6 MARCH 1880, Page 4



WE can see nothing in the speech of Count von Moltke, or in that of the German Minister of War, General von Sameke, to modify the opinion we expressed at first on the increase to the German Army. It is the very madness of precaution, a needless encouragement to Europe in a race of armaments, which threatens destruction to her prosperity and her vigour. Count von Moltke always speaks with a certain grave and even dreamy reflectiveness, as of a man who is work- ing out a problem in his own mind, which greatly increases the weight of words which, from his position in Europe, must always be authoritative ; but he offered in his speech of March let no convincing proof that the problem on which he was intent was the defence of Germany, and not the mere perfecting of the terrible machine in which he feels so deep an interest and so just a pride. He showed once again, as he has done at least twice before, how special is the strategic position of Germany, owing to the absence of any natural frontiers, except upon a portion of her northern border ; but the boun- daries of Germany have not changed since 1870. She has, as an Empire, always lain in the centre of Europe. He adverted to the increase of the Russian Army by the addition of a fourth battalion to every infantry regiment, which, he hinted, had been concealed by the Russian Press; but he gave no proof that the movable portion of this Army had been increased beyond the point made needful by German armaments, or that Russia, which was strained in defeating Turkey, was equal to Germany as a military Power. He made much of the additions to the French Army, which he declared had been doubled since the peace—an assertion which, as regards the movable army, goes, Frenchmen say, beyond the facts— but omitted to say that this army before the peace was wholly unequal to a contest with Germany. He hinted, rather by the juxtaposition of his sentences than by direct statement, but hinted in a way his audience well understood, that if these two increased armies were in alliance, Germany would be in danger ; but made no reference to the other alliance just con- cluded which alone makes the dangerous affiance possible, and brings to the side of Germany an army almost equal to her own. Nothing is more remarkable in Count von Moltke's speech than that he spoke as if danger had increased since 1874, when the Army was voted for seven years, whereas it has indefinitely diminished. Then Germany was surrounded on three sides by potential enemies, and liable at any moment to menace from a coalition disposing of three armies, each nearly as great as her own. Now, the third enemy has become a bosom friend, the third army is with her, instead of against her, an addition which immensely overbalances any possible increase in French or Russian forces. To judge from Count von Moltke's speech, Prince Bismarck, in securing Austria's help, has done nothing to make Germany safer, the Empire, as before, remaining de- pendent upon herself alone. Diplomatists believe her to have increased her strength one-half, but the Generals ask only how many more men they have under their own command. They look not to political combinations, but to the perfection of the organisation which they direct, and about which they have the feeling of all good servants about their own department,—that stables, or kennel, or garden, or kitchen ought to be the object of all care and all expense. The machine will be the stronger for more men, and especially for more and better trained reserves ; and they are secured, without too much thought whether they are indispensable. There is a limit, of course, to improvement, but the limit is only the number of men which the nation can produce. It is militarism, not political necessity, which dictates the Bill,—militarism in its highest and most scientific form, not the militarism which swaggers, and asks money, and suggests cheap conquests, but the militarism which gravely considers the perfection of the military machine the first object of national life, and works for it coolly, thoughtfully, and without relenting. That is the militarism of Germany, and it is as dangerous as a fanati- cism. Every Government, exclaims Count von Moltke, is peaceful when it is strong, and strength lies in its army. The answer to his theory, which is the essence and root-idea of meditative militarism like his, is the history of the past century during which every ruler in Europe who has secured a great army has used it, and the Governments have been most peace- ful when most exhausted. The " German Michael, he declares, has never drawn the sword, except to protect his own skin;" and yet Von Moltke fought at Doppel, and has lands in Prussian Poland, and has studied the first campaigns of Frederick the Great..

But then Englishmen ask why the German people assent to these demands, as they certainly do, the National Liberals having almost in a body pronounced for the Army Bill. First of all, because Germany is always in a danger which, as it presses permanently, has become exaggerated in the popular mind. Every German feels it, without perceiving its precise limits, and relies therefore upon the evidence of experts. If we were in constant danger of invasion, we should trust the Admiralty, particularly if it had de- feated great navies ; and if it asked for more irondade, and heavier guns, and more trained sailors, we should give them all, with more discussion, no doubt, but with as little serious opposition as the Germans offer. We always do give them when they are asked. No Naval vote has been refused for half a century, and the Germans rely upon their regiments as we upon our ships, and are as proud of their condition. And there is another very potent force at work on the Conti- nent which Englishmen underrate or fail to perceive. We have no conscription, and do not slightly hate those who are exempt. When eight-tenths of all healthy men in a State are forced into the military mill, they become willing that the remaining two- tenths should be forced through it also. Exemption, whether through drafts smaller than the number who reach the pre- scribed age, or through any other cause, comes to be regarded as a privilege, and a more or less unjust one, which it is pleasant to do away. Those who have been drilled and who possess all power say, let everybody be drilled, and then everybody is alike, and we are at the bottom of possible de- mands. And finally, Germans are just like other nations— the English included—extremely pleased to find themselves very great in the world, to see Europe anxious because Prince Bismarck is out of temper, and to feel that when they increase their army other nations shudder and quake. They therefore do not resist, and so the movement advances, and the machine is made more and more perfect, until at last the strategists con- fess, with a sigh, that there is nothing more to be done, that there are no healthy men exempt, and that training, if pressed further,. will only make their athletes "stale." And all Europe follows German example, and arms and watches and waits, until, unable to move, or to rest, or to sleep for its own armour, it feels like the sentry who, as the night draws on, would almost welcome a shot as a relief from the monotony of his watch.. It is the end of the nineteenth century, and the half of State resources, and a tenth of the working time of all nations, are devoted to the keeping of armour ready for the battles which may come.

As we said five weeks ago, we see no prospect of a change for the better. No nation can disarm till Germany disarm; and we cannot perceive a trace of serious wish to be disarmed.. The Princes, through the Federal Council, have assented to the Bill. The Chancellor, who has once or twice resisted the Military party, has proposed the Bill. The Liberal represen- tatives have accepted the Bill, and though the people are supposed to hate the system, if the Chancellor dissolved upon the measure, every Deputy returned would be pledged up to his lips to its support. The cost of the Army is great, but it is borne ; and though the conscription is said to be crushing, no- body resists. We see no sign that there will be any change in German feeling, except from events, or any willingness in Europe to disarm, except after a German disarmament, which there is, no reason for believing will in our time occur.