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To-day, when the national budget exceeds two hundred million pounds a year, and when from a hundred quarters the cry ;s raised for the spending of many millions rnoi-c--iii most crxes upon objects for wbichl at least a plausible case can be made out- besides the incurring of obligations involv- ing commitments upon a scale that cannot be more than vaguely predicted, a certain amount of pessimism is natural. But there are certain reflections of Macaulay made some seventy years ago which are as applic-I able to-day as in the forties, a time when the wealth, population, and industry of the country were appreciably less thain they are to day, when, despite the lesser population, misery was very much more widespread and acute, and the social system was honey-combed by abuses. He wrote "To almost all men the state of things under which they have been used to live seems to be the necessary state of things. We have heard it said that five per cent. is the natural interest of money, that twelve is the natural number cf a jury, and that forty shillings is the natural qualifica- tion of the county voter. Hence it is that, though in every age everybody knows that up to his time a progressive improvement has been taking place, nobody seems to reckon om a.ny improvement during the next generation." To-day a very large number of people do not appear to regard the present as the "natural" situation, and are ambi- tious to effcet a change for the better. But the depression born of the survey that such as these make of existing facts—which, with the pessimism that it engenders, is one of the chief motive powers of the desire for reform—may be dispelled and a sounder basis established by a study of the considerations embodied in Macaulay's further reflections: "We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who tell us tha.t society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all w'ho came before us and with just as much apparent reason. A million a year will beggar I", I said the patriots of 1640. 'Two mil- lions a year will grind the country to powder,' was the cry in 1660. Six millions a year and a debt of fifty millions axclaimed Swift; the high allies have been the ruin of us.' 'A hundred and forty millions of debt" said Junius; ivell we may say that we owe Lord Chatham a debt greater than we shall over repay if we owe him such a load as this.' 'Two hundred and forty millions of cried all the frt,:>1tA<¡mp of 1733 k chorus; what abiliti's or w&at aeonomy on thepat:1; of a minister can savo a country so burdened ?' We knew that if since 1783 no fresh deibt had been incurred, the increased resources of the country would hare enabled us to defray tfh/tit debt at which Pitt, Fox, and Burke stood aghast, nay, to defray it over and over again, and that with much lighter tax- ation than what we have actually borne. On what principle is it that, .when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration be- fore us?" When the movement onward and upward, since Macaulav wrote, is considered— the great red uction in the Na- tional Debt, the enormous reduction of poverty, crime, ignorance, and the trans- lormaftion of the condition of the people in their standard of livelihood and outlook— five are encouraged to take fresh heart for a future that may a,ppear overcast bv finan- cial troubles. It is very problematical •whether the money released by a reduction of armaments—a reduction that does not appear to be practicable to begin' witih- would be applied to a corresponding red'UiC- tion! of taxation whoise oppressiveness, real or alleged, is a mainspring of the disarma- ment movement, as "social reform" is po- tentially capable of swallowing up more mil- lions than the mo?t voracious Admiralty or War Office. Whilst regarding it as toler- ably certain that in no .sitate is the present draining away of taxes in return for. seT- vices of vailing exigency and utility likely to be dammed up, we may loolk forward to the continuation and quickening of the pace wit.h a driminiSlhing of a dread of the finan- cial collapse that is so frequently depicted to startle us. At the sa.me time the disarmament party may be invited to remember that in the Middle Ages, when armour bec.a.me too hea.vy to be worn by men. throutgh improve- ments in weapons, it was cast aside, but fitting continued in other fashions. Nor similarly need the discarding of the pro- tective armour of armaments bv the na- tions on account of intolerable weightinees involve the cessation of strife. It was no inconsiderable factor in the prolongation of the American Civil Wa.rthe most costly and sanguinary of conflicts—that the raw levies raised by North and SOIutJI were to incoherent and unskilled for either antagon- ist to drive home its blows and follow up its successes. Whilst the shortest, cheap- est. and least expensive in human life of an v modem campaign was that waged by tihe most higlhly-armed of nations—Prussia in 1866. The military competition amongst the four leading Powers on the Continent, and the naval competition (f Brjtain and Ger- many, absorb public attention and discus- mon, but in the relatively secondary field of the naval' exertions of the Continental Powers against each other there is an even more remarkable activity. German naval estimates have gone up from £ 13,609.000 in 1937-8 to £ 22,900.000 last year France's from JB12,800,000 in 1008 to £ 18.600.000: Italy's from exactly £ 5,000,000 in 1904-5 to £ 10.300,000; Austria Hungary's from £ 2,110.cfx) in 1903 to £ 5.980,000; and Rus- sia, which spent less than eleven millions stven years ago, now spends twenty-four and a half million pounds, and lays down shaps that are to oost the extraordinary sum of four and thyee-quarter of a million pounds each. America has raised her outlay from 21 to nearly 29 millions in seven years, and Japan from nearly eight, to ten millions in the same period. The world's warships now total about 3.200, of which only 902 b -e- flong to Britain and the United States put toethf'r, and 6S4 to Great Britain alone— &bout .)nf>-fifth-wmht the Triple Alliance controls 591. In 1906 the Dreadnought was unique to- day there are one hundred and fifty-three replicas built, building, or about to be laid down, of which Britain only possesses 42. The decline in the British proportion is enormous. In the Mediterranean Italy has launched six and Austria-Hun scary four mounting 140 12-inch gum. France has launched s-vcn mounting 78 guns of l' inches calibre or more. and six of an inter- mediate type carrying 24 12-inoh and 72 9- weapons, against which Austria-Hungary possesses three, carrying 12 12-inch and 24 9-inch guns. Greece, with her finances un- der international control, and Turkey, in similar plight, have bought Dreadnoughts Brazil built three and neglected them as soon <?a acquired to a degree that rendered them incapable of service. Chili and the Argentine have bought two more apiece. So far from their abnormal cost placing them beyond even the ambitions of the minor Powers, Dreadnoughts appear to have ex- ercised the magnetic fascination that "rem- nant sales" have upon the ladies, and have spurred them to unprecedented heights of extravagance. it will be observed that the British fleet I ha». in point of numbers, fallen to some twenty percentage of the world's fighting ships. The possession of battleships of the ) first class by minor countries, always pre- pared for a deal upon attractive terms, in- troduce?? a new element into the problem of sea-power. England bought battleships I from Chili in 1903 to prevent them falling into the hands of Russia for use against Japan. Brafeil has just sold the Rio de Jai).eiro--the largest and most powerfully armed Dreadnought afloat at the moment- to Turkey. Greece, on the eve of the Bal- kan war, bought destroyers built for the Ar- gentine Republic. A balance of numerical superiority too delicately poised may be up- set at any moment by similar coups—though as Britain builds most of these ships for the third-rate Powers, we hold as a rule a number of trump cards up our sleeve. On the other hand, at least one German builder appears to make a practice of constructing speculative batches of torpedo-craft of a standardised pattern, and can in that way enable his country to anticipate the esti- mates by a full twelve months, besides the sudden development of formerly secondary and tutelary powers. The naval renaissance of France has been a further outstanding feature; yet even the formidable fleet she has built since the Dreadnought cleaned the slate and enabled a fresh start to be made by everybody does not avail in regard to numbers to establish more than a slight superiority over the Austro-Italian combination in the Mediter- ranean. But in other respects the French Navy has been revolutionised it is now per- meated by enthusiasm, loyalty, and confi dencei. and the political maladies that ravaged it a few years iago have been quelled in their virulence. Equally remark, able has been the Russian effort to create a navy anew from the ashes of the conflict with Japan, an effort made at colossal cost, I and against difficulties of the first order, such as the geographical separation of the various squadrons, in the Baltic. Black Sea, and Pacific.; a short coast line frozen up during a large part of the year the absence of anv body of men with seafaring instincts and habits (the Finns are notoriously dis- i affected) or mechanical aptitude, and the general unsuitability of the average Russian, a peasant of undeveloped intelligence, for a calling that demands a personnel semi- mechanic and semi-mathematician. Yet in spite of all, Russia will in five years' time dispose of eight Dreadnoughts in the Baltic and four in the Blacír Pea. and a Russian writer declares Russian sailors are im- bued with the strongest and heartiest de- j termination to efface the sad memories of the last war, and to win the respect of the nation j for the naval uniform." And Russian activity exerts a reflex ac- i tion upon the Scandinavian Powers, except Denmark, long supine and neglectful of their armaments. Denmark has little reason to love her Prussian neighbour, which has on her borders in Northern Schleswig a little A bace Lorraine of her own, where Danes are prosecuted for such acts as painting dog- kennels in the Danish national coloUTs-the bright and cheerful combination of red and white, whilst a few months ago Captain Amundsen was forbidden to lecture in his native tongue upon his experiences at the South Pole, in a town just inside the Ger- man frontier. Denmark is not so greatly affected by the influences that inspires Sweden and Norway to embark upon new 1rava l programmes. naval programmes. These countries, in many respects amongst the most highly civilised in the world, profess to seek thereby no more than respect for their neutrality. But fa<ced with the prospect of a Russian or a German domination in the Baltic they have little alternative in the casting of their sym- pathies and perchance their active co- operation. In Sweden the movement for improving tiio national defences has been taken up with extraordinary power. Mr. Lloyd George, when he spoke of a general "revolt of the peoples of Europe against arma- ments," in the Criccieth interview, was evi- dently unaware that eighteen months or so ago, when the Swedish Government dis- played some hesitation "n laying down a proposed new coast defence battleship of a type suited for, navigating the shallow island-sprinkled coastal waters, the Swe- dish people subscribed the entire cost— gome- £ 600.000—privately a remarkable achievement for a country of no more than five million people. And a. new programme is now under consideration. On Thursday Renter's correspondent at Stockholm tele- graphed To-morrow one of the most ex- traordinary public demonstrations that the history of any countrv has produced takes plnoe at Stockholm. Thirty thousand small farmers, collected from every quarter of the oruntry, and coming from villages, many of which are seven and eight, hundred miles avayr will present themselves before the King at the Royal Palace for the purpose of .rc-preFi-nting to his Majestv their desire for the proper maintenance of the defence of the country, and to demand an increase of armaments without delay." Tn whatever direction we turn, there is visible everywhere save in Britain a rest- I less energy on land and sea in the perfec- tion, increase, and Rccumulation of armaments. In the domain of sea power, insignificant -nations make sacrifices in- ordinately out of proportion to any possi^ ble needs or contingencies. If Britain remains first, she is nearly outmatched by a potential coalition against her; and her position relative to the worid has declined to a start-liner extent. Hardly anyhcdy, seema to realise that there are now four foreign vessels to every British warship afloat; that the quondam "Mistress of the Seas" has been driven to oonnne her, energies to the defence of her territorial waters. The sole exceptions to the rule of great augmentation of fleets have been ,those provided by the relatively moderate srrowth of the Japanese and American fleets, that are to a great degree built against each other. So that America, once second. is now but a doubtful third, rivalled by France, once far out-distanced, and easily eclipsed by Germany, -which has two keels against one that carries the Stars and Stripes. Italy and Austria-Hungary, once secondary Powers, are now vigorous enough to occupy aU the energies of France, and Russia is again becoming a power to be j: reckoned with. Those who pin their faith for the propagation of pacific ideals to the "Anglo-Saxon" Powers may be invited to contemplate the decline of British strength at sea to a iifth of the world's sea-power, and America's fail from a good second to a very bad third. And to consider further that in the enormous accumulation of war- ships in the Mediterranean—eight and sixty line of battleships alone, French, Italian, and Aust.rian-ther-e are to be seen but an insignificant four that oarry our White Ensign.

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