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well or ill? These are the sort of questions which Croce seeks to answer and generally succeeds in answering in a way which brings conviction to his readers, and with a superb mastery of all the weapons of his critical armoury that arouses their enthusiastic admiration. Moreover, those very personal qualities-his downrightness and occasionally arrogant tone, his sarcasms and delight (as he himself confesses) in Bione is sermonibus et sale nigro'—which would perhaps be better suppressed in a philosophical treatise, add a force, vivacity, and sparkle to his literary criticism which are extraordinarily stimulating:
It is a question, therefore, whether his disciples in this country would not have better promoted their master's influence by giving to the English public specimens of his quality as a literary critic before they introduced the philosopher. It would be better still if some of them would themselves illustrate his method by applying it to the criticism of English poetry. He himself has recently shown them the way in his study of Shakespeare. Yet it must be admitted that it is a method which, though simple in itself and seemingly easy to handle, yet requires for its successful employment a combination of qualities not often found united in the professional critic, Croce has identified criticism with art not only in theory but also in practice, for he is himself an artist of the first rank. Hence, like the work of all great artists, his criticism may be more easily admired than imitated. He has made us free of all the secrets of his studio, has put his brush into our hands and shown us how to apply it to the canvas; yet he cannot transfer to us his skill. To attain to that we should need in the first place his intellect, and secondly his learning; and even so we could not be critics after the Crocean manner unless endowed with a highly-trained re-creative imagination.
GEOFFREY L. BICKERSTETH,
Art. 5.—IMPERIAL UNITY AND THE PEACE TREATY.
MORE than once a great Empire has passed through a crisis at Versailles. In 1871 Bismarck celebrated the German victory over France by crowning the King of Prussia German Emperor in the Hall of Mirrors. This brought into being the Federal German Empire.
In 1919 the Peace Treaty which consummated the Allied victory over Germany embodied far-reaching changes in the relation of the constituent members of the British Empire. In 1871 Bismarck used the immense authority developed through his successful conduct of the war and imposed on the German people a mighty instrument of Government. The changes of 1919 have a centrifugal tendency; and, if the British Empire is to remain powerful, it will be due to the integrating influence of freedom. There is a curious contrast between the different uses to which victory has been put. The German method has been justly discredited. But it is only right to say that the war has not developed any overwhelming case for a change in Imperial relations.
The British Empire came through the war thoroughly tested but unscathed. A remarkable feature of British war effort was the high degree of co-operation which existed between the various autonomous units which formed the Commonwealth. Successful co-operation between autonomous States is a great test of enlightened policy. The recalcitrant States of America during the War of Independence showed a very different spirit. Their impracticability and mutual distrust nearly broke the heart of Washington. But, when the war broke out in 1914, the Dominions, without hesitation, put their naval and military forces under the control of the British authorities, and thus secured the unity of command necessary to success. The Imperial War Cabinet did useful work, and served a most important end by bringing the Dominions into touch with the real situation, while a vast organisation mobilised the economic resources of the whole Empire. The association and co-operation which took place involved no diminution of the freedom and prestige of the Dominions. Their actions constituted an enlightened exercise of their responsibility as autonomous States mutually interested in the victorious issue
of the war. In one fundamental respect the autonomy of the Dominions was lacking. They were not selfgoverning nations in matters of foreign policy. They were plunged into the war by the decision of the British Cabinet. That decision was never challenged. Several Dominions have keen interests in certain sections of the field of foreign affairs, but in general the voice of the British Government on the issues of peace and war was admitted, and there was no ambition on the part of the Dominions to share it.
The absent-minded way in which the Empire grew up has often been remarked. But the changes which took place at Paris came like a veritable thief in the night. There was no demand in Australia for a change. The press there was full of articles praising the system which had succeeded so well. In the absence of Mr Hughes, the Cabinet decided that it would be unreasonable for him to ask for separate representation for Australia at the Peace Conference. Other parts of the Empire may have desired fuller freedom and discretion within it. But there was no mandate for any revolutionary change nor has any been announced. Yet the constitutional theory of the Empire advanced by three great leaps at Paris. When the Conference assembled, those who followed it closely found the Dominions sitting at the Council table with foreign nations and classed as Powers with special interests. When the Peace Treaty was signed, it was found that the King required the advice of the representative of each Dominion; and, when its text was examined, it was found that, in the new worldorder under the Covenant for the League of Nations, the Dominions were full members of the League and undertook severally all the onerous obligations implied in such membership
These advances in status were said to be the reward for services in the war. The felicitations offered by Dominion statesmen showed no evidence of any idea that the benefits gained might have to be set against responsibilities undertaken. There is surely a vast difference between a system in which one set of diplomatists do the whole work of the Empire, the King acting on the advice of British Ministers, and one in which the Dominion representatives sit face to face with the representatives of foreign states and advise the King separately. Such a change would seem to involve an entire remodelling of the organisation. Yet there is nothing in the speeches or actions of the Dominion delegates which indicates any appreciation of the revolutionary character of the change and its implication, and there has since been little attempt to modify the system which existed before the Conference. Never have such important changes attracted so little public attention. They were not accompanied by any explanation and they do not explain themselves.
What precisely they involve has to be ascertained by working out the implications which are involved in them.
There is, of course. nothing new about this ex-post-facto method of working. The theory of the British Commonwealth has been built up in this way. Some notable act is done by a responsible Minister or officer of State. Immediately constitutional publicists set about working out the implications of the act done, assessing the measure of its departure from the previous practice and fitting it into their theory of the Empire. The advantages of this method are great, but it has its disadvantages. The spectacle of a learned professor discussing what a statesman, still living, accomplished when he took a certain action savours of irony. What the Empire needs, if it is to remain, is statesmen who know what they do when they do it; statesmen capable of working out the implications of their actions. For statesmen to act and constitutionalists to build up a mountain of inferences from such action leads to constitutional thought becoming unreal and casuistical. There is a strange fatalism about it too. If a Dominion took the wrong turning and walked out of the Empire, the theorist would apparently simply record the fact. The statesman used to action but accustomed to leave reflexion to constitutional lawyers might not be aware of what he had done till it was too late to amend his act.
The mood at Paris was not a mood of reflexion. While change was pursuing its rapid course no brains were wasted on the accommodation of what was done to any theory of the Empire. Certain steps were decided
If they could be clothed with any semblance of legal formulæ it was sufficient. This divorce between
Imperial statesmanship and Imperial theory is somewhat dangerous. There is no reason why statesmen should not be guided by an intelligent and consistent conception of the relations of Empire and Dominions. Indeed, the more individual freedom you give to the parts the more necessary this is if equilibrium is to be preserved.
The war has demonstrated the extraordinary vitality of the British peoples, the reality of the underlying unity which comprises them all in whatever political form they may organise, and their capacity for coordinate action. The question of the form of organisation is not supremely important. Almost any form will do which gives the necessary freedom to the parts but brings them face to face with their fundamental responsibilities. But we do need some agreement as to the rationale of our unity and what it involves. The categories of freedom, autonomy and unity do not harmonise as a matter of course. Many strange and illogical pieces of statesmanship have been performed during the evolution of the Empire. But there has always been so far, besides the underlying community of race, a strong legal tie. If the latter is sacrificed, more care must be taken to work out the spiritual bases of our unity. In the last resort we cannot defy logic even under the British flag. We cannot reconcile contradiction with unity. The more we trust ourselves to freedom and autonomy and depart from the formal and legal insignia of political union, the greater the strain and the responsibility we lay on statesmanship. And it is by the test of statesmanship that the changes of the Peace Treaty must be judged. Are they based upon a consistent and intelligent theory of the Empire? Are they likely to promote the common activities of the British peoples and enable them to act together to the fullest advantage?
In order to appreciate fully the changes made at Paris, what is most urgently needed therefore is to examine what was done at Paris as an episode in statesmanship. The changes effected at Paris were of course incidental to the Peace which was being made with Germany. This accounts for their somewhat consequential character. They were not made as the result of an ad hoc deliberation. They suddenly became involved in some detail of the Peace, and the action