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Space does not permit any detailed reference to these attractive titles, but there is one essay that is particularly timely, in which the author discusses “the growth of an Imperial Parliament." This admirable chapter is the Creighton Lecture, delivered before the University of London in October, 1916. The doctrine of the essay, if it is permissible to use so formidable a term—the idea that is expanded and illustrated by the lecturer, is closely connected with the conviction which led him to choose as a title for his volume, “The Commonwealth at War," rather than “The Empire at War." In one of the following chapters the writer recalls the well-known jest of Voltaire that the Holy Roman Empire was so-called because it was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire, which he makes good use of as his introduction to a reminder that “the British Empire is only an empire in a sense which makes nonsense of the word; for it is like no other empire that ever existed, and it would certainly smell as sweet if called by any other name.” The substance of this Creighton lecture, then, is a convincing historical argument against the school of Colonial and perhaps the smaller one of Imperial thinkers and publicists who are anxious to bring about some more definite constitutional relations than those which now exist between the mother-country and the so-called colonies of the empire. Without condemning entirely the desire evinced by this class of political thinkers for some conscious and deliberate effort in the promotion of Imperial unity, he administers a very timely and useful lesson to them by explaining the bearing of the antithesis between growth and manufacture upon the past and future of British parliamentary institutions. “If our forefathers consciously created first an English and then a British parliament to meet the needs of these islands, then,” says the writer, “we may hope by conscious effort to create a new Imperial parliament to satisfy the wider claims of a British empire. If, on the other hand, Parliament as it exists to-day was never designed or created by any conscious volition, then the argument in favor of the possibility of a new and special creation loses some of its force."
His illustrations of the development of British institutions by growth rather than by manufacture are most striking, and some of them must prove surprising to all but the best-instructed of historical scholars. It is no new discovery that Alfred the Great was not the inventor of trial by jury; that it was not an Anglo-Saxon institution at all, nor a popular institution designed to protect the liberty of the subject, but a royal expedient, introduced from abroad in the interests of the treasury. Possibly it is not so well-known that Henry II developed our judicial system, not for the sake of justice, but for the rewards or fines which justice brought into the royal exchequer, the incidental development of the beginnings of a system of common law being merely a by-product of his judicial establishment. “None of the great elements of the British constitution was deliberately made.” “The history of Parliament is a record of human action in which human design has played an almost insignificant part.” “No one designed either the House of Lords or the House of Commons." The British Cabinet, as everybody knows, for Macaulay told us that many years ago, is an institution wholly unauthorized by any written statute or resolution or record or any writing of any kind whatsoever. “The premiership was regarded as an obnoxious importation from France. George Grenville declared it an odious title, and Lord North forbade its use in his household."
Coming to closer quarters with the problem of Imperial consolidation, the lecturer points out among other things how well the British Empire got along when the ties between the homeland and the British colonies were similar to the present relations between Britain and Canada, how tragically it fell to pieces when Grenville and Townshend insisted on regularizing the relations between the mother and the daughter and “reducing to logical form the heterogeneous substance" of the commonwealth. Before Grenville's financial pedantry set the colonies and the motherland by the ears the New Englanders were the mainstay of the Imperial fabric on this side of the Atlantic. Nicholson, with his fleet and his New England troops, had captured Port Royal in 1710 and changed its name to Annapolis, in honor of the reigning sovereign. Governor Shirley, of Massachusetts, had sent out Sir William Pepperel to take Louisbourg from the French in 1745. If well enough had been let alone and the “salutary neglect” of the colonies had only been permitted to continue there would not have been the hundred and more years of alienation which required the agony of a world-wide war in order to completely cure it. Surely, in the light of such a lesson, and with the experience of the splendid results achieved in the European war under the loose and voluntary system or want of system which is at present enjoyed throughout the British Commonwealth the burden is upon those who call for any radical operation in the way of regularizing the relations between its various constituents. Professor Pollard looks to the Privy Council as an agency through which may possibly be brought about the wider, all-embracing parliament of the whole united commonwealth. His discussion of this possibility is unconvincing. More to the purpose, and as eloquent as it is convincing, is the closing paragraph of this splendid lecture—“Essential unity has come in bountiful measure to British realms in this war, not because they sought that unity for itself but because they found it in the pursuit of a common ideal, in the defence of a common principle; formal unity may come in the course of time, but not because we strive to create it. It will grow as the outward sign of an inward grace, achieved through a communion of service and self-sacrifice for the Commonwealth of nations and the common weal of man.”
Reports to the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907. Publication of
the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Division of International Law. Edited, with an introduction, by James Brown Scott, Director. Oxford: At the Clarendon Press. 1917. pp. xxxii, 940.
When the Third Hague Peace Conference convenes it will be confronted with a task of reconstruction. Of the conventions concluded by the earlier Conferences of 1899 and 1907, the agreements concerning belligerent rights and duties have proven ineffectual since August, 1914, partly because of a Teutonic determination to brook no interference with strategic aims or military achievement, and partly also because the conventions were the product of an endeavor to secure harmony of action at the expense of principle.
It has become, therefore, necessary to examine afresh, in the light of the European War, what was proposed as well as what was agreed upon in 1899 and 1907. The publication of the Reports to the Hague Conferences issued by the Carnegie Endowment and edited by Dr. Scott serves to bring home the task of examination and criticism to American students generally.
The volume embraces an English translation of the “official explanatory and interpretative commentary accompanying the draft conventions and declarations submitted to the conferences by the several commissions charged with preparing them, together with the texts
of the final acts, conventions and declarations as signed, and of the principal proposals offered by the delegations of the various powers as well as of other documents laid before the commissions."
The reports may serve to attract attention in the United States to the efforts of certain powers in 1907 to minimize restrictions tending to interfere with belligerent claims. Formal manifestations of intolerance were at times concealed, however, under the cloak of professions of a determination to respect the dictates of humanity. The remarks of Baron Marschall von Bieberstein, of the German delegation, on the codification of rules concerning mines may be cited:
That a belligerent who lays mines assumes a very heavy responsibility toward neutrals and toward peaceful shipping is a point on which we all agree. No one will resort to this instrument of warfare unless for military reasons of an absolutely urgent character. But military acts are not solely governed by stipulations of international law. There are other facts. Conscience, good sense, and the sense of duty imposed by principles of humanity will be the surest guides for the conduct of sailors and will constitute the most effective guarantee against abuses. The officers of the German navy, I loudly proclaim it, will always fulfil, in the strictest fashion, the duties which emanate from the unwritten law of humanity and civilization (p. 692).
In his extended preface the editor has called attention to the instructions given by Secretary Root to the American delegation in 1907, who declared that “among the most valuable services rendered to civilization by the Second Conference will be found the progress made in matters upon which the delegates reach no definite agreement.” Events have proven the truth of this assertion. The reports to that Conference, in so far as they illustrate the influence of national policies upon the formulation of desired codes of law, remain of utmost value and are to be reckoned with in any future attempt to effect codification.
Dr. Scott has commented adversely on the situation which permitted the President of the Second Conference, Mr. Nelidow, the first Russian delegate, to regulate its procedure and to propose the Secretary General and certain other officers. In this connection it is said:
The president of a continental assembly believes it to be his duty to run the congress, and he faithfully performs this part of his duty. He is as far removed as the poles from the Anglo-American conception of the chairman, who is merely the presiding officer of the meeting. These matters will no doubt be satisfactorily arranged by the preparatory committee for the Third Conference, in which it is to be hoped that there will be representatives of countries other than the friends of friends.
The chief contribution of the United States to the Second Hague Peace Conference concerned matters pertaining to the pacific settlement of international disputes; and that contribution was not in vain, even though no convention applying the principle of obligatory arbitration or setting in operation the proposed Court of Arbitral Justice was concluded. The reports issued by the Carnegie Endowment offer the means of wide and thorough examination in America of that work, and which would otherwise be necessarily confined to the small group of scholars having access to the official proceedings of the Second Conference (known as La Deuxième Conférence Internationale de la Paix, Actes et Documents). The reports also inspire hope of a more popular interest and concern in what should be the policy of the United States respecting the modification and formulation of the laws of war on land and sea than would otherwise be possible. It is a difficult task to create in any country an enlightened and therefore sound opinion on technical problems of international law, and one really useful to the government burdened with the formulation of a constructive policy. In the United States this difficulty has been serious. The reports to the Hague Conferences offer aid in its solution; for there is now placed within the reach of the American public a simple and direct means of comparing the theories advocated from day to day in various quarters, with the discussions of statesmen reflecting every shade of opinion within less than seven years of the outbreak of the European War. By this accomplishment the Carnegie Endowment and its editor have rendered a distinctly useful service, to which the reviewer acknowledges his own indebtedness.
Tables of signatures, ratifications, adhesions and reservations to the conventions and declarations of the Conferences of 1899 and 1907, are given. An index of persons as well as a general index are appended. The translations of the reports and annexes thereof are the work of Messrs. W. Clayton Carpenter, Henry G. Crocker and George D. Gregory.
CHARLES CHENEY HYDE.