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sonnets and the other with his Premiership, in withstanding Napoleon's attempt at universal dominion. Waterloo was a necessity, but it was a bitter necessity. It gave a necessary peace to the world, and remains our eternal glory, but it is tinged with eternal sadness. For it transferred political supremacy in Europe from France to the Eastern powers of darkness. France had proved herself impossible as the mistress of Europe; but her successors in hegemony have had more than all the defects of the victors of Marengo and Austerlitz, and none of their incomparable merits.
From 1815 to 1870 force lay, in the last resort, with the party of despotism, as was proved in 1849. But the intellectual and moral initiative was still with the party of freedom. The age was, therefore, an age of 'revolution' in Lord Acton's sense of the word, of struggles for power, not between material interests, but between parties representing ideas. France had not lost her intellectual leadership at Waterloo as she afterwards lost it at Sedan. Her ideas, old and new, circulated in Europe as current coin. Throughout the middle half of the century foreign poets could still sing of her:
'We look for her that sunlike stood
For body and for mind alway.'
England meanwhile used the prestige won for her by Nelson and Wellington to push the ideas of Canning and Russell. Before 1870 the belief in liberty and progress as things ultimately inevitable was axiomatic; the ethical outlook on history and politics was everywhere assumed by serious thinkers, few of whom were on the side of the existing régime. Therefore, even after the disillusionment of 1849, hope survived. The catastrophe of freedom seemed a mere postponement. In such an atmosphere the wounded cause revived, to make in 1860 its Italian conquest.
Italy was freed because freedom was the intellectual current of the age and the native bent of the Italian people. Also because Napoleon III-that 'cut-purse of the Empire and the rule '-although he depended for his stolen throne on clerical and conservative support, was Vol. 229.-No. 454.
himself a 'revolutionary' of the tradition of Marengo and Austerlitz, and went as far as his clerical supporters would allow him, and much further than they liked, in lending French arms to free Italy. When France had finished helping Italy, England came in, and after England, strange to say, Prussia herself. For Prussia also was at this time among the prophets. She was heading a 'revolution' of her own, not indeed a revolt for freedom, but a movement to realise the idea of German unity. Prussia assisted Italy in 1866 and 1870, not because Bismarck sympathised with Italy, but because he needed her. It is remarkable that, although Prussian victories opened the Italian path to Venice and to Rome, no German has claimed and no Italian has rendered gratitude on this count, because Germany was so notoriously out of sympathy with the ideas of the Italian Risorgimento. In the debates between Giolittians and Interventionists about the present war, the argument of gratitude to Prussia for the help of 1866 and 1870 has never been put forward. But gratitude to France, and still more to England, has always weighed strongly in the Italian mind.
The years 1859-1870 saw three great revolutions accomplished-the union of Italy on a basis of freedom: the union of Germany on a basis of military despotism: the abolition of slavery in the United States. These years are the most fruitful in history between the era of Napoleon and the revolutionary convulsions of the present war. But since 1870 the atmosphere. of world politics has changed. Bismarck, having got what he wanted, ceased to be a revolutionary, and the hour of enfranchisement passed by. The problems of liberation which were not solved before 1871 remained unsolved in 1914. The new age saw, indeed, an enormous increase of material prosperity, great educational progress, and a turbid intellectual activity of every kind, but it succeeded in solving no problem of the first order, at least not on the Continent of Europe. Whereas in eleven years Italian unity, German unity and American abolition were settled for ever, the next forty-six years failed to bring a solution of any of the five great problems still outstanding: Russian liberty, German liberty, the Polish question, the Turkish and Balkan question, and the race
questions of Austria-Hungary. And to these problems, which it has failed to solve, the wretched policy of the last fifty years has added the problem of armaments, a species of universal ruin and slavery which it was left for our clever modern brains to invent. Because all these problems were incapable of solution in the postBismarckian atmosphere of Europe, the present war became inevitable. This complete political failure during a period of astonishing material and educational progress, this ultra-conservatism in an era of rapid economic change, can be explained mainly by the dominion of Prussia in the world of force, and also to no small degree in the world of ideas.
England, less affected than other countries by the Bismarckian gospel, had shaken herself free of it before the final challenge came. The period since 1870 has been in the British Empire a period of advance towards democracy, the changing attitude of the Conservative party towards popular institutions being characteristically one of the chief methods of progress in England. The vast extension of the area and responsibilities of the Empire during the same period has not been found inconsistent with the growth of freedom in its various members. Wide imperial responsibilities all over the globe often necessitate the use of force; and there was, therefore, a tendency at one time for British 'Imperialism to be connected with Bismarckian principles in the minds both of critics and supporters. But the extremely democratic character of the English-speaking communities oversea more than counterbalanced this danger, which soon passed away. In its final form the Empire has emerged a Liberal Empire, and now spans the terraqueous globe as the great network of freedom. When the European war surprised us, it found us materially unready, but spiritually prepared; we were not sunk in the materialistic and slavish doctrines of Central and Eastern Europe. We stood in the breach for freedom and righteousness against realpolitik, and in spite of many disasters, including that of last October, it is permissible to believe that we have not stood in vain.
But England was for some time and in some degree affected by the Prussian disease. In the days of Palmerston British foreign policy, though often ignorant
and blundering, had not lacked an element of knighterrantry that at least had the merit of making us unpopular with despots and ranged us on the side of freedom. But, when Disraeli assumed power in 1874, an unenlightened self-interest became for awhile our only guide. If it is true that Disraeli first introduced a selfconscious Imperialism, he unfortunately introduced it in connexion with the worst act of materialistic realpolitik of which we have been guilty in modern times, the protection of the Turk in his tyranny over Christian races. In 1876, before Russia took the matter into her own hands, Disraeli encouraged the Turk to resist the just pressure of the concert of Europe. He thus rendered the Russo-Turkish war inevitable. After it had run its course, he again interfered to tear up the Treaty of San Stefano, which would have settled the Balkan question, and rendered the liquidation of Asiatic Turkey only a matter of time. England put back half the Balkans under the Turk after Russia had freed them. At the same time we allowed Austria-Hungary to occupy the Slav territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina. If Austria and Germany rule in the Slav Balkans to-day, if they threaten Egypt and India through Turkey, and if Turkey herself is a military power defying England, France and Russia to prevent her from massacring her Christians in Asia, we are only reaping what we ourselves let Disraeli sow. That was England's contribution to the crimes that brought on the present war. In 1915 we lost 100,000 men in a vain attempt to undo what we did in 1878. Now that we have repented by offering up the life-blood of our best and bravest in the Dardanelles, do not let us any longer, in mockery of these dead, write solemn approval in our history books of the proceedings that saved the Turkish Empire.
Disraeli's action had not the many excuses that can be urged for the Crimean war. That war we waged as a war for freedom-to some extent mistakenly, but to some extent, as it chanced, effectually. The Tsar Nicholas was the acknowledged head of the European reaction of 1849; and the blow he received before Sebastopol helped in the end to free the Russian serfs and the Italian patriots. But the Tsar Alexander, whom Disraeli thwarted twenty years later, was a semi-Liberal; and the check
that we inflicted on his liberating policy in the Balkans was one of the causes of the long and terrible reaction in Russian politics for which his murder gave the signal.
Both before and after 1870 it was a fatal error of our Foreign Office to suppose that the balance of power' required us to thwart Russia on every occasion, even when she was liberating peoples and setting up independent states. When Bright said that the balance of power' was a 'fetish' he was wrong in theory, for till we have a League of Nations we must have a balance of power; in Napoleon's time and again in 1914 it was necessary to fight for the balance of power or fall slaves to one nation. But, at the time he spoke, Bright was uttering a practical truth of great value, for the use made first by Palmerston and afterwards by Disraeli of the catch-word 'balance of power' in order to justify constant hostility either to France or to Russia was, in effect, to set up a 'fetish. The balance of power' then existed, if only they could have let it alone. Indeed, in so far as it required readjustment, the danger lay, as we now see, in exactly the opposite direction-in the latent power of Germany, Austria and Turkey.
In 1880 there was a reaction against Disraeli's Prussian style of Imperialism, which never reappeared in England under the same form. But the reaction came too late to overset the Turk; and Gladstone's mismanagement soon brought on a counter-reaction against idealism. In the sphere of foreign politics this reaction did no harm, for Lord Salisbury after 1885 was one of the wisest and best Foreign Ministers England ever had. But in the realm of thought Bismarckian theories combined with a misreading of Darwin to spread distrust of liberty and cynical contempt for idealism of all sorts. It was unfortunate that, when the Germans had had something real to teach us, we had turned a deaf ear to Matthew Arnold's vindications of their sweetness and light'; and, when at last, in an age too late, we took the advice of Friendship's Garland and in the fin de siècle turned to Germany, we heard only the harsh barrack voices of Bismarck and Treitschke, and reverenced them as the successors of Goethe.
The extravagant worship of German methods of thought and scholarship was injurious in many spheres, and in none more so than in history. English history