Mr. Asquith wishes people to believe that England’s fight against us is a fight of freedom against might. The world is accustomed to this manner of expression. In the name of freedom, England, with might and with the most recklessly egotistic policy, has founded her mighty colonial empire, in the name of freedom she has destroyed for a century the independence of the Boer republics, in the name of freedom she now treats Egypt as an English colony and thereby violates international treaties and solemn promises, in the name of freedom one after another of the Malay States is losing its independence for England’s benefit, in the name of freedom she tries, by cutting German cables, to prevent the truth being spread in the world.
The English Prime Minister is mistaken. When England joined with Russia and Japan against Germany she, with a blindness unique in the history of the world, betrayed civilization and handed over to the German sword the care of freedom for European peoples and States.
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Sir Edward Grey, Answering Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg, London, Sept. 15.
“Does any one believe,” asks the German Chancellor, “that England would have interfered to protect Belgian freedom against France?” The answer is that she would unquestionably have done so. Sir Edward Grey, as recorded in the “White Paper,” asked the French Government “whether it was prepared to engage to respect the neutrality of Belgium so long as no other power violates it.” The French Government replied that they were resolved to respect it. The assurance, it was added, had been given several times, and had formed the subject of conversation between President Poincare and the King of the Belgians.
The German Chancellor entirely ignores the fact that England took the same line about Belgian neutrality in 1870 that she has taken now. In 1870 Prince Bismarck, when approached by England on the subject, admitted and respected the treaty obligations in relation to Belgium. The British Government stands in 1914 as it stood in 1870; it is Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg who refused to meet us in 1914 as Prince Bismarck met us in 1870.
The Imperial Chancellor finds it strange that Mr. Asquith, in his Guildhall speech, did not mention the neutrality of the Scandinavian countries, and suggests that the reason for the omission was some sinister design on England’s part. It is impossible for any public speaker to cover the whole ground in each speech. The German Chancellor’s reference to Denmark and other Scandinavian countries can hardly be considered very tactful. With regard to Denmark, the Danes are not likely to have forgotten the parts played by Prussia and England respectively in 1863-4, when the Kingdom of Denmark was dismembered. And the integrity of Norway and Sweden was guaranteed by England and France in the Treaty of Stockholm in 1855.