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GERMANY, GREAT BRITAIN AND THE UNITED
N the summer of 1902 the writer of these lines made a
journey to Charlottenburg, to see one of his old and most respected and beloved teachers - Professor Theodor Mommsen, the great German archæologist and historian. It was more a pious pilgrimage than a journey, for we both felt that, at Professor Mommsen's great age, eighty-five, it was hardly probable that we should ever meet again on earth. The interview was long and serious, and took on the form of instruction and advice from the great scholar concerning the problem of the world's civilization. He declared his belief that close friendship and good understanding between Germany, Great Britain and the United States, the three great Teutonic nations, were indispensably necessary to the solution of this all-comprehending problem; and his parting injunction was : “Preach this doctrine far and near, wherever and whenever occasion will permit.” When asked if his view was concurred in by Germany's leading men, he answered unhesitatingly in the affirmative.
It would be too much to say that this exhortation, though coming from one of the world's most learned men, is the sole reason for the appearance of this paper. The writer himself has long held the opinion expressed by Professor Mommsen, and has only become strengthened in it by fuller study and maturer experience. It appears to him that the time has at length arrived for the calm and friendly discussion of this momentous subject;
and such expressions as those of Professor Mommsen - and he has heard many such from Germans of only less note than the great historian — have emboldened him to begin it.
Between the three peoples there is, in the first place, ethnical affinity. The people of Germany, Great Britain and the United States are substantially of Teutonic stock. In a large and general sense, Germany is the motherland of Great Britain, as Great Britain is the motherland of the United States. Moreover, Germany is not merely the motherland of our motherland ; she is in some degree, racially, the immediate motherland of the United States. This ethnical affinity, I grant, does not count for much if it means only that the same blood courses through the veins of the majority of Germans, Englishmen, Scotchmen and North Americans. But if it has produced and maintains a substantial consensus of opinion concerning rights and wrongs, liberty and government, policy and interests, it counts for very much. It has then become an ethical as well as an ethnical bond, and such a bond is the strongest that human history forges. Now who that really knows anything about the history and institutions of Germany, Great Britain and the United States can, for one instant, doubt that such a bond exists between the peoples of these three great countries ; or that the common institutions and ideas that bind them together separate them as distinctly from the Romanic, Celtic and Slavic peoples of Europe, and from all other peoples in other parts of the world, as the waters of the Atlantic are separated from those of the Mediterranean at Gibraltar ?
Let it be noticed, at this early point, that I am careful in drawing these lines. There is a population of some fifteen millions in Sweden-Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands, which, taken man for man, is probably the purest Teutonic stock, and the best stock, in Europe. I mean to include them in all that I have to say in regard to the ethnical and ethical affinity among the Germans, Britons and North Americans, and in all that I have to say in regard to the necessity of understanding and cooperation between Germany, Great Britain and the United States in the great work of the world's civilization. Politically they are not great powers, but physically and morally they are a magnificent force, and in connection with the three great Teutonic
powers they can render invaluable service to the spread of Teutonic culture. There are also some fifteen millions more of Teutons in the Swiss Republic and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, who have done most of what has been done for the upbuilding of those states. They also, if properly handled, will prove of great aid in the enterprises of the three Teutonic powers for the extension of civilization.
Now what are these points of ethical and political consensus in which the Teutonic peoples so closely agree, and in which they are so clearly distinguished from all other peoples ?
First and most important of all is their high sense of individual worth and of individual rights. From the days of Tacitus to those of Castelar this has been recognized, even by writers of Roman and Romanic blood, as the prime characteristic of the Teutonic peoples. Out of it has sprung their profound respect for individual life and liberty, for the chastity of women and the sacredness of the home, for freedom of thought and of conscience, and for the security of private property — impulses which, as time and thought and experience have given them form in the understanding, have become elaborated into the so-called bills of rights, which are the chief glory of their political constitutions and the realization of which is the chief end of all their governmental arrangements. It is not too much to say that the individual initiative in enterprise, the individual energy in research and the individual conscience in ethical development, which have thus been fostered, sustained and encouraged in these great states, have been the prime forces in the civilization of the modern world. Over against these qualities and principles and institutions are to be found, in the other parts of the world, less respect for human life, individual liberty and individual worth; lower appreciation of woman and the home; less regard for the security of property; paternalism and despotism in government, relieved by periods of temporary anarchy; slavish attachment to precedent, and the ethical and religious conscience crushed beneath the weight of a priestly system of authoritative religion and morals.
In the second place, these three states have reached a substantial consensus of opinion in regard to the principle of local selfgovernment. Two of them have the system of federal government, constructed and defined by written constitutions; and in the institutional life and history of the other the custom of local self-government is so firmly embedded that Parliamentary acts are passed to aid its development, but never to destroy it nor even trench upon its proper sphere. The local self-governments are not only the most effective possible instruments for safeguarding local interests and working out sound local policies, but they are the best possible popular seminaries for political training. It is in and through them that latent political talent is best brought to light, disciplined and developed. In contrast with the principle and practice of the Teutonic states upon this subject, almost all the other states of the world govern locally by means of mere official agencies of the central government. Little opportunity is given for any variety of local custom upon matters of even the most minor importance ; and thus little chance is allowed for a variety of experiences in dealing with like subjects, out of which, by a comparison of results, a more intelligent custom or regulation may be attained. The interest of the people in their local government is not only not encouraged, but destroyed ; and political ignorance rather than political education is the outcome of the system.
In the third place, these three great peoples have planted all of their institutions upon the basis of the national state and are developing them through the realization of the national principle. Now the meaning of this is manifold and most important. It means that the boundaries of states shall correspond with the physical boundaries of natural defense and the ethnical boundaries of population. It means that the larger part of the population within the given physical unity has arrived at a consensus of opinion concerning rights and wrongs, interests and policy, and that this larger part has become the real sovereign power within this unity and over this population. It means, therefore, that the state has become really democratic, whatever may be the aspect of its governmental organs, and that the powers of the government are and must be employed for the welfare of the governed and not for the advantage of a governing race or class or caste. It means, lastly, that in the expansion of the power
of such states over other lands and populations the prime purpose is the carrying of the civilization of which they are the organs into the dark places of the earth for the enlightenment and advancement of the inhabitants of these dark places, and that any particular advantage which they themselves may gain from expansion shall be incidental and secondary and shall not conflict with the end which alone justifies and sanctifies the movement. Contrasted with this, the Roman and Romanic genius, when not corrected by a Teutonic element, stands for universal empire, and the Slavic genius stands for universal anarchy. Each of these is a menace in principle to the peace and civilization of the world ; while the system of national states, at the same time that it solves the problems of individual liberty, local government and general government, has produced the system of modern international law, which is gradually establishing and securing the peace of the world.
Lastly, when we regard the finer elements of civilization and culture, science, literature, art and music, we become immediately aware of a conscientious thoroughness, a high moral tone, and a sound and truthful imagination on the one side, and more or less superficiality, looseness and fancifulness on the other. On the whole, I venture to say that, to any profound and thorough student of the world's civilization, the proposition will appear not more and not less than the sober truth that the Teutonic genius and the Teutonic conscience are the two greatest forces in modern civilization and culture.
If this be true, then why should not the three great political representatives of this genius and conscience co-operate in bearing their civilization and culture into the other parts of the world? In the nature of things and in sound principle there is no reason why they should not, and there is every reason why they should. But in the world of fact, petty fact in most respects, there are obstacles to the attainment of this result. The existence of such obstacles is evidenced by a certain hostile feeling between some parts of the population of these great states. In Germany such a feeling is found chiefly among the bumptious and chauvinistic youth ; in the United States chiefly among naval officers and those whom they influence; and in England, as I am told by