This is the test which we asked should be applied. We quoted British remarks about us, Gladstone, for example, as evidence of unfriendly and insincere animus on the part of those at the head of the British Government.
Replying to our pressing the point of animus, the British Government reasserted Russell's refusal to recognize or entertain any question of England's good faith: "first, because it would be inconsistent with the self-respect which every government is bound to feel...." In Mr. John Bassett Moore's History of International Arbitration, Vol. I, pages 496-497, or in papers relating to the Treaty of Washington, Vol. II, Geneva Arbitration, page 204... Part I, Introductory Statement, you will find the whole of this. What I give here suffices to show the position we ourselves and England took about the Alabama case. She backed down. Her good faith was put in issue, and she paid our direct claims. She ate "humble pie." We had to eat humble pie in the affair of the Trent. It has been done since. It is not pleasant, but it may be beneficial.
Such is the story of the true England and the true America in 1861; the divided North with which Lincoln had to deal, the divided England where our many friends could do little to check our influential enemies, until Lincoln came out plainly against slavery. I have had to compress much, but I have omitted nothing material, of which I am aware. The facts would embarrass those who determine to assert that England was our undivided enemy during our Civil War, if facts ever embarrassed a complex. Those afflicted with the complex can keep their eyes upon the Alabama and the London Times, and avert them from Bright, and Cobden, and the cotton-spinners, and the Union and Emancipation Society, and Queen Victoria. But to any reader of this whose complex is not incurable, or who has none, I will put this question: What opinion of the brains of any Englishman would you have if he formed his idea of the United States exclusively from the newspapers of William Randolph Hearst.
In our next war, our war with Spain in 1898, England saved us from Germany. She did it from first to last; her position was unmistakable, and every determining act of hers was as our friend. The service that she rendered us in warning Germany to keep out of it, was even greater than her suggestion of our Monroe doctrine in 1823; for in 1823 she put us on guard against meditated, but remote, assault from Europe, while in 1898 she actively averted a serious and imminent peril. As the threat of her fleet had obstructed Napoleon in 1803, and the Holy Alliance in 1823, so in 1898 it blocked the Kaiser. Late in that year, when it was all over, the disappointed and baffled Kaiser wrote to a friend of Joseph Chamberlain, "If I had had a larger fleet I would have taken Uncle Sam by the scruff of the neck." Have you ever read what our own fleet was like in those days? Or our Army? Lucky it was for us that we had to deal only with Spain. And even the Spanish fleet would have been a much graver opponent in Manila Bay, but for Lord Cromer. On its way from Spain through the Suez Canal a formidable part of Spain's navy stopped to coal at Port Said. There is a law about the coaling of belligerent warships in neutral ports. Lord Cromer could have construed that law just as well against us. His construction brought it about that those Spanish ships couldn't get to Manila Bay in time to take part against Admiral Dewey. The Spanish War revealed that our Navy could hit eight times out of a hundred, and was in other respects unprepared and utterly inadequate to cope with a first-class power. In consequence of this, and the criticisms of our Navy Department, which Admiral Sims as a young man had written, Roosevelt took the steps he did in his first term. Three ticklish times in that Spanish War England stood our friend against Germany. When it broke out, German agents approached Mr. Balfour, proposing that England join in a European combination in Spain's favor. Mr. Balfour's refusal is common knowledge, except to the monomaniac with his complex. Next came the action of Lord Cromer, and finally that moment in Manila Bay when England took her stand by our side and Germany saw she would have to fight us both, if she fought at all.
If you saw any German or French papers at the time of our troubles with Spain, you saw undisguised hostility. If you have talked with any American who was in Paris during that April of 1898, your impression will be more vivid still. There was an outburst of European hate for us. Germany, France, and Austria all looked expectantly to England--and England disappointed their expectations. The British Press was as much for us as the French and German press were hostile; the London Spectator said: "We are not, and we do not pretend to be, an agreeable people, but when there is trouble in the family, we know where our hearts are."
In those same days (somewhere about the third week in April, 1898), at the British Embassy in Washington, occurred a scene of significance and interest, which has probably been told less often than that interview between Mr. Balfour and the Kaiser's emissary in London. The British Ambassador was standing at his window, looking out at the German Embassy, across the street. With him was a member of his diplomatic household. The two watched what was happening. One by one, the representatives of various European nations were entering the door of the German Embassy. "Do you see them?" said the Ambassador's companion; "they'll all be in there soon. There. That's the last of them." "I didn't notice the French Ambassador." "Yes, he's gone in, too." "I'm surprised at that. I'm sorry for that. I didn't think he would be one of them," said the British ambassador. "Now, I'll tell you what. They'll all be coming over here in a little while. I want you to wait and be present." Shortly this prediction was verified. Over from the German Embassy came the whole company on a visit to the British Ambassador, that he might add his signature to a document to which they had affixed theirs. He read it quietly. We may easily imagine its purport, since we know of the meditated European coalition against us at she time of our war with Spain. Then the British Ambassador remarked: "I have no orders from my Government to sign any such document as that. And if I did have, I should resign my post rather than sign it." A pause: The company fell silent. "Then what will your Excellency do?" inquired one visitor. "If you will all do me the honor of coming back to-morrow, I shall have another document ready which all of us can sign." That is what happened to the European coalition at this end.
Some few years later, that British Ambassador came to die; and to the British Embassy repaired Theodore Roosevelt. "Would it be possible for us to arrange," he said, "a funeral more honored and marked than the United States has ever accorded to any one not a citizen? I should like it. And," he suddenly added, shaking his fist at the German Embassy over the way, "I'd like to grind all their noses in the dirt."
Confronted with the awkward fact that Britain was almost unanimously with us, from Mr. Balfour down through the British press to the British people, those nations whose ambassadors had paid so unsuccessful a call at the British Embassy had to give it up. Their coalition never came off. Such a thing couldn't come off without England, and England said No.
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