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I think if I had at that time fully grasped the significance of that letter my decision would have been a different one. But I can only plead in excuse that the letter was only read to me, that I had no opportunity of considering its terms carefully; and I will also ask noble lords to remember that this was the third day of these proceedings, days which had been occupied incessantly in meetings of the Cabinet, in interviews, and in correspondence, and the strain upon my mind was very great, as I think it would have been on the mind of any man. I was not in a position, my mind was not so clear and lucid as it ought to have been, and I did not, as I ought to have done, fully grasp the significance of the terms in which the resignation had been accepted.
On the following day the Duke of Devonshire interviewed the Private Secretary of the Prime Minister, and also had an opportunity of reading Mr. Balfour's correspondence with Mr. Chamberlain, which now filled his mind “with the very greatest anxiety,” and made him doubt whether he had acted wisely in remaining in the Cabinet, but he felt it was too late to recall his decision, and that notwithstanding the terms of his letter to Mr. Chamberlain, the Prime Minister's declarations would not be inconsistent with his previous expectations, and he impressed this view on the Private Secretary. Then came the Speech at Sheffield, which pace the Duke was a mere platform edition of the pamphlet which the Duke had swallowed, and for this very reason caused no little irritation to all genuine Tariff Reformers at Sheffield. It, however, served the Duke as a pretext for retirement. We believe that the real cause of the Duke of Devonshire's resignation was that he became unconsciously entangled in a coalition cabal engineered by certain sharp-witted men, whose wits had been sharpened by disappointment, and who conceived that under the agis of the Duke of Devonshire they might yet aspire to play an important part in the mismanagement of national affairs. Be the cause what it may
the Duke of Devonshire is now an irreconcilable enemy of the Government. He appears to be within measurable distance of becoming a Home Ruler, as he concluded his speech in the House of Lords by a renewed declaration of war against all Unionist candidates who were Tariff Reformers, and he followed Lord Crewe into the lobby. But the late Leader of the Liberal Unionists and Leader of the House of Lords has so grievously impaired his influence by his inconsistent attitude during the present controversy, that he was followed by a mere handful of Peers, while the Government secured a majority of more than two to one (98 to 47).
The Committee for the Reconstruction of the War Office, consisting of Lord Esher, Sir John Fisher, and Sir George Clarke, presented their Report with commendable promptitude, and as its publication was accompanied by the announcement that the Government had decided to adopt its main recommendations, we find ourselves in the midst of a military revolution which, it must be said, has been wonderfully well received both in civilian and Army circles. The office of Commander-in-Chief is to be abolished, and an Army Council, of a similar type to the Admiralty Board, is to be installed in the War Office, while an Inspector-General “to inspect and report on ” the efficiency of the military forces, will apparently act as the nexus between the Army and the Administration. The new Army Council will consist of seven members —viz., the Secretary of State, four Military Members, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary, and the Financial Secretary. The First Army Lord will regulate questions of military policy, war staff duties, intelligence, plans of operations, training, military history, higher education, and war regulations, and will thus take the place of the General Staff of Continental armies. The Second Army Lord will deal with all questions of personnel, with recruiting, pay, discipline, rewards, and peace regulations. The Third will be responsible for supply and transport, including clothing; while the Fourth will deal with armaments and fortifications. It looks like a dissipation of responsibility, but there is no withstanding the modern craze for Committees and Boards. No less important is the proposal of Lord Esher's Committee to develop the Defence Committee of the Cabinet by giving it a permanent bureau, which shall deal directly with the Premier, whose presidency is declared to be a sine qua non of its efficiency. No doubt the whole question will be thrashed out in Parliament, where constitutional pedants will doubtless have a good deal to say, and probably Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman will urge that it is bad for the Premier to be in such close contact with the fighting services, as it may tend to make him think of fighting ! We trust, however, that the Party of Progress will at any rate be sufficiently strong to insist on the proposed development of the Committtee of National Defence, which appears to offer some faint prospect of preventing the British Cabinet from drifting absolutely unprepared into war according to precedent.
Mr. Arnold-Forster has not let the grass grow under his feet,
Lord and the appointment of the new Army Lords Roberts speedily followed the report of the Committee. - All have distinguished themselves in the field, which does not necessarily mean that they are incompetent in Council. Sir Neville Lyttelton becomes the First Army Lord, the other three being respectively General Douglas, who was Lord Methuen's Chief Staff Officer in South Africa; General Plumer, whose name is a household word ; and General Wolfe Murray, the late Quartermaster-General in India. The abolition of the office of Commander-in-Chief has necessitated the retirement of Lord Roberts, though at one time it was hoped that he might be willing to undertake the exhausting duties of InspectorGeneral of the Forces. This, unfortunately, his health would not allow, but it is gratifying to learn that, “at the special request of the Prime Minister, Lord Roberts has consented to place his services at the disposal of the Committee of Imperial Defence.” The knowledge that he has not completely severed his connection with the British Army, of which he has been so brilliant an ornament, is very gratifying to the public, which has ever cherished the warmest respect and indeed affection for this noble and gallant soldier, who literally saved the British Empire in South Africa in the dark days of 1900. He turned the tide of defeat with such magical skill as to make it almost impossible to recall the situation he retrieved. The national appreciation has been admirably expressed in the Army Order issued by the King (the first Order issued under the auspices of the new Army Council) on the retirement of Field-Marshal Lord Roberts, which runs as follows:
I desire on behalf of My Army to express my deep regret at taking leave of Field-Marshal Earl Roberts, K.G., V.C., who retires from active employment on relinquishing the high office of Commander-in-Chief, which will not again be filled.
For over fifty years the Field-Marshal has served Queen Victoria, My beloved and lamented Mother, and Myself, in India, in Africa, and at Home with the highest distinction. During that long period he has performed every duty entrusted to him with unswerving zeal and unfailing success.
I am unable to part with My Commander-in-Chief, without returning publicly to him My thanks, and those of My Army which he has commanded, for the invaluable services he has rendered to My Empire, and I ask all ranks of My Army to profit by the example of his illustrious career, and of his singleminded devotion to his Sovereign and to his country.
We have the mournful duty of recording the death of Sir Sir Leslie Leslie Stephen, which took place on February 22, Stephen. after a painless but protracted illness, the discomfort and the weariness of which he bore with cheerful resignation. His death creates a gap in English letters which is unlikely to be filled. That he was an eminent philosophical writer goes without saying, but it was as a biographer and an essayist that he so endeared himself to his own day and generation as finally to become recognised as perhaps the most delightful writer of English prose. His charm consisted in a curiously intimate and personal note which made every reader feel that he enjoyed the friendship of the writer. This was because Sir Leslie Stephen was very much more than a man of letters. He was dominated by a moral interest in mankind, and though he probably never deliberately wrote anything with a purpose, he diffused an atmosphere which was far more creative of good than the conscious efforts of men with missions. But there is no need for us to impress his merits on our readers, because during the last ten years he has enriched the National Review with many essays as fascinating as any which have appeared since the death of Charles Lamb.
THE COLLAPSE OF RUSSIA IN THE FAR EAST
I CAN discover nothing in past naval history quite like the events of the first ten days of war between Russia and Japan. As the result of them one of the most poweful fleets in the world has been for all practical purposes wiped out, without any serious damage to the victor or the loss of a single ship on his part, while the Russian field army has been compelled to face the prospect of retreating some hundreds of miles, thus abandoning to Japan the whole of the south of Manchuria and the two great naval fortresses of Port Arthur and Vladivostock, which, without the support of a strong army in the field, may be expected to fall. The victory of Japan at sea came as no surprise to me. I find that some four years ago in this Review I wrote : “The Japanese Navy is quite strong enough to drive the Russian flag from the Pacific, while the Japanese ships have behind them close at hand all the resources of Japan, with her dockyards and coal-mines. Distance is enormously in Japan's favour" (September 1900). But with a knowledge of the Russian and Japanese personnel, I anticipated a better fight being made by the Russians, and never for a moment thought that they would allow themselves to be torpedoed in an open anchorage thus miserably and ingloriously, or that their authorities with supreme ineptitude would scatter their forces and fritter them away in what Napoleon called petits paquets. And as for an admiral who gives a dance on shore while his fleet is expecting —or ought to be expecting—torpedo attack, such a phenomenon has never yet been seen in war. It is dereliction of duty far more scandalous than Byng's, and we punished Byng with death. But the proceedings of Russia at every turn display the same kind of fatuous contempt for the enemy that marked the British operations at the opening of the South African War. Only the enemy here is infinitely more formidable. On paper the Russian fleet had an excellent chance of