Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

Office, whose duty and professional point of honour it is to have his subject at his fingers' ends? Why are not the countries with which Great Britain conducts her relations through the Foreign Office divided into groups over each of which is a person bound to be au courant not only of the mere departmental business which relates to his group, but of the books which have reference to it? France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Belgium might be assigned to one; Holland, Switzerland, Germany, Austro-Hungary, and the Scandinavian countries to a second; Russia and Central Asia to a third, who would also be expected to keep himself informed about all the Slavonic provinces of Turkey and Austro-Hungary; Greece, the Turkish Empire, Persia, and the whole of Eastern Africa would fall to a fourth, who would be in the closest relations with the India Office; China, Japan, Siam, and all the unenumerated countries of the old world to a fifth; Northern and Central America to a sixth; South America and the small unenumerated countries of the New World, such as Hayti, to a seventh. These officers would not in any way supersede or interfere with the existing heads of departments, who would retain their present duties and position until perhaps the time arrives for a complete reconsideration of Foreign Office arrangements.

But such a plan would cost money. Of course it would, perhaps 10,500l. a year in salaries, and another 2,500l. in expenses of one kind and another. Well, but what is that in comparison with the advantages that would be derived from having a focus into which to bring all the information supplied by your consulates and embassies, and to have it ready, properly sifted and checked, for the use of the Secretary of State, and, whenever it was desired, of the public?

Most people can come to tolerably good decisions when they have all the facts before them. Ninety-nine political mistakes out of a hundred are made from blank ignorance of things which ought to be known.

The expenses incurred by this great country for its representation abroad are not at all large in proportion to its importance, and might with advantage be increased; but it would be much better, if a few thousands a year must absolutely be saved, to put our representatives in the position of those of America, rather than not to supply them with the very best information. In diplomacy, more than in anything else, knowledge is power.

With this is connected the subject that was discussed on Mr. Trevelyan's motion in the spring of this year-the method of admission to the diplomatic service. At present it is entered by nomination guarded by a pass examination. The Foreign Office is entered by what is virtually, though not in name, a sharp competitive examination. The result of this arrangement, if it is continued, will be to make the staff of the Foreign Office much superior to that of the diplomatic service, which is for many reasons undesirable. It would

be much better to put the two services on precisely the same footing, to allow any one who pleased to compete for a nomination-the examination being conducted under the superintendence of statesmen and diplomatists and surrounded by sufficient prestige to make the being placed in the list of selected candidates an object in itself. Out of that list it should then be the duty of the Secretary of State for the time being to make his appointments on his own responsibility; the diplomatic service requiring obviously a pretty high property qualification, which the Foreign Office does not, and various other adventitious advantages, which are of no importance in the home Civil Service, being of distinct value to the country in its representatives abroad.

If any Secretary of State would take into consideration the whole state of the machine by which our foreign relations are conducted, with a view to making these improvements, he would have done the best stroke of business for the power of his country abroad that has been done for many a day. But who will take the trouble? Who cares enough about the subject? It is not one of those reforms which people can scream about, and so it is too likely that it will wait to the Greek Kalends.

A change in our own method of conducting business is the only one which will, so far as I can see, be entailed upon us if this war ends by a temporary compromise. But it may not do so; for

2. From any one of half-a-dozen different causes, what we are now witnessing may be the beginning of the end, and we may have, once for all, to settle the Eastern Question.

Well, then, I hold that that question must either be settled naturally or artificially. If it is to be settled naturally, everybody will hold his hand, and Europe will assist at the pleasing spectacle of a war of races which will be continued till the stronger succeeds in asserting itself. That, however, is practically out of the question in this civilised age. Then it must be settled artificially, and the only artificial settlement that has a chance of being durable is the creation of a new Byzantine Empire under some European prince. If, then, the Eastern Question has to be faced now, we should, I think, use all our endeavours to have placed at Constantinople whatever European prince the Great Powers think the most convenient or least inconvenient, providing him, of course, with a certain amount of skilled European administration. If, however, that is impossible, and if the Turkish Empire is manifestly at an end, then we should say to our allies: 'We have loyally done our best in trying along with you to make the settlement most likely to suit all parties in European Turkey. You have not agreed with us, and you may be right-anyhow you are more interested in the matter than we are. If we have Egypt and a coaling station in Crete, Constantinople ceases to be a British interest. We accept then the proposal which

you have often made to us: we take the suzerainty of Egypt, with all the powers that are necessary for keeping open our road to India and promoting the prosperity of the Nile valley.' That, put into diplomatic language, would be the reasonable and at the same time the honourable course; and it is the course which, in all human probability, it will be in our power to follow IF THIS WAR, WHICH I FOR ONE WISH HAD NEVER BROKEN OUT, IS DECISIVE.

To such a consummation Her Majesty's Opposition can only contribute through encouraging the Government by assuring it beforehand of the fullest support; and such support, I think, any Government has a right to reckon upon from any opposition.

The control of Egypt would add no doubt to our responsibilities. For our mere national interests the status quo of two years ago was vastly convenient; but if that status quo can never be restored, if the Turkish Empire is to break up, and if our allies continue to press upon us that we should take that control, it would be unwise and pusillanimous not to take it.

If, however, the Opposition can have little direct effect on the march of foreign affairs, it can at least marshal its own forces, and by doing so it would confer no small benefit upon the country. Most of the mischief which has recently occurred has arisen from the irritation which is felt by the more active spirits of the constituencies at being told to watch and wait when they would like to be up and doing. In the words of a typical representative of the very best kind of Scotch Liberals, writing to myself, what recently occurred arose to a great extent from people being on the outlook for some one as the harbinger of more decided action in home politics.'

That feeling is perfectly legitimate, though it is a pity to indulge it at the risk of making mistakes abroad and injuring party discipline at home. Can it not then be met and satisfied? If the Liberal party were engaged in trying to carry some great reform, it might attend meetings and talk about the misfortunes of remote and little known countries, but would hardly encourage a section of its members to take divisive courses about them in Parliament, and to threaten to desert the leader that they themselves had chosen. Are there then no great reforms still to be accomplished? Have we nothing to do but to sit with our hands before us and meditate upon our achievements in abolishing the corn laws, getting rid of university tests, and so forth? Would it be so very difficult to take all sections of the party into council, and find what reforms would command the energetic support of the party as a whole? I do not share Mr. Bright's exaggerated horror of a programme-there is a time when programmes are useless and a time when they are useful-but, without making any programme, could we not come to an understanding about the two or three things we want done next? The recent change of front of the Tory party about county administration raises

an altogether new and extremely powerful argument in favour of the speedy extension of the county franchise. Then look at Mr. Chamberlain's four points, free labour, free church, free schools, free land. The first of these, I suppose Mr. Chamberlain himself would say, requires little or no further attention--the thing is done. As to free church, few might think that the time had come for taking up the question of the Church of England; but there are other allied questions which present fewer difficulties.

With regard to elementary schools, not many would probably wish to initiate very large changes to-day or to-morrow, because every month that passes over us will make the necessary changes easier; but there is a great deal still to be done about secondary schools, especially in Scotland. Lastly, as to land, why should not the Liberal party as a whole take up that question? If you captured three representative members from different parts of it and shut them up for a month with adequate legal assistance, would there be really any difficulty in their framing the heads of a measure which we might all support? I cannot think so. Some of those reputed the most extreme men would be the first to repudiate the fantastical doctrines about land that we have sometimes heard. No serious person supports them, just as no serious person maintains that our present system is in accordance either with the national convenience or the interest of existing landholders.

Without then making any programme, here are two or three things ready to our hand. Let us discuss them, and see if we cannot come to a definite understanding. When we have done so would it not be natural for the authorised leader of the party to state, in the clear and forcible language which he knows so well to employ, his own views in his capacity of leader? Let a dozen other members, taking their cue from him, address their constituents to the same effect in different parts of the country. Let those newspapers which desire to represent the Liberal party as a whole, and not mere sections of it, support the views of the reunited party, and we shall not only soon cease to get into mischief for want of good work to do, but we shall keep up the great old traditions and deserve well of the country, as our predecessors did before us.

M. E. GRANT DUFF.

ANOTHER LESSON FROM THE

RADIOMETER.

THE great aim of the writer who criticises or popularises scientific discoveries should be accuracy. He who misrepresents, and then refutes, not what has been really advanced by the author, but what has been foisted upon him, lays himself open to the gravest censure. The business of the critic is to investigate, to digest, and then to describe, briefly perhaps, but so as not to lead astray. If there are before him errors of fact, let them be pointed out; if false conclusions, let them be refuted. No mistake in doctrine or method, in matter or manner, should be passed over. On the other hand the critic should remember that experimental research is necessarily and slowly progressive, and that the early provisional hypothesis has to be modified, adjusted, perhaps altogether abandoned, in deference to later observations. We do not censure the dawn for not being full daylight, nor should an author's more advanced researches be used to condemn and to discredit his first gropings after truth.

In an age of research' it is of consequence, too, that the work of critical examination should be entrusted to competent hands. And who should interpret to the public the results of the investigator ? There is but one answer to this question. The only fully competent authority is a specialist versed in the department he undertakes to criticise. He only is adequately alive to what has previously been done, and can best estimate the difficulties that beset a complicated inquiry. He alone can pronounce most authoritatively on the validity of the methods employed, can appreciate the solutions arrived at, and can point out the collateral issues opened up. There should be specialists and specialists, and a specialist trained in one department is rarely fitted to pronounce upon the work of a specialist in another and totally distinct department.

"

The April number of the Nineteenth Century contains an article bearing the signature of Dr. W. B. Carpenter and ostensibly treating of the Radiometer and its Lessons.' The description of the instrument itself and of its reception in scientific circles contains little perhaps openly or strikingly erroneous, but unfortunately Dr. Carpenter has endeavoured to combine matters which have no possible con

« AnteriorContinua »