« ПретходнаНастави »
bantling for which he claimed parentage was allowed to be strangled before his eyes.
One other point is worthy of notice. When Lord Panmure abused the telegraph, not previously employed in war, by sending silly telegrams to Lord Raglan in the Crimea, a fear arose that this rapid communication might cause interference from home with the commanders in the field. Fortunately this apprehension has been set at rest. Both Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener put it on record after the South African War that, while they had been left quite unfettered as to operations, they had found the power of interchanging views at any moment with the home authorities of great value. The conviction is forced upon us that a fresh danger has arisen. In this crisis far too much appears to have hung on the wording of telegraphic messages, and too little effort was made, so far as the report shows, to verify by personal communications the opinions expressed and to discuss the steps consequent upon them. An impartial person acting as ' liaison officer' between the Ministry and the Officer Commanding in the Dardanelles would have discovered in time and obviated the fatal errors which ensued on the general instructions to attack with which the commanders so literally and so gallantly complied.
Of one thing we may be assured—that the public will not allow the report of the Dardanelles Commission to be dismissed in the spirit shown by certain sections of the House of Commons on March 20th. The late Government did not grant this enquiry till the feeling in the country, expressed in the House of Commons itself, had reached such a pitch that it was impossible any longer to refuse it. There has been no hesitation on the part of the Ministry in suspending from further employment in the campaign officers whom they conceived to be responsible for these failures. If a portion of the blame, and apparently a considerable portion, lies on civilians higher up, it is preposterous to suggest that they should be allowed to smother their mistakes and retain their former prestige until the close of the war enables a reckoning to be made. Elementary considerations of justice and the imperative necessity for safeguarding the nation in the future equally demand that civilians as well as soldiers should suffer for their mistakes.
THE TWO PATHS OF EMPIRE
1. Dominions Royal Commission. Final Report. Cd. 8462. 1917. 2. Committee on Commercial and Industrial Policy. Resolutions on
Imperial Preference. Cd. 8482. 1917. 3. A Platform for an Imperial Party. By H. WILSON Fox. Re
printed from the 'Nineteenth Century and After.' 1917. 4. The Expansion of England. By Sir JOHN SEELEY. Macmillan. 5. The Wealth of Nations. By ADAM SMITH. Clarendon Press.
TN the fourth quarter of the eighteenth century England 1 lost a great Empire ; three generations later she had begun to grow conscious of a greater Empire fashioned upon other lines. There is indeed a remarkable coincidence of dates. It was in 1783 that the American colonies were finally separated from Great Britain ; in 1883 was published Professor Seeley's · Expansion of England,' a work that did more than any other single cause to awaken Englishmen to the meaning of Empire. In the twentieth century that Greater Britain, whose birth and growth Professor Seeley traced, has proved its loyalty and its strength in a manner which may well be one of the marvels of the world for all time to come. Yet in spite of this demonstration we find quite a number of loyal citizens of the Empire eagerly, almost passionately, demanding the abandonment at the earliest possible date of the principles on which this greater Empire is based, and a reversion to the principles which governed the construction of the lesser Empire lost in the eighteenth century. Differences of detail there were, no doubt, between our old colonial system and the system of imperial preferential tariffs advocated of recent years, but the fundamental principle is the same. The essential characteristic of the old colonial system was the restriction of the trade of the colonies for the benefit of the Mother Country. Reciprocally, colonial produce received in the markets of the Mother Country tariff favours as compared with foreign produce. Now as then the object aimed at is that the trade of the Empire should be confined as far as possible within the Empire.
It is worth while to press this comparison, because historical as well as political memories are so short that some members of the Tariff Reform Party appear to be under the impression that they are the exponents of an entirely new doctrine. In substance what they are advocating is the re-establishment of a system which was maintained with varying degrees of stringency for over two hundred years, and was then deliberately abandoned. This does not, of course, prove that the tariff reformers are wrong. In the changing phases of life it is quite possible that we can learn again from our grandfathers wisdom which our fathers had forgotten. But those who wish to go back should certainly first take note of the broad facts which time has revealed. In this case the facts stand out clearly. The old colonial system failed to bear the strain of a hesitating attempt made by the Mother Country to obtain from the colonies a small contribution to the cost of wars waged by her almost entirely on their behalf; the new system has yielded a magnificent voluntary contribution both of money and of men from the colonies to help the Mother Country in fighting a war in which her interests are more immediately involved than theirs.
How then, it may be asked, does it happen that, at such a crisis in our history as the present, proposals to revert to the ancient system are being vigorously pressed, even by persons who had previously distinguished themselves by strong opposition to the whole idea of imperial preference? The answer is to be found in the anxieties which the war has created. Prominent among these is the submarine peril. How far that has been exaggerated it is impossible to say. Public opinion and governmental utterances on the subject have both fluctuated, in accordance with the extent of the temporary successes which German submarines have achieved. At one moment ministers and newspaper writers have all been shaking their heads and declaring that the nation must be regarded as in a state of siege ; a few weeks later submarines have been forgotten altogether. The transition from gravity to indifference has happened more than once during the course of the war. Looking at the matter broadly there does not appear to be any sufficient ground for the belief expressed
in some quarters that the development of submarine warfare has completely altered the character of the war problems with which we have to deal. On the contrary the losses inflicted by the enemy on our shipping during the present war are proportionately less than the losses we suffered during the Napoleonic Wars. This does not mean that the submarine peril can be ignored : it only means that we should do wisely to take a level view of it.
In any case the submarine trouble has little direct connexion, if any at all, with the problem of colonial preferences. For if it were true that a European enemy could by the use of submarines prevent supplies from reaching these islands, that consideration would affect supplies from British possessions at least as much as supplies from foreign countries. It would indeed affect them more ; for, with the exception of Canada, most of our imperial sources of food supply are farther away from the British Isles than many important foreign sources of supply. Ships bringing food to Great Britain from India or Australia run greater risks of being sunk by submarines than ships coming from the United States or South America, both because of the greater sea distance and because of the character of the sea route they generally follow.
This consideration is in no way dependent on the facts of the present war. Indeed, if we were at war with a Mediterranean power our shortest sea route to India and Australia would be in far greater peril than it is at present. To take another hypothesis, let us suppose that fifty years hence England may be at war with the United States and at peace with her present enemies, and also with her present European Allies. In that event it would clearly be safer, so far as submarines are concerned, to import food from the foreign countries at our doors rather than from any of the oversea portions of the Empire. The submarine peril is, in fact--so far as the particular question of imperial preference is concerned—a false scent. It leads nowhere, except to the proposition that the British Isles must entirely give up their oversea trade, both with foreign countries and with British possessions, lest in some future war some still more terrible submarine should make all sea trade impossible.
The really relevant consideration is of quite a different character. It is two-fold. In the first place there is a danger that during peace a potential enemy might obtain a commercial grip upon some industries essential to our national life, and in the second place there is a danger that during war neutral countries might be terrorised or persuaded by our enemies to the extent of refusing to supply us with necessaries previously purchased from them. Both these dangers have been illustrated during the present war.
The first was dealt with in an article in this REVIEW in July 1916, called 'A Commercial League of Defence.' It was there argued that as Germany had clearly shown that she 'regards 'commercial enterprise as a form of preparation for military action,' we must take that fact into account in framing our commercial policy for the future. It was, however, pointed out that, happily, Germany had not succeeded in doing us so much harm by her belligerent commercial methods as she probably hoped, and as many Englishmen certainly feared. In practice we were able to adapt our industries very rapidly to the new conditions created by the war, and to make for ourselves things previously imported from Germany, before we had suffered any grave inconvenience from the disappearance of the German supply. But there is, of course, a danger that we might on some future occasion be less alert or less fortunate, and therefore prudence demands that we should take steps to prevent the control of vital industries passing into the hands of potential enemies.
The question of the danger arising from the possible action of neutrals has also to be considered. It has been specially illustrated during the present war by the position of Holland and Denmark. The Dutch and the Danes, for very good reasons, are more afraid of Germany than of Great Britain, and though they have doubtless striven to hold the balance fairly there is some ground to suspect that the course of their trade has been deflected to our injury by their dread of a German invasion. Again, in the earlier days of the war, we had to fear a danger on a greater scale from America. The friends of Germany in the United States persistently argued that if America wished to be neutral in fact as well as in theory she must cease to supply food and munitions of war to the Entente Powers. The argument was that, as the command of the sea by Great Britain prevented Germany from obtaining contraband of war from America, the only way to equalise matters was for America to refuse to supply either party. The
ke the hands of pine danger arising.
It has be