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Montenegro sympathized warmly with Serbia and decided early to help her against her enemies. She, therefore, declared war against Austria-Hungary on August 8 and against Germany four days later.
GREAT BRITAIN DECLARES WAR ON THE
GREAT BRITAIN was anxious that a European conflict be avoided, and, as has been seen, suggested several plans for settling the questions at issue. She was willing to support both the policy of isolation championed by Germany and the policy of prevention championed by Russia. She was the only great power whose hands were not tied by alliances. Her understanding with France and Russia did not impose upon her a treaty obligation to enter the war if either or both of these powers should be drawn into the conflict. Nor is there the slightest intimation in all the correspondence that France and Russia considered that she was bound by the terms of the Triple Entente to take sides with them against their enemies. Britain, therefore, declared herself interested in the quarrel only in so far as it jeopardized the peace of Europe and thereby menaced her own security.
Her attiude toward the Austro-Serbian quar1 B. W. P., 1, 3..
rel was in keeping with this general policy. While she regarded the demands of AustriaHungary as unreasonable and considered that Serbia's “reply went farther than could have been expected to meet Austrian demands,'' 2 still she declined to discuss the merits of the case, declaring that she would concern herself with the dispute only to the extent that it affected the peace of Europe. She was interested in Austria's ultimatum solely because of the trouble between Austria and Russia that might grow out of it. This stand was taken as early as July 24, and it was known to all the interested powers.3
Russia and France were anxious for Great Britain to join them “in making a communication to Austria to the effect that active intervention by her in the internal affairs of Serbia could not be tolerated," believing that by such joint action war might be averted. She declined to join in such a declaration, although she was asked to do so by the Russian foreign minister and the French ambassador at St. Petersburg as early as July 24.4 Russia thought that Germany was counting on England's neutrality and that this was the reason for her supporting Austria-Hungary in her militant policy. Sir Edward Grey contended that Germany had no right to assume that Great Britain would stand aside in any event. He said that this impression ought to be dispelled by the orders given (July 27) to the fleet concentrated at Portland 'not to disperse for maneuver leave." 5 He was careful, however, to announce that these naval orders were not to be construed as a pledge that Britain would assist Russia and France in case they should be drawn into war. As late as July 29, Sir Edward Grey stated to the French ambassador at London that his Government would not take part in the Serbian dispute nor even in a war between Russia and Austria, for that would only be a struggle over the hegemony of the Balkans. But if Germany or France were brought in and the hegemony of Europe were involved, that would present a problem the solution of which Great Britain had not yet determined upon. A like statement was made to the German ambassador at London and the announcement to him seems to have been more positive and to have assumed the tone of a threat. He said that if the issue should become so great that it would involve all European interests he did not wish the German ambassador to be misled by the friendly tone of his conversation “into thinking that we [Great Britain] should stand aside.” He made it 5 B. W. P., 47.
2 B. W. P., 5. 46, 116, 119. 4 B. W. P., 6, 24. 3 B. W. P., 3, 10, 6, 24, 11.
clear that if British interests should require intervention the Government would intervene at once.
Germany was undoubtedly anxious that Great Britain remain neutral if she and Austria were to be involved in a war with France and Russia. On July 29 Germany made her first bid for British neutrality. The chancellor promised that if England would pledge her neutrality during the “European conflagration” that now seemed probable, Germany would give assurances that the neutrality of Holland and the integrity of France would be respected. These assurances, however, did not cover the neutrality of Belgium and the colonial possessions of France.? Sir Edward Grey declined to bind his country to “neutrality on such terms." 8
While Great Britain did not give Germany a promise of neutrality, at the same time she refused to pledge support to France. This attitude of indecision she maintained despite the opinion of the President of France that the peace of Europe was depending on her action. On July 30 he declared to the British ambassador at Paris that if England should now announce her intention of coming to the aid of France in the event of a conflict between France and Germany, ... there would be no war, for 6 B. W. P., 87, 89.
8 B. W. P., 101. 7 B. W. P., 85.