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may in the middle 19th century have been too literary, too liberal, too ethical. But at least it presented a serious study as attractive reading to a people usually too much inclined to frivolity in what they read; it popularised the history of our own and other countries; it taught Englishmen, out of the lives of their forefathers, the ideal of ordered freedom on which our patriotism is based; and it instilled a habit of bringing ethical judgments to bear on public actions. It had been a form of national education for which those who abolished it provided no substitute. In the last decade of the 19th century German influence was supreme among our historical scholars; and under its influence they pronounced the divorce of history from literature. Thereby they cut off history from the people and confined it to students. Furthermore the reactionary and non-moral attitude of the German professoriate towards events in the past was for awhile regarded as peculiarly 'historical.' Young Englishmen were warned off their own country's classics and told to look to Treitschke for an example of what an historian should be. It is not likely that this influence will survive the war; and indeed long before the war the worst crudities of the Germanising movement in English history had become unpopular. Unfortunately the connexion of history and literature, once it is broken, is not easily reestablished.

The undue worship of German methods affected many other branches of thought, and threatened to deflect the Anglo-Saxon genius into a materialistic pedantry quite unnatural to its free and varied idealism. From the universities of the United States advanced students went in great numbers to Germany to complete their education. It is to the credit of the heads and hearts of American academicians that, although they had been brought up so largely in Germany, the moment Belgium was invaded they led their fellow-citizens in the moral revolt against Prussianism. The next generation of American students will not study in Germany. It lies with Oxford and Cambridge to make the regulations that will attract them to England, and so help to rebuild the intellectual and moral unity of the English-speaking world.

The premature deaths of Lincoln and Cavour were misfortunes not to Italy and America alone, and were

felt in the world of thought no less than in the world of politics. Their names soon became as a tale that is told, nor perhaps until the present war did the world fully understand the greatness of the two countries which they had rebuilt on such wise and noble foundations. Bismarck survived them to dominate the new age and to captivate the thought and imagination of men, even in the land of Cavour. Gladstone, indeed, survived, but mainly to fail, and by his failure yet further to set off the gross fame of realpolitik.

For these and many other reasons the Bismarckian influence was at its height in England as well as on the Continent in the last years of the 19th century. Then came the Boer war, the inevitable outcome of twenty years of blundering on the part of successive British Cabinets, and of short-sighted astuteness on the part of Paul Kruger. Because of the prevalence of Bismarckian ideas at that moment in England, we entered on the war in a spirit very different from the magnanimous idealism with which the nation sprang to arms in 1914. The outcome has been thus epitomised by General Smuts, who seems the best interpreter of the soul of our Empire: *

"The world required this shock to wake it up. England herself was slipping from the track. Under Disraeli she thought that she must be a military nation bent upon Imperialism. She went in for it, and the trial came finally in South Africa. The British victory over the Boers was a great test. A cheap and easy victory would have strengthened what were then the strong Imperial tendencies of England and the British. But that tremendously exhausting struggle, maintained by one of the world's smallest peoples, taught the British that the Boers were fighting, in some measure, for Britain's own traditional ideals. That meant that, when the British won the military victory, so great a change was found to have been brought about in their morale that not only the two small Republics, but that which needed to be conquered in Great Britain, all three had met defeat. The Boer war forced anew upon the British people the realisation of those fine ideals for which at bottom they invariably feel sympathy.'

After the Boer war Prussian ideals faded out of

* 'Observer,' July 1, 1917. Report of interview.

England's conception of her Empire, partly for the reason given by General Smuts, partly because we became immersed in our own social problems, where Bismarck was clearly no guide. If we failed to solve the Irish question, our faults were party spirit and lack of great statesmen to control its various excesses, not any national hardening of the heart. When the great war fell upon us, we were an improvident but a generous people.

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But on the Continent there was no such reaction against Bismarckism. The curse of 1815, renewed in 1849 and 1870, lay irremovable. After Italy's liberation, no people still enslaved could hope for freedom. The military despotisms of Central and Eastern Europe still outweighed the Liberal states of the West, in power as they had done since Waterloo, and in influence as they had done since Sedan. The only hope for the world lay in a quarrel between the great despotisms, the separation of Russia from Austria and Prussia. The Dreikaiserbund was, therefore, above all things to be dreaded. If Russia remained in the orbit of Central Europe, if the Russian people were cut off from Western ideas and became entirely Germanised, political liberty would be confined to the shores of the Atlantic. To keep alive the one hope for ultimate change and liberation-a hope too like despair' indeed-first France, then England, then Italy allied themselves to Russian Tsardom. The belief was sound that Berlin was at the bottom of the mischief in Europe, particularly in Petrograd; and the side chosen by the three Liberal Powers was therefore the right one. But until the Russian Revolution of last year came to justify it, there had been great disadvantages in this desperate policy dictated by desperate conditions. By her entente with the Tsardom Great Britain was compelled to subserve the tyrannous methods of the old Russian system in Persia, and was kept officially mute on the abominations of the reaction in Russia after 1906. This was the culminating point of the triumph of materialism in world politics, that Britain, at the most democratic moment of her own internal politics, should appear indifferent to the extinction of liberty in Russia. Such was the inevitable logic of the enormous preponderance in military strength of Russia, Germany and Austria. We were still the slaves of 1815.

Meanwhile the Turkish revolution had been turned by German influence into the triumph of a system more potent for evil than the fallen régime of Abdul Hamid. And such was the bad spirit of the age that the first Balkan War, with all its hopes and generosities, was quickly swallowed up in the second. The opportunity for imposing on the Balkan States a just settlement of their affairs was neglected by the Great Powers, and was used by Germany and Austria as a means of preparing the stage for the coming Universal War, which was to satisfy their own selfish ambitions. The moral condition of Europe and the distribution of material power were so hopeless that any effective remedy must have been violent.

The remedy has been violent enough. It all but killed the patient in 1914, and the cure is not yet accomplished. But, if the first clear impulse of the Russian revolution seems to be losing itself among the rocks and shallows of anarchy, the entry of the more staid American democracy into full participation in our troubles goes far to guarantee the promise of the future. We find ourselves once more living in an age of 'revolution' in Lord Acton's sense of the word. The sense of human impotence that has lain heavy on men during the last half-century has at length been rolled away. Free will, men's moral choice in national and international affairs, has returned to earth. History becomes once more interesting, heroic, a struggle not of interests but of ideals.

It cannot reasonably be hoped that the age of revolution on which we are now embarked will be any more easy or pleasant to live in than similar ages of the past. The memorable epochs of history have not, when they were taking place, been agreeable to historians and other quiet people. Gibbon's frenzied annoyance with the French Revolution, for interrupting his peaceful contemplation of the revolutions of the past, will be felt again by many of us in the lean, active years that are now at hand. The end of the war will not be the end of the turmoil. For even if, as we may begin to hope, another such catastrophe can be averted by a League of Peace, Europe will at best have to face not only the labour troubles, which are the natural heritage of our

time, but unnecessary and artificially created racial and political troubles, the result of so many millions having been kept in undue subjection in Central and Eastern Europe when they were ripe for freedom long ago. When they emerge to the light of liberty, two generations too late, they will not be reasonable, in Austria and Germany, any more than in Russia. It is impossible to postpone emancipation unnaturally long and then expect the same easy results when liberation is offered late as would have been attained if it had been offered in time. Even England has to-day one reason bitterly to rue that truth.

But, if we are entering upon a terrible and dangerous epoch, properly ushered in by the most destructive war in history, the bold adventure is better than the continuance of the rule of military despotism in half the civilised countries of the world, and the prevalence of Bismarckian ideas in all international relations. If, as Macaulay said about the break-up of the Roman Empire, it was worth while to have a thousand years of barbarism to save Europe from the fate of China, it is worth a hundred years of revolution to save Europe from the fate of Prussia. If the state of things that has lasted since 1870 had continued, Europe would have acquiesced in military despotism as its final form of government.

In these circumstances the British and American peoples, long nurtured in liberty and devoted to peace, will be the chief hope of mankind. President Wilson and our own statesmen, understand our full common responsibility, the utter impossibility of further isolation, and the sure vengeance that will follow continued egoistic action among the nations constituting the Commonwealth of the World.


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