feiners" had to retire from the Volunteer corps; many of the rural labourers who enlisted were found to be physically unfit, and it was stated that the maintenance of the Volunteers was hampered through the enlistment of their drill instructors, and that enlistment was further discouraged by the refusal of the War Office to sanction the presentation of Colours to Irish regiments or to encourage the formation of an Irish Brigade. The Government for some months ignored the seditious papers, taking the view that suppression would only advertise their efforts; but at the end of November their publishers were warned, with satisfactory results. The Labour party, however, held a street demonstration of protest in Dublin (Dec. 6) which only numbered about 600. It was overlooked by a body of the "citizen army" equipped with rifles, and stationed in "Liberty Hall," Mr. Larkin's headquarters; and it was stated that these would have been used against police interference. But the Government wisely took no notice. Mr. Larkin himself was in the United States collecting arms and money for his followers; and Professor Kuno Meyer, the eminent Keltic scholar, who had lived much in Wales and Ireland, and whose former friendships with Keltic students in the United Kingdom were repudiated demonstratively on both sides after the outbreak of war, stated in an interview that an Irish (probably Irish-American) regiment was being formed in Germany. But the whole of this seditious movement was probably of slight significance.

It was suggested that Sir Roger Casement's attitude might partly be due to disappointment at the abandonment of the projected call at Queenstown of the Hamburg-American steamers from Hamburg to Boston, which had been arranged, partly at his instance, early in the year, and was alleged to have been discouraged, for political reasons, by the British Government. More probably the reasons were commercial. The Cunard calls were definitely abandoned on February 28. In November a partial resumption was announced, but it was not kept up.

Legislation for Ireland was scanty, and a Land Purchase Bill was introduced, but withdrawn. A Labourers Act, however, was passed increasing the amount which could be expended under the Act of 1906, and an Intermediate Education Act, im[Pg 261]proving the position of teachers in the statutory schools and securing them some degree of fixity of tenure. The statistics of crime showed a considerable decline; but there were some cases of cattle-driving during the year.

The Home Rule controversy and the tension in Ulster did not seem appreciably to interfere with Irish industry and trade. It was stated, indeed, in the spring that the banks were restricting their advances to traders in view of a crisis, and that securities were at one time being transferred to London. But pauperism in March was less than in 1913 and much less than in 1910. In Belfast the huge shipbuilding output of 1913 was actually surpassed. Twenty-three vessels were launched aggregating 246,370 tons, as against twenty-four vessels of 131,916 tons in 1913. Messrs. Harland & Wolff's output from their Belfast and Clyde yards together amounted to 182,759 tons, the largest yet achieved in one year by any firm in the world. The six ships they launched at Belfast comprised the White Star liner Britannic of 50,000 tons, and five others, respectively for the Holland-Amerika, Red Star (Belgian), Aberdeen, Pacific Mail, and Royal Mail lines. Messrs. Workman, Clark & Co. built three Ellerman, two Royal Mail, two Shire and two other liners—in all nine vessels of 75,188 tons. At Londonderry four vessels were launched aggregating 12,225 tons. Among other trades, linen, previously depressed by general and local causes, was gravely interfered with by the stoppage through the war of Russian and Belgian material, and, in the case of white linens, by the loss of the German and Austrian markets; but in this trade, as in rope and twine, Government war orders were some compensation for losses in other ways. The minor industries of Belfast were vigorous. Foot-and-mouth disease again interfered occasionally with the cattle traffic to Great Britain.

Finance and Trade in 1914.

From the observer's point of view the second half of 1914 was the most interesting period through which the City has passed. Other times had seemed difficult when the country was in the midst of labour crises, when foreign politics threatened, and when the prices of securities drifted steadily downwards; but the City has never before had to cope with so vast an upheaval as has been caused by the present conflagration in Europe. The City, at any rate, had not been organised to meet the consequences of the clash of arms, and when the blow fell not a market was unmoved. The machinery and functions of the money market and the banks, the Stock Exchange, Lloyd's and the insurance companies, the Baltic and the shipping lines, the Corn Exchange and[Pg 262] the Commercial Sales Rooms had all to be adjusted to meet the unprecedented conditions. Just as the fighting forces had to be mobilised, so had the industrial organisations to be cleared for action, for finance and commerce have been and are destined to play a great part in the mighty struggle. All the British leaders of industry were animated by two objects only: how best to assist the nation to withstand the shock of war, and how to emerge victorious. It will be interesting to consider briefly how the different sections rose to the occasion.

The eventful year opened with money becoming easy and before the end of January the Bank of England minimum rate was 3 per cent. The decline in Bank rate was accompanied by a fall in the open discount market and early in February rates dropped to 1-11/16. Then began a renewal of a demand for gold from the Continent, and the discount rate rose to 2-15/16. In March the position was again easier and with the payments of the dividends in April the rate was as low as 1¾. In May the absorptions by Continental countries were on an abnormally large scale (though their significance was not fully appreciated) and the discount rate rose to 2-15/16 per cent. After the end of the half-year the rate was easier again, but it soon advanced steadily on the reports of strained relations between Austria and Serbia.

On July 28 the fear of war involving this country became definite, and on July 30 the Bank rate was raised from 3 to 4 per cent.; on July 31 it was advanced further to 8 per cent., and on the following day again to 10 per cent. The market discount rates were nominal at from 5¼ to 5½ per cent.

Consultations took place between the Government and financial leaders, and on Sunday, August 2, a proclamation was issued providing that all bills accepted before August 4 should not be payable on their due date but should be deferred for one month. The next day an Act was passed prolonging the Bank Holiday for three more days, and on August 6 a general Moratorium was declared. This extension of the Bank Holiday was considered desirable in order to give the banks and discount houses time to consider their position and to discuss the question of currency. As an emergency measure an issue of Treasury notes in denominations of 1l. and 10s. was offered to the banks up to 20 per cent. of their deposit and current accounts. For these notes interest at Bank rate had to be paid. The first issue was made on August 7, when the banks reopened. On that day large deposits were made by the public and there was little sign of any nervousness. At first the banks took nearly 13,000,000l. in notes, but the bulk of these were soon returned, and by the end of the year the amount held by them had been reduced to only 169,000l. Postal orders, without poundage, were also made legal tender, but were soon withdrawn from circulation. [The arrangement was formally terminated on February 4, 1915.] On August 7 the Bank rate[Pg 263] was reduced to 6 per cent. and on the next day to 5 per cent., at which it remained.

The Government announcement respecting the discounting of bills was made on August 13, and a very large business was transacted, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer was able to announce later that of 120,000,000l. which was sent to the Bank of England less than half was likely to remain in "cold storage" at the end of the year. The case of merchants who had money owing to them abroad, all of which during the war would obviously not be paid, was hard, and, in order to avoid disaster, the Government announced a scheme early in November, providing that in approved cases advances not exceeding 50 per cent. of the amounts outstanding should be made to them by means of six months' bills; 75 per cent. of any loss was to be borne by the State and 25 per cent. by the Banks.

On December 4 the Moratorium came to an end.

At the end of the year the stock of gold shown in the Bank return showed a large increase at nearly 70,000,000l. (exclusive of 18,500,000l. earmarked for the Currency Note Reserve), as compared with 35,000,000l. at the end of 1913. A large proportion of the stock at the end of the year represented gold held in financial centres of Britain beyond the seas on account of the Bank, until arrangements could be made to ship it to this country.

A notable development during the peaceful period of the year was a further series of banking amalgamations, including a fusion between the famous houses of Messrs. Coutts & Co. and Messrs. Robarts, Lubbock & Co.

Immediately after the outbreak of war Parliament voted a credit of 100,000,000l. and between August and November 90,000,000l. in bills were issued. These were mostly in six months' bills, and were placed at average rates ranging from 2l. 18s. 6d. to 3l. 15s. 6d. In November the issue of the great War Loan for 350,000,000l. was successfully made, the issue taking the form of stock at 95 per cent., redeemable in 1925-8, and bearing interest at 3½ per cent. The net yield was 323,000,000l., which sum was intended to include the repayment of the Treasury Bills issued. A notable feature of the terms of the War Loan was that the Bank of England undertook to make advances up to the amount of the issue price at 1 per cent. below the current Bank rate.

Early in January, the Stock Exchange indulged in a little "boom," but towards the end of February a reaction set in and from then until the outbreak of war markets were extremely dull. The Ulster crisis, severe depression in South America, and the failure of the Canadian Agency and the firm of Chaplin, Milne, Grenfell & Co. were depressing influences. Throughout July markets were under the cloud of foreign political complications, and on July 24 the Austrian Note to Serbia caused serious alarm[Pg 264] and an immense number of selling orders. In the end of July the settlement was completed with no more serious consequences than the failure of nine firms, involving twenty members. On July 31 the Committee, in response to many representations, decided to close the House. Minimum prices for Trustee stocks were fixed by the Committee on September 14, based on the quotations current on July 30, the main object being to prevent undue depression. Arrangements were made in consultation with the Treasury for carrying out the mid-August settlement on November 18, special rules being issued. The Banks, in return for the assistance they had received from Government, undertook to continue loans during the war without extra margin, while other lenders were granted advances up to 60 per cent. from the Bank of England.

Consols, which were quoted at 71-5/8 at the end of 1913, were actually higher on July 27 at 72¼ and at the end of 1914 stood at 68½, this, however, being the Stock Exchange minimum price, and nearly all representative securities showed substantial falls.

On December 23 the announcement was made that the Stock Exchange would reopen on January 4, with stringent provisions designed to prevent sales by the enemy.

One notable development following the outbreak of war was the breakdown of the foreign Exchanges. This meant that while it lasted oversea commerce was paralysed. In New York, owing to the large sales of American securities in Europe, sterling exchange rose at first to the extraordinarily high level of $6, and Sir George Paish was deputed to proceed to the United States to discuss measures to relieve the situation. Cargoes of grain and other produce were not bought, and consequently there was almost a complete cessation of chartering. Gradually the position was righted, and early in September business was being done in a quiet way. From then freights, which had been abnormally low during the summer, began to rise and continued to do so.

The rise was, in the main, due to a lack of tonnage in certain routes. The short supply was caused by the acquisition of many hundreds of vessels by the Government for various purposes; the inability of the German mercantile marine to take any share in the world's carrying trade; and the loss of a certain number of British ships sunk by the enemy's vessels or through striking mines. Towards the end of the year the position was very seriously aggravated by congestion at British and continental ports. The enlistment of large numbers of skilled dock labourers in the Army, the reservation of certain ports and docks for military requirements, and the accommodation necessary for the Government's large purchases of sugar, all combined to make the position difficult. Ships were kept for long periods waiting their turn to discharge, and it was not uncommon for vessels to be in port three or four times as long as usual. These delays un[Pg 265]doubtedly detracted somewhat from the extraordinarily high rates which were being secured. The most striking rate was perhaps that of the carriage of grain from Argentina. As compared with a rate of 12s. 6d. per ton quoted just before the war, 50s. was paid by the end of the year, and this figure was far short of the prices that have since been paid. The rate for coal from Newcastle to London which had been as low as 2s. 6d. rose to about 13s. 6d. As some relief for the situation, the Admiralty made arrangements to put a considerable number of enemy steamers which had been detained in this country at the outbreak of war into the coal trade. These vessels, as soon as crews could be found for them, were placed on the market, and did not have any effect in reducing the high rates. A few enemy steamers which had been captured at sea by British warships were sold by auction as prizes. Sums which were considered abnormally high were bid for them, but it is reasoned that while freights continue on the level current at the beginning of this year they should prove satisfactory acquisitions to their owners.

The question of maintaining oversea commerce received the prompt attention of the Government. Many people connected with the shipping industry had fully expected that the outbreak of war would find a large number of fast German cruisers at large and ready to prey upon British commerce. Shipowners had themselves made certain provisions, but only of very limited scope. They had formed certain mutual clubs in which ships were to be insured against war risks only until their arrival in safety in British or neutral ports. This arrangement would obviously not have had the effect of keeping ships at sea and maintaining oversea commerce as in peace times, which, in the Chancellor's opinion, was a vital necessity. The recommendations of the sub-Committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence were therefore put into operation at once. The proposals dealt separately with hulls and with cargoes. The State undertook to accept re-insurances from the clubs on ships up to 80 per cent. of the values, receiving in exchange 80 per cent. of the premiums. At first rates of 1¼ and 2½ per cent. were quoted for the single and double voyages respectively, but these after a few weeks were reduced to 1 and 2 per cent. Similarly a premium for a three months' time policy was reduced from 40s. to 30s. per cent.

The recommendation of the sub-committee respecting cargoes was, briefly, that the State should undertake to insure merchandise in British vessels at premiums which should not be below 1 guinea per cent. and should not rise above 5 guineas per cent. A special office was established at the Cannon Street Hotel and began to transact business on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 5. At first the maximum rate of 5 guineas per cent. was quoted; three days later the rate was reduced to 4 guineas per cent., and it was again reduced within short periods, until on[Pg 266] September 1 it stood at 2 guineas per cent. At that level the rate remained until the last day of the year, when it was reduced to 1 guinea per cent.

All this time underwriters and insurance companies had been transacting a very large business at rates which were as a rule below the Government quotation. The Government scheme only applied to cargoes in British vessels, and then only to British vessels which were insured against war risks with associations approved by the Government. The State Office also would not insure vessels which had already left port. A large field was therefore left open to private enterprise, apart from the business which naturally flows to the cheapest market. For several months an enormous business was written on cargo across the Atlantic at only 5s. per cent., which compared with the Government quotation of 1 per cent. Coasting and other short voyages were also written at rates substantially below the Government quotation. It is understood that for the first six months, at any rate, underwriters had no reason to regret their operations in war insurance. Marine casualties were comparatively light and the year for marine underwriters may be regarded as an exceptionally good one.

The magnitude of oversea commerce may in the circumstances be regarded as highly satisfactory. For the twelve months imports showed a decline of 9.2 per cent.; exports of the produce and manufactures of the United Kingdom a fall of 18 per cent.; and re-exports of foreign and colonial merchandise a drop of 12.8 per cent. If the figures of the last five months alone be taken into account the imports declined by 20 per cent., the exports by 41 per cent., and the re-exports by 32.7 per cent. It should be remembered that the export trade was diminished by the embargo placed on many products, and also that the figures do not show the merchandise exported for the use of the Army and Navy. Taking the import and export trade the total values amounted to 1,223,000,000l., a decrease for the year of 180,000,000l.

All the railways of the country were taken over by the Government on the outbreak of war under powers conferred by the Regulation of Forces Act of 1871, the administration being placed in the hands of an executive committee of railway managers with the President of the Board of Trade as chairman. In return for the immensely important services rendered by the companies in conveying troops and stores throughout the country the Government agreed, if the receipts for 1914 were less than those for 1913, to pay such sums as, together with the net receipts, should bring them up to the level of 1913. On the other hand, if the receipts for the first half of 1914 were below those for the corresponding period, the amount to be paid by the Government was to be reduced accordingly.

Prices of foodstuffs, including wheat, generally were advanced[Pg 267] considerably at first, but declined when trade settled down into more normal conditions and on the regulation of retail prices by boards representative of the different trades which were appointed by the Government. Towards the end of the year prices again advanced, and in many cases closed at the highest points touched. One of the most interesting of the many measures taken by the Government in financial and commercial spheres was the purchase of sugar to replace the million tons of beet sugar which would normally have been imported from Germany and Austria. Roughly, about 900,000 tons were bought for refining and manufacturing purposes and for direct consumption, and, though the Government plan was criticised on the ground inter alia that high prices were paid, it has been widely recognised that but for the prompt action it would have been difficult to obtain adequate supplies, except from tainted sources. A Royal Commission was appointed to determine the selling prices, and a prohibition was placed on importation of all sugars, in order to prevent supplies reaching here from enemy countries through neutrals and indirect payments in return through similar channels. Evidence that Germany was receiving tea through neutral countries led in November to the prohibition of exports from this country, the action being similar to that previously taken in the case of rubber.

Life assurance companies were deeply affected by the war. As a result of joint deliberations they resolved to make no additional charge for war risks to all their policy-holders who had, as civilians, assured and have joined the Active Forces. For new policies it was at first decided to charge an additional rate of 7l. 7s. per cent. This rate was based on the experience of the South African War, but it proved inadequate for the risks of the Continental fighting. Gradually offices began to raise the extra rate, and by the end of the year some were quoting 12l. 12s. per cent. or even more, or were declining to write the business at all. A suggestion that the Government should assume the war risk did not meet with the approval of the Treasury, since it was considered that the Government was doing all that could be expected of it by increasing the payments to widows and other dependants of those who fell in the war.

The most urgent problem facing life offices was that of the heavy depreciation in their securities. This matter is being dealt with by the offices according to their individual views, but it is interesting to note that permission was given to them by the Board of Trade to show in their certificates the prices current as on December 31, 1913. Immense sums have been written off by the Banks for depreciation, and the policy of persistently feeding the reserves in past years will now stand all the great financial institutions in good stead.

Cuthbert Maughan.

[Pg 268]




Gambetta was fond of expounding to his friends a theory which about the year 1875 appeared sufficiently paradoxical—viz. that of all the European nations, France was the one readiest to submit to discipline and authority. He used to add, however, that she would only do so on one condition—that the leader should inspire confidence among his following. This assertion was definitively and emphatically verified in France in 1914, not only from the military point of view, but from the political.

In the political life of the nation a persistent tendency, remarked in former volumes of this work, was noticeable both before and after the general election towards the organisation of parties in a definite framework and with specific aims. At the beginning of August the war instantly suspended everything not in perfect harmony with what was termed "the sacred union of all Frenchmen in the face of the enemy." The same ardour that had been displayed by all the citizens for the success of their respective sentiments and interests in the sphere of politics was directed to the performance of their duties as patriots. The state of siege, the censorship, and the military dictatorship, were accepted by the whole people without resistance.

At the opening of the year the Republicans of the Left, who did not accept the decisions of the Radical-Socialist Congress of Pau (A.R., 1913, p. 291), succeeded in establishing that Federation of the Left of which the formation had been announced after the advent of the Doumergue-Caillaux Ministry. M. Barthou, M. Briand, and M. Millerand were its principal leaders in the Chamber, M. Ribot and M. Jean Dupuy in the Senate. The most compact group, which formed as it were the centre of gravity in the new association, was the Democratic Alliance, led, for several years past, by M. Carnot, brother of the former President of the Republic. Its framework was sound; it remained to be seen whether it could raise a sufficiently solid body of adherents and candidates to deprive the Radical-Socialists of their majority.[Pg 269] Just as the session began, M. Briand was elected President of the Federation. The election of the officers of the Chamber was awaited with some curiosity as to whether the Radical-Socialist party would claim the Presidency for one of its own members. But it did not do so. M. Paul Deschanel was elected unopposed, receiving 379 votes. For the Vice-Presidencies, M. Étienne, a former War Minister, and a member of the Democratic Left, and M. Dron, a Radical representative of the Department of the Nord, were the only members chosen at the first ballot. At the second the Abbé Lemire was returned, the majority desiring to afford him satisfaction for his persecution by the Clericals of his Department and the Bishop of Lille on the ground of his Republicanism. Finally M. Augagneur, a Republican Socialist, was elected, by a narrow majority, on the third ballot. Thus, in the secret voting, the Radical-Socialists were beaten (Jan. 13). In the Senate, the struggle was much less acute. M. Antonin Dubost was re-elected unopposed to the Presidency, and the posts of Vice-President, Secretaries, and Questors, were apportioned according to the traditions of courtesy customary in that Assembly.

The work of the Legislature was begun by the inconvenient method of breaking up the debates and alternating portions of them, on subjects of the most divergent natures, in the programme of the Chamber. The Bill providing for the defence of the secular character of the schools and the method of securing attendance was, however, passed, after the rejection of the amendments supported by the deputies of the Right; but one of its essential points, the transfer of the appointment of teachers from the Prefect to the school authorities, was separated and postponed to a future period. Another Bill, equally important for the future of the nation, that for the limitation of the number of public-houses, was repeatedly revised and mutilated; and the Friday lists of interpellations were overloaded, and the militant spirit of M. Jaurès aroused, by the ever-recurring topic of the Ouenza mines. The Senate had before it two great questions: the income-tax, and electoral reform. The ideas dominant at the Luxemburg were in explicit contradiction with the decisions taken at the Palais-Bourbon. The discussion of the income-tax ranged over a remarkably wide field. The majority of the members agreed in regretting that, at the very moment when the Government was urging the Upper House to begin discussing the question of an income-tax, it had laid before the Chamber a proposal for a levy on capital, the provisions of which must modify the measure which that House had already passed. This was playing into the hands of the opponents of the reform.

As regarded the Electoral Reform Bill, the antagonism between the two Houses was equally acute. The Senate Committee rejected the Government measure by a large majority, and the pending general election seemed likely to be still conducted under[Pg 270] the system which so many competent observers had condemned, without, however, agreeing on a substitute. In view of this eventuality the parties were already defining their attitudes. At the end of January the Socialists met in Congress at Amiens. They declared themselves against the revival of the former Combist bloc (A.R., 1902, p. 264; 1904, p. 253) and decided that the Unified Socialists should put forward candidates in every constituency, in order to ascertain the numbers of their adherents. The programme to be laid before the electors was to contain in any case three essential articles: (1) "opposition to militarist and capitalist imperialism," i.e. immediate repeal of the law enacting three years' military service; (2) a Franco-German understanding; (3) the maintenance of the secular character of the schools. Should a second ballot be necessary, the Executive Committee of the party left the Departmental Federations to decide whether agreements should be entered into with the middle-class Republican parties, but these latter must be required to adopt the three obligatory articles stated above. The Committees of the Right, on their part, proposed to organise, under the name of a national inquiry, what really amounted to a plébiscite on the method of election to the Chamber. M. B. Pugliesi-Conti invited that House to do this (Jan. 30); M. Jaurès caused general surprise by supporting him. The motion was opposed by the Prime Minister and by M. Briand, and rejected by 389 to 164.

An incidental feature of the debates in this first period was the prominence of military and colonial questions. Thus on January 28 the Chamber had unanimously voted the loan of 230,000,000 francs for the Morocco Protectorate. Public opinion, again, was so strongly manifested against the intention ascribed to the Russian Putiloff Company of placing itself under the control of Krupps in order to increase its capital, that the French Government intervened to prevent the German firm from becoming concerned in the manufacture of artillery for Russia. Finally, throughout France the keenest attention was directed to the discussion in the Senate on the interpellation on military aeronautics supported by the Senator representing the Department of the Loire, Dr. Emile Reymond, an eminent surgeon and a noted airman (Jan. 23, 27, 30). The serious defects indicated by the various speakers were admitted by the War Minister, M. Noulens, who formally promised to remedy them. As a security that this should be done, the Senate passed a resolution regretting the faults of organisation existing in this service, and expressing confidence that the War Minister would effect the necessary reforms by giving it autonomy.

It was only on February 9 that the Chamber reached the discussion of the Budget of 1914. By 440 votes to 67 the general debate was omitted in the hope of gaining time. The Departmental Estimates and the Reports of the Committees upon them[Pg 271] were successively brought before the House with unusual speed. But this commendable zeal did not last. On February 13, M. Lachaud addressed an interpellation to the Government on the sanitary condition of the Army, and adduced information on the housing of the troops, particularly in the Eastern departments, and on its consequences, of so grave a character that the Prime Minister was obliged to intervene in the debate. He asked the Chamber to suspend the discussion, and to vote the sums necessary to improve the clothing of the troops and their barracks. But all he could obtain was a postponement for eight days, during which most of the Votes were hastily passed. The revelations made when the debate was resumed (February 20-23) were so serious that the Government did not venture to ask for a vote of confidence. M. Augagneur then moved the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry. M. Abel Ferry proposed that this Commission should merely inquire what improvements could be effected while the Government should take measures against the persons responsible for the state of things revealed. The Chamber agreed to this solution by 389 to 29. The Government had evaded the conflict. It did not venture further to risk its fortunes in the Senate on the income-tax question. The general debate on this had taken up almost all of the Friday sittings from January 20 to February 25. All the party leaders successively had spoken: M. Caillaux and M. Ribot had faced one another in a striking passage of arms: and the competence and talent of the Upper House had been proved once more. The general debate over, the Senate decided by show of hands to pass to the examination of the clauses of the Bill. M. Perchot, one of the Radical leaders, put forward an amendment establishing impersonal taxes (impôts réels) on incomes of every class and a complementary tax on the aggregate income of every head of a household. It was opposed by M. Aimond, Senator for the Seine-et-Oise, and Reporter-General of the Finance Commission, and by M. Ribot, and supported by the Ministry. The Prime Minister, M. Doumergue, read a declaration asking the Senate to pass it, inasmuch as it corresponded to the wishes repeatedly expressed by the other House, and urging them, besides, to pass the pending fiscal reforms before the general election. He studiously avoided raising the question of confidence, and the amendment was rejected by 140 to 134. Next day, February 26, the Senate, to prove that it was not opposed to all reform, whether just or otherwise, adopted the first and second articles of the Budget; the land tax was profoundly modified in a manner favourable to small proprietors; it had been assessed by the Departmental and local authorities so as to produce a total amount fixed by the Legislature: it was now imposed at a uniform rate throughout France. A reduction of one-ninth was accorded to all income from agriculture.

The same evening, in a banquet organised by the Democratic[Pg 272] Republican party, M. Barthou set forth the electoral programme of the Federation of the Left—maintenance intact of the law reimposing three years' service in the Army; defence of the secular character of the schools, but without making education a State monopoly; representation of minorities. The Ministry in its turn scored a success in the Chamber (Feb. 27). M. Caillaux, replying to an interpellation on his financial policy, vindicated himself in one of his best speeches. He made a brilliant defence of his administration, boasted that he had restored order and abolished confusion in the revenue, and successfully met the attacks of M. Briand and M. Millerand; he was sustained by a majority of 329 to 214. Clearly the Radical-Socialist party and its Socialist allies were determined to maintain at all costs the Doumergue Ministry to conduct the elections; but it was equally clear that the real leader of the Ministry and its party was M. Caillaux, and it was against him that the Opposition concentrated their efforts, in the conviction that his overthrow would deprive the Government of its head. Full of confidence in his own talents and in his star, the Finance Minister exhibited a marvellous boldness in his manœuvres; thus, on March 4, when invited by the Senate Committee on the Income-Tax Bill to appear before it, he declared that he agreed with it in favouring the exemption of French Rente from taxation; the 3 per cent. Rente immediately went up. But next day in the Chamber, replying to an interpellation by M. Jaurès, M. Caillaux declared that he had merely reserved this question, and that he was firmly resolved to put a tax on Rente, as on every other kind of income.[5] A fall in Rente followed, and rumours of a most unfavourable character were circulated, though it was impossible to prove that the successive interpellations on the financial policy of M. Caillaux had facilitated speculative manœuvring on the Bourse. In any case it was regrettable that these charges had some verisimilitude, and the result was a marked revival of the Press campaign carried on for some months previously against him. The Figaro directed the attack; almost every day its political director, M. Gaston Calmette, produced documentary evidence of various alleged malpractices which M. Caillaux declared was not authentic, but it related to so many charges and was so precise that it greatly influenced public opinion, and weakened M. Caillaux's position. Finally, the conflict was concentrated on the part played by M. Caillaux in the Rochette case of 1911. It was whispered in well-informed circles that the Public Prosecutor in the Paris Court of Appeal had been requested by M. Monis, then Prime Minister, to grant M. Rochette, a company promoter, a delay in the prosecution for fraud instituted against him, and that, thanks to this, [Pg 273]M. Rochette had been able to start various fresh enterprises which had brought disaster on small investors. In the sitting of March 13, M. Delahaye, a member of the Right, introduced a motion inviting M. Caillaux, whose intervention had determined M. Monis to take the step referred to, to take legal proceedings against his accuser. The motion was opposed by MM. Doumergue and Jaurès, who alleged that it was merely a political manœuvre, and the Order of the Day, pure and simple, was voted by 360 to 135. But some days later (March 16) Madame Caillaux called at the office of the Figaro and shot M. Gaston Calmette dead with a revolver. This mad act necessarily entailed grave consequences. That evening M. Caillaux tendered his resignation, and M. Doumergue, after a hesitating resistance, was constrained to accept it. The Rochette affair was taken up again. In the Chamber, M. Delahaye formally demanded that the Government should either dismiss the Public Prosecutor, M. Fabre, or should compel him to take proceedings against the papers which accused him of showing undue favour to the accused. Seldom had sitting been more tumultuous or more passionate. M. Monis was questioned as to his attitude, and formally denied that he had intervened in the matter. Thereupon M. Barthou drew from his portfolio the letter drawn up by M. Fabre relating to the step in question and subsequently sent by him to the Minister of Justice. The Chamber then unanimously passed a motion reviving the powers of the Committee of Inquiry, but investing this body with judicial power, i.e., the right of administering an oath to the witnesses summoned before it, and, if necessary, of proceeding against them for giving false testimony. Naturally M. Monis was obliged to resign, and the Ministry was reconstructed. M. Renoult passed from the Department of the Interior to that of Finance, M. Malvy from that of Commerce to that of the Interior, M. Raoul Peret, Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of the Interior, became Minister of Commerce, and M. Gauthier, a Senator, succeeded M. Monis as Minister of Marine. Amid this whirlwind the work of the Legislature had not been suspended, and the Chamber had accomplished, after a fashion, the discussion of the Estimates of expenditure and had passed various social measures—a Bill organising a system of loans to small traders and manufacturers, the extension to women not paid by salary of the law providing a period of rest for women after their confinement, and the continuance to widows of the old-age pensions which had been allotted to their husbands. The Senate firmly maintained the positions it had taken up. On March 10 it voted the scheme of electoral reform elaborated by the Commission, which established scrutin de liste pure and simple; and on the 13th it rejected the tax on Rente by 146 to 126. Some days later it decided that the new tax on personal property, with the exception of Rente, should come into force on and after July 1, and that the reduction of[Pg 274] taxation on properties not built upon, agreed on by the two Houses, should take effect from January 1, 1916. Similarly two reforms were at last disposed of which had been for years shuttlecocked to and fro between the Chamber and the Senate. One concerned the measures to be taken to secure the secrecy of the ballot; the other restrained the abuses of bill-posting in the elections. The rest of the debates in the Chamber were less interesting; members showed that they were preoccupied with the elections. Thus, in passing the Finance Bill the system of licences to publicans was abolished, increases in salary were accorded to teachers, and allowances to postal servants, in spite of the factious attitude adopted by the associations and unions of these servants of the State. Finally the income-tax, which the Senate had not finally voted, was incorporated in the Bill. As it was evident that the Senate would not even begin considering the Budget of 1914 till after the general election, it seemed good policy—as is usual at the expiry of a legislature—to give pledges of liberality on the part of the Chamber to the most influential elements in the electorate. While this periodical comedy was played in the Legislative Chamber, a drama of greater poignancy was bringing into conflict the most conspicuous personages in the political and judicial world. M. Jaurès presided over the Commission; before it there testified successively, and were confronted with one another, three former Prime Ministers, the Procureur-General of the Court of Appeal, the directors-in-chief of leading Paris papers; and the result of the proceedings was a general conviction that in March, 1911, the Monis Ministry really had intervened to save a company promoter of questionable character from prosecution. The scandal caused was immense. In its sitting of April 3, the Chamber, after a short discussion, passed the following Order of the Day: "The Chamber, taking note of the conclusions of the Commission of Inquiry, condemns improper financial interference in politics and political interference in the administration of justice, affirms the necessity of a law making membership of the Legislature incompatible with other employments, and is resolutely determined to secure more efficaciously the separation of the powers of the State." The unanimity with which this formula was accepted deceived no one, for it was the Chamber that was responsible in the main for the encroachments of the legislative power on that of the Executive and the Judiciary, and it was known beforehand that no effective check could be applied.

The Legislature separated on the same day, after having voted supplies on account for May and June. To all the scandals of the session it added another by terminating its existence without having performed the elementary duty of passing the Budget for the current year. That circumstance alone was sufficient to deprive its censures of all authority.

[Pg 275]

The electoral period began, in accordance with the law, on Sunday, April 5. The outward aspect of the conflict was not without interest, though less picturesque than the Italian elections of the year before (A.R., 1913, p. 305). In the first place the law regulating bill-posting effected a real revolution in the mural propaganda. No longer did posters of many hues adorn the public monuments, the pedestals of statues, and sometimes the statues themselves: no longer did bills settle in the night like butterflies on houses up to their very tops, or fasten on the trees on the boulevards, one overlying another; there were no more battles between bill-posters; the municipal authorities allotted to each candidate an equal surface, measured out very sparingly, according to the number of the population. It was an egalitarian revolution in political manners, assuring that the poorer candidates and organisations should no longer have their views smothered. On the other hand, the campaign was much more severe than at the previous election both for the candidates and for their organised supporters. The political meetings at which speeches from opponents were invited were at least three times as numerous. The Unified Socialist party exhibited an activity which the other parties were forced to imitate. Three questions were prominent: the law re-establishing three years' military service, the income-tax with the declaration of the payer subject to official revision, and proportional representation. The result was that candidates' professions of faith did not generally possess the encyclopædic character or reach the extravagant dimensions exhibited in former contests—a proof that political education had progressed far enough to compel candidates to abstain from promises covering the possible, the impossible, and the purely Utopian.

The Ministerial programme was awaited with much curiosity. M. Doumergue was called upon by M. Millerand to declare definitely for or against the three years' service law and proportional representation. At first he observed a prudent silence, being, as a Senator, exempt from submission to the popular verdict at the polls. He declared that the Government ought to observe the neutrality which he had recommended to the prefects, but which they carried into practice hardly at all. M. Clemenceau, rather maliciously, added his entreaties to those with which the Prime Minister was persecuted, and on April 29, at a banquet at Souillac, M. Doumergue spoke for the benefit of the electorate. As every one expected, he attacked the Barthou Ministry, charging it with having obtained support among the enemies of the Republic: he boasted that he had himself secured the passing of a reduction of taxation on property not built on; he praised the fiscal reform effected, was very vague on the subject of the three years' service law, and declared himself distinctly adverse to electoral reform by proportional representation, even going so far as to eulogise the system of single-member districts which had[Pg 276] been so universally attacked. This speech added nothing to the prestige of the Government, and contributed but slightly to the guidance of its supporters in the pending conflict. At the beginning of the electoral period the Radical-Socialists seemed in an awkward position; attacked mercilessly by the Socialists and the Conservatives, they were in danger of losing a portion of their habitual allies, i.e. the Republicans of the Left, through the coalition formed under the auspices of the triumvirate consisting of M. Briand, M. Barthou, and M. Millerand. But an evolution took place of which the effects were destined to make themselves felt more especially at the second ballot. Brilliant in oratory, active at the very first, possessing abundant resources generously supplied by the members of the new Republican aristocracy, controlling almost all the leading Parisian and provincial papers, the Federation of the Left rallied to its support very many discontented and restless middle-class voters. But dissensions arose between its leaders; M. Briand and M. Barthou did not entirely agree. The latter endorsed candidates whose past career did not entitle them to term themselves Republicans of the Left, and who were also patronised by allies of very questionable political hue. The instance which excited most comment was that of M. Jean Richepin, who carried on a campaign of a most romantic character against M. Caillaux's friend, M. Ceccaldi, in the Aisne. Moreover, on the first ballots only 349 members were elected out of 602. Every party hastened to claim a victory, for the most conspicuous of the outgoing deputies had been re-elected almost everywhere. All the members of the Cabinet had been successful. M. Caillaux, who at the outset had withdrawn from the contest, had altered his decision and, after a hard struggle, had beaten his adversary.

After this there was the question of the second ballots. The Radical Socialists offered the Executive Committee of the Unified Socialist party to support its candidates in all constituencies in which they had even a single vote more than those of the party whose headquarters were in the Rue de Valois, and M. Ferdinand Buisson, one of the most respected of the Radical leaders, set the example by issuing a notice, the very day after the first ballots, inviting all his supporters to concentrate their votes on M. Navarre, whose defeat on the second ballot would otherwise have been certain. The Socialists refused to go back on the decisions taken at the Amiens Congress; the departmental federations retained full power to determine their own attitudes, a position which gave full play to personal enmities, and in many constituencies favoured bargains of the strangest kind between Socialists and reactionaries. The number of Revolutionary Socialists who owed their success to these combinations was estimated at at least one-third of the whole (May 10). Whether "improperly elected," as those were termed in the language of the Chamber who owed their success[Pg 277] to these dealings, or loyal representatives of sincere convictions, the Unified Socialists had none the less achieved a great success. They numbered 102 in the new Chamber; the Unified Radicals were 136; the Independent Radicals 102; the Democratic Alliance 100. The members of the various groups of the Right amounted altogether to no more than 132.

A Ministerial majority might, therefore, have been formed by combining all those deputies whose programme might be summed up in the formula, "Neither revolution nor reaction." The President of the Republic found himself faced by this problem when the summer session of the new Chamber opened. During the electoral contest M. Poincaré's authority had lost nothing. He had scrupulously kept to the part assigned him by the Constitution above party conflict. While it went on he had, as usual, proved on occasion a brilliant representative of the nation. At the end of April he had received the King and Queen of Great Britain, at the end of May the King and Queen of Denmark. The people of Paris had welcomed the British Sovereigns with enthusiasm, the Danish Sovereigns with cordiality. On May 24 the President had personally inaugurated the admirable Civic Exhibition of Lyons, and had delivered an impressive speech on the attributes and function of the head of the French Republic.

The correctness of his attitude had, moreover, found its reward in the fact that the question of the abolition of the Presidency of the Republic, which had formerly been prominent in the Radical and Socialist programmes, had now almost entirely disappeared. How, in the face of the new Legislature, would the essential prerogative of the Head of the State be exercised—the designation of the Prime Minister? In the first place, what would be the attitude of the Chamber? and what indication would it afford by the choice of its officers? While M. Poincaré went to Rennes to the meeting of the Federations of Gymnastic Societies, and defended the law reviving the three years' term of service, the Chamber began its session on Whit Monday (June 1) and, after an address from its oldest member, the Baron Mackau, it elected M. Deschanel, by 401 votes, Provisional President, and then proceeded hastily to the work of verifying the elections of its members. In two sittings, the Committees had examined a number of elections, and declared more than half its members to be duly elected. The regular officers of the Assembly were elected on June 4. The groups had agreed on the division of the appointments; the Right and the Extreme Left, i.e. the Unified Socialists, had no share in them. The strictest discipline was observed, and in a few hours the work was completed. M. Paul Deschanel was elected President by 411 votes, the largest number ever given for a President of the Chamber since the establishment of the Constitution.

The Ministry had already retired. Scarcely, indeed, had M. Poincaré returned from Brittany when M. Doumergue tendered[Pg 278] its resignation, rather against his colleagues' will. After some hours of consultation with personages representative of public opinion, M. Poincaré entrusted the formation of a Cabinet in the first instance to M. Viviani; but the latter failed owing to a persistent refusal to co-operate on the part of two young Unified Radical deputies, M. Ponsot and M. Justin Godart, who demanded a promise that the two years' term of military service should be restored after certain measures for giving military training to the youth of the nation should have taken effect; and they refused to accept M. Viviani's reservation, "should the condition of foreign relations permit." M. Deschanel, M. Delcassé, and M. Jean Dupuy successively declined the task; ultimately M. Ribot agreed to attempt it, and on June 9 the Cabinet was formed. It contained no Radical-Socialist, the group having definitely refused to co-operate. M. Ribot took the Presidency and the Ministry of Justice; M. Leon Bourgeois had accepted the post of Foreign Minister, M. Jean Dupuy Public Works, M. Peytral the Interior, M. Delcassé War, M. Chautemps Marine, M. Clementel Finance. The other posts were assigned to deputies who had never previously held office. The new Cabinet was immediately repudiated by the Radical-Socialist group, which determined to address an interpellation to it at once, and gave all its own members imperative instructions to vote against the Ministry. M. Dalimier was charged with the task of setting forth the reasons for this opposition. On Friday, June 12, the Premier read the Ministerial declaration in the Chamber, while M. Peytral communicated it to the Senate, which received it with courtesy. Far different was its reception in the Chamber, and the sitting that day, at which the German and Italian ambassadors, M. von Schoen and Signor Tittoni, were present in the seats reserved for representatives of foreign States—a circumstance which attracted much attention—was among the most astonishing in Parliamentary history. The venerable M. Ribot, whose physical strength was not equal to his courage, and the senior member of the Radical party, M. Leon Bourgeois, were insulted, scoffed at, interrupted at every sentence. To secure a hearing amid this organised tumult would have required the powers of an O'Connoll, or at least of a Gambetta. The "grand old men" who had accepted the task of governing were physically incapable of compelling the assembly to hear them. However, though individual extravagances found full expression, when the vote came to be taken party discipline made itself felt. Two Orders of the Day were proposed; one, purely political, by M. Dalimier and M. Puech, declaring the Chamber resolved to give its confidence only to a Cabinet capable of uniting the forces of the Left; the other by M. Combrouze and M. Pierre Berger, affirming the necessity of maintaining the three years' service law and pursuing a policy of fiscal and social justice and of defence[Pg 279] of the secular character of the schools. M. Ribot demanded priority for the second; the Radicals claimed it for their own resolution, and it was on this question of procedure that the conflict took place. By 306 to 262 the Cabinet was defeated. Amid indescribable disorder the Ministers left their seats. In other days, as an example of the instability of Ministries under Louis Philippe, it had been usual to cite the Duke de Bassano's Cabinet (Nov., 1834) which had lasted three days. M. Ribot's Cabinet, in spite of the talent of its Premier and his chief colleagues, had not endured even as long as that.

Its place was soon filled. The day following, M. Poincaré summoned M. Viviani, who at once accepted the task. His first step was one of pure courtesy; he offered a place to M. Combes, who refused, stating that he remained absolutely opposed to the three years' service law. The other political personages applied to by M. Viviani were less uncompromising. M. Messimy and M. Augagneur, who had taken a leading place among the opponents of the law in 1913, now agreed to carry it out loyally. On June 14 the Journal Officiel published the names of the new Cabinet. M. Viviani took the Presidency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; M. Bienvenu-Martin, Justice; M. Malvy, Interior; M. Noulens, Finance; M. Augagneur, Public Instruction; M. Renoult, Public Works; M. Thomson, Commerce; M. Fernand David, Agriculture; M. Couyba, Labour; the three departments of national defence were entrusted respectively, War to M. Messimy, Marine to M. Gauthier, the Colonies to M. Raynaud. There were five Under-Secretaries of State—M. Abel Ferry, Foreign Affairs; M. Jacquier, Interior; M. Lauraine, War; M. Ajam, Mercantile Marine; M. Dalimier, Fine Arts. Two days later (June 16) the Ministry presented itself in the Chamber with a declaration on the military law which left no room for uncertainty; it also affirmed the necessity of an immediate loan, and announced its intention of pursuing the policy of social and political reforms which had been victorious at the polls. An interpellation was at once addressed to the Prime Minister; in replying, M. Viviani, who manifestly had the wind in his favour, took the offensive, and declared emphatically that, if he should be still in office in October, 1915, he would not release the class which would then be completing its second year of military service. Heckled by M. Jaurès and M. Vaillant, both Socialists, and by M. Franklin Bouillon (Left) and M. Paul Beauregard (Right), he in no way modified his attitude. An Order of the Day presented by M. J. L. Breton, Socialist Republican, was accorded priority by 362 to 139. At the end of the sitting, M. Noulens introduced a Bill sanctioning a 3½ per cent. terminable loan of 800,000,000 francs. The Ministry was successful; the Socialists then proceeded to obstruct. At the sitting of June 18, during the discussion on the date of an interpellation dealing[Pg 280] with the sinking of the soil in several quarters in Paris owing to the work on the Metropolitan Railway, the disorder and noise were so great that M. Deschanel was obliged to suspend the sitting. Some days later a modification was adopted in the rules of the Chamber which gave ocular demonstration of the tendency of parties to impose a stricter discipline on their members. The Journal Officiel, by an innovation which attracted some notice, had given the list of the eleven groups composing the Chamber. It was decided that, instead of members seating themselves wherever they individually pleased, they must sit in the sections assigned to their respective groups. This was a return to the old tradition of the Revolution, which had given the terms Right, Left, and Centre their current political significance. It might be hoped that the change would facilitate the work of the President of the Chamber.

Meanwhile the Senate had worked hard at the Budget, which had been so unfortunately delayed; and the Government speedily obtained the vote of the loan of 805,000,000 francs (including expenses of issue) designed to enable it to pay off the Treasury Bonds. The various sections of the Estimates of Expenditure were adopted almost without alteration. On the subject of the Estimates of Revenue the discussion was more active. The Finance Committee, supported on this occasion by M. Ribot, asked the Senate to follow the Chamber in including in the Budget a clause involving the application of the income-tax (Art. 7-27), the declaration made by the taxpayer to be subject to official revision. In spite of the opposition of M. Touron, M. Lhopiteau, and M. de Selves, the Senate passed this important innovation, though without fully accepting the text bequeathed to it by the defunct Chamber. On July 8 it finished the discussion of the Budget; and for a whole week the two Reporters-General of the Budget Commissions, M. Clementel in the Chamber and M. Aimond in the Senate, had to use all their diplomacy to induce the two Houses to agree. In these laborious sittings M. Noulens, who was making his first appearances as Finance Minister, strove to obtain concessions from all quarters and to discredit the unfavourable forecasts of the Opposition. He confidently affirmed that the deficit of 1914 would not exceed 207,000,000 francs, which would be covered by short-term obligations; that the reception of the loan had been wonderful, and that it had been subscribed forty times over. The credit of the French State had thus shown no decline.

While the Chamber was revising the Finance Bill, the Senate had to deal with a question of no less importance. M. Charles Humbert, a Senator from Lorraine, addressed an interpellation to the War Minister dealing with the bad state of the matériel of the artillery, and the grave revelations he made caused M. Clemenceau to sum up the impression made on his mind in the[Pg 281] severe comment, "We are neither defended nor governed." M. Messimy, the War Minister, and after him the Premier, vainly attempted to modify the impression produced by the debates on this subject, and found themselves obliged to agree to an inquiry by the Senate Commission on the Army, which was requested to report when the Chambers reassembled in October. The impression made by these debates was considerable, both in France and abroad. Finally, on July 15, after a few meagre concessions accorded by the Chamber, and a much greater number extorted through the weariness of the Senate—notably in regard to increased salaries and allowances for teachers and postal employees—the Budget of 1914 was passed. It reached the formidable amount of 5,191,861,991 francs (about 207,674,479l.). But it is useless to give details of it, for it had almost at once to be completely set aside in consequence of the war. Its great innovation, the first application of the tax on income from movable property (valeurs mobilières), was also destined to be shelved, for the financial Administration eventually found itself unable to set up the system of assessing the new tax in time.

The Chambers broke up on July 15. Immediately President Poincaré, accompanied by M. Viviani, left on his important journey to Russia and the Scandinavian countries which had been postponed owing to the length of the Parliamentary Session, and which the force of circumstances was destined considerably to abridge. M. Bienvenu-Martin, who as Minister of Justice was Vice-President of the Cabinet, also took the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ad interim. It was a heavy task, complicated by serious incidents at home. The very day the battleship France arrived at Cronstadt (July 20) the jury of the Seine assembled to try Mme. Caillaux. During eight sittings, the dramatic and romantic circumstances of the affair, the revelations as to the political and private life of M. Caillaux himself, made by the testimony given and the documents read in court or passed round in the lobbies, made the Palais de Justice, at first at any rate, the centre of keen and impassioned attention. But all these scandals were pushed into a secondary place, and the acquittal of the accused woman aroused but few protests, in view of the anxiety caused by the enigmatic attitude of Germany in the Austro-Serbian dispute. On arriving in Sweden M. Poincaré was obliged to break off his intended journey to Norway and Denmark, and he reached France on July 29. His return was impatiently awaited; but unfortunately the evil was now past remedy. All the efforts of the French Government and its diplomatic representatives, in concert with the British and Russian Foreign Offices, failed to induce Austria-Hungary, in her demand for satisfaction for the murder of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, to respect the sovereignty of Serbia, or to induce Germany to influence her ally towards peace. M. Dumaine, the French Ambassador at Vienna,[Pg 282] had vainly called the attention of Baron Macchio, the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs at Vienna, to the anxieties aroused in Europe by the concentration of eight army corps along the Danube and Drina, and by the information circulated regarding the Note prepared by the Austro-Hungarian Chancellery. The answer given him was that the demands formulated, and their tone, would admit of the expectation of a pacific solution, and M. Jagow had told M. Jules Cambon, the French Ambassador at Berlin, that he did not know its wording. While the authorised representatives of the Triple Entente were concerting their measures, Austria-Hungary was acting; and on Thursday, July 23, it sent a Note to Belgrade, inviting the Serbian Government to agree to its demands within forty-eight hours. France made efforts to gain more time, but M. Jules Cambon informed the French Foreign Office that Germany was mobilising secretly, and M. Paléologue, the French Ambassador at St. Petersburg, gave his opinion that the only means of preventing the Germanic Powers from emphasising their provocative attitude lay in the demonstration of the solidity of the Triple Entente. In the result France associated herself fully and loyally with the efforts of Russia and Great Britain to avert the conflict and obtain an extension of the period accorded to Serbia for her reply, and also to persuade Germany to exercise a conciliatory influence at Vienna. All these overtures encountered manifest ill-will and the utmost coldness. The diplomatic breach between Austria-Hungary and Serbia took place on July 29 at the appointed hour; France at once gave her adherence to the steps suggested by Sir Edward Grey to prevent hostilities and to secure by the intervention at St. Petersburg and Vienna of the four disinterested Powers, that the Russian and Austrian Armies should not advance beyond their own respective frontiers. These efforts were paralysed by the hostility of Germany; Herr von Schoen, while declaring that his Government did not know the intentions of Austria-Hungary, gave it to be understood that Germany would not try to influence her ally. This attitude, and the information received from London, Berlin, and Rome, made France understand that the situation was hourly getting worse. Thus matters stood when M. Viviani resumed the direction of foreign affairs (July 30). While expressing the hope that peace might still be preserved, he declared clearly that, if Russia were attacked by Germany, France was resolved to fulfil all her obligations as Russia's ally. In response to the military measures taken in Germany, the Government hastened its preparations; but several days had been lost, and already the covering troops of the German Army were massed all along the frontier between Luxemburg and Alsace. To avoid any frontier incident, the French troops were ordered to leave a zone of ten kilometres between their outposts and the boundary line. But all the con[Pg 283]ciliatory proposals were rejected either at Vienna or at Berlin. Telegrams exchanged between the Tsar and the German Emperor merely convinced Russia that Germany had made her decision. On the morning of July 31, a general mobilisation was decreed at Vienna; for a few hours it was nevertheless hoped that Germany and Austria-Hungary would nevertheless draw back before the consequences of a declaration of war against Russia: Vienna hesitated, Berlin decided; and on Saturday, August 1, at the moment when Austria consented to enter into a discussion with the Powers regarding the basis of the ultimatum addressed to Serbia, Germany required Russia to countermand within twelve hours all the measures of mobilisation already taken. M. von Schoen invited France to state if she would support Russia.

Germany, which had already prepared for her general mobilisation by announcing the condition of "danger of war" (Kriegsgefahrzustand), decided on August 1 to proceed to this mobilisation, and at the same time her troops entered Luxemburg under the pretext of protecting its railways against occupation by French troops; and the German Ambassador at St. Petersburg delivered the declaration of war with Russia, thus rendering useless the negotiations between Vienna and the Powers of the Triple Entente. France then ordered a general mobilisation of her own forces, and applied to Great Britain, who undertook to protect the coasts of the Channel and the Atlantic against attack by the German Fleet (p. 171), The day following, German troops entered the territory of Belfort, and Germany required the Belgian Government to declare, within seven hours, whether it was disposed to facilitate German military operations against France. Finally, on August 3, at 6 P.M., Herr von Schoen delivered a letter to M. Viviani, notifying him that a state of war existed between Germany and France. M. Cambon was then instructed by the French Government to demand his passports and leave Berlin. To the last, and even in the practical details relating to international courtesies, the methods of Germany and of France were conspicuously different; M. Schoen was taken to the frontier by a special train—of which the Germans kept possession for several weeks; M. Cambon was subjected to treatment unworthy of a country with knowledge of the practices customary between civilised States.

France was faced by the most formidable war in her history. She courageously prepared to carry it on. The Government summoned the Chambers for Tuesday, August 4. The sitting was destined to have a decisive influence on the whole subsequent course of events; it showed how profoundly the German aggression had altered the opinion of the whole of France. All the disquieting forecasts which seemed to be supported by the debates in the Chambers and the party conflicts were found to be wholly[Pg 284] falsified. M. Raymond Poincaré, who some days earlier made a personal appeal to King George V. to use his great influence in favour of peace, the French Ministry now asked for the armed intervention of Great Britain in the interest of the future equilibrium of Europe. The German entry into Belgium compelled Great Britain to declare herself. The Triple Entente was transformed into an alliance, while the Triple Alliance broke up, inasmuch as Italy refused to be drawn into a war declared without consulting her. At this momentous juncture the attitude of France upset the calculations of her enemies. They had counted on two great causes of her inferiority, want of artillery and internal disturbance. As to the first, it was true that the German heavy artillery was greatly superior in the early days of the war, but, to compensate for this, the French troops, brought into the field a light artillery weapon, the 75-millimetres cannon, of which the manufacture had been hurried on in the utmost secrecy, thanks to an understanding between the Government and the Parliamentary Committees on the Army and the Budget, and of which the mobility, precision, and rapid fire contributed in no small degree to sustain the moral of the troops. Moreover, a vigorous impulse was given to the production of howitzers and long-range cannon which in a few months made up for the initial inferiority of France in these weapons. The dangers arising from internal disturbance and unrest were obviated very soon. The attitude of the trade unionists, and even of the Socialists, caused some anxiety to the Government. Towards the end of July the Executive Committee of the International had met at Brussels and had declared against the war. It had decided to hold a kind of congress at Paris on August 9; but the declaration of war caused this to be given up. An attempt at a trade-unionist demonstration in the streets of Paris had been forcibly suppressed by the police, with the entire approval of the public. Other attempts at disorder were made under the guise of patriotism, and a number of shops and stores were plundered; some arrests were made, and it was found that the nationality of some of the agitators was questionable. The murder of M. Jaurès by a wretched youth whose mental balance had been upset, had not the terrible consequences that there had been reason to apprehend. On the contrary, the horror manifested by the entire Press, the full justice done to the victim in impressive fashion by the Prime Minister, the loyal attitude taken up by the Socialist party, converted this great disaster into an opportunity for an imposing exhibition of the unity of the nation. But legislative sanction was required for the measures of public safety that the war compelled the Government to take. The Chambers met on August 4. On the previous day there had been some changes in the Ministry. M. Viviani, thinking—and quite rightly—that he would be fully occupied in the general superintendence of affairs, turned over the Foreign Ministry to M. Doumergue. M. Gauthier, for[Pg 285] reasons of health, left the Ministry of Marine, which was taken by M. Augagneur. M. Sarraut, a deputy and Governor-General of Indo-China, became Minister of Public Instruction. This rearrangement was not altogether happy. It left the Cabinet distinctively Radical at a moment when it would have been desirable to summon the two men whose return to office was hoped for by the public—M. Delcassé and M. Millerand. For a few days longer personal and party animosities kept them out.

The sitting held on the historic date of August 4 was profoundly impressive. President Poincaré's message and M. Viviani's address were received with enthusiastic acclamations; and the Bills necessary for national defence were passed unanimously without debate. There were eighteen in all; mention may be made of the following. One authorised the Government to issue decrees in Council of State opening the supplementary and extraordinary credits required by the needs of national defence, subject, however, to approval by the Chambers within the fifteen days next after their reassembling. Another provided for the grant of allowances to necessitous families of mobilised soldiers. A third authorised the extension of the note issue of the Bank of France from its actual figure of 6,800,000,000 francs (272,000,000l.) to 12,000,000,000 francs (480,000,000l.); another prolonged the period at the termination of which commercial bills would fall due. Another established the state of siege in France and the colonies. Another, again, permitted the incorporation either of commissioned officers or of privates of the Territorial Army into the Field Army, or conversely. Finally, there was a Bill to put a stop to indiscreet revelations on the part of the Press. When the Government had been invested with these very extensive powers, the Chambers were prorogued sine die, and the whole strength of the country rallied to meet the crisis, unprecedented in history, which had imposed this sudden strain. In the very first days of the war reassuring symptoms appeared. The Press resigned itself to strict censorship; the preparations for mobilisation were soon seen to have been skilfully co-ordinated; within a few days the regiments of the second line were ready to leave to rejoin the covering troops already stationed along the frontier. The great work of concentration was carried out with a marvellous punctuality and precision which aroused general admiration. The Northern and Eastern Railway companies adapted themselves most skilfully and readily to a task which was made even more complicated in that the German violation of the neutrality of Belgium compelled the French General Staff to make its principal effort in a different direction from that contemplated beforehand. The King of the Belgians on August 4 had appealed to France, Great Britain, and Russia to co-operate for the defence of Belgium as guarantors of its neutrality, and had declared that the defence of the Belgian fortresses would be undertaken by Belgium herself. There was,[Pg 286] therefore, reason to expect that the abrupt German attack in the north would be so retarded by the resistance of Liège and Namur as to permit the British and French forces to come to the assistance of the Belgians. Consequently it was decided that the French Armies should take the offensive in Alsace and Lorraine in such a way as to attract to this region the greatest possible number of the invaders. As it was stated that Austria-Hungary had sent Slav regiments to the Rhine, France recalled her Ambassador, M. Dumaine, from Vienna, and gave the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador in Paris, Count Széczen, his passports on August 10. By prolonging the ambiguity of her attitude for nearly a week, Austria-Hungary had hoped to compel France to declare war on her, and thereby to enable her to call on Italy to fulfil her treaty obligations. This measure, however, proved futile; for, by her despatch of troops, and especially of howitzers, Austria-Hungary had manifestly taken the initiative in making war.

While Belgium was holding back the invasion by the north, the French Army on the extreme right made its way into Alsace by the Gap of Belfort and the passes of the Vosges. It was commanded by General d'Amade, who had previously been in command of the Corps of Observation in the Alps, and who was available for other service owing to the certainty that Italy would remain neutral. The first conflicts were favourable to the French. Altkirch and Munster were carried, and on August 6 the French outposts were enthusiastically welcomed at Mulhouse. But the forest of the Hardt and the heights situated beyond the town had been protected by a very strong system of defences. While General Joffre, the French Commander-in-Chief, issued a proclamation promising the Alsatians that they should be restored to France, the German Commander, General von Demling, was strongly reinforcing his defensive positions, and the French were overwhelmed by a heavy artillery surpassing their own field guns in number and range. They fell back; the people of Mulhouse, who had openly welcomed them, were shot by the Germans without mercy. General d'Amade was superseded by General Pau; but it was recognised that it was through inadequate information that his advance had failed; and some days later he was sent to Arras. General Pau made great efforts to resume the attack, he was supported by part of the troops from Algeria, who had crossed the Mediterranean without incident, and had been brought to the front with praiseworthy speed by the Paris, Lyons and Mediterranean Railway; and also by the Chasseurs Alpins, for whom on the South-Eastern frontier there was nothing now to do. By three weeks' desperate fighting the French recovered the plain of Alsace up to the gates of Colmar, and obtained control of the high valleys of the Vosges. But meanwhile the armies of the Ardennes and Lorraine were attacked by forces so greatly superior that the continuance of the work of liberating Alsace had to be given up.[Pg 287] General Pau was ordered to retire. He contested every step of his retreat; created positions defending the passes through the Vosges, furnished General Thévenet, the Governor of Belfort, with the troops necessary to hold the enemy in check between the Ballons and the Swiss frontier, and emerged from the struggle with his prestige increased. On August 26 the French offensive in Alsace was suspended; and up to the close of the year this region took a secondary place. Strongly defended by the 21st Corps, whose officers had previously familiarised themselves thoroughly with the country, and by the Alpine troops, it became as it were the bastion on which the extreme right of the French Army might safely rest.

More serious consequences resulted from the miscalculation made by the French Government on the front towards Lorraine and Belgium. As it had expected a sudden attack directed on the right bank of the Meuse and along the Moselle, the bulk of the French forces had been divided between the Vosges and the Meuse. French Flanders was, at the very first, left undefended. The town of Lille was protected only by forts of which the construction dated as far back as the first conceptions formulated in 1875; not one was constructed of concrete or provided with cupolas. The heavy guns had been partly sent to the fortresses of the North-East or to the sea front. Maubeuge was better off, though its defences were not equal to those of Verdun, Toul, or Épinal, which were fairly good. Now, if the invasion came—as it actually did—by the left bank of the Meuse and the Gap of the Oise, the defensive position of the North would serve as a point of support to an army threatening the flank of the invader. Were this point of support lacking, the French would be in great danger of having their left flank turned. This danger was destined to influence the whole of the first part of the campaign, after the repulse of the French attempts to advance. In fact, contrary to the expectations entertained at the outset, the Army of Lorraine, under General de Castelnau, had not been attacked since hostilities began. Holding back the army of the Crown Prince of Bavaria, which had crossed the Schirmeck and Donon passes in the Middle Vosges, and was advancing on Lunéville, it had succeeded in forming before Nancy a very strongly entrenched front, which became famous as the Grand Couronné of Nancy, and then had moved forward in the direction of Metz. On August 12 it attacked the Germans at Pont-à-Mousson and Pagny, and drove them back on its left, while on the right it retook Blamont and Cirey, and then advanced rapidly on August 16 and the days following, retook the passes of St. Marie-aux-Mines and Bonhomme, occupied Sarrebourg, and pushed its cavalry forward as far as Château-Salins. But on August 20 it found itself confronted with the entrenched camp at Morhange, and met with a serious check. Its attack was stopped short by forces superior in[Pg 288] number, and some of its units were seized with panic. The energy of the commanding officers coped successfully with these weaknesses, and the retreat on Nancy was carried out in good order. By successive stages, General Castelnau retired on the defensive positions of the Grand Couronné of Nancy, and held it with vigour. For three days (Aug. 22-24) his position was most critical, and his army suffered heavy losses. On the 25th reinforcements arrived under the command of General Dubail. The environs of Nancy were freed of the enemy by a decisive counter-attack; and when, a fortnight later, the German Emperor himself came to preside over a series of desperate efforts to capture the capital of Lorraine, it was too late. The Grand Couronné held out; and the Germans were compelled to evacuate Lunéville, which for several days they had occupied. Nancy, Toul, and Verdun thus formed as it were a barrier serving as a support for the victorious right wing of the French Army while holding back the tide of invaders pouring in from Luxemburg and Belgium.

On the west centre General Joffre, the Commander-in-Chief, had, as it proved, to face terribly severe ordeals. On August 10 the Crown Prince William's army had entered France by the Gap of Tiercelet; it had invested Longwy, carried Spincourt, and encroached on the fortified area of Verdun; but the unexpected resistance of Longwy and the invincible strength of the advanced works of Verdun delayed its march, and thus permitted the armies of Generals Bülow and Von Kluck to play the leading part during this period of the war. These two generals had made their way into Belgium, and found themselves faced by the two armies of General Ruffey and General de Langle de Carry, which had the British Expeditionary Force on their right, supported by General Lanrezac. On August 15 Dinant was occupied by the French wing, which General Joffre had been compelled to push forward beyond the lines of defence he had chosen. It took more than a week for the two armies of Generals Ruffey and de Langle de Carry to reach the front. The great conflict took place on August 22, on the wooded plateau extending along the right of the Meuse. The Germans had had time to entrench and to bring up heavy artillery, the effects of which for a time upset the French resistance. The French losses were immense; some army corps, the 11th among others, lost almost all their officers, and were compelled to retreat. The Germans advanced rapidly by both banks of the Meuse. The fall of Namur (Aug. 25) and the sanguinary conflict at Charleroi enabled them to enter France. Their daring tactics, their use of armoured motor-cars, their superiority in machine-guns, above all the overwhelmingly large proportion of their effectives, allowed their opponents to do no more than honourably contest the ground, retreating all the time. On August 24 General Lanrezac retired on Givet; on the 25th the British Army took up a position of resistance to the invaders on the line Cambrai-Le Câteau[Pg 289]-Landrecies; but the day following it was attacked by five German army corps, and, in spite of the admirable behaviour of General Smith-Dorrien's division, it was compelled to continue its retreat. The situation of the Anglo-French Army then became extremely critical. It was threatened with envelopment on its left flank by a great turning movement of the enemy, who had masked Maubeuge and were pouring in by the North. Contrary to the views of General Percin and General d'Amade, and at the request of the civilian authority the fortified town of Lille had been declared an open town on August 24 and hastily evacuated. Flanders and Artois were swept by the cavalry and the advanced guard of the German Army; the bulk of the troops were advancing by stages of forty to forty-five kilometres daily (twenty-five to twenty-eight miles). All seemed lost.

This news produced an immense effect in Paris and throughout France, although the official bulletins were sparing of information, curt, and ambiguous, and no other source of intelligence was permitted by the censorship. General Joffre complained that he was thwarted in his plans by the War Minister; the Ministry seemed too exclusive in its composition at a time when mere politics were out of season. M. Viviani recognised the need and rapidly took his decision. On August 26 he announced to his colleagues that he proposed to resign, a step which entailed their doing likewise; but in his case it was a mere feint, for he was at once charged to reconstruct the Government, and on August 27 the Journal Officiel published the list of the new Ministry of National Defence. M. Viviani remained Prime Minister; M. Briand became Minister of Justice and Vice-President; M. Delcassé triumphantly returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in place of M. Doumergue, who became Colonial Minister; M. Ribot became Minister of Finance, M. Millerand Minister of War, M. Sembat took the Ministry of Public Works, succeeding M. R. Renoult, M. Bienvenu-Martin was given the Ministry of Labour in exchange for that of Justice; the five remaining posts were retained by their previous holders. To emphasise the wide range of the new combination, M. Jules Guesde, a Unified Socialist, was made a Minister without portfolio. As the Chambers were not sitting, the new Government published a manifesto to the French people. "A conflict is in progress which, though of supreme importance, is not decisive. Whatever the issue, the struggle will continue. France is not the easy prey imagined by the insolence of the enemy." The Ministry was well received. M. Clemenceau himself gave M. Delcassé some degree of welcome. The "sacred union" came to find a more sure foundation in the common danger. General Joffre grew even greater amid his trials. The energy he exhibited was beyond belief; and, what was perhaps a phenomenon without precedent in France, he remained popular although he required his armies to undertake the thankless task of retiring while fighting, and of[Pg 290] abandoning the richest and most populous regions of the country to the German invasion and German atrocities. Admirably supported by his subordinates and by General French, he superintended, without an instant of weakness, the strict execution of his programme. It consisted in holding on and lasting out; avoiding any decisive battle until the moment when the elements needed for success should all be present together, but giving ground without a real combat, so that the retreat should present the appearance of a calculated manœuvre, and not of a compulsory flight. Thus General Lanrezac and the British troops gave battle and fought hard at Guise and St. Quentin, while, on the extreme left, the army which General d'Amade had begun to reorganise passed under the command of General Maunoury, disputed inch by inch Picardy and the Beauvais region, and retired on Paris, while the troops of the 1st and 2nd military depots were gradually removed towards Brittany. Similar measures were taken in Champagne. General Langle de Carry and General Ruffey gave battle, and suffered heavy losses, respectively near Chateau-Porcien and Bazeilles; and the splendid behaviour of their troops retarded the progress of the enemy, and enabled almost all the rolling stock of the railways to be saved, with important results for the subsequent operations of the war. Finally General Dubail, firmly based on the fortresses of Lorraine, harassed the left flank of the Crown Prince's army, and the delay he caused to it proved to be an important factor when the decisive encounter took place before Paris.

In spite of their efforts, the French Generals did not succeed in stopping the furious inrush of the invaders. Paris was threatened, and, what mattered even more, the railways were choked. The great railway stations from which the traffic was regulated, and whose working in August had exhibited a marvellous activity and power of adaptation to new conditions, began to be overwhelmed with traffic. The provisioning of Paris and its suburbs was endangered. The civil and military authorities were overwhelmed by the influx of fugitives from Belgium and the invaded French districts, who fled in terror before the German atrocities. In these critical circumstances great energy was displayed by General Gallieni, the Governor of Paris, and by M. Delanney, the Prefect of the Seine. For a moment the idea had been entertained of declaring Paris an open town and making a stand farther back. This idea the new Ministry abandoned, and formidable outworks were improvised in advance of the forts of the first line of defence. Steps were taken systematically to clear the city of non-combatants; the numerous departmental associations in Paris undertook to despatch to the remoter provinces all the families who had originally come from them, while the roads radiating from the capital swarmed with motor-cars carrying wealthy families to the seaside resorts on the Channel or the[Pg 291] Atlantic. These families had been unobtrusively encouraged to leave by the municipal authorities, or had fled before the rumours spread by unknown means. On September 2 the Government left for Bordeaux, and the people of Paris learnt next day from a proclamation by General Gallieni, as laconic as it was emphatic, that he would do his duty to the end. But there was no need: for meanwhile the great Battle of the Marne had begun, and it was destined to relieve him from the necessity of imitating Palafox at Saragossa or Rostopchin at Moscow.

General Joffre had decided to retire, if necessary, as far as the Seine to check the invader, but a series of favourable circumstances enabled him to give battle before Paris on the North, and along the Marne and the Grand Morin on the South. At the moment when people were expecting to see the German masses press on the northern front of the entrenched camp of Paris and attack it by the space intervening between the forest of Montmorency and the Marne, they were seen to be turning abruptly to the South-East and transferring their efforts to the line of the Ourcq, Meaux, and Coulommiers. All was ready for its reception. On the left General Maunoury, reinforced by the troops of the Army of Paris and having on his right the British forces and those of General Lanrezac, now under the command of General Franchey d'Esperey, was about to hurl himself on the German right. At the centre was a new army formed since August 20 and placed under the command of General Foch, charged to hold the line between the Marne and the tertiary cliffs; it was faced by General Bülow's army. Finally on the right General Langle de Carry's and General Ruffey's armies, the latter now commanded by General Sarrail, were ready to receive the Crown Prince, who slackened his pace in his devastating march through Champagne. On the evening of September 5 General Joffre issued his famous Order of the Day: "A body of troops which cannot advance must at all costs keep the ground it has acquired, and be shot down where it stands rather than retreat. Under present circumstances there must be no giving way." On September 6 the fight began all along the line from Nanteuil-le-Haudouin at one end to Vitry-le-François on the other. The Germans advanced as far as Coulommiers and La Ferté-Gaucher, but, while the British stopped them at the crossing of the Grand-Morin, General Maunoury forced them back all along the Ourcq, and the Prussian Guard lost very heavily in the marshes of St. Gond. After five days of furious attacks the Crown Prince's army gave way, and, on the morning of September 11, General Foch re-entered Châlons-sur-Marne in triumph. Bülow and Kluck had been drawn farther back, and the French Commander-in-Chief was able to announce to the Army and to France that the battle was won. Paris was saved.

Meanwhile the Government had established itself at Bordeaux, and had invited the members of the two Chambers to go there[Pg 292] also, to keep in touch with it. Most of the deputies for Paris had preferred to remain among their constituents, and, as the session had been closed by decree, the presence of deputies or senators on the banks of the Garonne involved more inconvenience than advantage. There was some idea of sending the best speakers among them about the country to explain the origins of the war and the vicissitudes of the campaign; but the Press, in spite of censorship, was amply sufficient for this work; and the Ministry, though it prepared the two chief theatres of Bordeaux to receive the Chambers, if needful, abstained from subjecting itself to their control. This course, however, was approved by the great majority of the nation, which evinced a praiseworthy spirit of resignation amid the varied trials imposed on it by the war. Gradually France became accustomed to the idea that the conflict would last much longer than that of 1870, and that firmness and endurance were needed in the spheres of economics and diplomacy as well as in the actual warfare. The hardest task fell to M. Ribot, the Finance Minister. Means had to be found of supporting not only the Army and Navy, but the civil population, in order to protect from need those families whose bread-winner had been mobilised, and even those impoverished through unemployment. In the first days of the war committees had been formed to provide allowances for women deprived of a husband or son, and for their young children. These committees had adopted different rules in different places, and their proceedings gave rise to acute complaints. It was determined that the State should make itself responsible for the support of the families of the men mobilised, that the municipalities, aided eventually by the State and the departmental authorities, should provide subsidies in aid of the unemployed, whether by gifts in money or aid in kind—food, fuel and clothing. Great service in these circumstances was rendered by the Bank of France, whose aid was the more appreciated inasmuch as the issue of National Defence Bonds which the Treasury had striven to arrange on the first days of the war had not found entirely adequate response. The Ministers of War and of Public Works, M. Millerand and M. Sembat, were harassed by complaints on the subject of transport; the victualling of the Army and the provisioning of the towns seemed likely to be paralysed by the overcrowded condition of the railways and the ports. In defiance of the censorship, M. Clemenceau actively attacked the abuses set up by political or social favouritism, through which a considerable number of young men evaded their duty as patriots, and remained ensconced in the public offices, or were rejected on medical examination through favouritism. Provision had also to be made to replace the immense quantity of ammunition and war material consumed on the battlefields. The indefatigable War Minister grappled with the difficulties, the manufacture of heavy guns was pushed on with amazing energy,[Pg 293] and ample amends were made for the inferiority from which the French troops had suffered so severely in the first days of the war. General praise was expressed, too, for the skilful management of the supply services; the Army, well fed and largely strengthened by new levies, was enabled confidently to continue its work. It knew that the conflict would go on until exemplary chastisement had been administered to the aggressor. Far from keeping "the nation in arms" in ignorance of the causes and vicissitudes of the gigantic struggle in which it was engaged, the Government established and issued an "Army Bulletin," in the preparation of which the most eminent writers held it an honour to take part, and which gave the troops the most essential items of news and kept up their hope and emulation.

This, indeed, was eminently needed, for the warfare was just about to take on a new character little in accordance with the instincts of the French soldier. After the victory of the Marne, the Germans had at first been pursued vigorously, in spite of the fatigue and the losses suffered by the Allied troops. The Crown Prince's army had been thrust back into the forest of Argonne and was with difficulty holding its ground before Varennes; it held in great strength the commanding mass of hills known as Montfaucon, and was being considerably reinforced; but, in the centre, the French on September 13 hurled themselves against a formidable line of entrenchments, of which the eastern pivot was formed by the forts of Reims, while its right was supported by the quarries of the Soissons district. The forts of Reims had been precipitately dismantled by the French in the early days of August, and subsequently restored by the Germans; the quarries had been minutely explored for a long time before the war by German spies, and recently furnished with powerful guns. A new battle now began, termed the Battle of the Aisne. It was destined to last till the end of September; and it comprised two series of operations. One set was tactical; the armies whose alignment has been described above—General Dubail's in Lorraine, General Sarrail's in the Woevre region, General Langle de Carry's in the Argonne, and General Franchey d'Esperey's in the Reims district, forced back the troops opposed to them step by step, and fought battles in which the chief part was played by artillery, and which consisted in attacks and counter-attacks designed to carry fortified positions. General Maunoury and Sir John French held the Soissons district and made their way slowly along the Aisne and the Oise. But the Germans put new troops in the fighting line, and brought back from the Eastern front part of the forces taken from the Western front in August to clear East Prussia of the enemy. Further, they withdrew troops in considerable numbers from the northern Vosges, and sent the army of the Crown Prince of Bavaria to the north-west. All this caused strategic movements, responded to by similar manœuvres on the side of the[Pg 294] French. The Germans took the initiative as occupying a central position, while the French line overlapped theirs. They strove, therefore, to turn it, and to envelope the Allies' left. General Joffre replied by a rapid change in the position of his effectives. Reinforcing General Dubail's army by new regiments formed in the West and centre of France, and filling in full measure the gaps left in his former units by drafts from the depots, he despatched General Castelnau's army to the right of the Oise, where it took the place vacated by the British troops. These latter proceeded to cover Artois and Western Flanders, together with General Brugères' Territorials and the rest of the troops that could be spared from Lorraine, under the command of General de Maud'huy. These movements were carried out with great precision; and, by a curious coincidence, the French regiments from Lorraine found themselves faced by the same Bavarian troops that they had fought between Épinal and Nancy some weeks before. Thus was accomplished what has been termed the race to the sea, and a definitive check was given to the plan of the German General Staff for enveloping the French left.

While these immense movements of troops were being effected, the conflict raged, more especially at the centre, where General von Kluck was striving to break the junction in the square marked out by the French lines. Firmly established in the forts at the north of Reims, he had revenged himself for his inability to capture the town by bombarding the cathedral, on which, from September 13 to the end of the year, the work of destruction was to be persistently directed every time that a German attack was repulsed. In the Soissons district furious attacks were sustained by the British troops. The Battle of the Aisne, taken as a whole, ended in a success for the Allies, for the discomfiture of the Germans was such that the Emperor deprived General von Moltke of his post as Chief of the General Staff, replacing him first by General Voigts-Retz, then by the Minister of War. The Crown Prince, who had not been very successful in the conduct of the operations on the left, was replaced by General von Einem, and, after a mysterious eclipse, was sent to the Eastern front. The weakness of the German Army lay in the inadequacy of the chief command.

During October the chief interest of the struggle centred in the northern area of the war. The Belgian Army had evacuated Antwerp on October 9, and, with the aid of a landing force of British marines and bluejackets, and a British squadron lying off the coast, it had escaped the German grasp and retired, first on Ostend, then on the coast district of West Flanders. The Belgian Government established itself at Havre, while King Albert encouraged by his presence the remains of the organised forces of the Kingdom. The modest nucleus was destined to be increased rapidly by the reinforcements provided by the enrolment of all[Pg 295] Belgians of military age who had fled before the invasion. To these General Joffre added a new army under the command of General d'Urbal; and, as this vast distribution of forces required that the command should be strongly organised, he took two coadjutors; and one of these, General Foch, was charged with the direction of the operations of the armies of the North, the other, General Pau, was concerned primarily with the armies of the East, and might, if necessary, take his own place as Commander-in-Chief. Thus the French armies were satisfactorily co-ordinated and combined; and all was ready to receive the new attack about to be made, under the personal supervision of the German Emperor, against the extreme left of the French Army. Twelve Army Corps and four Cavalry Corps were charged to break its resistance at all costs, and to reach Dunkirk and Calais, which were to serve as bases for the invasion of England. Under the pressure of this mass, sent to attack in deep columns regardless of the losses thereby imposed on the assailants, the Allies' troops were at first obliged to fall back to the Yser, and for three weeks, up to November 12, the result remained doubtful. But already the method of attrition employed by General Joffre and Sir John French was having its effect. The Prussian, Bavarian, and Würtemberg regiments had not the dash or the homogeneity of the troops that had invaded Belgium and France in August. The officers, commissioned and non-commissioned, were of very inferior quality; the greater part of the effectives consisted of soldiers who were either too young or too old, and were badly led; the superiority in artillery had passed to the defenders. The Emperor had to leave this theatre of war after the same lack of success as had marked his previous appearances on the front in Lorraine and Champagne. The German losses in the encounters collectively named the Battle of the Yser were estimated at 120,000. In accordance with the custom set up by the Germans, their long-range guns requited the humiliation inflicted on their troops by firing on the monuments of antiquity, and bombarded and completely destroyed the Cloth Hall of Ypres, a masterpiece of the Flemish architecture of the fourteenth century.

On the remainder of the front the struggle continued, and took on more and more the character of a war of siege. Instead of operations in the open field, both sides dug themselves into interminable trenches connected by tunnels through earth or rock, and strongly protected. In the aerial warfare the French and British airmen encountered the German Taubes and Aviatiks; fighting went on for weeks to capture or recover a wrecked and miserable village or a ragged clump of trees. In spite of all their efforts the Germans were unable either to recover Soissons or to capture Reims, or completely to invest Verdun. In the last-named quarter, after capturing St. Mihiel at the end of September, they had been compelled to confine themselves within the high ground[Pg 296] along the Meuse, and to retire beyond Nancy, without, however, giving up all hope of returning to the attack. The winter campaign opened with the armies in this position of reciprocal defence. The war seemed likely to last much longer than had been expected at first, and to be a real war of exhaustion, in which the advantage would remain with whichever of the combatants displayed most obstinacy and tenacity.

However, it seemed improbable that the Germans would be in a position to resume their march on Paris; and the question arose whether the French Government should remain at Bordeaux. Indeed, in proportion as the war took on more and more the character of a chronic malady from which recovery would be lengthy, and as a renewal of the German advance against Paris became increasingly improbable, the inconveniences involved in the continued stay of the Government at Bordeaux were more keenly realised. In spite of the reticence imposed on the Press by the censorship, the bitter criticisms suggested to the people of the great south-western city by the influx of the strange crowd that swarmed round the public offices were echoed throughout France. Unpleasant comments were aroused by the contrast between the casual methods displayed in the fashionable restaurants of Bordeaux and the almost ascetic and Puritanical attitude of the people of Paris. The difficulties of communication hampered not only business, but even the action of the authorities. The deputies of Paris formed themselves into a group presided over by M. Denys Cochin, a Conservative member for the Department of the Seine; but it included also Socialists as well as Moderates. Without actually forming a State within a State, this body, unknown to the Constitution, speedily showed an activity with which the Government was compelled to reckon. It became the mouthpiece for all the complaints set up by the economic crisis with which Paris was struggling. Another group arose, that of the Senators and Deputies of the invaded districts. It made M. Leon Bourgeois its spokesman, and took up the defence of the interests, whether material or moral, of the populations of the North-East. The Ministry was quite aware of the hindrance to the war of which these particularist tendencies contained the germs; but they thought it more prudent to make terms. Various missions were entrusted to members of the Ministry; M. Briand, M. Sembat, M. Millerand, and even M. Viviani himself, repeatedly came to parley with representatives of Paris and the North-East. M. Poincaré twice left Bordeaux to visit the armies, and made one of his visits coincide with that paid by King George V. at the beginning of December to the British Expeditionary Force (p. 246). This conciliatory policy bore satisfactory fruit. The feeling of the public generally remained excellent. A generous rivalry was exhibited by the different Departments. Many Departmental Councils, whose session had been delayed in view of the war, voted[Pg 297] aid in money or in kind to the war victims and the refugees. The towns, the Chambers of Commerce, and associations of all kinds vied with one another in generosity, and, as the winter became more rigorous, paid ample contribution to the National Relief Committee, enabling M. Appel, its President, and his fellow-workers to meet all demands. In spite of the unemployment and the rise in the cost of living, the necessitous classes passed through this difficult time without great suffering.

Little by little, business began to recover. Great improvements had been effected in the management of the railways; from October onwards, the express services had been to some extent re-established on all the lines. In November the continued depression in the foreign exchanges had been stopped, the imports and exports were increasing again; so was the revenue from taxation, direct and indirect. On December 7 the Paris Bourse, which had been closed since September 3, resumed its operation for cash transactions. True the 3 per cent. Rente opened at 72.50, while before the closing it had remained firm at 75, but this latter price was due to the fact that the syndicate of agents de change had forbidden dealings at a lower figure. The market was not swamped, as had been feared, by the offer of enormous masses of securities; the provincial Exchanges, at Lyons, Bordeaux, Marseilles and other great towns, which had continued open while the Paris Bourse was closed, had quietly absorbed a great part of the stocks offered. The political situation cleared up likewise. On December 8 the Government returned to Paris. M. Millerand alone of all the Ministers remained behind for a few days, his department requiring rather more time for its transference. The Chambers were summoned for December 22, to give legal sanction to the measures taken since August 4 by the Government. Their Committees had never had so much work, for it was really on them that the control given by the Constitution to the two Chambers had of necessity devolved. Though certain persons were impatient and some ambitions were disappointed, the truce of parties was maintained. If the Ministers favoured the Committees on the war, on foreign affairs, and on finance, with certain confidential statements not quite in harmony with the occasionally ambiguous optimism of the daily official war bulletins in the Press, the secrecy of these statements was well kept; the measures taken by the Ministry during the Parliamentary interregnum were collectively judged worthy of approval, and the innovations proposed were accepted. Among the measures taken mention must be made of the decree signed by M. Ribot on December 11, restoring to the paying Treasurers-General the prerogatives and advantages lost some years earlier; they recovered the right of obtaining on their personal credit the capital advanced by them to the State to give steadiness during the first months of the financial year. Among the innovations we must note the abolition in the Budget of 1915 of all the[Pg 298] special accounts which had gradually grown up beside the account of current expenditure; repair of war material, naval construction, Morocco, reduction of succession duties in the case of direct heirs or of wives of soldiers killed on active service, and, finally, the suspension for 1915 of the complementary income-tax (p. 271), in view of the impossibility of completing, while the war lasted, the formalities prescribed by the Finance Act of 1914. On December 22 and 23 the Chambers unanimously adopted the proposals of the Government. They had received with acclamation the dignified declaration of M. Viviani on behalf of the Ministry and the entire nation, that France, together with her Allies, would carry on the war to the end, and would not lay down her arms until the provinces torn from her by force were for ever welded to their French fatherland. A like greeting had been given to the fine Presidential address of M. Paul Deschanel in the Chamber, and to that of M. Antonin Dubost in the Senate. It was under this reassuring impression of unity and concord that the year came to its end. For the first six months of 1915 the Chambers voted credits of 8,525,000,000 francs (341,000,000l.). They also postponed till the end of the war all the elections, including the partial renewal of the Senate, due at the beginning of January, 1915. Everything was made subordinate to national defence, by the entire nation as by its representatives. Meanwhile the allied armies, firmly fixed in their trenches as if in winter quarters, continued, without much progress but also without retirement, the war of attrition which was gradually thinning the forces of the invader and drawing away their strength.


At the beginning of the autumn of 1911, and at the calmly calculated instigation of Signor Giolitti, Italy undertook to conquer Tripoli; and thereby she obliged herself to choose between two courses: either that of frankly denouncing, sooner or later, the treaty forming the basis of the Triple Alliance, or that of extricating herself from it with dexterity. Never, perhaps, had Italian diplomatic talent found itself confronted with problems of such complexity; unquestionably, on many occasions during 1914, it showed itself surpassingly skilful. The situation was dominated by three great facts: (1) the eclipse of Signor Giolitti, and the resultant developments of the parties in Parliament; (2) the declaration of neutrality with the skilful manœuvres which led up to the Italian landing at Valona; (3) the death of Pope Pius X. and the efforts of his successor, Benedict XV., to guard the prestige of the Church between Austria and Prussia on one side and France and Belgium on the other.

Signor Giolitti had repeatedly expressed a desire to quit public life; at the age of seventy he began to feel the weariness[Pg 299] entailed on him by the difficulties of Parliamentary work. His determination was strengthened during the January recess. The Radicals were showing indications of independence. The Nationalists were agitating; their organs in the Press claimed that Turkey should indemnify Italy for the supplementary expenses entailed by the attacks of the Arabs in the Cyrenaica, who had been formed into military units by the officers and privates of the Ottoman Army who, despite the Treaty of Ouchy, had remained in Libya. They demanded railway concessions in Asia Minor, and M. Venizelos, the Greek Premier, came to Rome to confer with the Italian Foreign Minister, the Marchese di San Giuliano, on the subject of Epirus and the islands. The Socialists were making progress. On February 9 they secured the election to the Chamber by an immense majority of Amilcare Cipriani, who, by reason of the numerous convictions he had undergone, was ineligible. New votes of credit were necessary, and the day before the Chambers reassembled, the Ministry decided to ask the Chamber for new taxation, estimated to produce 47,000,000 lire (1,880,000l.), to be levied on buildings in construction, prices of admission to cinema shows, public carriages, furniture removers, and mineral waters, and also from Customs. On February 10 the debate began on the extraordinary expenditure entailed by the expedition to Libya. It was destined to last more than three weeks, and it would have dragged on longer, had not the Socialists decided to give up obstructing in return for an engagement by the Minister of Public Worship to introduce a Bill providing that civil marriage should invariably precede the religious ceremony. The debate was marked (Feb. 27) by a spirited encounter between Signor Giolitti and Signor Luzzatti. At last (March 4) the Premier summed up his African policy, and declared that he would not ask for a vote of confidence, but would merely request the House to pass to the consideration of the clauses of the Bill. His demand was granted by 361 to 83, with three abstentions. But some days later (March 7) the Radical group in Parliament adopted a resolution expressing the opinion that the time had come to lay stress on its distinctive differences. Two Ministers belonged to it; they resigned. The Socialists organised a one-day general strike in sympathy with the hospital attendants, a number of whom had been discharged; and at Rome this manœuvre had some success. On March 10 Signor Giolitti announced to the Chamber that he had resigned, and that the King had accepted his resignation. The Chamber adjourned.

The situation presented great difficulties, for the retiring Ministry retained its influence to the full, and its members continued personally to act on every branch of the Administration. A new Ministry had to be found pliant enough to accept its patronage, and with sufficient dignity to retain a certain degree[Pg 300] of independence and maintain the prestige of office. Signor Salandra proved to be the right man for the occasion. His financial ability gave him almost the authority of a Luzzatti; his reputation for enlightened Conservatism enabled him to obtain sufficient help among the members of the Right to make up for the hostility of the Radical irreconcilables. He accepted the task imposed on him by the King at Signor Giolitti's suggestion; and on March 20 the new Cabinet presented itself to the Chamber. It was a Cabinet of concentration, containing no representative of the Extreme Right or Extreme Left, and consisting for the most part of the late Ministers. At the Ministry of War, General Spingardi was succeeded by General Grandi, who had declared that he would be satisfied with an extraordinary expenditure of 200,000,000 francs (8,000,000l.) spread over five years, while General Porro, whose appointment was favoured by the Chief of the General Staff, General Tassoni, demanded 325,000,000 lire (13,000,000l.). The Finance Bills had still to be examined again; some days were required for their further discussion, and it was only on April 5 that Signor Salandra was able to state his general policy. Before a crowded Chamber, he expressed himself with a firmness and geniality which assured him goodwill; he promised a policy which would maintain the dignity of the nation abroad and secure progress at home; wise reforms, educational, economic, and social, an honest Administration, and strict management of finance. With some modification, the Civil Marriage Bill would be carried through. The Chamber approved this programme by 303 to 122, with nine abstentions, and adjourned (May 6). The Senate adjourned the next day, after approving the Foreign Minister's declaration regarding the expenditure on Libya and the expected renewal of the Triple Alliance, and applauding his statement that the interview between the King and the German Emperor at Venice (March 29) had shown that the period of effacement was over for Italy, and that her friendship with Great Britain and France was firmly established.

The Easter recess had been marked by an agitation among the railway men, which was successfully allayed by Signor Ciufelli, the Minister of Public Works; by an interview between the Foreign Ministers of Italy and of the Dual Monarchy, the Marchese de San Giuliano and Count Berchtold, at Abbazia; and by an Irredentist demonstration of students at Rome, Genoa, Florence, Naples, and other towns. Signor Salandra closed the University of Rome (May 6). The Budget debate began on May 7, with the Estimates for the Ministry of the Interior; on the same day the Bill was introduced imposing the new taxation amounting to 90,000,000 lire (3,600,000l.). Replying on May 12 to a violent attack on the subject of the disturbances at the University, Signor Salandra defended himself with energy, and the Chamber gave him its support. On May 19, on the other[Pg 301] hand, he took a conciliatory tone, promising that in the impending elections of Provincial Councils the Government would allow all possible latitude; but, some days later, in reply to questions put by Signor Colajanni, Signor Barzilai, and Signor de Felice, on the removal of the Prefect of Naples, he replied that the official in question had shown a lack of energy in the disturbances. This encounter was a mere skirmish; at the beginning of June the Socialists returned to the charge. Disturbances of a wholly exceptional kind swept like a cyclone over the essentially revolutionary areas of the Marches and the Aemilia. On Constitution Day, June 7, the Socialists organised demonstrations at Florence, Turin, Imola, and elsewhere; the army was insulted, the red flag hoisted, the troops fired on the crowd. The funerals of the victims intensified the disturbances; a general strike was called at Rome, but this was only the revolutionists' usual move; but what happened in Romagna was without precedent altogether. The State seemed to be collapsing all at once. Such towns as Ancona, and all the villages, declared themselves free communes; the authorities went into hiding, and, for some days, the excited insurgents were convinced that their example had been followed all over Italy, and that the Federal Republic had been proclaimed at Rome. The rising was promptly and severely repressed; the agitators who were most deeply implicated took to flight. At Rome the middle classes organised counter-demonstrations, and the Secretary of the General Confederation of Labour hurriedly sent out (June 10) a circular ordering the strike to be stopped. When the matter came before the Chamber, the Prime Minister demanded that its decision should be explicit and positive; a Socialist resolution regretting the attitude of the Government was rejected, on a vote by roll-call, by 254 to 112.

Amid the impression left by these events, the provincial and municipal elections were held, in batches, as is the rule in Italy, on the Sundays from June 14 to July 16. At Rome the Constitutional ticket was successful, as also at Brescia, Modena, Siena, and Reggio. At Rome, Don Prospero Colonna was elected Syndic; at Milan and Naples the Socialists won. The Parliamentary sittings became stormy; for the rest of June the Socialists persistently obstructed the financial proposals of the Government. Signor Chiesa (Socialist) even overturned the voting-urn; he was severely assaulted by other members and suspended for some days (June 25). Finally on July 3, Signor Carcano, leader of the Giolittian group, interposed, and induced the Socialists to give up obstructing. The vote of 90,000,000 francs was passed by 224 to 34; the minority consisted of Socialists, and 72 Radicals abstained. Two days later the Chamber adjourned sine die.

The Government remained master of the situation. Domestic policy lost all interest in view of the complications set up by the Austro-Serbian conflict. Italian diplomacy strove to secure that[Pg 302] counsels of moderation should prevail; but it was obstinately set aside by the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Office, and naturally resented this treatment. Public opinion was indignant at the violence displayed by Austria towards Serbia, and clearly perceived that the interests of Italy were gravely menaced by a complete break-up of the Balkan equilibrium. The Government refused to comply with the demand of the Socialists, assembled at Milan, to call the Chamber together, but on July 30 it mobilised the Fleet and concentrated it not at Brindisi, but at Gaëta. This was at once a warning and a concession as a matter of form. On July 31 the Austrian Ambassador, Herr von Flotow, notified the Italian Foreign Minister of the delivery of the ultimatum to Russia and France, and demanded information as to the attitude which Italy proposed to adopt. The Minister replied that Austria-Hungary had not consulted her ally, and that he could not answer before consulting the Prime Minister. The decisive hour had come. Two days later, on August 2, Italy signified her neutrality, her reason being that the casus fœderis had not arisen, inasmuch as Austria-Hungary and Germany had brought the situation to the point where it then stood by their initiative alone. The day following Major Kleist brought King Victor Emmanuel an autograph letter from the German Emperor. The King confined himself to declaring that his Constitutional duty was to support his responsible Ministry. Thus Italy took up officially an attitude of expectant and vigilant neutrality. She was destined to observe it till the end of the year, in spite of the pressure exercised by the advocates of intervention—Radicals, Liberals and Nationalists—who demanded an invasion of the Trentino and Istria. The Socialists, on the contrary, delivered impassioned speeches in favour of systematic and absolute neutrality. The armed peace and the economic disturbance required expenditure and special precautions. On August 4 a moratorium was established by decree; repayments of deposits and on current account were limited to fifty lire, and the maximum of currency issue permitted to the banks was increased. The resentment caused by this "betrayal" on the part of Italy was very acute in Germany, and still more in Austria; it showed itself by outrages on the numerous Italians employed in the mines and quarries of the basin of the Moselle, outrages in sharp contrast with the consideration and generosity of the French authorities, for which the Italian Ambassador at Paris, Signor Tittoni, tendered the cordial thanks of his Government.

The death of Pope Pius X., on August 20, gave the Ministry the opportunity of exhibiting an entirely correct attitude towards the Holy See. The Conclave opened on August 31. There were three parties in it; The Right, Conservative, directed by Cardinals Merry del Val and Billot, and inclined to vote for Cardinal de La[~i]; the Centre, led by Cardinals Pompili, Serafini, and Gatti, and putting forward Cardinal Ferrata; the Left, headed by[Pg 303] Cardinals Agliardi, della Chiesa, and Amette, hesitated between Cardinals Gaspari and Maffi. But the Italian proverb, "He who enters the Conclave as Pope leaves it as Cardinal," was verified once more. After sixteen ballots Cardinal Agliardi pronounced the name of Cardinal Della Chiesa, who was elected on September 3 and took the name of Benedict XV. He was a professed diplomatist, and had been a collaborator of the late Cardinal Rampolla. He had only been a Cardinal for three months, and was Archbishop of Bologna. He had to define his course of conduct in the European struggle almost at once. The Belgian Cardinal Mercier, Archbishop of Malines, was destined, in returning from the Conclave, to come into conflict with the Germans, who had destroyed Louvain and Malines, and who prevented him from communicating with his suffragans and his flock. Contrary to general expectation, the new Pope did not take up with sufficient energy these encroachments on ecclesiastical prerogatives. His policy appeared to be timorous and the result was a revival of Gallicanism among the French clergy. Thus, when at the end of the year the Holy See enjoined all the Episcopal authorities to cause prayers to be offered for the restoration of peace, it met in France with an almost universal resistance. The Bishops refused to allow the Pope's words to be read without qualification; they were communicated subject to the reserve that there could be no question of any peace which did not safeguard the rights of the French nation. It was a bad beginning for the new Pope.

In contrast with this weakness on the part of the Roman Curia, the Government of the Italian kingdom adopted an attitude which was at once pliant and firm. Germany had been unable to resign herself to the neutrality of Italy; she resorted to every possible means of reviving the Gallophobia prevalent in the country under the rule of Crispi. A leading German Social Democrat, Herr Sudeküm, was sent to the Italian Socialists on a mission of instruction; they protested against the destruction of Louvain, and affirmed their sympathy for France, the "defender of civilisation"; they declared that they supported neutrality, but that, if the Italian Army attacked the Allies, they would rise in insurrection. This clumsy move on the part of Germany seemed at the moment to produce no effect on the Italian Government, but some days later (Sept. 3) the Fleet left Gaëta for Taranto, and troops were concentrated in the neighbourhood of Verona and Brescia. As it was rumoured that, in the event of a breach with Austria-Hungary, Italy would be attacked by a German Army coming from the St. Gothard, Signor Salandra notified the Swiss Government (Sept. 24) that Italy, which did not exist as a State in 1815, would formally adhere to the recognition then entered into of Swiss neutrality. Three days later the classes of 1884 to 1888 were mobilised, thereby raising the total of the effectives in the Italian peninsula to thirty army[Pg 304] corps. At the same time an important change was made in the Ministry, General Grandi, who had not been able to come to an understanding with the Chief of the General Staff, resigned, and was succeeded by General Zupelli (Oct. 11), but, as the Marchese di San Giuliano died on October 16, a general reconstruction of the Ministry became inevitable. Signor Salandra resigned on November 2, and was again made Premier by the King. He made Signor Carcano, Signor Giolitti's second in command, Minister of Finance, and Signor Orlando Minister of Justice; and, some days later, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was accepted by Signor Sonnino. This latter greatly increased the activity of his Department; he summoned to Rome successively all the diplomatic representatives of the King at foreign Courts, and thoroughly convinced himself of the necessity of remaining for some time longer in an attitude of expectancy. The Chambers were summoned to sanction the financial measures taken by Royal decree, and to approve the international policy of the Government. The session was short, but productive. On December 4 the Ministry made a statement which was well received, and the question of neutrality was closely debated. The greatest sensation of the debate was the disclosure made by Signor Giolitti (Dec. 5) who read a despatch received by him as Prime Minister in August, 1913, and proving that at that time Austria-Hungary desired to attack Serbia and appealed to the Triple Alliance, but that Italy had refused her aid. Signor Giolitti concluded his speech by assuring the Government of his support, and thenceforward all its difficulties were solved. By 413 to 49 the Chamber accorded the Salandra Ministry a vote of confidence (Dec. 8), and thus it was understood that Italy was to preserve her attributes as a Great Power and to be ready at any moment to intervene if necessary. The Triple Alliance, which had not been actively denounced, was thus virtually dissolved.

To prevent Italy from turning against the Germanic Powers, the German ex-Chancellor, Prince Bülow, whose personal connexions at Rome were very extensive, was sent there as Ambassador Extraordinary, taking the place of Herr von Flotow. This mission, which was announced very loudly, was coldly received from the first by the Liberal party and the Italian Press. He waited to present the letters accrediting him as Ambassador till the Chambers had adjourned for the recess. The Senate adjourned on December 18, the Chamber on the 19th, after having accorded the Ministry the votes of credit which it demanded, passed the military Bills, and sanctioned a loan of 1,000,000,000 lire (40,000,000l.). Before the week was over, the Italian Fleet, under the command of Admiral Patris, effected without incident a landing at Valona. Italy did not yet side definitely with either set of combatants, but she took possession of an important pledge, thus signifying her firm intention not to allow herself to be[Pg 305] neglected when the time came for a final settlement in the Balkans. This was a first step; Austria-Hungary, which had so categorically opposed an operation of the same sort in 1911, on this occasion made no objection. Times were changed.


[5] The interest would be paid without deduction, but the holders of Rente would have to pay the tax subsequently.



Germany, the protagonist of the great European War, though she professed to pursue the same policy this year with regard to the quarrel between Austria-Hungary and Serbia as she did in 1908 and 1913 (A.R., 1908, p. 311; 1913, p. 321), now found herself in a position where mere threats, even if expressed "in shining armour," would not have sufficed, for her ally was entering upon a struggle on which she believed her very existence depended, and Russia had nearly completed the reorganisation of her Army, while Germany had made hers ready to strike at any moment. The Militarische Rundschau declared in July that "if we do not decide for war, that war in which we shall have to engage at the latest in two or three years will be begun in far less propitious circumstances. At this moment the initiative rests with us: Russia is not ready, moral factors and right are on our side, as well as might. Since we shall have to accept the contest some day, let us provoke it at once. Our prestige, our position as a great Power, our honour, are in question; and yet more, for it would seem that our very existence is concerned." This, however, was only the view of the military party and the Pan-German professors. The mass of the people did not want war, and it was only when they were deluded into the belief that the war had been engineered by the British Government, with France and Russia as its tools, that they were filled with a bitter hatred of England and determined to fight to the last in defence, as they thought, of their country. One of the most popular books in Germany during the autumn was one entitled "Edward VII., the Greatest Criminal of the Nineteenth Century," and all foreign newspapers and books on the war were rigidly excluded, while the fanatical outburst known as "the Hymn of Hate for England" was distributed among the troops in the field. Its author received a decoration, and its sentiments were held to be justified by the supposed criminal plot of Great Britain and her allies against the existence of Germany. The German Government of course knew better; Herr Maximilian Harden described in his usual downright way its real motives as follows: "We are fighting not to punish criminals or free oppressed nationalities, but to get more room in the world for ourselves. Other nations, Spain, the[Pg 306] Netherlands, Rome, Austria, France, England, have been at the helm, it is now our turn. It is folly to try to justify our encroachment on Belgian neutrality by saying that France and England would otherwise have done so."

The earlier part of the year was almost entirely occupied in Germany with the Zabern incidents (A.R., 1913, pp. 318-21), and the discontent in Alsace-Lorraine. Colonel Reuter and Lieutenant Schad were tried by a military court at Strasburg and fully acquitted (Jan. 5-11). The Military Court of Appeal at the same time reversed the sentence of forty-three days' imprisonment passed upon Lieutenant Forstner for striking a lame cobbler over the head with his sword, on the plea that it was only an ordinary military sword and had not been specially ground for the occasion. Colonel Reuter in his defence claimed entire responsibility for the acts of his subordinates, as he was "a Prussian officer and executed the orders of his King." He referred, apparently, to a Cabinet Order cited by the King of Prussia in 1820, when Prussia had no jurisdiction in South Germany; and the court held that this order fully justified his action, as it was applicable in every country where a Prussian officer happens to be. In Bavaria and Würtemberg, however, it was officially stated that in those countries there was not the slightest authorisation for independent military action in such cases (Jan. 14, 28). In the Prussian Upper House Count Yorck von Wartenburg complained that the representatives of the people had not displayed the national sentiment to be expected in the centenary year of the War of Liberation, as they were trying to strengthen the Reichstag at the cost of the Emperor, the Federal Council, and the separate States. The Reichstag was interfering in all directions, and had presumed to censure the Prussian Premier. Imperial laws were being passed by which "the King of Prussia lost more than the Emperor gained," and the Army must not be exposed to democratic impulses, lest Germany should become like England, which had "a life President at the head of a Republic." The Chancellor stated in reply that Prussia had never overstepped the restrictions she had placed upon herself in founding the German Empire, and that she was always supported in the Federal Council as the German dynasties were strong believers in unity. As to the new power of members of the Reichstag to put short questions to Ministers (A.R., 1913, p. 321), he promised to do everything he could to prevent the answering of questions from causing encroachments upon the Executive, adding that "votes of censure merely established the fact of a difference of opinion in a particular case between the Reichstag and the Imperial Chancellor." The Armament Inquiry Committee had "no right of control whatever," and it had been a great satisfaction to him during the past few weeks to see "how the heart of the whole Prussian nation is stirred as soon as the honour of the Army is affected.[Pg 307] To preserve this Army, led by its King, against all attacks, and to prevent it from becoming the Parliamentary Army of which Count Yorck has spoken, is the passionate desire of every Prussian who is true to the Constitution."

On January 20 the Upper Chamber of the Diet of Alsace-Lorraine, consisting almost entirely of nominated and official members, carried a resolution expressing the opinion that the trouble at Zabern could have been prevented "if the military authorities had dealt promptly and adequately with the unworthy, insulting, and provocative behaviour of Lieutenant Forstner"; also that Colonel Reuter went far beyond his rights, and that guarantees must be given that such things should not occur again, and especially that the law should be respected absolutely by the military authorities. In the Reichstag (Jan. 24) the Chancellor, in reply to Social-Democratic and Radical interpellations, said that in civil disturbances the military could, as a rule, intervene only on the demand of the civil authorities, but that "the Prussian Constitution recognised expressly and in principle that in exceptional cases a demand from the civil authorities was not necessary," and that it reserved the subject for special legislation which, however, had never taken place. The Cabinet Order of 1820, which was embedded in the Service Orders of 1899, was undoubtedly binding on Colonel Reuter, but in view of the doubt whether it was in accordance with the Constitution and the general principles of law, the Emperor had ordered an inquiry, and the Service Orders would be brought into harmony with the result. It was not true that Germany was under sabre rule, for the Zabern case was the only one in which the provisions of the Order had been applied. Alsace-Lorraine could not flourish except under a calm, uniform, and just, but at the same time firm, policy. The attempts to create differences between North and South must be nipped in the bud. Not one of the Federal States could exist without the united Empire, for which their fathers had shed their blood in loyal comradeship, all with the same enthusiasm, the same devotion, and the same courage. The debate was now mainly carried on by the Social Democrats, who indulged in the usual invectives against monarchy and especially against the Crown Prince, and the House finally carried by a large majority a motion of the Centre party asking the Federal Council to see that the conditions of military intervention in police matters should be determined with uniformity and in a way securing the independence of the civil authority. A National Liberal motion was also carried, asking the Imperial Chancellor to inform the Reichstag of the result of the promised inquiry, and referring to a Committee of twenty-one members Bills proposed by the Socialists, the Alsatians, and the Radicals in regard to military powers and jurisdiction. The Government answered these motions the same day by an official communiqué, stating that it was not the practice[Pg 308] of the Federal Council to discuss motions so introduced, and that "the Constitution excluded the Legislature from all share in any alteration of the military Service Orders." As regards the attacks of the Socialists on the Crown Prince, a journalist named Leuss was sentenced on March 5, to six months' imprisonment for an article entitled "Wilhelm der Letzte" in the Welt am Montag, in which he spoke of telegrams said to have been sent by the Crown Prince to General Deimling and Colonel Reuter as an unwarrantable interference with the course of justice in the Zabern affair, and described a farewell order issued by the Crown Prince to his regiment, in which he said that the highest joy of the soldier is to ride against the foe, as an outburst of bellicose feeling calculated to revive Republican ideas and to raise doubts whether the hereditary principle should not be abolished and Princes be pensioned off. The editor of the Socialist Vorwärts was also sentenced on March 6 to three months' imprisonment for a parody of the Crown Prince's farewell to his regiment. Another of the Prince's indiscretions was the sending of telegrams in July to the authors of Chauvinistic pamphlets which he described as "excellent"—one entitled "the Hour of Destiny," by Herr Frobenius, which called upon Germany to be prepared for a war in 1915 or 1916 against France, Russia and England, "who will not miss a favourable opportunity of attacking Germany," and the other by Professor Buchholz, inveighing against the "weak Governments" which had directed Germany since Bismarck and allowed democracy to make "frightful progress."

The decision of the military courts at Strasburg on the Zabern affair and the Chancellor's speech on the subject were followed by the resignation on January 29 of the Statthalter or Governor of Alsace-Lorraine, Count Wedel, and all the principal members of his Ministry. Count Wedel was succeeded on May 1 by the Prussian Minister of the Interior, Herr von Dallwitz, whose place in the Ministry was taken by a retired official, Herr von Löbell, formerly head of the office of the Imperial Chancellor and Prince Bülow's political manager. A new Army Order was also issued in April suppressing the ancient privileges under which Colonel Reuter had acted, but the new Statthalter refused in July to confirm in office the Burgomaster of Zabern, who had been re-elected by a large majority of the Town Council, and had defended the rights of civilians in the Strasburg trial. An agitation was now started by the Conservatives in Prussia for stronger action against all the border races. As regards the Danes the Minister of the Interior stated in the Budget Committee of the Prussian Diet on February 1 that the Law Officers had been instructed to keep a sharp control over the Danish Press in Schleswig-Holstein, and Danes from across the frontier were forbidden to go to the Danish club-houses on Prussian territory, even when not used for political agitation. Everything possible was being done to strengthen the[Pg 309] German element in Schleswig-Holstein. German proprietors were assisted by the State, German libraries had been established, and German elementary high schools on the Danish model were started in order to check the emigration of young people across the border. Further, on May 26, the Chancellor, in reply to an interpellation signed by more than sixty members of the Upper House of the Prussian Diet accusing Denmark of undermining Prussian authority in Schleswig-Holstein, said he must admit that as a consequence of the excessive agitation against Germanism the situation in the north was unsatisfactory. Prussia was negotiating with Denmark on the question of the people who have no definite nationality, but would cling to the determination not to accept them as Prussian subjects (A.R., 1907, p. 294). The dreams of an incorporation with Denmark would never be realised. Among the Poles in Prussia, too, it was a bitter grievance that though sermons might be preached in the Polish language, the Communion might not be administered in Polish, and in a Roman Catholic Church in the suburb of Moabit in Berlin about seventy Polish children entered in procession after the Polish sermon and sang Polish hymns, upon which the police entered and with considerable effort cleared the church. Another Polish grievance was that the German Eastern Colonisation Society (Ostmarkenverein) whose object was to strengthen the German element in Posen and Silesia, had been trying to carry the war against the Poles into Austrian territory in Galicia by inciting the Ruthenian against the Polish workmen, and on February 25 the police raided the two chief Polish newspapers in Posen in order to discover evidence of the theft of documents quoted by them in proof of the charge against the Ostmarkenverein. Heated debates took place on the subject in the Prussian Diet, but no evidence of the alleged theft was discovered.

Important statements on Anglo-German relations were made to the Budget Committee of the Reichstag on February 4 by Grand-Admiral von Tirpitz and Herr von Jagow, the Foreign Secretary. The former said that from the technical point of view he had nothing to add to or subtract from his statement of 1913. The ratio of 16 to 10 offered by Great Britain was still acceptable to Germany if it referred to battleships only; but the idea of "a holiday year" could not be realised. Positive proposals had not yet reached Germany; if they did, they would certainly be carefully examined. The naval estimates of foreign Powers had grown much more rapidly than those of Germany. During the last five years her naval expenditure had increased by 2,750,000l., that of Great Britain by 10,800,000l., apart from the expected supplementary estimate of 3,000,000l., that of France by 6,700,000l., and that of Russia by 15,100,000l. Herr von Jagow next stated that the present German relationship with England was one of thorough mutual confidence. In both countries there had been[Pg 310] an increasing feeling that they could work side by side on many points and that their interests met in many respects. The events in the Balkans and the negotiations in London had contributed much to this result, and people in Great Britain had been able to convince themselves that Germany was not pursuing any aggressive policy. On February 20, however, Grand-Admiral von Tirpitz stated during the debate on the Navy Estimates that it was "not only an economic and political necessity for Germany to have her ships of war abroad as well as at home, but a military necessity also." If in recent years the German Fleet had been concentrated in home waters, this was due "to circumstances which need not be discussed more closely," but he trusted they would be "more active," with their Navy abroad, and he reminded the House that the contemplated number of German ships abroad, i.e. eight large cruisers, had not yet been reached. On June 25, during the British Naval visit to Kiel, the German Emperor, after inaugurating two new locks for the Kiel Canal, which had been made two metres deeper and doubled in breadth, and had reduced the distance between Kiel and Wilhelmshafen from 500 nautical miles to eighty, went for the first time on board a British Dreadnought, the King George V., and hoisted his flag as a British Admiral; enthusiastic speeches were delivered in the Town Hall by Vice-Admiral Sir George Warrender and the President of the German Navy League, and the bluejackets of both nations made merry together ashore.

On the second reading of the Army Estimates a remarkable statement was made by the Prussian War Minister as to the manner in which the Army Law (A.R., 1913, p. 307) had been carried out. Between July and October they had to arrange for the accommodation of 60,000 more men and 21,000 more horses. There had been no difficulty whatever about the recruits. On the contrary, there were 38,000 men perfectly fit for service whom they could not take.... There were now only about 3,000 vacancies among some 30,000 officers, and he thought that all the vacancies would be filled within two years—or at the existing rate of competition much sooner. The Army Bill had created 10,000 new posts for non-commissioned officers. Six weeks after the Bill came into force there were only 4,000 vacancies left, and these would probably be filled within the year. There had been no difficulty about the purchase of remounts. The money voted for frontier fortifications had been duly spent, and there had been very little trouble about the supply of new accommodation for the troops. The health of the Army had been splendid during the past year. Although orders to manufacturers, etc., could not be given until July, everything had been ready so quickly that on October 6, 1913, five days after the new Law had come into force, all the new units were ready and perfectly equipped for war.

On January 13 the Reichstag discussed a petition of the Ger[Pg 311]man League for Women's Suffrage demanding that women should have the equal suffrage with men in the Reichstag elections and should be eligible for election themselves. In former years such petitions had been ignored, but this time the House decided to bring the petition to the cognisance of the Government as a compromise between a Social Democratic proposal that it should be submitted for consideration and a Conservative one that it should be ignored as heretofore, the Centre desiring to show sympathy with the movement without pledging themselves to radical changes. On January 15 the Budget Committee of the Reichstag rejected a Government proposal to grant an Imperial subsidy in aid of the preparations for the Olympic games.

The Reichstag was closed on May 20, the Socialists remaining silent in their seats, instead of leaving the House, as they had hitherto, while the other parties responded to the President's call for three cheers for the Emperor.

In February a private company composed of members of the leading industrial concerns of the Empire was formed at the instigation of the head of the Press Bureau of the German Foreign Office to "further German industrial prestige abroad," i.e. to supply the foreign Press with information favourable to Germany and German industrial enterprise. The sum of 12,500l. a year, the whole Secret Service Fund at the disposal of the Imperial Foreign Office for subsidising foreign papers, was added by the Government to the funds of the company.

In March, the Emperor William visited the Emperor Francis Joseph at Vienna, and afterwards the King of Italy at Venice. The chief feature of these meetings was the special favour shown by the German Emperor to Count Tisza, the Hungarian Prime Minister, with whom he had long conversations on Eastern affairs.

A discussion on Colonial reforms took place on February 18 in the Budget Committee of the Reichstag. The Secretary of State for the Colonies, Dr. Solf, said that after comparing the colonial administrations of the world he had found the British system the best suited to be a model for Germany, and he accordingly intended to strengthen the powers of the Colonial Governors and correspondingly to lighten the burden of the Colonial Office. Replying to a member who complained of the ill-treatment of the natives and the existence of forced labour, the Minister said that the Government was endeavouring to protect the natives, and had instructed the Colonial governors to abolish forced labour. The question was raised again in a full House shortly afterwards, when the Reichstag passed a resolution desiring the abolition of serfdom in German East Africa by January 1, 1920. The Government, on the other hand, issued a White Paper in March, saying that it would be a highly dangerous experiment to fix a date for the abolition. According to the[Pg 312] German law every native born after December, 1905, is free, and those who are still serfs can purchase their freedom for a small sum, usually between thirty and forty rupees, which their masters are not allowed to prevent them from earning; more than 2,000 purchase their freedom every year. The number of serfs now in East Africa was estimated to be about 85,000, but it was believed that in fifteen years' time serfdom would be extinct. To abolish it at the date stated in the Reichstag resolution would cost 4,200,000 rupees (about 280,000l.) in compensation to the owners, and leave many serfs without the means of existence. These arguments apparently satisfied the Centre and the National Liberals, but the Social Democrats urged that the Colonies were merely a burden, and that the sooner they could be got rid of the better, as they were useless as homes for white men and contained hardly 25,000 whites altogether. The increase of their trade was only 3½ per cent. of the total of that of German trade, and was less than Germany's trade with Cape Colony and with England's Crown Colonies; most of their needs were supplied from England, and they were not wanted for emigration, for Germany had no surplus population and was always importing foreign workmen. Finally, the Colonies were administered in the interests of unscrupulous companies which were exterminating the natives.

The usual crop of espionage cases came up in the first half of the year. In July a German sergeant was sentenced to fifteen years' penal servitude and expulsion from the Army for corruption and betrayal of military secrets to the Russian military Attaché Colonel Bazaroff, who suddenly left Berlin when the sergeant was arrested. He was clerk in the Engineer Inspection Office, and had sold plans of the fortifications of Königsberg and other places in East Prussia to the Attaché.

Herr von Jagow, the Foreign Secretary, in the usual statement of German foreign policy in the Reichstag, on May 14, referred especially to the violent attacks made upon Germany in the Russian Press, which had naturally led the German Press to retaliate, but for this the German Government was not responsible. He knew of no real Russo-German antagonisms and "had reason to suppose" that the Russian Government was determined to maintain friendly relations. As to England the negotiations "were being conducted on both sides in the most friendly spirit, a spirit which in other matters also prevailed in Anglo-German relations." "An understanding which removed possibilities of friction" was also being arrived at with France.

When Austria-Hungary sent her ultimatum to Serbia the German Emperor was on his usual holiday trip in Norway. He was informed of the text of the ultimatum by the German Ambassador at Vienna, but did not think it necessary to return at once to Berlin, as both he and his Ministers and Ambassadors[Pg 313] believed that Russia would not actively interfere and that England in any case would be neutral. He shared the indignation of the Austrians and Hungarians at the murder of their Crown Prince, and fully approved of the text of the ultimatum;[6] it was probably intended as a preliminary to war, but he thought the war would be localised, and if successful would remove from Austria-Hungary the danger of a "Slavonia Irredenta" (A.R., 1912, p. 338), which threatened her existence as a great European Power. It was not believed at St. Petersburg that he really wanted war,[7] and in the opinion of his Ministers at Berlin, the declaration of Austria-Hungary that she had no intention of seizing Serbian territory "would have a calming influence at St. Petersburg."[8] As, however, the situation became more threatening, the Emperor suddenly returned to Berlin on July 26, the day before the Serbian reply to the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum was delivered. On July 27, when Germany declined to accept the British proposal for a Conference on the ground that it would practically amount to a Court of Arbitration, she stated that "if Russia mobilised only in the South, Germany would not mobilise, but if she mobilised in the North, Germany would have to do so too."[9] As Russia would evidently have to mobilise in the North for a war against Austria-Hungary as well as against Germany, this showed that the Emperor William had now decided for war, and his subsequent acceptance of the principle of mediation between Austria and Russia by the four Powers,[10] and his assertion that he was "doing his very best both at Vienna and St. Petersburg to get the two Governments to discuss the situation directly with each other and in a friendly way"[11] were merely concessions to the British Government in the hope that it would be neutral. His bid for British neutrality (p. 177) was made two days after, and when it was refused Germany prepared at once to mobilise both against Russia and France, although negotiations were still going on between the Powers for a pacific issue, and Austria-Hungary had agreed to discuss with them even the basis of the conflict with Serbia.[12] On July 31 the German Chancellor informed the British Ambassador at Berlin that as the whole Russian Army and Fleet were being mobilised, Kriegsgefahr (danger of war) would be proclaimed by Germany at once, and mobilisation follow almost immediately.[13] When on the same day Russia issued orders for a general mobilisation, Germany addressed an ultimatum to the Russian Government demanding that the Russian forces [Pg 314]should be demobilised, and that a reply should be given within twelve hours. This, of course, meant war, which was declared against Russia on August 1, and a last effort to secure British neutrality was made by Germany on the same day. The German Ambassador in London asked Sir E. Grey whether, if Germany gave a promise not to violate Belgian neutrality, England would engage to remain neutral, and he even suggested that the integrity of France and her Colonies might be guaranteed, to which Sir E. Grey replied that he "felt obliged to refuse definitely any promise on similar terms."[14] Germany then declared war against France (Aug. 3). The day before her armies, which had for some time been ready on the frontier, had marched into Luxemburg, the Chancellor declaring that this was not a hostile act, but was merely intended to insure against a possible attack of the French Army, and promising full compensation for any damage done.[15] Luxemburg protested against this violation of her neutrality, but, of course, without effect. On August 2 Germany invited Belgium to allow German troops to pass through her territory, in which case Germany would guarantee the possessions and independence of Belgium on the conclusion of peace, and pay an indemnity for any damage done by German troops. Belgium rejected this proposal on August 3. And while Germany, on August 4, "repeated most positively the formal assurance that even in the case of armed conflict with Belgium, Germany will, under no pretence whatever, annex Belgian territory," German troops entered Belgium and summoned Liège to surrender.[16] The German excuse for this violation of Belgian neutrality was that Germany had to advance into France "by the quickest and easiest way," and that "it was a matter of life and death for them, as if they had gone by the more southern route they could not have hoped, in view of the paucity of roads and the strength of the fortresses, to have got, through without formidable opposition, entailing great loss of time, which would have meant time gained by the Russians for bringing up their troops to the German frontier; rapidity of action was the great German asset, while that of Russia was an inexhaustible supply of troops." The British Ambassador having, in accordance with instructions from his Government, then demanded his passports, the German Secretary of State expressed "his poignant regret at the crumbling of his entire policy and that of the Chancellor, which had been to make friends with Great Britain and then, through Great Britain, to get closer to France." The Chancellor, on receiving the British Ambassador's farewell visit, complained that Great Britain was going to war "just for a word, neutrality, which in war time had so often been disregarded, just for a scrap of paper, on a kindred nation which desired [Pg 315]nothing better than to be friends with her." All his efforts, he added, had now been rendered useless, and "the policy to which he had devoted himself since his accession to office had tumbled down like a house of cards." What Great Britain had done was "like striking a man from behind while he was fighting against two assailants," and he held her responsible for all the terrible events that might happen. When the news was circulated that England had declared war against Germany, the Berlin mob broke the windows of the British Embassy. On the following morning, August 5, the following message was delivered to the British Ambassador by one of the Emperor's aides-de-camp:—

The Emperor has charged me to express to your Excellency his regret for the occurrences of last night, but to tell you at the same time that you will gather from those occurrences an idea of the feelings of his people respecting the action of Great Britain in joining with other nations against her old allies of Waterloo. His Majesty also begs that you will tell the King that he has been proud of the titles of British Field-Marshal and British Admiral, but that in consequence of what has occurred he must now at once divest himself of those titles.

A second attempt was made by Germany on August 10, after the capture of Liège, to obtain the consent of Belgium to the German armies passing through Belgian territory on the understanding that "Germany would evacuate Belgium as soon as the state of war will allow her to do so," but this proposal was also rejected by the Belgian Government (Belgian Grey Book, Nos. 62 to 65).

A German "White Paper" was issued in August under the title "How the Franco-German Conflict could have been Avoided," which contained the telegrams exchanged between Prince Henry of Prussia, the King of England, and the German Emperor before the outbreak of the war. It was issued from the Government printing office in Berlin in English, not in German. Prince Henry's telegram to the King, dated Berlin, July 30, stated that the Emperor his brother "is much preoccupied" and "is trying his utmost" to fulfil the Tsar's appeal to him to "work for the maintenance of peace," adding that Germany has "taken no measures, but may be forced to do so any moment should our neighbours [France and Russia] continue," and urging the King to use his influence on France and Russia "to keep neutral." The Emperor, he concluded, "is most sincere in his endeavours to maintain peace," but "the military preparations of his two neighbours may at last force him to follow their example for the safety of his own country, which would otherwise remain defenceless." A telegram from the German Emperor to the King, dated July 31, stated that the proposals of the British Government (that Russia and France should suspe