Page 3413

3413 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

prominent army officers had recently resigned rather than enforce the Government's policy; and the bloody riot in Dublin had taken place only a few days before.

At the beginning of the crisis, France

and Russia had anxiously besought Great

Britain to declare herself with them, urging

that such a stand would bring the Teutonic

powers to a pause. But the British Ambassador at St. Petersburg replied that

he did not think his Government would

desire to commit itself, and Sir Edward

Grey later approved his stand, saying,

"I do not believe that public opinion here

would or ought to sanction our going to

war over a Servian quarrel. If, however,

war does take place, the development

of other issues may draw us into it,

and I am therefore anxious to prevent it."

Seemingly Great Britain's only obligation to France was one that was

rather implied or understood than

definitely promised. From time to

time in recent years French and British naval and military experts had

consulted together regarding possible

contingencies, and France had concentrated her main fleet in the Mediterranean, while the main British

fleet was concentrated in the North

Sea and adjoining waters. In November, 1912, Sir Edward Grey had

written that these dispositions were

not necessarily "based upon an engagement to cooperate in war,"

the British undoubtedly felt themselves

under obligation to protect the French

coast. The Germans were aware of this

obligation, and there were some negotiations regarding the Germans refraining

from attacking the Atlantic coast of France,

but nothing came of it.

The French were naturally anxious regarding naval matters, for they realized

that without Great Britain they would

be outclassed on the sea. It was, therefore,

with a great sigh of relief that, on August

2d, they received from Sir Edward Grey,

the following declaration:

"I am authorized to give an assurance

that, if the German fleet comes into the

channel or through the North Sea to undertake hostile operations against French

coasts or shipping, the British fleet will

give all the protection in its power.

"This assurance is, of course, subject

to the policy of His Majesty's Government

receiving the support of Parliament, and

must not be taken as binding His Majesty's

Government to take any action until the

above contingency of action by the German fleet takes place."

It is not improbable that Great Britain

would ultimately have been dragged into

the war because of reasons mentioned

above; but public sentiment was not united

on the subject, and the Government was

inclined to hesitate. But even before the

assurance just quoted was given to France

a course of events had begun that was to

resolve all doubts and hesitations and was

to result in Great Britain's casting herself

whole-heartedly into the mighty struggle.

We refer, of course, to the German violation

of Belgium.

Germany's action as regards Belgium

was based upon military, and not at all

upon political, considerations. The Teutonic plan of campaign had doubtless long

been agreed upon, for vast military combinations involving the movement and

munitioning of over a million men cannot

be evolved upon the spur of the moment.

The circumstances that dictated it are