By Harold Begbie.
In order to determine how American public opinion concerning the war is running, The London Daily Chronicle sent Mr. Begbie to this country. The two articles printed below appeared in The Chronicle.
Every day of my sojourn in this country deepens the desire in my mind to see an increasing unity of understanding between America and England. I feel that the audacity of America, its passion for the Right Thing, and its impatience with the spirit of muddling through are the finest incentives for modern England, England at this dawn of her political renascence. I feel, too, as Americans themselves most willingly acknowledge, that Great Britain has something to give to America out of the ancient treasury of her domestic experience. Finally, I like Americans so heartily that I want to be the best of friends with them.
But it was only last night in this old and mighty city of Philadelphia that the greatest of reasons for an alliance was brought sharply home to my mind. I had thought, loosely enough, that since we speak the same language, share many of the same traditions, and equally desire peace for the prosperity of our trade, surely some alliance between us was natural, and with a little effort might be made inevitable. The deeper, more political, and far grander reason for this comradeship between the two nations had never definitely shaped itself to my consciousness.
Enlightenment came to me in the course of conversation with two thoughtful Philadelphians whose minds are centred on something which transcends patriotism and who work with fine courage and remarkable ability for the triumph of their idea.
One of these men said to me: “You speak of an alliance between England and America; do you mind telling us what you mean by that term alliance?”
I explained that I had no thought in my mind of treaties and tariffs; that the word “alliance” meant nothing more to me than conscious friendship, and that such a disposition between two nations thinking in the same language, speaking and writing the same language, must result, I thought, in an ever-multiplying volume of trade, to the great advantage of both parties.
Thinks Little of Blood Ties.
Out of this explanation came the following statement, made by the second Philadelphian: “I am as desirous as you are for such an understanding. I desire it so greatly that I venture to offer you a warning on the subject. It would be a mistake on your part, I am convinced, to advocate any such friendship, any such understanding, any such alliance, if you prefer that word, on the score of blood ties or a common speech. Believe me, the American, to speak generally, thinks very little of such matters. When America was far more English in its population than it is now scarcely any country was more unpopular with us than your country.