I recall to mind a British colonel, who said to me in Calcutta: “This is the third time that I have been sent to India. Twenty-five years ago, as lieutenant, and then the Russians were some fifteen hundred miles from the Indian frontier; then, six years since, as captain, and the Russians were then only five hundred miles away. A year ago I came here as lieutenant-colonel, and the Russians are right up to the passes leading to India.”
The map of the world unfolds itself before me. All seas are ploughed by the keels of English vessels, all coasts dotted with the coaling stations and fortresses of the British world-power. In England is vested the dominion of the globe, and England will retain it; she cannot permit the Russian monster to drink life and mobility from the sea.
“Without England’s permission no shot can be fired on the ocean,” once said William Pitt, England’s greatest statesman. For many, many years England has increased her lead, owing to dissensions among the continental Powers. Almost all wars have, for centuries past, been waged in the interests of England, and almost all have been incited by England. Only when Bismarck’s genius presided over Germany did the German Michael become conscious of his own strength, and wage his own wars.
Are things to come to this pass, that Germany is to crave of England’s bounty—her air and light, and her very daily bread? or does their ancient vigour no longer animate Michael’s arms?
Shall the three Powers who, after Japan’s victory over China, joined hands in the treaty of Shimonoseki, in order to thwart England’s aims, shall they—Germany, France, and Russia—still fold their hands, or shall they not rather mutually join them in a common cause?
In my mind’s eye I see the armies and the fleets of Germany, France, and Russia moving together against the common enemy, who with his polypus arms enfolds the globe. The iron onslaught of the three allied Powers will free the whole of Europe from England’s tight embrace. The great war lies in the lap of the future.
The story that I shall portray in the following pages is not a chapter of the world’s past history; it is the picture as it clearly developed itself to my mind’s eye, on the publication of the first despatch of the Viceroy Alexieff to the Tsar of Russia. And, simultaneously like a flash of lightning, the telegram which the Emperor William sent to the Boers after Jameson’s Raid crosses my memory—that telegram which aroused in the heart of the German nation such an abiding echo. I gaze into the picture, and am mindful of the duties and aims of our German nation. My dreams, the dreams of a German, show me the war that is to be, and the victory of the three great allied nations. Germany, France, and Russia—and a new division of the possessions of the earth as the final aim and object of this gigantic universal war.