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viii

PREFATORY ESSAY

In consequence, the hewers of wood and drawers of water had begun to lose their enthusiasm for political reform as a means of ameliorating their own condition, and to base their hopes on Socialistic schemes for the regeneration of society, schemes which, whether sound or unsound, were diametrically opposed to the cardinal dogmas of old-fashioned Liberalism—that State intervention was an evil in itself; that Capital and Labour5would each thrive best by being at liberty to fight their own battles; and that any effort on the part of the State to interfere with absolute freedom of contract, and to regulate the profits of Capital on the one hand, or the wages, hours, and conditions of Labour on the other, was foredoomed to failure. The growth of Socialist ideas amidst the working class had tended to dissolve the political alliance which had existed for so many years between the operative class and the lower middle class. Shopkeepers, clerks, small employers, and the less prosperous of the rate-paying classes had become alarmed at the Socialist schemes which had found favour with workmen and labourers; while they also resented the growing authority of Trades Unions. In consequence, the vast class which lies between the poor and the wealthy had gradually gravitated towards Conservatism as distinguished from Liberalism. Moreover, it cannot be doubted that the tone of modern thought and the consequent decay of dogmatic religious belief to some extent modified the aspirations and ideals of civilized mankind. Doubts as to the merits of unrestricted competition as a system capable of universal application; a tendency to look to State action, rather than to individual effort, as the best remedy for social evils; a fear of the supremacy of the masses by the property-owning part of the community; and a widespread desire for the reorganization of the world on the basis of social, as distinguished from political, reform, are some of the chief factors which influenced the policy of all progressive States during the last five-and-twenty years of the 19 th century, and led to various changes in their internal fabric, and, in some instances, in their external relations with one another. The shadow of the great Franco-German war of 1870-71 has lain over the years which have come and gone since the German armies entered Paris as conquerors. The direct results of the campaign are obvious enough. Germany became the leading State in continental Europe, while France was WarSm relegated to the second, if not to the third, place amidst the Great Powers of the mainland. Her loss of territory is insignificant as compared with her loss of authority; and the authority she still exerts is mainly due to her grand traditions and to the alliance contracted with Kussia. The indirect effects of the war of 1870-71, though less obvious, are certainly not less important. The outcome of the German victories throughout the length and breadth of France was to deal a death-blow to the common belief that the era of wars of aggression and conquest had come to an end, and that under free governments, in which the influence of the democracy was supreme, international issues would be settled by arbitration instead of by the brute force of arms. This belief, it may be urged, ought to have been already dispelled by the series of wars which had agitated the world for many years previous to 1870. But each one of these wars might be ascribed, not altogether without justice, to other causes than to the greed of conquest, the dynastic ambitions, or the lust of power, which, according to the leading popular teachers of the day, were solely responsible for the wars of a bygone period. The Franco-Italian war of 1859 was justified by the desire of France to assist Italy in recovering her national independence. The civil war in North America was regarded as a struggle for the abolition of slavery. The invasion of Denmark by Prussia and Austria was excused on the plea that it was waged to uphold the principle of nationality, outraged, or alleged to be outraged, by the rule of the Danes in Schleswig-Holstein. The Seven Days’ campaign, which ended at Sadowa, was supposed to have been due to the paramount necessity of creating a united Fatherland. Popular delusions die hard; and all these indications that, now as heretofore, might is the supreme arbiter upon earth failed to shake the idea, embodied in the Exhibition of 1851, that the days of aggressive warfare had passed away never to return. But no faith, however robust, in the permanence of peace under democratic rule could withstand the shock given to this faith by the war between Germany and France. At the period of its outbreak the passions of onlookers were keenly enlisted on one side or the other, and partisans of either combatant contended that the responsibility for the war rested exclusively on the rulers of the State to which their own sympathies were opposed. But the more the inner history of the war became known, the clearer it became that its causa