The library at Devenham Castle
was a large and sombre apartment,
with high oriel windows and bookcases
reaching to the ceiling. It had
an unused and somewhat austere
air. Tonight especially an atmosphere
of gloom seemed to pervade it.
The Prince, when he opened the
door, found the three men who
were awaiting him seated at an
oval table at the further end
of the room.
"I do not intrude, I trust?" the
Prince said. "I understood that
you wished me to come here."
"Certainly," the Duke answered, "we
were sitting here awaiting your
arrival. Will you take this easy
chair? The cigarettes are at
The Prince declined the easy
chair and leaned for a moment
against the table.
"Perhaps later," he said. "Just
now I feel that you have something
to say to me. Is it not so? I
talk better when I am standing."
It was the Prime Minister who
made the first plunge. He spoke
without circumlocution, and his
tone was graver than usual.
"Prince," he said, "this
is perhaps the last time that
shall all meet together in this
way. You go from us direct to
the seat of your Government.
So far there has been very little
plain speaking between us. It
would perhaps be more in accord
with etiquette if we let you
go without a word, and waited
for a formal interchange of communications
between your Ambassador and ourselves.
But we have a feeling, Sir Edward
and I, that we should like to
talk to you directly. Before
we go any further, however, let
me ask you this question. Have
you any objection, Prince, to
discussing a certain matter here
The Prince for several moments
made no reply. He was still standing
facing the fireplace, leaning
slightly against the table behind
him. On his right was the Duke,
seated in a library chair. On
his left the Prime Minister and
Sir Edward Bransome. The Prince
seemed somehow to have become
the central figure of the little
"Perhaps," he said, "if
you had asked me that question
month ago, Mr. Haviland, I might
have replied to you differently.
Circumstances, however, since
then have changed. My departure
will take place so soon, and
the kindness I have met here
from all of you has been so overwhelming,
that if you will let me I should
like to speak of certain things
concerning which no written communication
could ever pass between our two
"I can assure you, my dear
Prince, that we shall very much
appreciate your doing so," Mr.
"I think," the Prince continued, "that
the greatest and the most subtle
of all policies is the policy
of perfect truthfulness. Listen
to me, then. The thing which
you have in your mind concerning
me is true. Two years I have
spent in this country and in
other countries of Europe. These
two years have not been spent
in purposeless travel. On the
contrary, I have carried with
me always a definite and very
The Prime Minister and Bransome
exchanged rapid glances.
"That has been our belief from
the first," Bransome remarked.
"I came to Europe," the Prince
continued gravely, "to make a
report to my cousin the Emperor
of Japan as to whether I believed
that a renewal of our alliance
with you would be advantageous
to my country. I need not shrink
from discussing this matter with
you now, for my report is made.
It is, even now, on its way to
There was a moment's silence,
a silence which in this corner
of the great room seemed marked
with a certain poignancy. It
was the Prime Minister who broke
"The report," he said, "is
out of your hands. The official
decision of your Government will
reach us before long. Is there
any reason why you should not
anticipate that decision, why
you should not tell us frankly
what your advice was?"
"There is no reason," the Prince
answered. "I will tell you. I
owe that to you at least. I have
advised the Emperor not to renew
"Not to renew," the
Prime Minister echoed.
This time the silence was portentous.
It was a blow, and there was
not one of the three men who
attempted to hide his dismay.
"I am afraid," the Prince continued
earnestly, "that to you I must
seem something of an ingrate.
I have been treated by every
one in this country as the son
of a dear friend. The way has
been made smooth for me everywhere.
Nothing has been hidden. From
all quarters I have received
hospitality which I shall never
forget. But you are three just
men. I know you will realize
that my duty was to my country
and to my country alone. No one
else has any claims upon me.
What I have seen I have written
of. What I believe I have spoken."
"Prince," Mr. Haviland said, "there
is no one here who will gainsay
your honesty. You came to judge
us as a nation and you have found
us wanting. At least we can ask
The Prince sighed.
"It is hard," he said. "It
is very hard. When I tell you
of the things which I have seen,
remember, if you please, that
I have seen them with other eyes
than yours. The conditions which
you have grown up amongst and
lived amongst all your days pass
almost outside the possibility
of your impartial judgment. You
have lived with them too long.
They have become a part of you.
Then, too, your national weakness
bids your eyes see what you would
have them see."
"Go on," Mr.
Haviland said, drumming idly
with his fingers
upon the table.
"I have had to ask myself," the
Prince continued,--"it has been
my business to ask myself what
is your position as a great military
power, and the answer I have
found is that as a great military
power it does not exist. I have
had to ask myself what would
happen to your country in the
case of a European war, where
your fleet was distributed to
guard your vast possessions in
every quarter of the world, and
the answer to that is that you
are, to all practical purposes,
defenceless. In almost any combination
which could arrange itself, your
country is at the mercy of the
Bransome leaned forward in
"I can disprove it," he declared
firmly. "Come with me to Aldershot
next week, and I will show you
that those who say that we have
no army are ignorant alarmists.
The Secretary for War shall show
you our new scheme for defensive
forces. You have gone to the
wrong authorities for information
on these matters, Prince. You
have been entirely and totally
The Prince drew a little breath.
"Sir Edward," he said, "I
do not speak to you rashly.
not looked into these affairs
as an amateur. You forget that
I have spent a week at Aldershot,
that your Secretary for War gave
me two days of his valuable time.
Every figure with which you could
furnish me I am already possessed
of. I will be frank with you.
What I saw at Aldershot counted
for nothing with me in my decision.
Your standing army is good, beyond
a doubt,--a well-trained machine,
an excellent plaything for a
General to move across the chessboard.
It might even win battles, and
yet your standing army are mercenaries,
and no great nation, from the
days of Babylon, has resisted
invasion or held an empire by
"They are English soldiers," Mr.
Haviland declared. "I do not
recognize your use of the word."
"They are paid soldiers," the
Prince said, "men who have adopted
soldiering as a profession. Come,
I will not pause half-way. I
will tell you what is wrong with
your country. You will not believe
it. Some day you will see the
truth, and you will remember
my words. It may be that you
will realize it a little sooner,
or I would not have dared to
speak as I am speaking. This,
then, is the curse which is eating
the heart out of your very existence.
The love of his Motherland is
no longer a religion with your
young man. Let me repeat that,--I
will alter one word only. The
love of his Motherland is no
longer THE religion or even part
of the religion of your young
man. Soldiering is a profession
for those who embrace it. It
is so that mercenaries are made.
I have been to every one of your
great cities in the North. I
have been there on a Saturday
afternoon, the national holiday.
That is the day in Japan on which
our young men march and learn
to shoot, form companies and
attend their drill. Feast days
and holidays it is always the
same. They do what tradition
has made a necessity for them.
They do it without grumbling,
whole-heartedly, with an enthusiasm
which has in it something almost
of passion. How do I find the
youth of your country engaged?
I have discovered. It is for
that purpose that I have toured
through England. They go to see
a game played called football.
They sit on seats and smoke and
shout. They watch a score of
performers--one score, mind--and
the numbers who watch them are
millions. >From town to town
I went, and it was always the
same. I see their white faces
in a huge amphitheatre, fifteen
thousand here, twenty thousand
there, thirty thousand at another
place. They watch and they shout
while these men in the arena
play with great skill this wonderful
game. When the match is over,
they stream into public houses.
Their afternoon has been spent.
They talk it over. Again they
smoke and drink. So it is in
one town and another,--so it
is everywhere,--the strangest
sight of all that I have seen
in Europe. These are your young
men, the material out of which
the coming generation must be
fashioned? How many of them can
shoot? How many of them can ride?
How many of them have any sort
of uniform in which they could
prepare to meet the enemy of
their country? What do they know
or care for anything outside
their little lives and what they
call their love of sport,--they
who spend five days in your grim
factories toiling before machines,--their
one afternoon, content to sit
and watch the prowess of others!
I speak to these footballers
themselves. They are strong men
and swift. They are paid to play
this game. I do not find that
even one of them is competent
to strike a blow for his country
if she needs him. It is because
of your young men, then, Mr.
Haviland, that I cannot advise
Japan to form a new alliance
with you. It is because you are
not a serious people. It is because
the units of your nation have
ceased to understand that behind
the life of every great nation
stands the love of God, whatever
god it may be, and the love of
Motherland. These things may
not be your fault. They may,
indeed, be the terrible penalty
of success. But no one who lives
for ever so short a time amongst
you can fail to see the truth.
You are commercialized out of
all the greatness of life. Forgive
me, all of you, that I say it
so plainly, but you are a race
who are on the downward grade,
and Japan seeks for no alliance
save with those whose faces are
lifted to the skies."
The pause which followed was
in itself significant. The Duke
alone remained impassive. Bransome's
face was dark with anger. Even
the Prime Minister was annoyed.
Bransome would have spoken, but
the former held out his hand
to check him.
"If that is really your opinion
of us, Prince," he said, "it
is useless to enter into argument
with you, especially as you have
already acted upon your convictions.
I should like to ask you this
question, though. A few weeks
ago an appeal was made to our
young men to bring up to its
full strength certain forces
which have been organized for
the defence of the country. Do
you know how many recruits we
obtained in less than a month?"
"Fourteen thousand four hundred
and seventy-five," the Prince
answered promptly, "out of nearly
seven millions who were eligible.
This pitiful result of itself
might have been included amongst
my arguments if I had felt that
arguments were necessary. Mr.
Haviland, you may drive some
of these young men to arms by
persuasion, by appealing to them
through their womankind or their
employers, but you cannot create
a national spirit. And I tell
you, and I have proved it, that
the national spirit is not there.
I will go further," the Prince
continued with increased earnestness, "if
you still are not weary of the
subject. I will point out to
you how little encouragement
the youth of this country receive
from those who are above them
in social station. In every one
of your counties there is a hunt,
cricket clubs, golf clubs in
such numbers that their statistics
absolutely overwhelm me. Everywhere
one meets young men of leisure,
well off, calmly proposing to
settle down and spend the best
part of their lives in what they
call country life. They will
look after their estates; they
will hunt a little, shoot a little,
go abroad for two months in the
winter, play golf a little, lawn
tennis, perhaps, or cricket.
I tell you that there are hundreds
and thousands of these young
men, with money to spare, who
have no uniform which they could
wear,--no, I want to change that!" the
Prince cried with an impressive
gesture,--"who have no uniform
which they will be able to wear
when the evil time comes! How
will they feel then, these young
men of family, whose life has
been given to sports and to idle
amusements, when their womankind
come shrieking to them for protection
and they dare not even handle
a gun or strike a blow! They
must stand by and see their lands
laid waste, their womankind insulted.
They must see the land run red
with the blood of those who offer
a futile resistance, but they
themselves must stand by inactive.
They are not trained to fight
as soldiers,--they cannot fight
"The Prince forgets," Bransome
remarked dryly, "that an invasion
of this country--a practical
invasion--is very nearly an impossible
The Prince laughed softly.
"My friend," he said, "if
I thought that you believed
although you are a Cabinet Minister
of England I should think that
you were the biggest fool who
ever breathed. Today, in warfare,
nothing is impossible. I will
guarantee, I who have had only
ten years of soldiering, that
if Japan were where Holland is
today, I would halve my strength
in ships and I would halve my
strength in men, and I would
overrun your country with ease
at any time I chose. You need
not agree with me, of course.
It is not a subject which we
need discuss. It is, perhaps,
out of my province to allude
to it. The feeling which I have
in my heart is this. The laws
of history are incontrovertible.
So surely as a great nation has
weakened with prosperity, so
that her limbs have lost their
suppleness and her finger joints
have stiffened, so surely does
the plunderer come in good time.
The nation which loses its citizen
army drives the first nail into
its own coffin. I do not say
who will invade you, or when,
although, to my thinking, any
one could do it. I simply say
that in your present state invasion
from some one or other is a sure
"Without admitting the truth
of a single word you have said,
my dear Prince," the Prime Minister
remarked, "there is another aspect
of the whole subject which I
think that you should consider.
If you find us in so parlous
a state, it is surely scarcely
dignified or gracious, on the
part of a great nation like yours,
to leave us so abruptly to our
fate. Supposing it were true
that we were suffering a little
from a period of too lengthened
prosperity, from an attack of
over-confidence. Still think
of the part we have played in
the past. We kept the world at
bay while you fought with Russia."
"That," the Prince replied, "was
one of the conditions of a treaty
which has expired. If by that
treaty our country profited more
than yours, that is still no
reason why we should renew it
under altered conditions. Gratitude
is an admirable sentiment, but
it has nothing to do with the
making of treaties."
"We are, nevertheless," Bransome
declared, "justified in pointing
out to you some of the advantages
which you have gained from your
alliance with us. You realize,
I suppose, that save for our
intervention the United States
would have declared war against
you four months ago?"
"Your good offices were duly
acknowledged by my Government," the
Prince admitted. "Yet what you
did was in itself of no consequence.
It is as sure as north is north
and south is south that you and
America would never quarrel for
the sake of Japan. That is another
reason, if another reason is
needed, why a treaty between
us would be valueless. You and
I--the whole world knows that
before a cycle of years have
passed Japan and America must
fight. When that time comes,
it will not be you who will help
duly concluded between this
The Prince held out both his
"Listen," he said. "A
fortnight ago a certain person
wrote and asked you in plain
terms what your position would
be if war between Japan and America
were declared. What was your
Bransome was on the point of
exclaiming, but the Prime Minister
"You appear to be a perfect
Secret Service to yourself, Prince," he
said smoothly. "Perhaps you can
also tell us our reply?"
"I can tell you this much," the
Prince answered. "You did not
send word back to Washington
that your alliance was a sacred
charge upon your honor and that
its terms must be fulfilled to
the uttermost letter. Your reply,
I fancy, was more in the nature
of a compromise."
"How do you know what our reply
was?" Mr. Haviland asked.
"To tell you the truth, I do
not," the Prince answered, smiling. "I
have simply told you what I am
assured that your answer must
have been. Let us leave this
matter. We gain nothing by discussing
"You have been very candid
with us, Prince," Mr. Haviland
remarked. "We gather that you
are opposed to a renewal of our
alliance chiefly for two reasons,--first,
that you have formed an unfavorable
opinion of our resources and
capacity as a nation; and secondly,
because you are seeking an ally
who would be of service to you
in one particular eventuality,
namely, a war with the United
States. You have spent some time
upon the Continent. May we inquire
whether your present attitude
is the result of advances made
to you by any other Power? If
I am asking too much, leave my
The Prince shook his head slowly.
"Tonight,"he said, "I
am speaking to you as one who
to show everything that is in
his heart. I will tell you, then.
I have been to Germany, and I
can assure you of my own knowledge
that Germany possesses the mightiest
fighting machine ever known in
the world's history. That I do
truthfully and honestly believe.
Yet listen to me. I have talked
to the men and I have talked
to the officers. I have seen
them in barracks and on the parade
ground, and I tell you this.
When the time arrives for that
machine to be set in motion,
it is my profound conviction
that the result will be one of
the greatest surprises of modern
times. I say no more, nor must
you ask me any questions, but
I tell you that we do not need
Germany as an ally. I have been
to Russia, and although our hands
have crossed, there can be no
real friendship between our countries
till time has wiped out the memory
of our recent conflict. France
hates us because it does not
understand us. The future of
Japan is just as clear as the
disaster which hangs over Great
Britain. There is only one possible
ally for us, only one possible
combination. That is what I have
written home to my cousin the
Emperor. That is what I pray
that our young professors will
teach throughout Japan.. That
is what it will be my mission
to teach my country people if
the Fates will that I return
safely home. East and West are
too far apart. We are well outside
the coming European struggle.
Our strength will come to us
from nearer home."
Prime Minister exclaimed.
"The China of our own making," the
Prince declared, a note of tense
enthusiasm creeping into his
tone,--"China recreated after
its great lapse of a thousand
years. You and I in our lifetime
shall not see it, but there will
come a day when the ancient conquests
of Persia and Greece and Rome
will seem as nothing before the
all-conquering armies of China
and Japan. Until those days we
need no allies. We will have
none. We must accept the insults
of America and the rough hand
of Germany. We must be strong
enough to wait!"
A footman entered the room
and made his way to the Duke's
"Your Grace," he said, "a
gentleman is ringing up from
who says he is speaking from
the Home Office."
"Whom does he want?" the
"Both Your Grace and Mr. Haviland," the
man replied. "He wished me to
say that the matter was of the
The Duke rose at once and glanced
at the clock.
"It is an extraordinary hour," he
remarked, "for Heseltine to be
wanting us. Shall we go and see
what it means, Haviland? You
will excuse us, Prince?"
The Prince bowed.
"I think that we have talked
enough of serious affairs tonight," he
said. "I shall challenge Sir
Edward to a game of billiards."