I ask your Majesties, is it not possible at once to proclaim a period of peace, wherein for fifteen years no war-ships shall be built, no increase of armaments authorized?
If, after fifteen years of peace, the world be foolish enough to revert to the war thought, you could then make expenditures for implements of war in keeping with the inventions then up-to-date, conscious that your present equipment will only be obsolete and fit to destroy. Building and purchasing no war material in the interim, you will have saved government exchequers enormous sums of money.
The mind of man evolves inventions with such rapidity that England's first Dreadnought is now obsolete, in fact the implements of war made fifteen years ago would be of about as much use in modern warfare as soap bubbles blown fifteen years ago.
Think of the remarkable change in conditions brought about by the late South African war. In earlier wars armies had advanced erect, officers with bright uniforms, coats bedecked with shining medals. Following this plan in South Africa, the Englishmen merely furnished targets for the Boers, while the Boers could not be seen, and only the dropping here and there of the officers in brilliant uniforms told there was an enemy near. Then it became recognized that the way to go into battle was to crawl on hands and knees, and the bright uniforms were replaced by khaki, cloth resembling the color of the soil. This is suggestive that soldiers are of the earth, earthy.
Suppose that a nation planning war is forced, through international agreement, to serve two years' notice upon the opposing country! It does not seem possible, if such notice be given, that the war would be fought. The nations long before the time set would have changed their viewpoints, since it would be found impossible to stand the strain of this deliberate preparation. A lion could not remain for a day in a crouching position, expecting to leap on its prey; it would have become paralyzed before the time arrived.
Had England waited ten years, doubtless war in South Africa would have been averted. When Kruger died, conditions would have changed and the union of South Africa would have been brought about by peaceful methods. And what a cost that war entailed, the empty homes and the graves filled by the flower of England! The great burden of taxation now borne by the nation has brought about conditions that threaten England's very life and peace, stirred as it is by frequent elections menacing the House of Lords, long looked upon as the bulwark of the nation. These conditions would not now confront England, were it not for the South African war.
It is impossible to sow chaos abroad and not reap it at home. "As ye sow, so shall ye reap" -- it is the law of God, the law of nature, there is no escape from it.