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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 2

Consideration of these three Requisites

Consideration of these three Requisites.

The first of these propositions will not be disputed

1. The democracy must be led by chiefs in whom it confides.

, but some will say that the chiefs, in whom one portion of the public confides, will be necessaril distrusted by another.

This is far from true in relation to international affairs. There ought to be no division of parties with reference to them, and as a matter of fact there have, for a long time back, till quite recently, been no such divisions in this country.

Lord Aberdeen was perfectly right when in page 8 December, 1852, he said in the House of Lords. "The truth is, that, though there may have been differences in the execution according to the different hands entrusted with the direction of affairs, the principles of the foreign policy of the country have for the last thirty years been the same."

There are divisions about international affairs now, not at all because the Liberals distrust the Conservatives quâ Conservatives, but because they, and not they alone, have come to the conclusion that those at present in power have no clear ideas and very little knowledge as to international affairs. The great majority alike of Liberals and Conservatives belong in international affairs to the same party, and that is the party of Great Britain and Ireland; but most Liberals and the best Conservatives have felt for the last two years in the position of men who find themselves passengers in a vessel, the crew of which is obviously unacquainted with the simplest duties of seamanship, which has touched ground once or twice already, and may at any moment be run on a rock-bound coast.

We need not then linger over the first of the three requisites which I have indicated. A man, who is fitted by natural disposition and by acquirement to be at the head of the Foreign Office, will if he understands how to make his policy intelligible to his countrymen, be, except on the rarest occasions, page 9 supported by both sides, whatever be his political sympathies in our internal disputes, for the broad outlines of British foreign policy are commanded by circumstances, and there is no dispute about them amongst reasonable men.

That brings me to my second requisite, that the

II. These chiefs must act on a thoroughly well considered system of policy.

chiefs of our crowned democracy, whether Liberal or Conservative, must act upon a thoroughly well considered system of policy.
What then should that system of policy be?

What should that system of policy be?

It should be a policy which abhors aggression, which tries to promote peace everywhere, which, while always letting it be clearly seen that we possess sufficient force to make it highly imprudent for any one to assail us, behaves in the society of nations as men of the world behave in ordinary society, with as little inclination to take as to give offenc —a policy which recognises the truth that nations become great, not by squandering their resources in Quixotic enterprises, but by husbanding them; and that true glory depends, not upon military success, which is at best splendid misfortune, but upon brilliant achievements in the arts of peace, upon wealth wisely and nobly used for public and private purposes; upon long lists of great statesmen, great poets, great historians, great artists, great orators, great men of science; upon thinking first the thoughts which other nations adopt, and building up first the institutions which other nations imitate; upon deserving to obtain from the future the praise page 10 of having been wise and just. That and that alone entitles any people to claim for itself the first place amongst the nations.

Mr. Gladstone's six principles.

It would be difficult to set forth the principles upon which British foreign policy should be based more clearly than Mr. Gladstone did in his speech at West Calder in November last. He said, as reported in the Times:—
1.That we should foster the strength of the Empire by just legislation and by economy at home, thereby producing two great elements of national power, viz., wealth which is the physical element, and union and contentment which are moral elements, and that we should reserve the strength of the Empire for great and worthy occasions.
2.That we should do our utmost to preserve the peace of the world.
3.That we should use every endeavour to maintain the concert of Europe, remembering that common action for a common object is the only way in which we can unite the Great Powers in obtaining objects connected with the common good of all.
4.That we should avoid needless and entangling engagements.
5.That we should acknowledge the equal rights of all nations.
6.That we should have a sympathy with freedom, and a desire to give it a scope founded not page 11 upon visionary ideas, but upon the long experience of many generations within the shores of this happy isle.
But it may be objected "dolus versatur in generalibus;"

Examination of details.

all this is too vague, let us enter a little more into detail.
What should be the national attitude with regard

Our national attitude to the Empire as it exists.

to our Empire as it exists?

To that I reply that we should defend every portion of our Empire from foreign attack with the whole strength of the Empire, and that we should maintain that Empire pretty much as it is now—a general rule which would not of course prevent us giving up from time to time any portion which we deliberately considered a "damnosa hæreditas,"—such as the Ionian islands certainly were, such as, there is every reason to suppose, Cyprus will ere long prove itself to be—or from acquiring additional territory, if really convenient, in a proper and honourable way, as has, for example, often been done in India.

What should be our national attitude with regard

Treaty engagements.

to our treaty engagements?

I reply, that we should construe our treaty engagements exactly as honourable men construe their private engagements, always fulfilling them to the utmost of our ability, but remembering, in public as in private, the sound maxim "Nemo tenetur ad impossibilia." But just because we should be very page 12 careful to keep our treaty engagements, our tendency should be to enter into as few onerous engagements, and above all treaties of guarantee, as possible. There are occasions when to enter into a treaty of guarantee is the lesser of two evils, but such occasions are very rare.

Intervention and non-intervention.

Are we then in matters which are not provided for by any actual treaty to be partisans of intervention or of non-intervention?

I reply, that we should be partisans of neither the one nor the other. We should lean to nonintervention, just as well-conditioned people in ordinary society make it a rule to intervene as little as possible in the disputes of their neighbours; but to assume an attitude of absolute non-intervention, to try to be to Europe what Corcyra tried to be to Greece, is to engage in a vain labour, unless we can tow these islands into the middle of the Atlantic and give up India. But there is surely some mean between what a great jurist has called the "bloody meddlesomeness" of the half-educated Chauvinist or Jingo and that absolute non-intervention to which our geographical position says "No."

"Peace at any price"—what that phrase means.

Attempts are often made by unscrupulous writers to attribute to the Liberal party an opinion in favour of "peace at any price." I need hardly say that there is not the slightest foundation for such an attribution. The phrase "peace at any price" is not indeed a very happy one, even when used in page 13 relation to the very small section of politicians with whose name alone it is brought into connection by any one who cares to use correctly the ordinary terminology of politics. There is no such thing as an advocate of "peace at any price." The most pacific of politicians are in favour of meeting force by force if these islands, or any of the world-wide possessions of England, are attacked, and they are further in favour of standing by any treaty engagements to which the honour of this nation is decisively and unequivocally committed.

The advocates of "Peace at any price" would object however to extending the treaty obligations of this country, and would get out of all existing treaty obligations which bind us to go to war under any circumstances, as quickly as good faith would allow; nor would they, I apprehend, under any circumstances whatever go to war for an idea, or for any national interest about which there could be the slightest difference of opinion.

The peace almost at any price party, which

Peace almost at any price.

comprises the vast majority of sensible men both in the Conservative and Liberal camps, only in so far disagrees with the "peace at any price" politicians, that it would by no means bind itself not to go to war for an idea, nor to get, as soon as good faith would permit, out of all treaty engagements which oblige us to go to war. With the members of this great party these questions resolve themselves page 14 into questions of "relative duties." It would be easy to imagine a case which in no way touched the interests of this country, in which it would be distinctly right for us to make war. But then it would have to be a case in which it was clear that our intervention would produce far more good than harm, and in which it would be morally certain that the misery which results from war would not be misery in waste. Happily such cases are very uncommon in actual affairs. The case of the support given in 1826 to the Constitutional party in Portugal is not really in point, for we were bound by treaty to defend Portugal against Spanish or any other external aggression. If Pesth had been a town on the Atlantic seaboard a strong case might possibly have been made out for interference in 1848. The Hungarians had in the earlier stages of their struggle with Austria a perfectly good cause, and it would have been much to the advantage of Europe that they should have succeeded then, instead of nearly twenty years later. Hungary, however, was not a country in which we could have effected anything at all without turning Europe upside down, and in which it was more than doubtful, under the circumstances of the time, whether we could have effected anything if we had turned Europe upside down.

Wars for an idea.

Every case in which we are asked to interfere for the general good of mankind, or in other words to fight for an idea, must be examined on its own page 15 merits. We must take infinite care that we really understand what we are asked to fight about. We must be on our guard against the generous error, that because a power is weak and appears to be bullied by a stronger power, it is necessarily in the right; and whenever there is a doubt we must remember that our first duty is to our own people, and above all, to that large class which, although it is the most apt to ring the bells at the commencement of a war which appears to be generous in its objects, is always the first to be obliged to wring its hands, if the war becomes a serious or long-continued one.
We shall rarely go wrong if we remember that

We can rarely be right in European affairs if we are alone.

hardly any occasion can arise on which it can be wise for us to adopt in European affairs an isolated position. Our rôle should be that of a cementing force which holds together the great Continental Powers, all of whom have more or less conflicting interests. Except at one point, which is hardly a portion of the continent, namely, the rock of Gibraltar, we have absolutely no separate interest on the continent of Europe. Whatever is conceived by any school of British politicians to be our interest on the continent of Europe is either a chimera, or it is the common interest of nearly the whole of Europe. If in European affairs we find ourselves isolated, the chances are ten to one that we are mistaken in our aims, or in the way in which we try to carry them into effect. This may page 16 not always be so. It has certainly not been so always.

Yet Some times, as just before February, 1848.

It was not so, for example, in the end of the year 1847, when it is but too possible that we were on the verge of being attacked by a coalition of France and the despotic powers leagued together to crush the one state which represented the principle of freedom in this part of the world. At that period, however, although we were isolated with respect to the governments, we had allies in the people from one end of Europe to the other, and if we had been attacked, we might have lit up a war of opinion from the Bay of Biscay to far beyond the Vistula.

But such a state of circumstances not likely to recur.

It is hardly possible to conceive such a state of circumstances again arising. The whole course of events since the outbreak of the Sicilian revolution in the winter of 1847-8 has been playing the game of England, if only England is wise, and does not throw herself, as her insane rulers nearly led her to do in the spring of 1878, across the path of necessary and inevitable progress. If ever again there comes a time when the state of things which existed in Europe before 1847, or during the reaction which followed the year of revolutions, is reproduced, then we may again find ourselves isolated; for it is to be hoped that the love of being free ourselves and of seeing others as free as circumstances will permit, has got so into our blood, that not even a long continuance of page 17 Beaconsfieldian rule could make a majority of the British people sympathize with anything analogous to the Congress policy—the policy with which we broke even before the Reform Act of 1832.

But what is the likelihood of anything of the kind coming to pass?

The stream of tendency is the other way, and we have nothing to do but to let well alone; not to attempt to prevent chemical processes by mechanical means; not to try either to galvanize dead nations or to prevent new ones from rising into life.

If we remember that it is only under the most peculiar circumstances that we can act wisely in European affairs without being on the same side as an overwhelming majority of the Great Powers, it is seldom, indeed, that we shall have to interfere by force of arms. Our wars for an idea will be few and far between.

A fussy anxiety to be interfering in the concerns

A desire to interfere abroad often arises from a secret doubt of our own strength.

of other people is as undignified as it is foolish, and proceeds not seldom from a secret doubt of our own strength. When foreign newspapers, trading upon i the weakness of a section of our countrymen, try by taunts to engage Great Britain to do the work which ought to be done by other members of the European State system who are more immediately concerned, it would show more confidence in the greatness of the Empire if we were to remember two passages in the speeches of a Minister who was page 18 certainly not prone to distrust the powers either of himself or of his country.

Two quotations from Mr. Canning.

"What," said Mr. Canning, "is it to become a maxim with this country that she is ever to be a belligerent? Is she never, under any possible state of circumstances, to remain neutral? If this proposition be good for anything, it must run to this extent—that our position, insulated as it is from all the rest of the world, moves us so far from the scene of Continental warfare, that we ought always to be belligerent—that we are bound to counteract the designs of Providence, to reject the advantages of nature, and to render futile and erroneous the description of the poet, who has said to our honour, that we were less prone to war and tumult, on account of our happy situation, than the neighbouring nations that lie conterminous with one another." And again at Plymouth, "Our present repose is no more a proof of inability to act, than the state of inertness and inactivity in which I have seen those mighty masses that float in the waters above your town is a proof that they are devoid of strength, and incapable of being fitted out for action. You well know, gentlemen, how soon one of those stupendous masses, now reposing on their shadows in perfect stillness—how soon, upon any call of patriotism, or of necessity, it would assume the likeness of an animated thing, instinct with life and motion—how soon it would ruffle, as it were, its swelling plumage—how quickly it would put forth all its page 19 beauty and its bravery, collect its scattered elements of strength, and awaken its dormant thunder. Such as is one of these magnificent machines when springing from inaction into a display of its might—such is England herself, while, apparently passive and motionless, she silently concentrates the power to be put forth on an adequate occasion."
What then should our attitude be as to wars for

Wars for menaced interests.

British interests?

In the case of wars which are recommended on the ground of their being in defence of our legitimate and undoubted interests, we must inquire most carefully, first, whether the menaced interests cannot be secured without a war; secondly, whether they are worth a war; and thirdly, we must remember that we have always in the midst of us large classes who have a personal interest in war, which they quite naturally confound with a national interest.

We all recollect the story of the man who said in the spring of 1878, "D-----n it, is there to be no fighting? Why, I've two sons in the army!"

We ought also to be certain that we know at least the broad facts on which a judgment must be formed.

"What I most fear," a person of position said to a friend of mine, when the Russians were advancing in Armenia, "is that they should reach Lake Van. If they once do that, they will descend the Amoor and attack India!"

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This is hardly a caricature of the kind of considerations which rallied a great many supporters to the views of the present Government, but all things are not British interests which ill-informed partisans fancy to be so.

When the causes of error which I have noticed, and others, such as the love of excitement, natural to all men, have been weighed and allowed for, if it is still found necessary to fight in defence of our undoubted and legitimate interests, by all means let us do so.

Seldom indeed shall we have to light for our interests if we take proper precautions.

But the occasions in which any Power will be mad enough to interfere with the undoubted and legitimate interests of this country will be few indeed, if we take reasonable and obvious precautions.

What should these be?

Now, what should these precautions be?

We should, I answer, have a supreme Navy, an adequate Array, a first-rate Diplomatic Corps, Foreign Office, and Consular Service.

A supreme Navy.

By a supreme Navy is meant a navy which (l) is strong enough to meet and overcome any combination of fleets which it is reasonable to imagine could be brought against it; (2) is sufficient to make a landing on our shores perfectly out of the question; (3) is able to clear the seas of the armed vessels of an enemy at the very commencement of a war, and to keep them clear.

As to the first of these points there will probably be no difference of opinion. The navy was in a page 21 position to cope with any possible combination of fleets under the late Administration, and is, it may be hoped, able to do so now.

The importance of the second can hardly be overrated. No victory, however decisive, won over a force which had landed on our coast, could reestablish the position of this country as the one place in Europe which is perfectly safe from invasion. The fabric of British credit would be disastrously shaken by a successful landing, even if the army which had landed was hopelessly beaten within a day or two.

It will be observed that under the third head nothing is said of damaging the commerce of an enemy. That is omitted advisedly, for our commerce is now so enormous that our navy will often, especially at the beginning of hostilities, find that it has enough to do in sweeping the enemy's armed ships from the seas and in sealing up his war harbours, while it will frequently be evident that any attempt to stop an enemy's commerce or to blockade his commercial ports will do to us as much or more harm than it will do to him.

By an adequate Army is meant an army sufficiently

An adequate Army.

strong to co-operate with the navy in rendering a landing impossible, to take its share in holding India, to garrison and defend the various fortresses and harbours which we have scattered about the world, and to take, when occasion arises, under our treaty engagements, along with our allies, a part in page 22 operations on the European continent—regard being had to the fact that it is mainly for pecuniary and naval assistance that our allies have a right to look to a country situated like the United Kingdom.

The army should be relatively small, but every exertion should be used to make it superior to any equal number of troops that could be brought against it, and while the system of short service introduced by Lord Card well should be carried further, the question should be carefully investigated, whether it is quite impossible to work that system in a manner which is not too disastrous to the finances of India.

While endeavouring in every way to make the army efficient, the Liberal party and the sounder part of their opponents should never so far forget their traditions as to cease to be jealous of militarism, the most dangerous at this moment of all the diseases which afflict the European body politic. I say the sounder part of their opponents, for the real Conservatives, the conservatives who still exist in some rectories and country houses, have just as little sympathy for the bastard Imperialism of the Prime Minister and his immediate following, as had the French Legitimists for the system of Napoleon III. which it attempts to reproduce in miniature.

A first-rate Diplomatic Corps,

By a first-rate Diplomatic Corps, Foreign Office, and Consular Service, is meant such an organization of our means of obtaining information with regard to foreign countries and of influencing their Govern- page 23 ments, as was sketched some years ago before the

Foreign Office, and Consular Service.

Diplomatic Committee by our present ambassador at Berlin, Lord Odo Russell, who, true to the ancient spirit of his house, and speaking with all the authority which belongs to his knowledge and experience, said, "I am of opinion that diplomacy will become one of the most powerful engines for the promotion of peace and good relations. At the present moment we look to armies to establish peace and goodwill among Christians; but I am sure diplomacy will be a better engine when properly developed and organized. The more feelers you have all over the civilized world, the better informed you are, and the more influence you can exercise; and I think that through an organization of that kind you are more likely to establish peace and goodwill among Christians than you are through armies, Armstrong guns, breechloaders, Minié bullets, and so on."
And this brings me to the third requisite, that

III. The chiefs of the democracy must be informed themselves, and must make the people see that they are informed.

the chiefs of the democracy must be fully informed about international affairs themselves, must have the art of making the people sec that they are so, and of taking it with them.

It is under this head that there is most room for improvement in the method of conducting our affairs which has prevailed even under normal Administrations, for it is impossible to deny that neither party has taken enough pains to see that it has had at its disposal a sufficient number of men who have aptitude for and acquaintance with international affairs.

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The second order of statesmen in some countries of the Continent are far better informed about what is going on in Europe than are many statesmen amongst us who in all other respects have the advantage of them.

This is not only true, but it is an open secret. Everybody knows it, and the fact that it is known weakens all Governments. That was not so important when the mass of the people took no great interest in international affairs, except during great crises; nor had any means, if they had a view on foreign policy, of making that view prevail. Now, however, when international affairs are discussed in every newspaper and at every public meeting, is it not high time that we should take care that the natural leaders of the people should have some right to say, "You know that these things want anxious study, and you know we have given them anxious study"?

Never again shall we have international affairs managed on a firm and consecutive system until successive Cabinets become sufficiently strong, in the number of persons accustomed to consider international affairs which they contain, to give a reasonable guarantee to the mass of the people that their rulers really know more about foreign policy than they do themselves.

Improvement in this respect can, we fear, only be brought about gradually by the conviction of its urgent necessity forcing itself upon the minds of page 25 men who engage in public business. When it has done so, I cannot doubt that there will once again grow up a general agreement about the part we should take in Europe, and that we shall once more be able to quote the words of Lord Aberdeen, which I have cited above, as correctly describing the actual state of things.

The late Government acted in all respects in

A mistake of the late Government.

accordance with the traditions of English foreign policy since the final abandonment of the ideas of Castlereagh, but it made one very great mistake; it did not remember that in dealing with a democracy you must not only be right, but seem right. 1

If it had occurred to Mr. Gladstone to take the same pains to put his foreign policy before the country as he did to put before it the question of the Irish Church, that policy would undoubtedly have been enthusiastically supported; but the amount of mental vigour which was used in expounding the views of his Government upon internal affairs was so enormously greater than that used in expounding its views upon international affairs, that numbers of people here and abroad jumped to the conclusion that it neglected the latter.

Nothing could be better, as I have said, than the

The Periclean dictum.

résumé of the principles on which English foreign

1 The present Government takes as its motto in all affairs, Videri non esse. The late Government took as its motto in foreign affairs, Esse non videri. The right motto for all Governments in all affairs is Esse et videri.

page 26 policy should be conducted which was given by Mr. Gladstone at West Colder, but the phrase which he used immediately before, and in which he recalled the Periclean dictum about women, that the less they were heard of the better, was of course taken hold of by his critics. Doubtless the less foreign affairs are heard of the better, but that they should not be heard of is, as the Germans say, "a pious wish," and it is of the last importance that the Liberals should make the country feel, that though they are occupied chiefly with domestic matters, they know more about foreign affairs than their opponents; that during the last twenty years more correct forecasts as to what was likely to happen on the continent of Europe have been made by Liberal than by Conservative politicians; that it would be just as easy to prove that some of Lord Salisbury's critics have been habitually right as that Lord Salisbury, the only man now in the Conservative Cabinet whom decently informed Conservatives believe to know anything whatever about foreign affairs, has been habitually, hopelessly, and even ludicrously wrong.

The mistake of the late Government will hardly be repeated.

The error on the part of the late Cabinet, of appearing, though only appearing, to neglect international affairs, has led to such grave consequences that we may be pretty sure no English Government will ever fall into it again; and it may be hoped that the amending of this error will draw attention to the deeper and more persistent page 27 evil to which I have directed attention above—the evil, namely, that few English politicians find it worth their while to make a specialty of the study of foreign questions.
As soon as the leaders of party see that it will

The two parties in the State may, it is hoped, learn to vie with each other in acquaintance with foreign affairs and in perfecting our means of information.

be to their advantage that their countrymen should consider that they have a better acquaintance than their opponents with international affairs, a wholesome rivalry will be introduced, and both parties will begin to give an amount of attention to the organization of their means of acquiring information which they have never done before. The strengthening both in quantity and quality of the Foreign Office and of the Diplomatic Service, to which I alluded above, will be seen to be absolutely necessary, and I trust it may fall to the Liberal party to initiate a reform which is so much wanted.

That party, or at least an important section of it, has always taken up a rather critical and not too friendly attitude with reference to the services which are directed by the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. This is intelligible enough, for there is unhappily no doubt that in the good old times appointments in these services were often scandalously jobbed. Useless posts were kept up and filled by useless or worse than useless people. Persons passed into the service and even rose high in it who were emphatically hard bargains, merely in virtue of their having powerful patrons. Now however all that is very much changed. The page 28 diplomatic service is not over-manned, but under-manned. It would be difficult to propose any wiser economy than that which would add a good many thousands a year to the diplomatic estimates, provided at the same time further security were taken for the money being well spent.

New securities wanted.

One of these securities should undoubtedly be throwing access to the service open to merit irrespective of party. Whether a Liberal or Conservative Government is in power, the sons of Liberal or Conservative fathers should, if their attainments and merits justify it, be able to come forward for the diplomatic as well as for the military service, not as a matter of favour but as a matter of right.

A modified system of competitive examination.

The Foreign Secretary must in the last resort be the person to appoint his own agents; and if he has to choose between the son of a political friend and of a political enemy, both young men having been stamped with the same stamp by competent examiners, he will naturally choose the son of the friend. Such cases however would rarely arise if entrance to the service always involved taking a good place in a competitive examination of a very high order, such as has been frequently suggested.

Supreme power over his department still to be left to Secretary of State.

Competitive examination is, as we all know, liable to many drawbacks, but if the object of the examination is not to place men in order as first, second, third, and so on, but to select a class of men out of which the Secretary of State may choose, almost all its evils are avoided.
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What is true of the Diplomatic Service is equally

The Foreign Office.

true of the Foreign Office. It greatly wants strengthening. Nowadays it is virtually entered by competition, but by a competition which, unlike that which has been suggested for the Diplomatic Service, begins at the wrong end, all candidates who have to compete requiring to be nominated, an arrangement which, to say nothing of its other bad consequences, does not give the Secretary of State the opportunity of having good men brought to his notice if their connections belong to the opposite party in the State.
Not until our public men take more seriously the

Till the suggested changes have been made, our crowned democracy will not; have a fair chance of; managing its international affairs.

duty of being students of foreign affairs before they can claim with any right to lead public opinion about them; not until, by making the Foreign Office, the Diplomatic and Consular Services, as good as they can be made, we have provided Government with proper eyes and cars all over the world, are we authorized to say that our crowned democracy cannot manage international affairs. The truth is, it has never had a fair chance of doing so, it has never possessed proper organs for their management.
It has been sometimes imagined that the gradual

Great future of diplomacy

democratizing of Europe would be fatal to diplomacy, the most exclusive and aristocratic of professions. No one will continue to hold that opinion who looks below the surface at the realities of things. A great deal of the glitter and frippery that were once associated with diplomacy and made it the laughing- page 30 stock of serious men, has already fallen off it, and something more has still to fall, but the real importance of diplomacy is only beginning. More and more the diplomatist will think of himself, not merely as the representative of his Sovereign, out of whose personal income the English diplomatist used till recent times to be paid, but as the representative of the whole nation, from the Sovereign downwards. More and more will he recognize himself to be the expression of what ought to be, and, in spite of occasional Jingo outbreaks, is with every decade becoming more and more the prevailing feeling of this country in its relations at least with civilized States, "Peace on earth, goodwill towards men." More and more will he recognize that his is indeed the highest of all the services, that the army and navy are merely the necessary and honoured instruments which the nation keeps in reserve, with which to meet unreason, if he who is the representative of reason shall unfortunately fail.

But the Diplomatic Service must be improved to enable it to fulfil its destiny.

In order, however, that diplomacy should hold this position, we must take care to make the Diplomatic Service and all that is connected with it what it ought to be, and good though it is in many respects now, it is susceptible of very great improvements.
The objects that we should set before us by those improvements are fourfold:—

That in every spot of political importance in the world there should be a thoroughly competent page 31 person, whose business it is to collect and to transmit to the British Foreign Office the most correct and early information about all matters of importance.


That the Foreign Office should be so organized as not only to store and arrange all this information for the use of the Foreign Secretary for the time being, but to make public as much of it as can with advantage be made public.


That in every place of political importance this country should be represented by a man to whom his countrymen can point as a thoroughly creditable representative of what is best in these islands, that every British embassy and mission should be a centre of the best kind of British influence, and that no trouble or expense should be spared to make all their members fit to take, and capable of taking from the first, a distinguished place, not only in Court society, to which our diplomatists sometimes too much confine themselves, but amongst the men of letters and politicians of the countries in which they reside.


That diplomatists should not be quite so much "up in a balloon" as they often are. They will pardon the expression to one who has the sincerest admiration for their craft; and indeed, all the best of them will admit, that it is a real misfortune that they are not oftener enabled, without too great sacrifices, to come into contact with our home political life. They greatly need "se retremper" from time to time in its boisterous but page 32 health-bestowing currents. Leave should be more freely given and on easier terms for this purpose to those in the regular line; and there should be, if possible, more frequent exchanges from parliamentary to diplomatic, and from diplomatic to parliamentary activity. That a man should be at once a member of the House of Commons and a representative of his Sovereign abroad, as was the ease, for example, with Philip Stanhope, was no doubt an anomaly, but it was an anomaly which had its advantages.1

The evil which I would propose to meet is by no means one confined to our own diplomatists. Other free nations suffer just as much or more from it, but it would be worthy of the mother of free nations to devise a remedy.

Some increase of expenditure would he required, but not very much.

I do not deny, I have indeed already admitted, that in order to effect the necessary improvements some increased expenditure would be required, but it would not be very much; and for every thousand a year judiciously added to the diplomatic estimates, we might safely withdraw five from the naval and military estimates as framed, not by Ministers who are thinking more of by-ends than of cither economy or efficiency, but from the estimates of really honest Ministers, Ministers who do not mind harassing interests if they serve the public.

"Si vis pacem para bellum."

"Si vis pacem para bellum" is a sensible motto enough, if it means "do not trust too much to

See Chesterfield's Letters.

1 See Chesterfield's Letters.

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reason in a world in which there is a great deal of unreason;" but "Si vis pacem para pacem" is a

Si vis pacem para pacem.

still better one, if it is understood to mean, "take care to have all your agencies for seeking peace and ensuing it in the foreground and in thoroughly good order, so as to give reason the best chance you can."
Much of the good, however, that might result

Know and diffuse knowledge.

from the increased knowledge of statesmen about foreign affairs will be lost, if they do not take more pains to spread their own knowledge and ideas amongst their countrymen. If they do not do so, their hands may be forced at any moment, and they may be driven into courses which will be equally disagreeable to sane Liberals and sane Conservatives, by some sudden enthusiasm, which would never have taken hold on the popular mind if men in the front rank of polities had been wise in time, and had kept their countrymen a little more au courant of their thoughts. The Russophobic nonsense which is in a fair way to ruin India, would never have got the influence it has, if statesmen had not blinked the Central Asian question a dozen years ago.