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Admiralty, the incident did not threaten the interruption of the friendship between England and Germany, and in 1891, when the Kaiser repeated his former visits to England, this time accompanied by the Empress, he was received everywhere with enthusiasm, though on this occasion he came straight to London from Heligoland. A State visit was made to the City of London, where the Emperor was presented with its freedom, and to the opera and the Albert Hall. His Majesty reviewed the Volunteers at Wimbledon, was present at the wedding of Princess Louise, daughter of Prince and Princess Christian, to Prince Aribert of Anhalt, and paid a visit to Hatfield as the guest of Lord Salisbury. In 1893 the Emperor visited England once more. Again he came in 1895, and then occurred the unfortunate dispatch of the telegram to President Kruger on the occasion of the Jamieson raid.
When this unhappy incident is recalled, the English people are apt to forget perhaps that much may be urged in extenuation of the Emperor's impulsive action. He was no more Pro-Boer than many of the present British Ministry, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Boers are a kindred people to the Germans, and the Emperor has since explained that he regarded the raid as "a revolutionary movement,” which would be regarded in England with as much disfavour as it excited throughout Europe. The incursion, after all, was condemned by British opinion, and those who participated in it were punished, but the British people from the first took an exaggerated view of this telegram to a president who claimed to rule over “a sovereign State,” particularly in view of the fact that, as a result of years of moves and counter-moves in Africa, England had become "top dog" on the continent at the expense of German aspirations.
Upon the Kruger telegram followed an event which we shall always have reason to regret, the formation by the British Government, with every dramatic accompaniment, of the Special Service squadron, in the words of the late Viscount Goschen, “to go anywhere and do anything.” At that moment we possessed a Navy seven or eight times as strong as that of Germany, on which less than four and a half millions sterling were being spent annually. Our naval position was phenomenally strong, but the Government appear to have attached importance to the idea that the Kruger telegram was a ballon d'essai to Europe and an invitation to combine against England for the maintenance of the independence of the Boer Republics which Baron Marschall von Bieberstein had officially declared to be "a German interest."
Thus not only were the good relations between England and Germany ruptured, first by the Emperor's famous telegram, and then by the British Government's too dramatic reply, but
the foundations were laid of the naval expansion movement in
The Dreadnoughts which are now being launched from German
It may not be inappropriate to recall these events if only to
effort to restrain the anti-British animosities which have become a factor in German policy. The authorised interview published in the Daily Telegraph was an effort in this direction. Owing to the perspective through which it was viewed by English readers it failed to conciliate opinion on this side of the North Sea, while its revelations exacerbated opinion on the Continent.
The interview marks a definite stage in the relations of the two countries; and in view of the peril of war, with all its terrible consequences, may we not determine as a nation to forget the past with its provocation on both sides and face the future with
a clean slate”? No power on earth can now interfere with the due development of German naval power. Its different stages are marked in the Navy Acts passed between 1896 and 1908, and however the British people may view the matter, whatever animosity they may show, they cannot reduce by one torpedo boat destroyer the programme now adopted by the Reichstag for the series of years ending in 1917. But, on the other hand, British animosity (or the British Government's remissness in framing its new programme) may further fire German enthusiasm for the Navy, and cause the latest German Navy Act to be superseded in 1912—when the second reduced period of shipbuilding should begin-by a further measure making provision for a larger number of ships. In the existing relations between the two countries, this is a prospect which we have to face, and those who by pen or by voice encourage Teutophobia in England are doing a dis-service to the British people.
On the other hand, it is inevitable that Germany, friend or foe, should figure in comparative statistics of naval strength. This fact is due not to any feeling of animosity against Germany, but to the simple fact that Germany has, by her Navy Acts, forced herself into that position of prominence which Russia occupied prior to the war in the Far East. The standard of British strength has for many years been calculated with reference to the next two greatest naval Powers in Europe. For a quarter of a century and more British statistics were based upon the strength of the Fleets of France and Russia. Russia lost her Fleet, or the major part of it, in the Far East, and then Germany determined to take the place which Russia had hitherto filled in Northern Europe as a great naval Power. What the motives may be which lie behind these Acts really does not matter to the British people in their attitude to naval policy so long as we hold by the TwoPower Standard. With a fleet of the traditional strength we can, as a people, view German ambitions with comparative indifference, whether the German Navy is intended for use in the North Sea or the Pacific.
How does the British Fleet stand now, without regard to friendships, ententes, or alliances? The First Lord of the Admiralty stated the bare truth when he asserted, at the Guildhall banquet on November 9th, that "never in the whole history of our country has our Navy been stronger than it is at the present moment." No one, except a few irresponsible persons in search of the notoriety which is the guerdon of noisy and unreasonable agitation, denies this. The Navy League Annual states thus the position in March next, claiming that the United States and Germany are the “B” and “C” of the Two-Power Standard. 1
COMPLETED SHIPS, MARCH, 1909.
old) Great Britain ... 58 of 863,880 35 of 416,600 50 of 277,240 171 United States
40 of 136,872 126 Germany
But this is not the question of the hour. It is how shall we stand three years later--in March, 1912—when all the ships now building are completed? There will be under construction for the four Great Powers in March next the following vessels embodying the "all-big gun principle”--that is Dreadnoughts or Invincibles :
5 United States
9) In March next we shall be above the Two-Power Standard in completed ships by reason of the rapidity with which we have built and completed four Dreadnoughts—the Dreadnought, Bellerophon, Temeraire, and Superb; the three Invincibles-the Invincible, Inflexible and Indomitable; and the two Lord Nelsons --the Lord Nelson and Agamemnon-which will all be in commission next spring at a date when no other Power will have a single unit of corresponding power. We have these nine ships of the new types to our credit, and we have five more building, a total of fourteen, which will all be completed for sea by March, 1911. A few months later Germany will have nine such vessels with four more nearly finished; the United States six, with certainly four more in an advanced state, and France six, with probably another six launched and being fitted out for sea. By
(1) Hitherto the American Fleet has not been figured in calculations of British naval strength, but now hat Navy is second only to the British Navy.
the summer of 1912 Germany will have thirteen ships of the Dreadnought or Invincible type, and France and the United States six each-all at sea. Consequently, the “rule of three sum ” may be thus stated :“B” (Germany) 13 + “C” (France) 6 = “A” (England) 19 + 21 = 21
England has built or building fourteen ships; therefore seven more must be laid down next year if the Admiralty are satisfied that all six French (or American) ships will be completed by mid-1912 (which is doubtful); six new ships is a middle figure; five the barest minimum with a continuance of naval agitation ; while a standard of two to one against Germany would necessitate an even larger number than seven being begun next spring.
Let us recognise the divorce of general naval policy from foreign policy, and live at peace while we may, strong in a just cause and our supremacy on the seas. There is no reason why this aspiration should not be realised if the Government will be courageous from a party point of view, and cautious from the national point of view, and introduce in the spring an adequate programme—“Germany or no Germany.” As the Westminster Gazette has wisely suggested :-—“The Government in these times must think not only of what satisfies themselves, but also of what will prevent agitation and controversy. If there is a doubt on this subject, the doubt had better be on the side of safety. We do not want in these times to be exposed to another naval agitation, embittering the relations with another Power at the moment possibly when we might otherwise look for real improvement, nor do we want to give other Powers an excuse for believing that we can be worn down by rivalry on their part. In the past few months constant discussion has centred round Germany's naval policy because the Government, it was feared, had to be convinced of the reality of Germany's naval progress, and British public opinion had to be aroused. Mr. Asquith and his colleagues can end this excuse for bitterness if by an adequate programme of shipbuilding they will convince the British people that they are safe--"Germany or no Germany." Then we can start with "a clean slate."
(1) Ten per cent. margin of safety, according to the ex-First Lord of the Admiralty's statement of past policy, which the Prime Minister has recently accepted.