Page images

introduced a notable change. Strasburg Cathedral was damaged by bombardment. Bazeilles was burnt with some of its inhabitants. Franc-tireurs were slaughtered. All this was justified, then and subsequently, by the invocation of “the necessities of war," and of protecting the advancing troops. When, at the Brussels Conference of 1874, it was urged by the small States that the right of unorganised populations must be preserved, to rise en masse against disciplined armies, Germany was foremost in protesting against such an unprofessional attitude. Subsequent conferences at the Hague have whittled away the right almost to uselessness. We were certain, therefore, to find the Germans behaving in war with great license, and taking strong measures where they conceived their safety endangered. The question they propound is, Are such measures necessary ? And, taking their own ground, it may at once be answered that they are not. The simple fact is that no other people has, in modern warfare, found it “necessary,” for the protection of its armies, to strike terror into the invaded territory, to exact wholesale vicarious retribution for isolated acts, to destroy whole cities, to burn works of art. In this, as in so many other matters, the world has too readily listened to the Prussian exemplars of warfare. The present awful occurrences show us where such theorising leads one. On the whole question of Prussian war methods, the reader may care to consult an impartial authority in the Argentine statesman Alberdi, whose work, The Crime of War, was published in an English dress in 1912. He lays stress on the poisonous system of espionage, as characteristic, even more than arrogant severity, of the Prussian militarist.

T. Willing Balch and Arbitration. The fortieth anniversary of the appearance in this magazine (Nov. 1874, p. 1026) of the late Mr. T. W. Balch's account of the settlement of the Alabama question by amicable arbitration, as originally suggested by him, makes it a suitable occasion for glancing at the history and prospects of that institution. It cannot, one supposes, be doubtful that pacificists have attempted too much—that having found that arbitration would work, they too readily assumed that it would always work—and that they aimed at imposing upon the nations a rigid authority at the Hague which would be more deadly than any Prussian or Russian bureaucracy. The Hague Tribunal, as a thing sacrosanct in the eyes of all good pacificists, must surely now be no longer a tenable conception. It is valuable when neither party wants to fight, and both want an honourable means of escape from fighting. It will not prevent one nation from attacking another; as Italy attacked Turkey, and Austria Servia. It is more hopeful to consider such measures as Mr. Bryan's Commissions of Enquiry and Mr. Efremoff's College of Mediators. A somewhat similar proposal to the last has been propounded by the present writer. On any occasion of dispute it might be referred to a college representing the conscience of the civilised world, not to decide the dispute, but to say how it might properly be determined. The college would, in short, give the verdict of the community on the proper means of adjustment. It might well be composed of twelve members, chosen by the disputants. Each of the latter might prepare a separate list, placing the nations in order of preference, and the twelve highest on both lists would constitute the panel. The opinions of such an Areopagus on the plain question of what means of pacific settlement was appropriate could not be lightly disregarded. And if there could be coupled with this, a strong universal sentiment against one nation ever crossing the frontiers of another, a really practical step would have been taken towards permanent peace-a much more practical step than the adoption of some hollow scheme of elaborate machinery for subjecting nations to lawyers.

Meanwhile, every honour must be paid to the pioneers of pacific settlement, such as Mr. Balch (a reprint of whose letters and articles has just been published at Philadelphia). Their idea is destined to triumph, though it may be long before the vir pictate gravis succeeds in interposing universally his “ mittite ambo hoininem—for we cannot expect the arbitration idea to be victorious all at once. The issue in this magazine of Balch's proposition, subsequently realised at Geneva, will always form a landmark in the history of the world.

Sale of German Ships.

The proposal for the sale to United States owners of German liners at present in American waters appears to • have fallen through. Although there now exists power to give foreign-built ships an American register, it seems unlikely that these vessels will be so adopted. It is scarcely possible that our Prize Courts would have recognised any such transfer. A bona fide sale to a neutral, even during war-time, is not impossible. But if it is attended with any reservation of interest or control to the enemy, it is disregarded. Much more, if it is effected for the purpose of preserving the enemy's trade connection for him, and if the result is that the ships, after sale, are employed in the same trade as they or their consorts were before the war.

Iron Ore as Contraband.

To place aircraft in the list of absolute contraband is probably unobjectionable, considering that military use is perhaps the chief purpose for which it can be employed. But to put crude ores (in defiance of the Declaration of London) in the contraband list is most unfortunate. It opens the door for the declaration as contraband of almost anything that a belligerent finds convenient-including food. This might be most dangerous for ourselves. In any event, to treat iron ore-a substance of preponderatingly civil and innocent use—as contraband is calculated to injure us in the eyes of neutrals, and to nullify the good position which we had obtained in their eyes as the defenders of Belgian neutrality. It is true that ore is only regarded as “ occasional" contraband. But that means little. Since the Court is at liberty (if it follows the Government's lead) to spell out an intention, wherever the goods are actually going, that they shall be ultimately delivered to “any person under the control of" the enemy government, the protection afforded to neutrals is quite illusory, and according to the new doctrine of the Declaration of London, they will lose their ship. It is not surprising that America, Sweden, and Holland have protested against this attempt to combine all the numerous features adverse to neutrals of the Declaration, with a reversion to the few doctrines against which that document gave them protection. The doctrine of continuous voyage is asserted. The doctrine of occasional contraband is asserted. The power to destroy neutral ships is asserted.

As to nickel, it may reasonably be regarded as in a less favourable position than iron, being an essential constituent in modern armour and ordnance, and perhaps of as overwhelmingly military connotation as sulphur. If we recall the doubt with which even the position of coal was discussed as lately as the early years of the present century, we shall realise how seriously the position of neutrals has been prejudiced during the last ten years. Lord Stowell, who never condemned rough timber, would have been amazed at such extremities. It is believed that Sir C. Spring Rice has promised the American President that pre-emption will be substituted for confiscation; and that is certainly the least that can be offered.

Enemy Character.

It is possible that the Government are making a mistake in assuming that, for all commercial and financial purposes, an enemy resident in England is an Englishman. The criterion of enemy character in respect of trading with the enemy, and the criterion in respect of power to make valid contracts, are two entirely different things. “ Trading" with the enemy is a technical expression, and does not properly include contracting with the enemy. It properly means the locomotive transit of goods to or from the hostile territory, and the only normal penalty is their confiscation. The government proclamations apparently denounce penalties on all commercial transactions with persons in Germany and Austria. On the other hand, they are dangerously lax with regard to Germans and Austrians here.

These are apparently permitted by implication to carry on transactions of all kinds, and unless the Proclamation of 9 September 1914 can be cut down by reference to its professed object (which is to deal with “Trading with the Enemy,” i.e., primarily locomotive transport), its effect may be to enable Germans in England, or their agents, to compel British subjects to make payments to them, which sums they may at once remit by well-known and simple channels to Berlin. Nor can the concession of the British character to companies entirely or principally owned and operated by Germans be considered as in accordance with common

There is nothing sacred about a company. It is only a device for limiting the liability of a partnership. If the partners are enemies, calling them shareholders does not convert them into friends.


« PreviousContinue »