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maintenance of the status quo in that she does not want to trouble it. Pendente lite, it is absolutely necessary to take conservatory measures. It would be self-forsaking for a country to act otherwise. The unpardonable thing would be to take this for a casus belli. I dare to say that France does not want, does not wish, would not understand a conflict. Public opinion is wholly against such a foolishness and such a sin. And in France there is nobody—not a statesman nor even a politician-to force upon her such a dreadful resolve. On the contrary, there are many voices raised to require, to demand a compromise.
If we look only on Western Africa, we have to try and get a local transaction. I am perfectly certain the elements of such a deal are not wanting. The commonest practical sense is perfectly sufficient to demonstrate that it is impossible to get everything, and at the same time peace. France would probably have to yield Boussa, other points too; England would have to look if the Chartered Company and Gambia, not to speak of Sierra Leone, could not offer some means of exchange. I am anxious not to be misunderstood as presenting a proposal. I allude simply to what occurs to the mind of the man in the street. Besides, why should I conceal it? I am perfectly convinced the broader the ground, the easier the understanding. Why should we not try? All the more that events seem to force us to such a consummation. Things everywhere are entangling, embroiling themselves. Questions are growing one from the other. The Western African problem is only one among many. After the Eastern Question, we have now to deal with the Far Eastern Question.
In the presence of so many differences, it is every day more evident to me that sincere friends of peace would gain every advantage from connecting and treating simultaneously questions apparently the most distinct, in order to find the broadest ground for an amicable settlement. The most dangerous thing of all would be to cover a parochial point of view under the pretence of imperialism. After all, is not the world wide enough; does it not offer openings enough to the most varied and even opposite activities, to make it perfectly legitimate and reasonable to believe it possible or even easy to agreem let us say rather to agree to differ—on a careful review of the concessions to make on one side in order to get compensations on the other ? Such agreement is as much in the wishes as it is in the traditions of France. Far from us the guilty, the criminal idea of provoking or even suffering an irreparable conflict to happen between two Powers equally necessary to civilisation, and of which the good understanding is the greatest boon, the disagreement the greatest calamity for the progress of the world,
I do not scruple to say with all due emphasis that I cannot foresee any possible case in West Africa-always excepted, naturally, a systematic and prolonged provocation--in which France could find against England a casus belli so imperative as to oblige or authorise her to pass above scruples, conscious or unconscious, material and moral interests, reciprocal duties and the necessities of Christendom. There have occurred many grievous misunderstandings between both countries : I cannot, for the life of me, now see fatal causes of conflict between them. France is ready, if she can get any pledge of reciprocity, to do all that is in her power to prevent the scandal and the calamity of a war. She is convinced there are means to arrive at a compromise in West Africa-much more so on the whole surface of the world. Just now things are in such a state that we may look on the Western African and the Far Eastern questions as individually connected, or rather on the whole complex mass of present difficulties as only, under diverse aspects, the great problem of the redistribution of power and of the remaking of the map of our globe. The great mistake, the great peril too, would be to deal singly with every one of those unavoidably interdepending questions.
I do not mean here to suggest the favourite nostrum of Napoleon the Third or of politicians in trouble, to wit, a congress or even a conference. By no means. Private, direct negotiations are much the best, only they must be taken up again with the sincere wish to see them come to a favourable end and with the firm resolve not to lend disproportionate importance to rumours purposely circulated or to local incidents-or accidents--chiefly when they are disowned by the responsible authorities.
It is self-evident, since I make bold to advise a broad, large understanding on the whole present difficulties, that France and England cannot arrange by themselves a general settlement. Russia by the force of things must be associated with our two countries. In fact, the Chinese question is principally raised between the Court of St. Petersburg and that of St. James. Assuredly nobody must forget it is Germany that has taken the lead in accelerating the process of the decomposition of the yellow corpse. England, perhaps, would be right in putting to one side of her reckoning with the young Emperor, the perfect carelessness about her rights and interests-as well as about those of the remainder of Europe—with which the German Emperor embarked in such an undertaking. The lease of Kiao-tcheou, the stipulations of exclusive rights in the neighbouring peninsula and country, the request for mining, industrial, commercial and railway privileges by Germany have greatly altered the balance of power in China.
After all, Russia in demanding from the Tsong-li-yamen the lease of Port Arthur and Ta-lien-wan and the extension of the TransManchurian railway from Petuna, through Mukden, to Port Arthur, has not dealt in surprises. Everybody knew the northern region of China was the allotted portion of the White Tsar in the spoils of the Son of Heaven. Everybody knew—as a special correspondent of the Times has excellently shown in the pages of that paper—that Northern Manchuria was already occupied by sotnias of Cossacks, by troops of engineers, and permeated by the influence of the neighbouring Empire.
Was it not Mr. Arthur James Balfour himself who proclaimed, in his place in the House of Commons—that is to say, as its leader, as the First Lord of the Treasury, and the spokesman of the British Government—that Russia had a moral right to get a port ice-free in winter on the Northern Pacific ? It seems that we have got here all the materials of a fair compromise.
The case is not at all different in what concerns France. The Government of the Republic cannot forget that we have no less than 2,000 kilometres of frontier coterminous with that of China. Thence our preoccupation to obtain at once a pledge of security as to the eventual disposition of the territory of the three provinces bordering upon Tonkin, and the special economic privileges it has become the general custom to exact from China as well as a port in these waters.
I confess that, wholly convinced as I am of the necessity to proceed cautiously, and to spare not only the interests or the rights, but the susceptibilities of other parties, I cannot for the life of me see how these modest claims could interfere with the policy of England. Has not England asked the Celestials for a promise not to alienate any part or parcel of the Yang-tse-Kiang valley ? Has she not, already mistress of Hong-Kong, thrown eyes of natural, perhaps legitimate, covetousness on the neighbouring land ? Has she not stipulated for her own engineers special privileges ? Is not the head of the great service of the Chinese customs to be perpetually, in succession to Sir Robert Hart, a subject of the Queen ? Truly such requests--reasonable and even moderate as they may beought to reassure English opinion on the demands of others.
I know perfectly well English trade is more than three-fourths of the whole trade of the Far East, and makes a very important part in the volume of the commerce of Great Britain. Such a consideration must be given of course the greatest weight in assigning to each rival for influence and power in China his respective portion. Only it must be allowed in fairness, too, that such a preponderance in trade is by itself a great force and gives strong security to the United Kingdom. Nothing is more right for English statesmen than to watch vigilantly the interests of this great trade. English policy is perfectly respectable when it declares as its inviolable basis the necessity to maintain open and free the ways of international commerce. What unprejudiced people cannot understand is, why such a firm, immovable resolve should be inconsistent with the definition of certain spheres of influence, or even with the lease of some ports. What, in the name of all that is fair, is there to prevent, for instance, Port Arthur, or Ta-lien-wan, or Kiao-tcheou from remaining perfectly open, even free, according to treaty rights,
when they have been given under long leases either to Russia or Germany ?
As a matter of fact, there is nothing in the nature of things to prevent the great European Powers from making a specific arrangement, in order to guarantee perfect freedom of access and of trade. It is, however, a vexatious incident when the House of Commons, under a too weak leadership, is allowed to vote for an abstract resolution introduced by Sir Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett and declaring the preservation of the integrity and independence of China a primary interest of the United Kingdom. Such a formula ought to be in bad odour among thoughtful men since the days when it was put to such a deplorable use with respect to Turkey. It is a question if for the sick man of the Far East as well as for that of the East, the integrity and the independence of their domains must not be in an inverse ratio each one to the other. In any case it is not a good beginning for delicate and complex negotiations to affirm at first such a general principle.
Let every one of us register a solemn vow to pursue first peace and all things of good report and of international good will, and to defend the interests of his own country with the firm resolve to make them respected, but to spare, too, in the same measure the interests or the rights of others. Diplomacy is not powerless. Our century, on the eve of giving up the ghost, is not condemned to the scandal of war. Doubtless our task is difficult. It is not easy to proceed to a redistribution of empire without going dangerously near so-called casus belli. However, specially in what concerns France and England, I am wholly unable to accept the shameful conclusion that, in order to make a new map of the world, we must paint with blood the lines of our new borders. It is not true, even if the prospect of new territorial gain were really so intoxicating, that it is always necessary to pass through the Red Sea in order to come to the Promised Land.
FRANCIS DE PRESSENSÉ.
THE LATEST RECONSTRUCTION OF
DURING the sixty years of Her Majesty's reign, the Royal Navy has been continuously undergoing reconstruction. For two centuries previously, progress in the construction, armament, and equipment of war-ships had been very slow. When the practicability of steampropulsion was demonstrated, radical changes became inevitable; but nearly twenty years passed before the new method was frankly accepted for the largest classes of British war-ships, and more than thirty years were required to secure the practical abolition of sailpower in favour of steam. As late as 1859 a great effort was made to hasten the construction of screw line-of-battle ships and frigates, as well as the 'conversion’ into screw-steamers of many ships built only a few years before as sailing-ships. In 1859–60, 29 line-ofbattle ships and 23 frigates were in hand. All of these had wood hulls, were fully rigged and equipped for sailing, were armed with smooth-bore guns mounted on primitive carriages; and except for the possession of auxiliary steam-power, or increased dimensions in the several classes, differed little from the vessels of Nelson's time. This great effort at the 'steam-reconstruction of the Navy had been too long postponed. It had been preceded by the destruction of the Turkish fleet at Sinope, by horizontal shellfire from the Russian ships. Iron-clad floating batteries had been in action, with success, during the Crimean war; the French were hard at work on La Gloire and other seagoing ironclads, and we had been compelled to follow their lead by laying down the Warrior and Black Prince. In short, the 'iron-clad reconstruction' overlapped the steam-reconstruction,' and involved the abandonment of wood hulls in favour of iron and steel, as well as changes in armaments, armour, and types of ships, previously undreamt of.
The shipbuilder called to his aid the mechanical engineer, the mathematician, the metallurgist, and the chemist. For forty years an unceasing struggle has proceeded between the powers of offence and defence. Developments in guns, projectiles, and explosives, have increased the power of armaments; while mechanical devices of