Изображения страниц

were those in Austrian hands, who, speaking generally, were not badly treated. The ignorance and neglect of the Bulgarian and the cruelty and inefficiency of the Turk rendered captivity in their hands a dreadful and often perilous experience, and I remember with how much relief the Committee responsible for their repatriation after the Armistice heard of the release of those who had survived. As to the treatment of British prisoners in Germany, I had special opportunities of forming an accurate judgment; for, in the summer of 1918, I went on a mission to the Hague for the purpose of negotiating an agreement as to their treatment and exchange. I believe that in the German mines— especially the salt mines-and (alas!) in some but not many German hospitals, our men suffered great hardships; and also that many British prisoners who should have been sent immediately after capture to the Prisoners' Camps were improperly retained for work behind the German lines with lamentable results. The treatment of prisoners in the Prisoners' Camps in Germany varied according to the character of the Commandant; and while in some Camps-notably those in the Tenth Army District- there were many instances of brutality or neglect, the conduct of other Camps afforded little ground for complaint. Among the many breaches of the rule that prisoners of war should be humanely treated one of the worst on record was the so called "punishment march" of some hundreds of British prisoners under vile conditions to a collection of exposed and insanitary hovels on the frozen Russian border, which ended in the death of many of the men and in lifelong injury to others. I shall not forget my talks with some of these gallant men in the hospitals at the Hague; and although I am not by nature revengeful, I hope with all my heart that a heavy punishment may yet fall upon those who were responsible for that outrage upon humanity.

It is right to add, first, that the Berne and Hague Con ventions did, in my opinion, have a beneficial effect upon the treatment of prisoners by Germany; and secondly, that the British people owe a deep debt of gratitude both to Holland and to Switzerland for their kindly reception and care of the British prisoners (many of them wounded) who were interned in those countries or who passed through them on their return to the United Kingdom. I was at the Hague when some contingents of these men arrived there from Germany on their exchange. It was one of the most moving sights I have ever witnessed; and I remember that I did not please the diplomats at the Hague by saying that these prisoners appeared on leaving Germany to have emerged into the upper air. The Germans were annoyed to have the Fatherland compared even indirectly with the lower regions, but I still think that Holland may have seemed by comparison to be an earthly paradise.

But I must pass on, and will say a few words only on the

question of Contraband. I am strongly in agreement with the opinion expressed by Lord Finlay that when, at the commencement of the War, the British Government adopted the Declaration of London as their guide, they fell into error. And it is fortunate that, under the pressure of hard facts, the error was in time repaired. The fact is that nowadays when not armies but whole nations make war, and when success or failure depends as much upon the national spirit as upon prowess in arms, meticulous rules as to what is absolute and what is conditional contraband, or as to what is or is not a continuous voyage destined for the enemy, simply will not work. I remember the day when first a cargo of food intended for Germany was seized and held as prize, and the day when the same fate first overtook a cargo of cotton, If we had been bound by the Declaration of London it is probable that neither could have been seized. Both were detained and rightly detained, and action of that class helped to win the War. In saying this I do not intend for a moment to depreciate the value of the established rules of International Law or of well considered agreements operating in wartime. England kept her agreements and observed all the rules by which she was bound. Even Germany kept some of them; and there was no belligerent nation which did not pay at least a verbal homage to the principles of international law. It cannot be denied that those principles suffered in the War a partial eclipse; but I still think they were of service. I hope and believe that with the advent of a more reasonable spirit and under the fostering influence of the League of Nations they will speedily renew their strength; and I can conceive of no better augury than the agreement recently framed at the Hague for the establishment of a permanent Court of International Justice.

I am reaching the end of my somewhat desultory discourse, and I desire only to refer to one further aspect of the War, namely, its effect upon the constitutional relations between the Old Country and the Dominions. For a generation some of the ablest statesmen of the time-Rosebery, Chamberlain, Grey and others whose names will occur to you-were considering how best a further link could be forged between the central and Dominion Governments. which should be neither so stiff as to gall nor so weak as to break under a strain. It may be that the problem has been solved quietly and almost unconsciously (as our habit is) by the establishment of the Imperial War Cabinet as an effective Council of the Empire. That assembly of the leading statesmen of the self-governing parts of the Empire, first called together in 1917 for the purpose of discussing the conduct of the War and some of the higher issues of Imperial policy, proved to be of so much service both to its members and to the countries concerned that it was unanimously determined at the instance of the British Prime Minister to keep it in being. And so other meetings took place at a later crisis of the War

and again when the terms of peace were under consideration. The experiment-for at first it was nothing more proved an unqualified success; and to many of us it seems possible that the Imperial War Cabinet may (if the Imperial Conference should so determined) drop its middle name and, while remaining wholly voluntary and consultative, become in world affairs the nerve centre of the autonomous nations of an Imperial Commonwealth. I doubt whether the thought which underlies this idea has been expressed better than in the words used by Sir Robert Borden, when speaking, on the 3rd of April, 1917, to the Empire Parliamentary Association, he said:

"For the first time in the Empire's history there are sitting in London two cabinets, both properly constituted, and both exercising well defined powers. Over each of them the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom presides. One of them is designated as the War Cabinet, which chiefly devotes itself to such questions touching the prosecution of the War as primarily concern the United Kingdom. The other is designated as the Imperial War Cabinet, which has a wider purpose, jurisdiction and personnel. To its deliberations have been summoned representatives of all the Empire's self-governing Dominions. We meet there on terms of equality under the presidency of the First Minister of the United Kingdom; we meet there as equals; he is "primus inter pares." Ministers from six nations sit around the Council Board, all of them responsible to their respective Parliaments and to the people of the countries which they represent. Each nation has its voice upon questions of common concern and highest importance as the deliberations proceed; each preserves unimpaired its perfect autonomy, its selfgovernment and the responsibility of its Ministers to their own electorate. For many years the thought of statesmen and students in every part of the Empire has centred around the question of future constitutional relations; it may be that now, as in the past, the necessity imposed by great events has given the answer.

"With the constitution of that Cabinet," he added, "a new era has dawned and a new page of history has been written. It is not for me to prophesy as to the future significance of these pregnant events; but those who have given thought and energy to every effort for full constitutional development of the overseas nations may be pardoned for believing that they discern therein the birth of a new and greater Imperial Commonwealth."

I hope indeed that the belief so eloquently expressed by Sir Robert Borden may become a reality in our time. The

League of All Nations is a great conception, but much time and effort must be expended before it comes to full fruition. In the meantime there is a League in being-a League, strong, effective and peace loving, nurtured in independence, skilled in selfgovernment, ambitious for no "world empire" but only for a world peace the League of the British Nations. The bond which unites its great component units-Great Britain, Canada, Newfoundland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa-is no chain of possession but the hand clasp of free men. It is founded on two principles, the autonomy of each and the voluntary co-operation of all, and while we are true to these principles, to each other and to our King, no enemy can prevail against




Mr. Chairman, Your Excellency, Lord Cave and the Political Hierarchy of Canada, together with that association of gentlemen whom I now have the honour of addressing, upon whom and upon whose advice and strength and force of character they all rely-the members of the Canadian Bar Association:

I thank you for this welcome. It is a pleasure to come here, in spite of the fact that Sir James Aikins has imposed on me the duty of speaking-something in which I have had very little practice. (Laughter). I am honoured by the presence of the representative of the Crown here, the Duke of Devonshire, whose kind hospitality I am enjoying. It has been a great pleasure to meet my fellow guests, the Privy Councillor Lord Cave and the American Ambassador-or at least the British Ambassador to America.

When I come here I cannot help feeling as if I was in at the birth of this Canadian Bar Association. I remember well, as doubtless many of you do, that great meeting of the American Bar Association at Montreal, and the very beautiful address of Lord Haldane, who was the guest of the Association on that occasion. I remember his discourse on "Sittleichkeit and "Gemuthleichkeit," in 1913, which did not immediately appear as the controlling influence in the world within the year following. (Laughter) But it was a beautiful address and it had a truth in it that must not be lost, and that was that the union or nations for the good of the world must depend upon their spirit of cooperation and their kindly feeling to one another, as the indispensable basis of any improvement in international matters and in the organization of any successful union of the forces of the world to preserve peace. I am glad to know that the Canadian Bar Association, which I hope I am not wrong in saying had the suggestion of its organization from that meeting, has attained the strength and usefulness which this meeting and the previous meetings have developed.]

I am here, I am glad to say, as the representative of the American Bar Association (applause) to express to you our fraternal congratulation upon your successful organization and life. Mr. Hampton Carson, the President of that Association, asked me to come; and your President was good enough to press me to come, with an incidental reference to a "word or two" which he said he would be glad to have from me. Having had

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »