July 27: England withdraws from the war.
July 28: Germany annexes Belgium, England declares war.
July 29: Germany promises not to annex France, England withdraws from the war.
July 30: Germany annexes France, England declares war.
July 31: Germany promises not to annex England.
Aug. 1: England withdraws from the war. Germany invades England.
How long is anybody expected to go on with that sort of game; or keep peace at that illimitable price? How long must we pursue a road in which promises are all fetishes in front of us; and all fragments behind us? No; upon the cold facts of the final negotiations, as told by any of the diplomatists in any of the documents, there is no doubt about the story. And no doubt about the villain of the story.
These are the last facts; the facts which involved England. It is equally easy to state the first facts; the facts which involved Europe. The prince who practically ruled Austria was shot by certain persons whom the Austrian Government believed to be conspirators from Servia. The Austrian Government piled up arms and armies, but said not a word either to Servia their suspect, or Italy their ally. From the documents it would seem that Austria kept everybody in the dark, except Prussia. It is probably nearer the truth to say that Prussia kept everybody in the dark, including Austria. But all that is what is called opinion, belief, conviction, or common sense: and we are not dealing with it here. The objective fact is that Austria told Servia to permit Servian officers to be suspended by the authority of Austrian officers; and told Servia to submit to this within forty-eight hours. In other words, the Sovereign of Servia was practically told to take off not only the laurels of two great campaigns, but his own lawful and national crown, and to do it in a time in which no respectable citizen is expected to discharge an hotel bill. Servia asked for time for arbitration—in short, for peace. But Russia had already begun to mobilise; and Prussia, presuming that Servia might thus be rescued, declared war.
Between these two ends of fact, the ultimatum to Servia, the ultimatum to Belgium, anyone so inclined can of course talk as if everything were relative. If anyone asks why the Czar should rush to the support of Servia, it is easy to ask why the Kaiser should rush to the support of Austria. If anyone says that the French would attack the Germans, it is sufficient to answer that the Germans did attack the French. There remain, however, two attitudes to consider, even perhaps two arguments to counter, which can best be considered and countered under this general head of facts. First of all, there is a curious, cloudy sort of argument, much affected by the professional rhetoricians of Prussia, who are sent out to instruct and correct the minds of Americans or Scandinavians. It consists of going into convulsions of incredulity