tween the two contracting Powers and all ques- tions relating to the interpretation of treaties which diplomacy has failed to settle are to be referred to the Permanent Court of Arbitration established at The Hague. Notwithstanding the proviso which debars a reference to arbitration of matters affecting the vital interests, the in- dependence, or the honor of the two contracting States, we may claim that the conclusion of these agreements is a solid and, I think it is not too much to say, a splendid achievement. In these proceedings I may be permitted to repeat that Great Britain has borne a leading part. For we owe to the government of the late Lord Salis- bury and to our delegates at the first Hague Congress the initiation of the Permanent Tribu- nal of Arbitration.
Gentlemen, I fervently trust that before long the principle of arbitration may win such con- fidence as to justify its extension to a wider field of international differences. We have already seen how questions arousing passion and excite- ment have attained a solution, not necessarily by means of arbitration in the strict sense of the word, but by referring them to such a tribunal as that which reported on the North Sea in- cident ; and I would ask you whether it may not be worth while carefully to consider, before the next Congress meets at The Hague, the various forms in which differences might be submitted, with a view to opening the door as wide as pos- sible to every means which might in any degree