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