Page:Frontiers.djvu/49

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47
Frontiers

of the Yangtsze in China did not proceed beyond this somewhat impalpable assertion, which was promptly challenged by Germany. A peculiar feature of these arrangements is that the ruler or State who gives the self-denying pledge very often does so under the minimum of pressure, and sometimes with ill-concealed delight. The perils or chances of future deprivation appear to be remote: in the interim his own title to ownership has been reaffirmed by a great Power, and in this fact a useful protection may be sought against the designs or encroachments of other interested parties.

Of all the diplomatic forms or fictions which have latterly been described, it may be observed that the uniform tendency is for the weaker to crystallize into the harder shape. Spheres of Interest tend to become Spheres of Influence; temporary Leases to become perpetual; Spheres of Influence to develop into Protectorates; Protectorates to be the forerunners of complete incorporation. The process is not so immoral as it might at first sight appear; it is in reality an endeavour, sanctioned by general usage, to introduce formality and decorum into proceedings which, unless thus regulated and diffused, might endanger the peace of nations or too violently shock the conscience of the world. I know of no more striking illustration of this tendency than the development of Lord Salisbury's Siamese Declaration of January, 1896, by which the single and uncontested authority of Siam over the unguaranteed Siamese territory lying outside of the Menam watershed was specifically affirmed, with Lord Lansdowne's Declaration of April, 1904, by which this territory was openly divided into French and British Spheres of Influence, in which the two Powers mutually