(Written in August, 1911.)
As long ago as 1870 an Irishman pointed out that if the English press did not abandon the campaign of prejudiced suspicion it was even then conducting against Germany, the time for an understanding between Great Britain and the German people would be gone for ever.
It was Charles Lever who delivered this shrewd appreciation of the onlooker.
Writing from Trieste on August 29. 1870. to John Blackwood, he stated:
"Be assured the Standard is making a great blunder by its anti-Germanism, and English opinion has just now a value in Germany which if the nation be once disgusted with us will be gone for ever."
Lever preserved enough of the Irishman through all his official connection to see the two sides of a question and appreciate the point of view of the other man.
What Lever pointed out during the early stages of the Franco-German War has come to pass. The Standard of forty years ago is the British press of to-day. with here and there the weak voice of an impotent Liberalism crying in the wilderness. Germany has, indeed, become thoroughly disgusted and the hour of reconciliation has long since gone by. In Lever's time it was now or never; the chance not taken then would be lost for ever, and the English publicist of to-day is not in doubt that it is now too late. His heart searchings need another formula of expression—no longer a conditional assertion of doubt, but a positive questioning of impending fact. "'Is it too soon?" That the growing German navy must be smashed he is convinced, but how and when to do it are not so clear.
The situation ist not yet quite intolerable, and so, although many urge an immediate attack before the enemy