However, after I had reported fully on all the details and the Foreign Office had received my written report, matters were taken in hand by Sir Edward Grey, and by him I was kept informed. Presently it became apparent that there were those in Berlin who were interfering with the Chancellor in his efforts for good relations. A dispatch came which was inconsistent with the line he had pursued with me, and it became evident that the German Government was likely to insist on proceeding with the new Fleet Law. When we looked closely into the copy of the draft which the Emperor had given to me, we found very large increases contemplated, of which we had no notion earlier, not only in the battleships, about which we did know before, but in small craft and submarines and personnel. As these increases were to proceed further, discussion about the terms of a formula became rather futile, and we had only one course left open to us—to respond by quietly increasing our navy and concentrating its strength in northern seas. This was done with great energy by Mr. Churchill, the result being that, as the outcome of the successive administrations of the fleet by Mr. McKenna and himself, the estimates were raised by over twenty millions sterling to fifty-one millions.
SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS FROM 1905 TO 1916.]
In the summer of 1912 I became Lord Chancellor, and the engrossing duties, judicial as well as administrative, of that office cut me off from any direct participation in the carrying on of our efforts for better relations with Germany. But these relations continued to be extended in the various ways practicable and left open to Sir Edward Grey and the German Chancellor. The discussions which had been begun when I was in Berlin, about Africa and the Bagdad Railway, were continued between them through the Ambassadors; and just before the war the draft of an extensive treaty had been agreed on.
Then, after an interval of two years, came a time of extreme anxiety. No one had better opportunities than I of watching Sir Edward’s concentration of effort to avoid the calamity which threatened. For he was living with me in my house in Queen Anne’s Gate through the whole of these weeks, and he was devoting himself, with passionate earnestness of purpose, to inducing the German Government to use its influence with Austria for a peaceful settlement. But it presently became evident that the Emperor and his Ministers had made up their minds that they were going to make use of an opportunity that appeared to have come. As I have already said, I think their calculations were framed on a wholly erroneous basis. It is clear that their military advisers had failed to take account, in their estimates of probabilities, of the tremendous moral forces that might be brought into action against them. The ultimate result we all know. May the lesson taught to the world by the determined entry of the United States into the conflict between right and wrong never be forgotten by the world!