18 DECEMBER 1909, Page 18



To -the writer who takes a foreign country for his subject two courses are open. His book may be a serious study of the

way in which the common problems are dealt with in a particular instance, or it may be a record of his personal experiences and impressions. The second method generally contrives a double debt to pay ; for even where the writer's powers of observation are at fault, and we do not readily recognise the portrait, it is often interesting and always useful to know how we look in other people's eyes.

It is in this direction that the importance of Dr. Abel- Musgrave's book chiefly lips. Once our admirer and still our friend—we owe to him the German translation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's pamphlet on the Boer War—he claims the friend's privilege of plain speaking. No well-informed person of any nationality will agree that we are quite as black as, from the best of motives, he paints us, but the illuminating glimpses which be gives us of the mind of his countrymen ' have a value of their own. He remembers the days when "'the tall Englishman with his umbrella and his turned-up trousers". was gazed at in German streets as the representative of a land of wealth, freedom, and the noblest qualities ; he has lived to see him an object of dislike and contempt, and the change fills him with dismay. Germany, he explains, likes and respects the strong, the successful; for the weak she has no

pity, no forbearance ; and Great Britain, enfeebled and de- praved, as Dr. Abel-Musgrave and many good Germans have persuaded themselves that she is, offers an irresistible tempta- tion to a country in which, he assures us, the lust of dominion

(der Wile rm. Nacht) is daily taking deeper root. The rulers of Germany are alive to their heavy responsibilities, and the

people are not eager for war ; but they have been carefully taught to consider themselves the legitimate heirs of the Empire which they believe to be nearing its end :-

"The eternal law of the survival of the strongest governs us all," says Dr. Abel-Musgrave. "In obedience to this law -the possibilities -which the British Empire offers for the development of mankind will not be suffered to run to waste in imnds too weak to use them. The.strong man will and must come."

Me will not come light-heartedly, because even in her deca- dence England, with her back to the wall, will be a sight that the most complacent antagonist will not view without misgiving; bat he will come, because necessity is laid upon him. Germany would prefer to stand at England's side defending "the Germanic idea" against the coming inrush df Slays and Mongols. But if England is too unservb3eablei an ally, .Germany for her own safety's sake will make an endl of her, and, fortified by her spoils, will then address herself alone to her predestined task.

• Das kJ-mike England,. Von Dr. Curt Abel-kfusgrave. Deuer Frankfurter Verlag: Frankfurt am Main.

"No one who knows both countries well can deny the danger of a bloody collision ; it is more dangerous to conceal this truth than

to acknowledge it honestly The simple good-hearted people who organise an exchange of visits between journalists, burgomasters, and Boy Scouts are only laying a plaster upon an open sore."

If we inquire what are the grounds upon which this scornful opinion of us rests, the writer points, as do most Germans, to two main indications of moral decay,—our educational in- efficiency, and our inexplicable repugnance to military service. We are perhaps less certain than we once were that Waterloo was -won on the Eton playing-fields; but Germans are still convinced that it was the German schoolmaster who con- quered at Sadowa and Sedan, and who will emerge victorious

from the more dreadful conflict darkening already over Europe. It cannot be disputed that the children of our ,elementary schools are less well equipped for the struggle of life than their German cousins. Our classrooms are too ,small, our teachers insufficiently paid, our classes too large, —what can seventy or eighty children learn from a single teacher? Dr. Abel-Musgrave quotes from a speech of Lord 'Stanley of Alderley in which we are reminded -that

"between the period of a child's life during which the State spends amPase sums upon his education and the time when these children take up their position as adults in the life of the State, there yawns a chasm in which much of that which was gained ' with great labour and at great expense—knowledge, discipline, health, character—is lost."

And he adds a stinging comment: "The rivalry of Germany and the well-grounded fear of German progress are the only forces which spur the English to activity."

Still more -unaccountable to a foreigner is our antipathy to universal service :— "I am no lover of Miiitarismus," says the writer. "I was one of the first to protest against the ill-usage of soldiers in the German Army, but I cannot overlook the great advantages which the peaceful development of the German nation owes to the Army. I am not considering it as a playground for showy subalterns and brutal non-commissioned officers—these types could not possibly arise in England ; I am considering it as the best means of educating the people in systematic work, in wholesome discipline, and in the sense of duty. I know of only one way of awakening in young Englishmen the feeling of responsibility to their country—a reform of the whole educational system and the introduction of a mild form of universal military service. Where reason and conscience fail, law should step in. The fact that the English people listen impassively to the warnings of their best men, and have to be shaken out of their inertia by a play like An Englishman's Home, strikes those who have known England's great past as extraordinarily depressing?'

Continental observers will never be convinced of our capacity to adjust ourselves to the altered conditions in which we now live until we have proved our readiness to sacrifice "the liberty not to fight for one's country."

But while we admit the justice of these charges, it is evident that Dr. Abel-Musgrave's desire to arouse us to a sense of our shortcomings has sadly interfered with his picture of England. He passes in review each section of the national life, coming everywhere to the most dismal conclusions ; an account of the Bath pageant and a generous note of our progress in music are his only bright pages. One does not, of course, expect the deliverer of a denunciatory message to be either cheerful

or exact, but the gravest exception must be taken to the method which he adopts in his anxiety to convict us out of our own mouth. He declares his book to be based on "the utterances of English authorities," and much of it has been gathered from English writers and speakers. A letter to the Daily Mad, a leader in the Daily News, an extract from Answers, a question asked, no matter by whom or why, in the House, fragments of speeches at Congresses and banquets,—they all rank as "authorities," and are an presented with a fine in- difference to place and origin. Dr. Abel-Musgrave suspects, for example, that we have much ecclesiastical hypocrisy but no religion, and his fears -are confirmed by Robert Buchanan and Mr. G. W. Foote, the president of the National Secular Society, who decided (in an issue of the Daily Chronicle of 1893) that Christianity was played oat. The rhetorical cries of Mr. Victor Grayson, combined with an anarchical address given thirteen years ago by a Mr. Samuels, and the fiery language used by the leader of the "hunger marchers" in the autumn of 1908

are quoted to prove that "British anarchy proclaims itself with unparalleled audacity " ; and the case of Mr. Edalji

and what may perhaps have been an error of judgment in a 'Bristol Police Court dispose Dr. Abel-Musgrave to declare that no English child is safe from legal brutality. He quotes a

question asked in the House during a debate on the Irish University Bill, and is shocked to find the progress of English Universities rendered impossible by religious obscurantism, and be begs us "to study this incident in the light of German academic conditions." It would be wiser to study it in the light of the religious difficulties encountered by his awn Govern- ment in Prussian Poland. When he insists upon our industrial incompetence, we may be allowed to point out to him that we are the only nation that challenges the world to meet us in the open field, and that no one has so far ventured to accept the challenge. It is to be regretted that any friend of England or of Germany should have provided the German public, whose appetite for this sort of food is insatiable and indiscriminating, with a description of Great Britain so pessimistic and in the main so misleading. A little German thoroughness in the correcting of proofs would have improved the appearance of the book.