HUMANITARIANISM AND SEA POWER.
ITO THE EDITOR OP TRH "SPECTATOR,"]
Sin,—Your article on "Humanitarianism and Sea Power" in last week's issue raises public and private issues which I am hound to ask you to let me deal with to the extent your space allows.
First, as to the Congo Reform Association. It is a body composed of men of all shades of political thought, and its Executive Committee, which has the advantage of including the editor of the Spectator, numbers men whose views as to sea power are quite as strong as those of the Spectator. As a Committee it is extraordinarily representative.
Second, as to "humanitarianism" and "philanthropy," Speaking for myself, which is all that I am entitled to do in this letter, I venture to deprecate the use of distinctive labels of this kind. If the editor of the Spectator saw a man or woman being murdered in the street, I know him well enough to feel that he would interfere, and invite others to do so if others were available. I got to know, some nine or ten years ago, that a whole race was being murdered by a scientifically organised system of atrocious slavery. It did not seem to me that I was doing anything to warrant being docketed as a particular brand of the human species in denouncing it. Time passed, and what I said was seen to be true. The nation came to understand that its honour was in- volved in the matter, since its action in 1884 had given power to the men who were imposing this slavery. The Unionist Government in 1903 made it a national question, which the Liberal Government has accentuated and the House of CORM)0119 endorsed. Our leading statesmen on both sides, the chief dignitaries of the Established and the Free Churches, the civic authorities and the citizens of all our great cities and towns, our principal African administra- tors, our Press,—all these elements through which the nation can express its views in matters of this kind have combined
in agreeing that we are face to face with the revival, and with the attempt to legalise by virtue of the accomplished fact, of African slavery on a colossal scale in a territory almost as large as Europe minus Russia. And there has been agreement that neither our international obligations, nor our Treaty rights, nor our honour and self-respect, nor even the prestige and the safety of Britain as a great African Power, allows of this thing being tolerated.
And the position to-day is simply this. Our friendly representations have been treated with contempt. Six years' diplomatic effort has not succeeded in substituting normal rule on the Congo for the system of slavery obtaining. We must now either confess our impotence in the face of Europe, or be prepared to take such coercive action as will compel the change we have demanded. What moral force in international affairs can England hope to exercise in the present generation if, after a national movement which the present Foreign Secretary has declared to be unparalleled for thirty years and the late Foreign Secretary to be beyond almost anything he can remember, she, in effect, climbs down?
How, if the risks of action are the terrible ones we are now invited to believe, can the language Sir Edward Grey has used during the last three years be justified ? How can it be explained that a year ago he declared that he was ready to act alone for "British interests" (is not the greatest interest of a nation the preservation of its self-respect P), and specifically eliminated from arbitration the main issue at stake,—viz., the right of the Congo natives to buy and to sell in the produce of their lands, and their right of tenure over those lands?
Is it not a fact that, even in the view of those who hold most strongly that a certain Power nourishes evil intentions towards us, this Power is not, in any case, in a position to attack us successfully for at least three years ? Is it not a fact that our Navy is to-day as over- whelmingly superior, proportionately, to meet any conceivable danger arising out of this Congo question as it was in the days of Lord Castlereagh, or when Lord Salisbury was defending and Mr. Gladstone was preparing to carry out isolated action and seize Smyrna in the face of a clear breach of faith ? Is it not a fact that, acting without selfish motives, upon a basis of Treaty rights and national obligations, to suppress a great evil with the moral support of the United States actually proclaimed and their material support probably assured, we should enjoy a position which no Power or no con- ceivable combination of Powers, in their own interests, would be mad enough to challenge ?
If Sir Edward Grey's speech last week means that we have come to the point when the Government is confessing its inability to do anything beyond perpetuating words and prolonging a correspondence which has ceased to be other than academic, then I shall certainly use my poor efforts to convince others that such an attitude is incompatible with England's honour, believing as I do, in the words of the Bishop of Southwark, that "upon the attitude and action of this country in regard to the Congo depends in great measure England's own moral future."—I am, Sir, Sm.,
[Mr. Morel is in our ease preaching to the converted. If the editor of the Spectator were Secretary of State for Foreign
Affairs, and if the strength of the Navy were what he believes it to be, be would have taken stern action in regard to the Congo long ago. Our point remains, however, untouched by Mr. Morel,—namely, that it is the imperative duty of all who desire a policy of national righteousness to work heart and soul for an invincible Navy. No doubt many members of the
Congo Reform Association are perfectly sound on the Navy, but can it be seriously contended that the majority of those who are talking loudest in favour of national righteousness have as yet found salvation in the matter of national armaments P—En. Spectator.]