Page 3412

3412 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

decision hinged the fate of the world. Had

she stood aside, the German navy would

have swept the seas, would have isolated

and rendered inevitable the capture of

the French colonies, would have cut off

both Russia and France from obtaining

munitions of war; while the triumphant

German and Austro-Hungarian armies

would have captured Paris, smashed the

Russian forces into irretrievable ruin; and

would have dictated a conqueror's peace

to beaten foes. France would have been

reduced to a third-rate power, and enormous indemnities in both money and

territory would have been exacted, both

from her and from her ally; while Servia

would probably have ceased to exist.

Great Britain would have been left alone

to face the triumphant Teutonic powers,

and would have found herself in the situation of France, which stood aside in 1866

and watched Austria be overwhelmed by

Prussia, only to be chastised in turn in 1870.

The Central Powers naturally desired

Great Britain to remain neutral. Negotiations to that end were begun by Germany

as early as the 29th of July. On that day,

the German Chancellor made a bid for

British neutrality by informing Sir E.

Goschen, British Ambassador at Berlin,

that Germany was prepared to guarantee

that if Great Britain

would remain at peace,

she would not make

any territorial acquisitions at the expense

of France. Sir E.

Goschen inquired

whether this guarantee would apply to

French colonies, and

the reply was that

Germany was unable

to give a similar undertaking in that respect.

The Germans undoubtedly believed

that conditions were

favorable for Great

Britain's remaining

neutral. The existing British Government was probably the

most humanitarian

that had ever ruled the

country. It had built

warships, but its great

concern was for internal reforms, and it

had passed or was urging some great social

measures. It was in no sense a jingo Government, favorable to aggressive war; and

some of its most prominent members, including Lloyd George, had denounced the

Boer war in unmeasured terms. Furthermore, even if it had desired to go to war,

the times were certainly most inopportune,

for the struggle over Home Rule was at its

height; Nationalists and Home Rulers in

Ireland stood opposed to each other with

arms in their hands; some of the most