Any attempt to forecast the probable tendencies of Liberal opinion in England, whensoever peace shall have been restored, must be based on the assumption that Germany will be completely defeated and Europe be relieved, once and for all, form the overshadowing menace of Prussian militarism. For the ultimate issue of the present titanic struggle resolves itself, so far as the great mass of our wage-earners is concerned, into the question whether the rights of men or the rights of autocratic power shall hereafter dominate their political and economic destinies. Say what we will of the splendid achievements of German science and culture, the spirit which controls and directs the life of the German people is that of Prussia’s blood-and-iron despotism, a spirit that frankly denies and despises the rights of man and exalts those of a privileged military caste.
If it were possible that the command of the sea should now pass from England to Germany, its passing could mean only the substitution of military for industrial civilization throughout Western Europe. Liberalism, that great force of progressive public opinion which, above and beyond all party politics, stands for freedom of social development and ethical ideas, would find no place of refuge on this side of the Atlantic until that tyranny was finally overthrown. If England were defeated and invaded by the triumphant Teuton, Liberalism, in the accepted sense of the term, must be submerged, for a generation at least, in the wreck and ruin of our national life.
But it cannot be. This war can end only with the final uprooting of the Bismarckian tradition and a wider freedom for the nations. The struggle of armed hosts is also a conflict of vital ideas; it is essentially a war between the fundamental principles of autocracy and those of democracy; and democracy must triumph. It is true that in the turmoil of conflicting impulses of nationalism, Russia, an autocratic power, finds herself ranged on the side of democracy for the furtherance of Pan-Slav ambitions, which, in the past, have had little enough to do with Liberalism; but the movement, and the racial instincts of self-preservation which have inspired it, are in themselves full of promise for the future liberties of Poland, Finland, and the Jewish subjects of the Tsar. Russian Liberalism cannot fail to derive a new sanction and a new inspiration from the disappearance of the cult of the German War Lord, and the Russian bureaucracy must of necessity acquire a broader and more humane outlook, by virtue of its alliance with the forces which stand for the liberties of the smaller nations.
Assuming, then, that Western Europe is destined to be relived of the overshadowing menace of German hegemony, it is evident that, as this war draws to its close, the minds of thoughtful men will be deeply concerned with the social and political changes which must naturally follow upon so vast an upheaval. But with regard to Great Britain’s domestic affairs (closely affected as they are by the still unsolved Irish problem and the undefined attitude of the Labor party) the future of Liberalism, and the constitution of its leadership, must evidently depend in no small measure on the duration of the war.
If, as Lord Kitchener appears to expect, the struggle should be protracted for two or three years, not only those who now direct the nation’s affairs, but the leaders of public opinion throughout all classes of society, will inevitably approach many of our national problems from standpoints either completely new, or greatly modified by the psychological effect of so prolonged a conflict. Industrial England cannot leave its factories and warehouses for two or three years, to follow the drum in Belgium and France (and, let us hope, in Germany), without acquiring new and fruitful ideas concerning the nation’s foreign policy, alliances, and diplomatic relations.
If, on the other hand, as many believe, the war is brought to a much earlier conclusion, — either by the defeat of the German forces in the field or by the economic exhaustion of Western Europe, — its effect on the laboring and industrial classes in England would naturally be less marked; in that case, Liberalism might confidently expect speedily to reorganize its political forces and reassert its domestic policy on lines generally based on those which have been laid down by the present administration. Questions of foreign policy and of national defense would require to be adjusted to changed and changing conditions, but it may safely be predicted that the nation’s chief attention would speedily revert to matters of social legislation, to the lesser conflicts of class interests and party faction, unless the people itself had learned, by the chastening discipline of a prolonged struggle, that ‘nations, like individuals, have souls as well as bodies.’
A short, successful war would probably tend to confirm the industrial population of England in its somewhat narrow outlook on life, in its well-ordered but unsatisfied materialism; a long one, waged in a just cause for the greater freedom of democracy, could not fail to create a higher type of intelligent nationalism in the masses. Clearly, then, the future of Liberalism, both as regards its leadership and its dominant principles, depends greatly on the duration and results of the war.
But, whether it be long or short, there can be no doubt that the memory of these days, in which the people has heard, and answered the higher call of patriotism in the hour of national peril, must infuse into Liberalism, as into Conservatism, a broader view of the public interest, something less parochial and more truly national in its attitude. The spirit of comradeship, of kindly sympathy of class for class, the common hopes and sorrows and fears, that have united the nation to confront a common danger, these will not lightly be forgotten. War, despite all its horrors, undoubtedly calls forth in men some of the noblest virtues. Tried in its cleansing fires, the gold of humanity is purified. From this great upheaval of all our comfortable securities, the nation will emerge with new and broader conceptions of duty and self-denial and discipline.
Our class wars will not end, but they will surely be made less bitter, at least during the life of the present generation, by recollection of the days when dukes’ sons and cooks’ sons fought side by side in the trenches and together stormed the deadly breach. Conservatives will remember that, in the supreme hour of trial, it was the leaders of the Liberal party, Mr. Asquith, Sir Edward Grey, Mr. Churchill, and Mr. Lloyd George, who upheld the nation’s honor, and refused to parley with the ‘infamous proposal,’ which would have bought peace at the price of Belgium’s freedom and the utter humiliation of France. And Liberals will remember that, when the storm broke, there was no voice of recrimination or reproach from the ranks of their political opponents, from the men who, following Lord Roberts, had for years urged the utter inadequacy of the nation’s military defenses.
When this war is over and done, and civilization comes to count its appalling cost, there must be a strong reaction against militarism, and especially against that which Mr. Wells calls Kruppism; but never again, we may be sure, will England consent to be an unarmed nation amongst nations in arms. Pacifists and humanitarians will continue, as Liberals, to proclaim their traditional principles and policies; Nonconformists and the Society of Friends will continue to work for the day when arbitration treaties and mutual goodwill between the nations shall be the guarantees of universal peace; but Liberalism, both among the classes and among the masses, has been rudely awakened from dreams to the tough world of realities. If Lord Roberts lives to see England’s house set in order after tis war, he should have the satisfaction of knowing that his life work has been crowned by the nation’s recognition of the need for national military service, organized on an equitable and democratic basis.
As we look back on the record of Liberalism in recent years, it is impossible to deny that, under the baneful influences of the party system, many of its noblest aspirations have been dulled by contact with the sordid warfare of professional politicians. The people, while pursuing their businesses and their pleasures in a narrow groove of uninspired commercialism, have looked on with almost callous indifference at a game in which principles have been frankly subordinated to the spoils system, and in which public honors and titles have been sold for cash, to replenish the party funds. They have seen the business of Parliamentary representation gradually degraded to the point where the Labor Party may deliberately record its vote against Labor interests, in order to keep its salaries and its seats under a Liberal government. They have seen vital national questions, such as the future government of Ireland and Woman Suffrage, treated by all parties alike, not on their merits, but as stakes in the party game of Ins and Outs, — the splendid traditions and principles of English Liberalism abused as vote-winning catchwords by a soulless caucus.
Had there been no war with Germany, these growing evils must surely have been purged from the body politic, and the nation’s political conscience awakened, by the civil strife which the Irish question had rendered inevitable. Throughout all classes of society, from the landed gentry to the leaders of the Independent Labor Party, a strong force of public opinion had been steadily growing for the past few years against the callous cynicism of the party system. Is it too much to hope that, strengthened and purified by the ordeal of this war, this force of public opinion will hereafter devote itself to the cleansing of the Augean stables, and that Liberalism may become once more, as it was under Gladstone and Bright, a definite and disinterested solicitude for the moral and material well-being of the people?
Indeed, there must be good reason to hope and believe that the spirit of Liberalism will emerge greatly invigorated from a struggle which, in a few short weeks, has brought home to every one of us the truth that, in a vital crisis of the nation’s life, all these party questions, that lead us to such bitterness and wasteful strife, sink into utter insignificance. At the first breath of a common danger, the jarring voices of class and party faction are hushed to silence. The war must needs bring great evil of sorrow and suffering to England at large, but from this evil great good will spring if it teaches the nation that the government of the country need not necessarily and eternally be hampered by the unworthy discords of professional agitators and politicians. Already it has learned that, if their patriotism and their pride are aroused. Conservatives and Liberals can forget their bitterest difference in order to serve a common national purpose. The lesson will not lightly be forgotten.
If one may judge by the current writings of representative men, one of the first results of this war in its effect upon Liberal opinion must be to increase and emphasize its humanitarian and pacifist activities. Already the keynote of that opinion is unmistakably given in the Liberal press. In the Nation, the Daily Chronicle, the New Statesman, and many other influential organs, the conclusion is unanimously voiced that ‘it must never happen again.’ Mr. Wells, in particular, stands out as prophet and advocate of a world-wide movement for the moral regeneration of the nations, a movement in which the pacifist forces of the United States are expected to play a leading part. There is to be, there must be, throughout Europe (to quote the words of Mr. Massingham), ‘a complete change of political organization,’ a federation of powers firmly pledged to keep the world’s peace.
Mr. Wells is splendidly optimistic in her visions of the Utopia of an industrial civilization that shall now, at last, replace the civilization of militarism. He admits indeed ‘that it is no good to disarm while any one single power is still in love with the dream of military glory,’ but he looks to see that dream definitely abolished, and the peace of the world permanently established, by a consensus of human intelligence and morality. He would begin by ‘the abolition of Kruppism, — the sordid, enormous trade in the instruments of death,’ — and the neutralization of the sea. He would make national wars on land impossible, by giving to the confederate peace powers charge and command of the ocean highways, making the transport of armed men and war materials contraband, and impartially blockading all belligerents. ‘The Liberalism of France and England must make its immediate appeal to the Liberalism of all the world, to share in the glorious ends for which this war is being waged.’ He would have a new and enlightened Democracy ‘impose upon this war the idea that this war must end war … that henceforth no nationality shall oppress any nationality or language again in Europe for ever.’
The Nation (an organ identified with the Radical wing) advises Liberalism to seek the same end by other means. It advocates ‘the cutting down of purely national forces in favor of something that we can truly call an International Police, controlled by an International Parliament.’ This result will not be attained, it foresees, merely by the abolition of Kaiserism—‘all will, and must be, changed: the inner thoughts of men, the power of the masses to safeguard their simplest rights.’ For the nation has gone into this fight, ‘not perhaps with full consciousness of the character of the issue, but with the desire, and we pray with the result, of moderating the play, not only of the more primitive lusts of successful war, but of seeing a new Europe emerge from it.’
I quote these opinions of Mr. Wells and of the editor of the Nation because they are influential, as well as typical of a frame of mind which is certain to determine the future attitude of a considerable section of Liberalism, not only as regards matters of national defense and of foreign policy, but toward what may be called its higher moralities. The practical value of these proposals for abolishing militarism and radically changing the tendencies of nationalism, may be open to dispute; but the moral effect of such an attitude cannot fail to be important. When, with the restoration of pace abroad, party war breaks out again (as it needs must) at home, it may safely be predicted that a definite line of cleavage will present itself, from the outset, between Liberalism and Conservatism on these issues of pacifism, international arbitration, and disarmament.
Once more we shall witness the old-world battle joined between he idealists and the Realists; between the followers of Plato and those of Aristotle, believers in what-ought-to-be, against those who prefer to deal with things as they are. While it is impossible to withhold admiration for the splendid optimism of the pacifists (applied to the uncertain soil of human nature in Europe, in much the same spirit in which Mr. Wilson and Mr. Bryan are endeavoring to apply it in Mexico), it is equally impossible to forget that (as Herbert Spencer sums up the matter), ‘human nature, though indefinitely modifiable, can be modified but very slowly, and that all laws and institutions and appliances which count on getting from it, within a short time, results much better than present ones, will inevitably fail,’ — in other words, that human nature cannot be radically changed by modes of repression or international agreements, but only by educative processes, which must necessarily extend over considerable periods of time.
What you put into the school, said Humboldt, you take out of the State—and, if this be true, the abolition of war must be preceded for a generation at least by the provision of a new type of schoolmaster, not only in Germany, but in Japan, Russia, and other countries. There are times and places where his services might have been useful during recent years even in England and America.
Many peace-advocates and humanitarians prominently identified with Liberalism unconsciously admit the weakness of their position in this matter. The Nation, in a striking article entitled ‘Utopia or Hell’ (August 15), declares that ‘the future turns mainly on the readiness of all nations to abstain from crushing or humiliating any … The limitation of armaments must be universal, and it must be voluntary … The civilian mind must impose itself upon the pugnacity of the soldier.’ The Society of Friends (Liberals all), in a remarkable manifesto recently published, declares that, after this war, civilization will be able ‘to make a new State and to make it all together.’ They hope and trust ‘to reconstruct European culture upon the only possible permanent foundation—mutual trust and goodwill’; to lay down ‘far-reaching principles for the future of mankind, such as will insure us forever against a repetition of this gigantic folly.’
Yet even while they proclaim this splendid vision, their minds are not a little disturbed by the thought of Russia. Mr. Wells, it is true, has endeavored to reassure his friends on this score, to convince Liberalism that its dread of that semi-Oriental autocracy ‘is due to fundamental misconceptions and hasty parallelisms’: but they refuse to be entirely comforted. The Tsar’s proclaimed intention of liberating Poland and Finland, his promises of kindlier treatment for his Jewish subjects, and his undertaking to respect the independence of Sweden, are accepted by the Nonconformist conscience with evident misgivings, which suggest an almost Spencerian attitude of doubt in regard to the sudden diminution of original sin in the soul of the Slav. And so, before ever the vision of universal peace can find practical expression in statesmanship, new causes of racial antagonism are casting their shadows of strife.
Evidently the first task of Liberalism must be to determine its future attitude toward European alliances in general, and the Triple Entente in particular. It will have to consider and decide, as a matter of high national policy, whether by any means (for example, by the establishment of an American-Anglo-French Peace Federation) a measure of international disarmament can be attained; and, if it cannot, what should be Great Britain’s future rôle on the Continent of Europe.
And here, at the outset, its difficulties are obvious. To oppose a good understanding with Russia must in the long run involve support to Japan’s ambitions in the Far East, a line of policy that could hardly fail to antagonize public opinion in America, — which is the last thing that either Liberalism or Conservatism wants to do. It would also mean giving further countenance to the ‘unspeakable Turk,’ who, at this moment of writing, appears to be bent on tempting Providence to the utmost and selling the remnants of his birthright in Europe for a very doubtful mess of German red pottage.
So far as may be inferred from the views currently expressed, a considerable body of English Liberal and Labor opinion will, in future, be opposed to the whole policy of alliances and ententes. Already this attitude finds frequent and forcible expression in the press. Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, nominal leader of the Labor Party, has publicly denounced Sir Edward Grey because ‘under his management we have been weaving round ourselves for eight years the mesh of entanglements which has brought us to our present confusion.’ He and those who think with him maintain that, come what may, the tremendous issues of war and peace ‘can no longer be entrusted to the soldiers and diplomats who now control them.’ They denounce all the machinery of the Balance of Power, holding it to be futile at its best, and dangerously provocative at its worst; and they would replace it by ‘the forms and the reality of a European concert.’
These, it must be admitted, are rather the opinions of extreme Radicalism than of Liberalism, — the views of men who approach the wide field of European politics from narrow lanes of insular thought. Experienced Liberal leaders, like Lord Morley and Lord Rosebery, are not likely to pin their faith on any concert of Europe as a regenerating moral force. They know that it is an expedient which has been tried and found wanting. Was not Bismarck, single-handed, able to reduce its good intentions to impotence, and to prove, long before Algeciras, that voluntary respect for the sanctity of international treaties is not an effectively restraining force in the world’s affairs? At the conference of the nations, which must surely assemble to revise the map of Europe after this war, the humanitarian idealists are likely to find, as they found more than once at The Hague, that, even beyond the frontiers of the Balkans, necessity and force and national ideals are still powerful factors in determining the destinies of peoples.
On the whole, it seems most likely that, in the domain of foreign policy, constructive Liberalism will direct its humane activities toward consolidating a good understanding with Russia along lines which shall involve no forfeiture of our own national ideals as a democracy. For y this means only can its main object be secured, namely, the avoidance of any cause of misgivings or misunderstanding on the part of the American people.
In expressing this opinion, I do not forget that, in America, as in England, there exist very real and widespread misgivings about Russia, and particularly among that Jewish element of the population which plays so important a part in the high places of international finance. But when all is said and done, a nation’s policy instinctively follows the lines of least resistance and least danger, and it requires no powers of divination to foresee that, while Russia will continue to stand in need of the friendship of England and France after this war, her political activities in the immediate future are not at all likely to threaten either English or American interests. As a commercial competitor, she will continue to be a negligible quantity and, with regard to her internal politics, the cause of humanity has everything to gain from her association with the Liberalism of England and France.
Among thoughtful politicians and writers, a clear understanding as to the country’s future foreign policy is recognized as a matter of paramount importance. Without going so far as Mr. Macdonald, who in his wrath advocates the suppression of diplomatists, Liberal opinion as a whole would welcome any departure from the existing system, which might allow Parliament and the press to form clearer ideas concerning the international situation at any given moment, and concerning England’s obligations. Democratically speaking, it is absurd that a nation should be called upon to make war in defense of obligations (such as those of the Anglo-French naval entente) which have been neither published nor defined. Yet, under our present political system, there are obvious and almost insuperable objections to the detailed discussion in Parliament of international relations, — objections which would continue to exist even if, in the interests of peace, Europe could be persuaded to intrust the execution of a concert’s decisions to an international police force.
It is not easy to see by what means constructive Liberalism, however well-intentioned, is to supersede the existing machinery of statecraft in England or to improve upon the conduct of its foreign relations as handled by Sir Edward Grey. Take away all power of making war from kings and governors, replace them by whatsoever other machinery we will, and still, at the end of the long chain of ‘isms’ and grouped authorities, there remains ever the fallible human equation.
Next to the question of our future foreign policy, and in a great measure dependent thereon, Liberalism must face the problems of national defense. With the removal of the German invasion bogey, those who advocate a great reduction of expenditure on armaments, both on economic and on moral grounds, will be in a strong position. That position will be reinforced by the financial exhaustion of the country; the best of patriots, faced with a ten per cent tax, must look about him for relief. Expenditure on progressive legislation, social reform, and the relief of distress, is bound to increase steadily, and the country’s taxable resources are not unlimited. All this is indisputable; nevertheless, the people whose children are now being taught, when they say grace, to ‘thank God for the British navy which secures them a good breakfast,’ are not likely to forget the lesson which this war has brought home to all sorts and conditions of men.
A general reduction of armaments throughout the civilized world, the abolition of private ownership in munitions of war, the extension of arbitral machinery to international disputes under conditions that would make it effective—all these things might well come within the range of practical politics. They are certain in any case to come within the programme of advanced Liberalism in England. But neither Mr. Norman Angell’s exposition of the economic futility of war, nor al the moral pacifists’ visions of a Federation of United States in Europe, will ever persuade the present generation of Englishmen to endanger Great Britain’s command of the sea.
Before this war, the warning of Lord Roberts, Admiral Mahan, and other seers, had fallen upon ears that heard not; the masses, though sympathetic, remained unconvinced. To-day, they have learned and know that England’s daily bread, her commerce, her colonies, her very existence, depend upon the supremacy of the British Navy. With a dislike for militarism quite as deep-rooted as that of the American people, the great majority of Englishmen will therefore continue to oppose any attempt to weaken the country’s naval defenses. The vital importance of sea-power has now been brought home to the man in the street by arguments and facts which have completely convinced him.
Therefore, whatever be the humane aspirations of Liberalism, Liberal politicians are not likely to follow Mr. Wells on that new path of his which is to lead to Utopia by way of ‘the neutralization of the sea,’ by placing all armed ships under the control of a confederation of peace powers. They will prefer to work for an all-round, but fairly proportionate, reduction of armaments, both on land and sea; opinion in the moderate Liberal press already foreshadows this line of policy.
It will be observed that, so far, I have discussed the principles and future policies of Liberalism without reference to the dominating personalities with which they are generally associated in the public mind, or the exigencies of their party tactics. As matters stand to-day, although vital movements of opinion are taking place in many directions and finding tentative expression, — movements which, in days to come, will produce world-wide effects, — these are due, not to the surface activities of politicians, but rather to a stirring of the great deeps of national life, to an awakening of moralities and humanities which the even tenor of that life had long left dormant.
Forasmuch as there are no party politics to-day (when even press discussion of the Home Rule question is deprecated by common consent), it is impossible to foretell either the ultimate direction of these movements of public opinion or their probable actions and reactions upon the political life of the country. He would indeed be a bold man who should prophesy even concerning the constitution, leadership, and platforms of the two great parties in the state at the close of this war. To a great extent, as I have already observed, these things must depend upon the duration and varying fortunes of the struggle. For example, it requires no great stretch of imagination to conceive the possibility of a coalition war government, pledged to carry on the campaign to its bitter end in Berlin, if a section of Russophobe Liberals were to move in Parliament (as it is already doing in the press) for the conclusion of a peace which might leave Prussian militarism partly unbroken and wholly unrepentant.
The government of England at this moment is neither Liberal nor Conservative, but only National. Its de facto leaders are the Secretary for War and the First Lord of the Admiralty, and the business of the politician is definitely in abeyance. The Independent Labor Party’s half-hearted attempt to break the united front has been promptly repudiated by the labor unions.
But many things might occur, such as a disaster to the fleet or, if the war be protracted, a great increase of unemployment at industrial centres, which would bring new party issues to the front, and create divisions in the state. In such an event, either great changes would have to take place in the constitution of the Liberal government, or a coalition ministry would have to be formed (confronted by an active opposition) to serve during the continuance of the war.
It is an open secret that a coalition government was seriously discussed for several days before that fateful Sunday (August 2) when the peace-at-almost-any-price advocates in the Cabinet were finally persuaded by Sir Edward Grey—backed by the Premier, Mr. Churchill, and Mr. Lloyd George—to indorse his policy of opposing by force of arms the violation of Belgium’s territory.
Not all foolishly did German diplomacy rely upon England’s internal differences to secure her neutrality. The resignation of Lord Morley and Mr. Burns was the only sign vouchsafed to the public of the Cabinet’s momentous crisis, but the pacifist views of many ministers—notably Mr. McKenna and Mr. Birrell—had been sufficiently proclaimed to indicate the nature of that crisis, and to cause the most acute anxiety among those who actually knew what was occurring in Downing Street and Whitehall during the three days which preceded the declaration of war. And, even to-day, if we bear in mind the pacifist convictions and the German sympathies which have been so frankly displayed from time to time by Lord Haldane, Mr. Samuel, and other ministers (not forgetting the influence of Berlin on our high finance), we may form an idea of the difficult situation in which Mr. Lloyd George, for instance, would be placed, if hereafter compelled by circumstances to choose between adherents to his ‘fight-to-a-finish’ policy and the pacific tendencies of his Nonconformist supporters in the constituencies.
A similar problem may possibly confront individual leaders of the Liberal party in connection with the Irish question. As matters stand, Sir Edward Carson has definitely relegated the Home Rule dispute to the background, and encouraged his Ulster Volunteers to enlist for service at the front. Mr. Redmond and the Nationalist leaders hung back for a time, stipulating that the Home Rule bill should be placed on the statute book before they authorized the Nationalist Volunteers to place their services at the disposal of the Crown; and this, despite the loyal enthusiasm of many of their followers. It was a bad generalship. A spontaneous and unconditional manifestation of loyalty would undoubtedly have done more to reconcile wavering opinion in England to Home Rule than this display of party tactics.
If, at a time when India and all the dominions overseas are sending their contingents to the front, Nationalist Ireland refuses to come forward and crowd the recruiting offices in sign of its renewed loyalty, there must inevitably occur a powerful revulsion of feeling throughout the British electorate. Such a policy would do more to justify the Ulster Convenanters than all the prophecies and pleadings of their political representatives at Westminster; and it would inevitably react with deadly effect upon the Liberal government. But Mr. Redmond is no novice in strategy; he has certainly counted the cost of this manœuvring for position, and, having attained his end and justified himself in the eyes of his supporters in Ireland and America, he is now calling upon his Nationalist forces to fight side by side with the Ulstermen, in the cause of Catholic Belgium and France. And thus Liberalism may reckon on having found a happy issue out of all its Irish afflictions.
On the question of Woman Suffrage, the opinion is steadily growing in the ranks of Liberalism that its attitude has hitherto been lacking in courage and intelligent anticipation. A referendum on the subject would undoubtedly show an enormous majority of Radical and Labor opinion in favor of giving the vote, upon reasonable terms, to women. One of the chief obstacles in the path of this necessary and equitable extension of the franchise has hitherto lain in Mr. Asquith’s personal opinion in the matter, and in the vague fears entertained by a certain section of his followers that to confer the vote on women would mean an accession of strength to the Conservative party. But in this, as in many other questions, the effect of this war upon the public conscience is likely to prove a broadening and stimulating influence. The public spirit, patriotism, and common sense which women of all classes have displayed since war broke out, have greatly impressed public opinion. If the Liberal party hereafter refuses to put Woman Suffrage in its political platforms, it will assuredly find its short-sighted Conservatism condemned by a majority of the constituencies.
But the future of Liberalism, as of the Empire itself, lies now on the knees of the gods. With all Europe seething in the melting-pot of war, it may indeed seem presumptuous thus calmly to discuss the chances and changes of principles and policies, which an adverse fate might utterly submerge tomorrow. Yet, seeing this England of ours, a friend to peace, yet staunch in war, drawing loyal men to her side from the four corners of the earth, because her cause is just and brave—may we not rightly hope that she will come forth victorious from this struggle, and that, in the day of victory, English Liberalism also may emerge triumphant from the fettering conditions of party, and, with a broader vision of wisdom and truth, lead the people in the way that they should go?
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