Page 3409

3409 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

conflicts, he again was the central figure

in the negotiations that followed. It was

his opinion that Servia owed some reparation, and he declared that the idea that

any of the Great Powers "should be dragged

into a war by Servia would be detestable."

He was anxious for more time in which to

conduct negotiations, and urged that Servia

should comply with as many points as

possible, in the hope that there could be

a further exchange of views. The Crown

Prince of Servia appealed to the Czar to

interest himself in Servia's fate, and Russia

frankly declared through diplomatic channels that she could not permit Austria to

crush Servia and become the predominant power in the Balkans. She also

asked urgently for an extension of the time

limit. Austria, however, refused such an

extension, but promised that in case of

war she would not annex any Servian territory. The language of the Austro Hungarian press was inflammatory and

left the impression that compliance by

Servia was neither expected nor desired.

Servia's answer was handed to the

Austro-Hungarian ambassador at Belgrade

on the afternoon of the 25th. It was really

an almost sweeping acceptance of the demands of the ultimatum, and even upon

those points concerning which it demurred

it displayed a conciliatory attitude and

expressed a wish for further negotiation.

It also suggested a reference of the question

to The Hague Tribunal or to the Great

Powers which had taken part in drawing

up the declaration made by Servia in 1909.

It is clearly apparent that if Austria-Hungary had been really desirous for peace,

it could have accepted this reply, or at least

have continued negotiations. As it was,

the reply was termed unsatisfactory and

evasive, and diplomatic relations were

broken off the same evening. Preparations

for war, already well forward, were vigorously pressed. On the 27th, an invasion

of Servia was begun, and soon after Belgrade was bombarded.

Let us picture to ourselves the Europe

of these fateful days. The peoples were

beginning to awaken to the momentous

possibilities of the situation. The hatreds

and jealousies and suspicions of a thousand

years were being unloosed. In Berlin and

Vienna and St. Petersburg wild crowds

paraded about the streets and demonstrated

before public buildings crying for war.

The timid and peace-loving shuddered at

the thought of what a few days might

bring. In London and Paris, among the

classes who follow public events, there was

suppressed excitement, and in France a

sort of resignation to the will of fate.

Among military and naval men in many

countries there was an eagerness to tread

the crimson paths of glory that boded ill

for peace. The great War Machines, at once

the pride and the despair of the nations,

were about to be tried out.

To describe all the details of the vain

diplomatic negotiations of these days would

require a volume. Sir Edward Grey continued his earnest and eager efforts to find

some way of avoiding the impending catastrophe. His main proposal was for a conference of the four Powers, Germany,

France, England, and Italy, to mediate

between Russia and Austria. France and

Italy accepted the plan, but Germany,

after a few hours' reflection, declined.

Germany's attitude continued to be that

the affair was one which concerned Austria

and Servia, and that if any power interfered in behalf of Servia, Germany must

go to war to assist her ally. Russia continued to insist that she could not permit

Servia to be destroyed, and made various

proposals for mediation "to examine the

satisfaction which Servia can accord to the

Austro-Hungarian Government without injury to her sovereign rights as a State and

to her independence." Telegrams were

exchanged between the Kaiser, the Czar,

and King George-telegrams in which

Wilhelm was called "Willy" and Nicholas

"Nicky"-in which each expressed his

great anxiety for peace. But the avalanche had started. Austria had declared

war on Servia and mobilized her troops.

Russia replied with a partial mobilization,

which presently became general, July 31st.

Germany forthwith sent an ultimatum to

Russia demanding that she stop "every

measure of war against us and against