2 DECEMBER 1899, Page 21

M. DELCASSE'S POLICY. T HE advocates of democracy, when they are

thought- ful men, as they often.are, must be a little startled by the spectacle which Europe just now presents. All the peoples are raging like fools, while the Kings and statesmen are behaving like men of judgment. Unless the great body of the Continental Press is hopelessly at variance with its constituents, a phenomenon which, though it occurs in districts, rarely occurs in nations, the peoples are wild with spite against Great Britain on account of this South African War, and are eager that their Governments should intervene to protect the Boer Republics. They are crazy with jealousy of British prosperity ; they are angry at the evidence that the haughty islanders can without a conscription send a large army beyond 'sea ; and they have imbibed the idea that if England wins the battle, the mines of gold and diamonds, which are already the property of individual Englishmen, will BO enrich the Empire that it will be irresistible. They are all, therefore, eager to interfere, and have grown so excited that they believe Dr. Leyds's stories about British defeats, about General Joubert's vast plans for our expulsion from Africa, and about our approaching downfall, and a consequent partition of the pos- sessions of the "great pirate State." The popular papers in France positively scream with rage, and like most Southerners in that mood, grow obscene in their abuse ; the Germans, though moderate in words, wish heartily for our defeat, and expect it ; the Austrians sulkily admit that it is no business of theirs, but that, nevertheless, Boers are good and Englishmen bad ; while the Russians positively rave over the Nemesis which they profess to believe has overtaken their ancient enemy. So maddened are the Continentals by their own rage that they all almost with one consent declare their hope that Great Britain will be compelled to resort to the conscription ; in other words, that Great Britain will shortly have five h und red thousand soldiers in barracks and two millions in reserve. That change, which would make this country dictatrix of the world, and probably unbearable, would, they think, be "a consolation to the Continent, and to all the hearts now burning under British pretensions." All this while the Sovereigns and statesmen, though probably unfriendly to England, from which they dread an economic competition that, as they think, breeds Socialists in their dominions, are telling the peoples as plainly as they dare that they are making idiots of themselves, that Great Britain will prevail in the war, that whether she does or not her enemies will reap nothing, that the war makes no differ- ence to the strength of the British Fleet, that America is sincerely friendly to the wrong side, and that however well founded popular dislikes may be, this is not the hour for trying final conclusions with the Anglo-Saxon race. The Czar, after perhaps a short inquiry through Muravieff as to the depth of Continental feeling, once more fixes his eyes upon Japan ; the Austrian Government lets it b3 known that its interests are unaffected; the German Emperor pays a visit of a week to the British Court, and is enthusiastic over his reception; and M. Delcasse, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, makes a speech which for shrewd common-sense and courageous clearness has not been surpassed in this generation. He dealt with the arguments of the hotheads one by one, and he smashed them all. We ought, says one very loud party, 'to seize a port in China as the Russians and the English have done ; we are being left out of the great race.' 'Suppose we think,' retorts M. Delcasse, 'of the interests of France, and not of the acts of other people, and remember when men talk of obtaining an entrance into China that we are masters of Judo-China, an, Empire twice the size of France, which marches with China, and which possibly has not yet attained its defini- tive boundaries, though as Yunnan is an English interest as well as a French, and Kwangsi is chiefly rich in pirates. the stretching of those boundaries demands time and reflection. There are others in France,' continued the Minister, .who demand instant intervention in South Africa, and though the British Premier has repudiated inter- vention, they think that does not matter and hold it good policy to shake a fist at the universe. I would ask them to specify where they will intervene, and require them to remember that France, whose population does not increase, has already territories eight times the size of the mother- country which are not yet utilised. Surely it. is wiser to consolidate them and make them useful.' The sentences we have so briefly summarised must have been terribly bitter to the Chauvinist party, but they were unanswer- able, and the loudest talkers against the Ministers shrank back in silence, a fact the more remarkable because of the opportunity given for rhetorical display, while the Chamber on Monday granted all the credits asked for by a majority of 147.

This wide difference between the decisions of Con- tinental statesmen and the language of their peoples is unusual, and is the more worthy of attention because it may continue for a long time. The future of the South African War will hardly soothe the raging " patriots " of the Continent, who feel like dogs when they see biscuit going and none of it comes their way, and we may rely on it that when the final settlement is made the screams will become even shriller and more acute. The military rulers of the Continent are not, however, in the least likely to obey the popular voice unless they see a chance of victory, and they recognise fully that victory would depend upon com- parative sea-power. They will, therefore remain passive, and in spite of the noise they have the control of the situation. The Press represents most important and influential interests, but it does not, as the Vote of the French Chamber shows, represent the mass of the electors, who understand nothing of colonial policy, who do not know whether South Africa is a colony or a continent, and who, though willing to fight if their leaders tell them they must, are much more willing to go on working and earning their household dinners. Englishmen are apt to fancy that in the end the popular voice must be obeyed, but that is not in such questions as we are now discussing absolutely true. It is the most difficult thing in the world even now, when a popular cry seems to shatter the air, for a nation to enter on a war or go on with a war with its Government disapproving ; and when the Government cannot be removed it is next door to im- possible. We all saw that at the end of the Crimean War, when two Englishmen out of three would have paid a double Income-tax rather than accept what they thought a profitless peace ; and the statement is true of peoples much less self-controlled. The French were supposed to be wild for war in 1870, and the Parisians really were so, yet though Napoleon feared for his dynasty he determined not to fight, and would but for the Empress Eugenie have successfully maintained the peace. The real danger to this country from the exasperation of Continental opinion, so far as it is genuine and not a mere product of vapouring talk, is that Governments and peoples may agree to a reck- less increase of shipbuilding with borrowed money, and thus force us either into still greater expenditure on our squadrons, or into entangling alliances intended not to effect anything, but to break a coalition. The wise and moderate action of the statesmen of the Continent is not dictated by any love for us, but by a keen perception of their own interests, and of the wisdom of awaiting with statesmanlike patience a better opportunity. It is well, therefore, to make their task easier by avoiding provoca- tion, and especially those taunts which are to men who have all been bred in barracks challenges to fight. It is only the English who believe that "hard words break no bones," and they only believe it when their tempers have been sweetened by success.