Page:The New Europe - Volume 4.djvu/405

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16 August 1917]

[The New Europe


but in 1856, in 1871, 1878 and in 1912–13, European diplomacy prepared a great war by misreading the will and thwarting the destiny of a dozen small peoples throughout Europe. In each case the innate power of race burst the bonds of an unjust settlement; and to-day we should be blind indeed if we did not see that inherent justice and high European expediency alike impose an equitable settlement of nationality as indispensable to the future peace of Europe.

The Pact of Björkö

The past summer has yielded a rich crop of diplomatic “revelations.” In quick succession we have learnt the details of King Constantine’s treachery to Serbia, the terms of M. Ribot’s agreement with the Tsar, the circumstances connected with the Russian mobilisation of 1914, and the text of the messages which passed between the German and Russian Emperors at the crisis of the Russo-Japanese War. Of these disclosures the most sensational and actually the most illuminating are the last, even though they are concerned with a period of history which already seems far removed from that in which we are living to-day. The “Willy-Nicky” telegrams of 1904–5 throw a flood of light not only upon the personalities of the two chief actors in the tragedy of July, 1914, the Kaiser and the ex-Tsar, but also upon the principles by which German foreign policy has been guided ever since the present Emperor took the control of the relations between Germany and her neighbours out of the hands of the Iron Chancellor.

The circumstances which occasioned the exchange of the now famous telegrams between “Willy” and “Nicky” may be briefly recapitulated. The spring of the year 1904 was marked by two events of far-reaching historical significance—the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War, and the conclusion of the Anglo-French Agreement. By the autumn of that year the defeat of Russia by Japan was assured: her Pacific Squadron, worsted in several encounters in the Yellow Sea, was blockaded in the harbour of Port Arthur, whilst a series of land battles, culminating in the victories of Liao-yang and the Sha-ho, had left the Japanese in control of a considerable slice of southern Manchuria. Such was the situation when the ill-fated Baltic fleet set