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MUSINGS WITHOUT METHOD.

THE KAISER'S TRIAL-A FIGUREHEAD FOR GERMANY-THE LIST OF WAR CRIMINALS-"THE BRILLIANT AMATEUR -OUR RUSSIAN IMPOLICY-SALVATION BY TRADE-MR BALFOUR UPON PRINCIPLE -MORALS OR PRACTICE-THE FORMULA OF LIBERTY-PRINCIPLE OUR BUCKLER-MR ASQUITH'S VERSATILITY-MR GEORGE AND

NATIONALISATION.

If there are those who still believe that a democracy can manage the foreign affairs of an Empire with intelligence or dignity, the treatment of the German war criminals will bring them to a rough awakening. That this delicate piece of policy should have been handled wisely was impossible, as soon as ever Mr George had made a solemn duty the common sport of the hustings. The man who would win votes by promising to try the Kaiser did not put too high a value upon his own position.

The only exouse that may be made for him is that he knew, when he promised to bring the Kaiser to trial, that Holland would not give him up. If this exouse be valid, then he is absolved of folly and proved guilty of nothing worse than a monstrous cynicism. Holland, of course, refused to surrender her guest, as we should refuse were we placed in a like situation. How can a nation, which boasts an honourable tradition, connive, in defiance of her own law and practice, at a flagrant piece of injustice? As we have explained before in these pages, if the Kaiser were put on trial in London or elsewhere, he would be tried for an invented crime, before a tribunal incompetent to try

him, by a law twisted unscrupulously to suit his case. It is not for his sake that we would protest against his being held responsible for Germany's misdeeds. It is for our own, since, if we put him in the dock, we should set ourselves hopelessly in the wrong, and his chance of escape from a ridiculous position would be better than ours.

And even if law and justice were not against us, we should still protest against the trial of the Kaiser. There is no reason why we should act in defiance of all precedents. It is quite easy to leave him alone to cut wood in his Dutch solitude. He does not not make make a glorious figure where he is; and if left alone he will alone he will soon be forgotten, even in the Fatherland.

But no sooner shall we lay a hand upon him than all his countrymen will spring to his defence. He will be converted in an hour from a discredited soldier to a national hero. We shall restore to the Germans precisely what they lack a figurehead of emotion. When the Kaiser fled in fear to Holland, he sacrificed the respect and goodwill of the people which had endured patiently his boastfulness and his stupid

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ity. And what should we get in exchange, besides the votes cast year ago for Mr George? The contempt of sane men and the loud laughter of posterity.

As it is no part of our business to present Germany with a resuscitated hero, so it is not our business to promote her solidarity by our own folly. That the real war criminals of Germany should be brought to justice all the Allies agree. Thus it was set down in our bond, which was duly accepted and signed by the German representatives. There are certain misoreants who should not esoape the gallows. The fiends who deported the wretched girls from Lille, and flung them to the sayages, who were their country's hereditary enemies, should not be permitted to live in peace. No mercy should be shown to the ruffians who ill-treated prisoners and captives, or who fired upon drowning men from the security of a submarine. The villains who murdered priests and hostages, who used women and children as screens for their soldiers, who wantonly set fire to peaceful houses and libraries-all these should be asked to pay the last penalty. But those who drew up the list of war oriminals seem to have been influenced by a kind of levity. They set at the head of their list the names of all the Hohenzollerns, of Hindenburg, of Ludendorff, of Bethman-Hollweg, of all the leaders in the German empire. Now, this is neither right nor use

ful. It is the worst policy possible to try to achieve what is beyond your reach, and it needed little reflection to discover that the Germans would not, in any circumstances, surrender their generals and their statesmen. The list, then, was drawn up without forethought, and as soon as it was criticised in the press, Mr George was eager to modify it. Being in small things as in large a mere empirio, living from hand to mouth in perfect contentment, so long as he can keep his majority together, he sent over his emissaries to Paris in hot haste to undo what had been done. The attempt failed. It suggested to the Germans that the Allies were at variance, one with another; it revived in them the old hope, which had supported them in the war, that England and France were quarrelling; and it caused a certain friction, which should never have been, between us and France, the closest and most loyal of our friends. A little care might have avoided all danger, but care and tact are useless against Mr George's autocracy. For many years to come Great Britain will be asked to endure the odium caused by the words and deeds of one who, not overburdened with knowledge or intelligence, has demanded the right to speak and to think for the whole Empire.

The truth is that the politician who believed that Kharkoff was a general and not a town, is still supreme in our Councils. He does whatever he likes, and says the first thing that comes to his ever-changing mind.

The Prime Minister of England, he has absorbed in himself the functions of all the Ministers. He is not merely the mouthpiece of the Cabinet; his colleagues seem to exist merely that they shall register the decrees of this too powerful Minister. He has annexed the direction of Foreign Affairs, a province far beyond his powers or understanding, as though the Secretary of State did not exist. It is not surprising, then, that Lord Salisbury, addressing Lord Curzon, "hoped the noble Earl would insist that his policy was preferred before the policy of that brilliant amateur who Was now Prime Minister of England." Lord Salisbury's hope is not likely to be realised. The brilliant amateur will have his way unchecked, and, having embroiled the Europe of which he knows nothing, in permanent warfare, will consider himself free to complete the ruin of Ireland. Unwilling or unable to depute anything to others, he believes himself indispensable not only to the country, but to every department of government, and he permits none to act save as his guesswork bids them.

And Mr George is more dangerous as an autoerat, because his thought is always discontinuous. The need of to-day is for him the heresy of to-morrow. The land and the landlords have never been more bitterly attacked, more heavily penalised, than by Mr George, and when the inevitable happens he cannot conceal his distress. "Uneasiness," we

are told in the King's Speech, "has been caused by the unprecedented sale of landed property since the war. Measures will accordingly be proposed to mitigate mitigate any hardship which this operation may cause to the occupier, and to stimulate and develop the preduction of essential foodstuffs within the United Kingdom." Mr George, as usual, wants to have it both ways. For many years he has done his best to throw discredit upon the landowners. There are few crimes with which he has not charged them, and he (and his friends) have succeeded in making the very honourable office, which the landlords have discharged for centuries, at once uncomfortable and unprofitable. It may be supposed that his object was to break up the big estates. Well, he has broken them up, and now he is uneasy. The truth is, that neither now nor then did he have any clear policy. Today he is actuated by fear, as in those brave days when he proudly compared "souls" and "sods" he was influenced only by the passion of popularity.

But it is Russia which has given him the best opportunity of displaying his kaleidoscopio talent. He has held about Russia every possible opinion, and generally several opinions at once. Nobody can tell from his speeches whether he is Red or White, Bolshevist or antiBolshevist. We only know that, though he promised publicly no new policy should be initiated in Russia without

consulting the House of Commons, policy follows policy without any consultation whatever. To-day he is in his favourite attitude, dancing upon two tubs at once. His retrospect is meaningless, is based upon no knowledge of the facts, and need not trouble us. His present plan is to condemn Bolshevism on the one hand, and to trade with the Bolshevists on the other. "The horrors of Bolshevism," he says, "have revolted the consciences of mankind. Plunder, which is part of their policy, is condemned by every one in every civilised land." It is not condemned by Mr Lansbury, who has been furnished by the Government with passports, that he may visit his friends Lenin and Trotsky. But the horrors and plunder of Bolshevism cannot be stopped, says Mr George, though he omits to say that if it had not been for Mr George they might have been stopped. Meantime our autoorat is of opinion that we cannot make peace with the Bolshevists. "The first objection to peace is this: Until you receive assurances-I do not mean verbal assurances, but assurances from observation and experiencethat the government which is in control of Russia has dropped the methods of barbarism, and that it is governed by civilised means, there is no civilised community in the world which will be prepared to make direct peace.' "What," asks Mr George, "is the only course left? We have failed to restore Russia to sanity by force. I

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believe we can do it and save her by trade. Commerce has a sobering influence in its operations. The simple sums in addition and subtraction which it inouloates soon dispose of wild theories." What nonsense is this! What shall become of an Empire governed by this reckless rhetorician? The Bolshevists have murdered, and robbed, and tortured. They have killed British citizens, including Captain Cromie, whom we were bound to protect, and we have done nothing. And now we will trade with them through co-operative societies! Mr George is not quite so simple as his speech would represent him. He knows that the co-operative societies are a piece of humbug, that in trading with Russia we shall help not the honest men, but the monsters, whose policy is rapine and murder. What says Trotsky about it? He cares not a jot about trading with Mr Lloyd George. He is far too busy dragooning the Christians who have fallen beneath the oruelty of his Jewish rule. "All artisans," says he, "will be sent into the works, and transferred from one place te another, according to the indications of the Government. We will have no pity for the peasants; we will make labour armies of them with military discipline, and communists as their chiefs. These armies will go forth among the peasants to gather corn, meat, and fish that the work of the workmen may be assured." That is the kind of man that Mr George hopes to

sober with a little trade. He might as well try to tame a vulture by putting salt upon his tail.

Mr George's policy is, of course, a mere makeshift. He does not know what Russia has to send us, or what she wants us to send her in exchange. He is merely playing blind hookey with oriminals, and will probably be told in the end that the Russians prefer a policy of protection, and have no desire for our English goods. So he will fail in fighting anarchy with abundance, and will have lowered immeasurably the prestige of Great Britain. Never before have we surrendered to an enemy, at the solicitation of such a man as Litvinoff, the Jew, and with no better excuses than greed and a fear of the Labour Party. Why does Mr George persist in dragging the country into a pit of disgrace? Because he is a politioian devoid of principle. He is like a priest without a creed, a boat without a rudder. He knows not whither he is drifting nor what direction he will take. He does know that he will stay in office, if he can, and that in all that he does or proposes he will conciliate the largest possible number of voters. We would not tie any man down to a hard consistency, but Mr George, who knows not from hour to hour what he will think or do, breaks all the rules. That he will always find politicians to palliate bis offence is probable. Politicians are faithful in the worship of their chosen goddess, Oppor

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tunity, and yet even they might be persuaded by a casual study of history to believe that ne man ever worthily served his country who did not adhere honourably to certain moral principles, who was not loyal to the faith that was in him, We do not suppose that Mr George, in making up his mind to which new outrage he shall commit the country, has ever asked himself the question: Is the action which I propose just and right? What he inquires into most sedulously is expediency. He will excite himself into a fury of enthusiasm about an impossible programme, such as his famous (or infamous) Budget, or Prinkipo, and then drop it without a murmur. The grotesque humbug of the "refreshing fruit was long ago exposed. The expensive valuations, which were to enrioh the working classes at no cost at all, have been quietly dropped, and Mr George is indifferent. He clings to no plan a day later than it is able to attract votes, and he is a living proof that success in politics has nothing to do with morals or understanding. Mr George has succeeded in politics. That is to say, he is in office, and he hopes to remain there. He has not suoceeded in statesmanship, for he has postponed the settlement of all the questions which vex us at home and abroad; he has convinced the countrynot a difficult enterprise-that none of his opinions are held with sincerity; and were his dangerous gift of rhetoric

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