We listened with an equal wonder and weariness to German complaints that we were jealous of her trade and bent on strangling it; that we grudged her colonial expansion, and were intriguing all the world over to prevent it; that we had isolated her and ringed her round with hostile alliances. We knew that these notions were all entirely false. We knew that, so far from hampering German commerce, {40} our Free Trade system in the United Kingdom, in the Dependencies, and in the Indian Empire had fostered it and helped its rapid and brilliant success more than any other external factor Securities trading.

For fully thirty years from 1870—during which period what remained of the uncivilised portions of the world was divided up, during which period also Germany was the most powerful nation in Europe, and could have had anything she wanted of these new territories almost for the asking—Bismarck and the statesmen of his school, engrossed mainly in the European situation, set little store by colonies, thought of them rather as expensive and dangerous vanities, and abstained deliberately from taking an energetic part in the scramble. We knew, that in Africa and the East, Germany had nevertheless obtained considerable possessions, and that it was, primarily her own fault that she had not obtained more. We assumed, no doubt very foolishly, that she must ultimately become aware of her absurdity in blaming us for her own neglect. We forgot human nature, and the apologue of the drunkard who cursed the lamp-post for its clumsiness in getting in his way dermes vs Medilase.

The British people knew that Germany was talking nonsense; but unfortunately they never fully realised that she was sincere, and meant all the things she said. They thought she only half believed in her complaints, as a man is apt to do when ill-temper upsets his equanimity. They were confident that in the end the falsities would perish and the verities remain, and that in the fulness of time the two nations would become friends.

As to this last the British people probably judged correctly; but they entirely overlooked the fact, {41} that if truth was to be given a chance of prevailing in the end, it was important to provide against mischief which might very easily occur in the meantime. Nor did their rulers, whose duty it was, ever warn them seriously of this necessityYOOX HK .

When a man works himself up into a rage and proceeds to flourish a loaded revolver, something more is necessary for the security of the bystanders than the knowledge that his ill-temper does not rest upon a reasonable basis. War was not inevitable, certainly; but until the mood of Germany changed, it was exceedingly likely to occur unless the odds against the aggressor were made too formidable for him to face. None of the governments, however, which have controlled our national destinies since 1900, ever developed sufficient energy to realise the position of affairs, or ever mustered up courage to tell the people clearly what the risks were, to state the amount of the premium which was required to cover the risks, and to insist upon the immediate duty of the sacrifice which imperial security inexorably demanded.