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LORD STANLEY AND THE LUXEMBURG QUESTION.
well as individual vanity. Not many years promise is without danger, because “if all have passed since democratic writers, in- the Powers act together resistance would cluding MICHELET and Victor Hugo, be out of the question, while, on the other held up moderate Governments to the con- hand, any repudiation by one Power of its tempt of patriots, because they neglected to obligations would necessarily absolve the othresume the boundaries of the Republic and ers.' If the acceptor does not pay the enthe Empire. As a German poet said with dorser ceases to be liable, a novel doctrine, more truth than inelody, the greedy ravens which proclaimed in big type in the City were always croaking themselves hoarse article of the first commercial journal in the about the Rhine, which his countrymen, for world, will, we doubt not, carry much comtheir part, absolutely refused to surrender. fort to the souls of bankrupts, speculators, It is one of the advantages of democracy and rogues generally. If Lord Stanley bas that conversion operates simultaneously on agreed to guarantee Luxemburg with any masses, and that deserted creeds are in- such arrière pensée, he has simply agreed to a stantly forgotten. Twenty years of victory fraud which, of all forms of political fraud, had persuaded the French people that it we should have thought most alien to his was their mission to propagate civilization political character. His forte is surely ju. by conquest. Half a century of peace had dicious directness, not diplomatic subtlety, scarcely untaught them the disastrous lesson; and till he himself avows it we refuse to bebut the rise of Italy, and more especially of lieve that he is playing a game of which Germany, seems to have convinced French- Lord Palmerston would have been ashamed. men of the present day that other nations He did at least try to keep his pledge to also have rights, and that peace is better Denmark. The need of the guarantee can
The Germans, having for cen- only arise when Luxemburg has been occuturies found themselves the victims of pied by one of the Powers, and if that ocFrench ambition, were excusably suspicious, cupation of itself annuls the pledge, what and jealous of making the first concession; is the use of giving it? It is merely a but the intelligent opinion of Europe was farce, a pledge to do that which, while unanimously opposed to an unnecessary con- pledging ourselves, we acknowledge that test, and in smoothing away the difficulties we never intend to do - a grandiloquent which impeded a friendly arrangement, the assertion that we will be responsible for the Conference has enjoyed the great advan- bill if the acceptor pays it. Even the Times tage of swimming with the stream. seems to feel this is a little disreputable, for
after using this argument it argues that the pledge after all is a little one, because we
already guarantee Holland. As a matter From the Spectator, May 11,
of fact, that statement is a trick, for we do
not directly guarantee Holland against the LORD STANLEY AND THE LUXEMBURG
great Powers, but only against Belgium QUESTION.
a very different thing; but suppose we do,
as Lord Stanley on Thursday seemed to asWhat is an endorsement on the back of sume, what is that to the point? The guara bill? Is it a promise to pay if the other antee for Holland, on the Times' own showparties to the transaction do not, or only in ing, is as unreal as any other. Nobody but case they do? We should have thought a great power can attaok Holland, and the that a simple question enough in commer- moment a great power breaks its obligation cial ethics, but that the Times has chosen ours ceases, and we may skulk away conthis week to assume the second answer. It tented, like a hound who has stolen a bone declares that woman is responsible for his and escaped the expected whip. We are signature unless the acceptor has paid the not liable, because the contingency we bill
, and so rendered the signature unneces- promised to provide against has occurred. sary. The Prussian Government has been If you bit that little boy again,” says Fifth asked to evacuate the fortress of Luxemburg Form, “ I shall thrash you," and the bully as a concession to the sensitive dignity of desists. By and by, plucking up his courFrance, and has agreed, it is reported, upon age, he hits the little boy, and Fifth Form the condition that Europe shall guarantee walks off, consoling himself as he goes by its neutrality. In plainer words, each of muttering that if people will not keep the Five Powers is to pledge itself in writ- their agreements he is not bound to keep ing to declare war upon any Power which his.” may attempt to seize this military position. We looked to Lord Stanley to pursue a Thereupon, the Times declares that such a manlier diplomacy than this, and must, till
LORD STANLEY AND THE LUXEMBURG QUESTION. 667 he confesses the contrary, believe that he rope is not worse than war, whether it does intends the guarantee, if he gives it, to be not exhaust the nations more, more deeply a reality, a promise to resist the use of imperil the profits upon trade. At all Luxemburg by France against Germany. events, it is clear that there is a future price That is the common sense of the pledge, at which even peace may be dear. If that is why it is asked, that is why it is con- France and Prussia equally accept our meceded. And in this view, we believe, no diation, and find no new cause of quarrel in more dangerous pledge could be made by some detail, and rest content without trying Great Britain. It is nonsense to compare their relative strength about Luxemburg, it with our guarantee of Belgiumn.
We then we shall bave purchased a postponeshould fight for Belgium anyhow, and the ment of a war which we can keep out of, at guarantee makes no practical difference, the price of a future war into which, if we except to give the advocates of war a new are decently bonest and straightforward, we and unanswerable argument. But without must perforce enter. We buy an escape the guarantee we should not dream of fight- from the annoyance of giving evidence in ing for Luxemburg. Moreover, no power a Chancery suit at the price of a Chancery will attack Belgium merely as an incident suit to which we shall be principal parties. in a campaign ; but Luxemburg is very That is at least exceedingly bad economy, likely indeed to be incidentally occupied. as Lord Stanley out of office would probaIt is just the place a French General, bly be the first to see. wanting to sever railway communications It would be rather a grotesque finale for along the Rhine, would declare himself the negotiations if we found ourselves burcompelled to take, and then Prussia would dened with a guarantee without obtaining be able to demand our alliance against the compensatory peace. Of course, as France. We do not want to fight France. England assents to the sine qua non, war Except a war with America, no calamity can, France and Prussia are equally wilcould be so detrimental to us, to Europe, ling, be easily postponed, but are they wiland to civilization, so ruinous to commerce, ling? The Foreign Office thinks so apparso fatal to progress, so meaningless in re- ently, but the British Foreign Office has alsult. What bave we to get from France? ways shown itself the most credulous of Yet if the guarantee does not mean that detective establishments, and the broad we are liable to a risk of this demand, to a facts do not bear out that theory. It is alsudden war with our nearest neighbour, or most certain, as certain as anything carefully a confession of cowardice before the world, concealed by officials can be, that France is what does it mean? If we are to allow arming fast, and that Berlin is taking either France to take Luxemburg, what does real or affected umbrage at these armaments, Prussia gain in exchange for her fortress ? the reality and the affectation being about Just this
, – that if it is very convenient to equally dangerous. It is argued, of course, us to defend Luxemburg, we shall have le- in France that the collection of the camp gal locus standi when we say we intend to at Châlons two months earlier than usual, do it. What is the value of that to Prussia the enlargement of that camp, the comple- of her right to ask an acquaintance to tion of the works at Metz, the incessant commence a grand Chancery suit for her manufacture of cartridges, the increase in own advantage and his detriment ?
the effectives, and above all, the calling out But we shall be told the guarantee is es- of the reserves, are all precautionary meassential to preserve the honour of Prussia, uręs; but they have been taken on a scale and so to maintain peace. It is a bit of and at a cost which Sovereigns do not sanchigh comedy, like an English duel, but one tion unless they see very serious dangers which it is necessary for the political gran- ahead, and they are continuing now, when, dees to go through with. There is a certain to believe the newspapers and the funds, amount of truth in that suggestion, but then the reign of peace bas been solidly re-estabthe question arises why England, which of lished. Why is the Emperor embarrassing all Powers manages high comedy worst, his exchequer, if he feels so certain that should be compelled to play her part. How the Conference is sure to give bim a great is it her interest ? The Times, which cares diplomatic victory, for the evacuation of about nothing but the price of Consols, al- Luxemburg is a victory for him ? and why ways assumes that peace is the grand inter- does Count von Bismarck pass the word to est of this country, and that might be true, demi-official journals to complain of armawere the peace real. But it may very well ments which, as he knows, cannot be made be doubted whether the condition of armed the subject of official remonstrance ? France preparation now maintained all over Eu- will not take orders as to the extent of her
armaments from any power in the world, as long as he has been in Parliament an alleast of all from the one which has so re- most extreme form of the principle of noncently excited her jealousy, and with which intervention, to come out as the direct heir she is in such open diplomatic conflict. It to Lord Palmerston's policy in both extortis not like Count von Bismarck to publish ing satisfaction for real injuries from weak statements so wounding to the amour propre but presumptuous nations, and in multiplying of an adversary merely because they are those vague and dangerous engagements of wounding, with no intention of following the English Crown, which we have more than them up, and no motive in calling the at- once had to regret bitterly in the past. We tention of the people behind him. The not only do not blame, we heartily approve clouds are very thick still, and though they of, Lord Stanley's policy in the case of the seem to be breaking, perhaps we may say dispute with Spain concerning the Queen are breaking, the barometer is still far from Victoria. It was not a pleasant thing for baving ris:n to “set fair.” Despite the England, who took so humble a part in the meeting of Conference, the acceptance of a great European dispute of 1864, to have to basis, the neutralization of the Duchy, - take so high-handed a line with Spain in which does not involve the grand point at 1866. Parcere superbis, debellere subjectos, issue, and the optimist tone of the British has been rather too much the English motto official world, the grand security for peace under Lord Palmerston's foreign policy. But is still that if Napoleon fights he knows he that is not Lord Stanley's fault, and no must succeed, and that in a war between Minister in his place could have done other equals success is never certain.
wise than he did in our little misunderstandOne word more. If the Conference suc- ing with Spain. But it will be, we think, ceeds in maintaining peace one fact will be his fault and greatly to his discredit if he established of far greater importance than completes, as be intimates that he intends to any possible solution of the Luxemburg complete, this bitherto merely accidental question. The European tribunal dissolved resemblance, by launching England into by the Crimean war will have been re-es. new and large engagements, the true beartablished, to the immense benefit of man- ing of which on our own national interests, kind. There is no longer a power on the if ever we are called upon to fulfil them, no Continent which can do as it likes, without one can foresee ; and the high probability consulting anybody, but many Powers so that we shall some day be called upon to equal and so bound together that they must fulfil them, every one can even now foresee. perforce prefer the régime of law to the Indeed, as far as we can understand, the régime of force. The fate of Belgium and only apology which is made for the policy of Holland, for example, is no longer depen- giving an English guarantee to the neutraldent upon Napoleon's fiat, or that of Den- ity of Luxembourg, is, that while it staves mark upon the policy of Berlin. The Pow- off the war for the present, it does not much ers are jealous again, and with reason, and enlarge the extent of our engagements for every accession of territory, however small
, the future. Now, the fact is quite the reevery intrigue, however secret, will be verse. If we take these new engagements, watched with anxious care, and, if needful, honestly and with the sincere purpose of arrested by the Council of Five, which keeping them to the best of our ability, they alone has the strength to maintain the Eu- do enlarge indefinitely, most dangerously, ropean peace and an interest in doing so. our liabilities for the future. If we take When France arms to obtain a bit of out them in the strong hope, and with a halflying land and cannot obtain it, Europe is formed resolve, that some way shall be found safe trom the aggression of any less potent to relieve us of these engagements if ever State.
they become troublesome, then we are guilty of one of the most dishonourable acts of
which any nation could be guilty. Two From the Economist, May 11.
great nations relying on our guarantee, and
asserting that they would not rely on any. LORD STANLEY'S ENGLISH GUARANTEE. thing less, that we will assist in protecting
the neutrality of Luxembourg from violaLORD STANLEY admitted on Thursday tion in case of any great European quarrel, night that he has engaged on behalf of Eng- retire from the threatening position they land to give the guarantee of the neutrality had just assumed. Each of them believes that of Luxembourg demanded by Prussia from we are now bound to prevent a very advanthe great Powers. It seems to be Lord tageous position from falling into the hands Stanley's happy fortune, after representing of its adversary; that if it should ever be
desired by that adversary, we are bound to cannot be expected to stand to ours,". help the other in recovering it, and punishing where was the force of the obligation ? the breach of faith. They consider that this The whole guarantee is, then, a mockery, promise of help from us in preventing Lux- delusion, and spare. It cannot have any acembourg from becoming a stronghold in tive effect until some one of the great Powe their adversary's hand, will compensate for ers breaks through it. And if that is to jusany advantage they might now have, either tify us also in crying off, the whole thing is in position or preparation. Prussia has at a pretence and a sham. We maintain that present a great advantage in position. She if we enter into this very serious obligation, holds Luxembourg, and can stay there if we ought to do so in all honour and scrupushe pleases. If she retires, she retires on the lousness, and with the deliberate intention express understanding that we will aid her in of aiding those who are true to the treaty preventing it from ever falling into French against any who are untrue to it, at great hands, or in recovering it from French national sacrifice and cost.
To begin by hands and restoring its neutrality, if neces- insinuating that our obligation is no greaisary. If we are permitting Prussia to give er than that of others, and that we can cry up this great advantage of possession, in re- off if others do, is to begin with dishonouraliance on our aid for protecting the neutra- ble intentions already half-formed in our lity of Luxembourg against France in years minds. to come, and yet are not ourselves prepared But we are told by Lord Stanley, by the to sacrifice much, in life, and money, and Times and the Standard, that this guarantee prosperity, for the sake of redeeming that for the neutrality of Luxembourg is no real pledge, whenever it may be demanded from enlargement of the engagements we have alus, we are setting the disgraceful example of ready taken, almost, indeed, a diminution of light promises and insincere professions. them, because it defines better what we are When the Times says, in apology for this expected to do, and extends the number of most serious and important responsibility our colleagues in the duty. Certainly this is a which we are undertaking, “ England would very important argument, if only it were a never dream of committing herself to isolat- true one. Primâ facie, it does not seem very ed action in this matter; she undertakes no probable that it can be true. Prussia woulit responsibility which is not, to the same ex- scarcely insist on our giving this guarantee tent, shared by every member of the Confer- of neutrality as a sine qua non, if it did not ence;” it is evident that it means to point give her any fresh security. We are told out a probable mode of escape from the obli- that war or peace depended on our giving gation we are incurring, founded on the this engagement. In that case, it does not likelihood that some other members of the seem a very plausible statement that our enguaranteeing Conference will repudiate their gagement is no practical addition to our naobligations. Now, we must say that to en- tional responsibilities. War or peace would ter into this obligation in the express hope scarcely depend on our sigui g a merely forthat if it should ever be incumbent on us to mal document, which could not alter the fulfil it, we can, probably, plead other bad practical course of events. And, in truth, examples as an excuse for not complying, is nothing can be more absurdly contrary to to accustom ourselves, from the very begin- the fact than to say that the new guarantee ning, to the idea that we are not, in any se- does not extend, and extend in a very imrious sense, undertaking a national obligation portant way, the military obligations of at all. Of course, no question of putting the England. What is argued by the organs of guarantee in execution can arise till some one the Government,— the Times and Standard, power fails in her duty. If that one Power - is, that we have already guaranteed the be a great power, - such a power as France neutrality of Belgium, and, of course, of Belor Prussia for instance, it is not likely that gian Luxembourg, so that to take in a few she will fail alone. She will have supporters more square miles of neutral territory will and advocates in the excuses she will make not make much difference. Unfortunately, for her failure. In that case, and that alone, it makes this difference, that the territory the true obligation of our guarantee comes now to be included is to be included preinto effect. We ought then to say at once, eisely on this account, — that it contains “ We side against the power which violates the key to a wholly new set of international the neutrality of Luxembourg ;” and if, on jealousies and military positions. Belgium, the contrary, we say, “ Our obligation to as guaranteed at present, is a responsibility observe the treaty is no greater than that of heavy enough. Practically, the guarantee of the offending power; as France or Prussia French Belgium is a guarantee against is indifferent to national obligations, we France, the only country speaking in any
measure the same language with Belgium, the territory now in question belongs, – the and likely on any account to covet its pos- guarantee of the same powers for its political session. But the new piece of country is a independence and neutrality. “ Belgium," fragment of German soil, and is likely to be said the 7th Article of the annex to that coveted — indeed, is coveted at present treaty, “ within the limits specified in Artiby both France and Germany alike. It is, cles I, II, and IV, shall form an independent what Belgium Luxembourg has never been, and perpetually neutral State. It shall be the bone of contention between two first- bound to observe neutrality towards all other class Powers of great military resources —
States.” We have never given any such guarnay, it is what Belgian Luxembourg has antee as that to Holland or Dutch Luxemnever been, a military position of the first bourg. The claims of Holland to that sort strategic importance, boih from its natural of European guardianship must be traced advantages and from its holding the centre back to the general arrangements of 1814 of a widely-branching railway system. So and 1815, which have so constantly been far is it from the truth, that we do not ex- violated by all the powers who were parties tend our obligations by taking this territory to those treaties, especially in the case of one into the area where neutrality is guaranteed, of the strongest guarantees given, — the that the effectual motive which has induced case of Cracow, - that every one now adLord Stanley to promise this guarantee is mits that they have lost validity. The the entirely new security which it gives to treaties of 1831 and 1839 give no sort of Prussia and France that Great Britain will engagement on the part of Great Britain side with either in preventing the attempt that it will defend the independence or the of the other to seize, annex, or garrison it. neutrality of Holland in general, still less Small as the territory of Dutch Luxembourg of Dutch-Luxembourg: They only guaranis, it is the key of a new and most important tee territory to Holland, - territory and inpolitical and military position, which the rise dependence and neutrality to Belgium. of North Germany to its great European
When it is said that it is not easy to position has rendered one of the first import- imagine any campaign in which the Dutch ance to each of the great European rivals of territory of Luxembourg could be seized by the future. It is this wholly new political and any great Power, and in which the neutralmilitary battle-ground, the neutrality of ity of Belgian Luxembourg would not also which we have for the first time engaged to be violated, an argument is raised which has guarantee.
not only no force at all, but if it had, would When it is said that we have virtually be good for a gradual extension of our guarguaranteed this before, it must be said in antee to the whole of Europe. If, because complete ignorance of our actual treaty ob- we have guaranteed one spot of ground ligations. Lord Stanley says that“ we have liable to certain dangers, we are to guaranguaranteed the Duchy of Luxembourg to tee all neighbouring spots of ground liable to the King of Holland in the most full, abso- other and different dangers, there is no lute, and unqualified manner.” Now, in the reason why we should ever stop at all. The first place, that is only a guarantee of terri- use of such an argument as this by the adtorial possession, and not a guarantee of vocates of Lord Stanley's policy shows the neutrality; nor does it touch in the least essential weakness of Lord Stanley's posithe question now at issue, — the right of tion. garrisoning the fortress of Luxembourg. No- The simple truth is, that in guaranteeing body cares about the mere territorial pos- the neutrality of the spot occupied by the
No one will go to war for a few present fortress of Luxembourg, we do enter square miles of country. It is the right of once more on the dangerous policy of giving garrison now in dispute, and that is the real vague and most important engagements, the stress of the difficulty. The King of Hol- force of which we hardly know ourselves, land might hold the territory for ever, and and which, indeed, we set out by wishing to no one dispute it, if only Prussia or France make light of, and the execution of which, could have either of them her way about the whenever it is demanded from us, perhaps military question. The treaty of 1831 de- in a quite different state of Europe, may be fined the limits of Belgium, and gave Bel- contrary to our interests and contrary even gium the guarantee of Great Britain, France, to the true demands of political justice. We Austria, Prussia, and Russia, for its indepen- are going to do this on the spendthrift denee and neutrality. The treaty of 1839 principle, that to accept a bill for an indefialtered the boundaries of Luxembourg as nite sum not due for an indefinite time, is between Belgium and Holland; and again always better than to make an immediate gave to Belgium, — not to Holland, to whom sacrifice of comfort, however small. It would