“They struggled, they still struggle, for country and liberty; for a word inscribed upon a banner, proclaiming to the world that they also live, think, love, and labour for the benefit of all. They speak the same language, they bear about them the impress of consanguinity, they kneel beside the same tombs, they glory in the same tradition; and they demand to associate freely, without obstacles, without foreign domination, in order to elaborate and express their idea, to contribute their stone also to the great pyramid of history. It is something moral which they are seeking; and this moral something is in fact, even politically speaking, the most important question in the present state of things. It is the organisation of the European task. In principle, nationality ought to be to humanity that which division of labour is in a workshop—the recognised symbol of association; the assertion of the individuality of a human group called by its geographical position, its traditions, and its language, to fulfill a special function in the European work of civilisation.
“The map of Europe has to be re-made. This is the key to the present movement; herein lies its initiative. Before acting, the instrument for action must be organised; before building, the ground must be one’s own. The social idea cannot be realised under any form whatsoever before this reorganisation of Europe is effected; before the peoples are free to interrogate themselves, to express their vocation, and to assure its accomplishment by an alliance capable of substituting itself for the absolute league which now reigns supreme.
“If England persist in maintaining a neutral, passive, selfish part, she will have to expiate it. A European transformation is inevitable. When it shall take place, when the struggle shall burst forth at twenty places at once, when the old combat between fact and right is decided, the peoples will remember that England stood by, an inert, immovable, sceptical witness of their sufferings and efforts. The nation must rouse herself and shake off the torpor of her government. She must learn that we have arrived at one of those supreme moments in which one world is destroyed and another is to be created; in which, for the sake of others and for her own, it is necessary to adopt a new policy.”
England to-day has adopted this “new policy”; she has responded to Mazzini’s appeal by stepping into the arena and declaring herself ready to take part in “the organisation of the European task”; her sons are dying on the Continent in defence of the principle of nationality, in support of the rights of other nations to that liberty which her insular position has secured for herself for many centuries, the liberty “to associate freely, without obstacles, without foreign domination, in order to elaborate and express their idea.” She is fighting, moreover, not only on behalf of the threatened freedom of Belgium, France, and Serbia, on behalf of the unborn freedom