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THE OTAGO DAILY TIMES THURSDAY, AUGUST 6, 1914. THE EMPIRE AT WAR.

The expected has happened. Great Britain' has been forced into the European war. It had for the past few days been apparent that it would be with difficulty that she could abstain from participation in it. The deliberate refusal on the part of Germany to respect the neutrality of Belgium, of which the Kaiser, in his capacity as King of Prussia, is one of the guarantors, swept away the last hope that Great Britain could remain a passive spectator of the tragedy on the Continent. The sequel has been the declaration of war against Germany by Great Britain. This gTave step has been taken with reluctance and in the face of a certain amount of remonstrance. Some of the Radical and Labour members of the House of Commons passionately pleaded with the Government to make a supreme effort to relieve Great Britain from the necessity of intervening in the conflict, and declared that there was insufficient ground for subjecting the poorer classes of the population to the hardships incidental to a war that would, as Sir Edward Grey admitted, be. terribly costly. An appeal of this character cannot have lett the Government, any more than it can leave any individual, wholly unmoved, But

there must bo a limit to the forbearance of a nation, and a nation can have no less regard for her honour than a private citizen has for his. It was with pertect tnith that Sir Edward Grey declared that a proclamation of unconditional neutrality by Great Britain would have exposed her to the sacrifice of her good name throughout the world. He put the matter, indeed, very tersely and forcibly at the sitting of the House on the previous day when he said that Great Britain could not run away from her obligations of honour in respect of the neutrality of Belgium. There is the additional aspect, moreover, in which the situation had to be viewed— an aspect which has not been ignored by the Foreign Minister. It is that the abstention of Great Britain from the present war might render her liable to more serious perils than any involved in her participation in the conflict that has now set the Continent ablaze i'rom east to west. Great Britain simply cannot, with due regard to her own safety and integrity, sit calmly by while a European war is being waged the issue of which might be such a change in the geography of the Continent as would gTavely disturb the existing balance of power. It is this consideration, doubtless, which appeals with special force to most British minds, and it is a consideration which surely justifies the expression by Sir Edward Grey of the hope that the people of the United Kingdom will support with determination and resolution the Government in the momentous step that has been taken by it.

The King has addressed to the oversea dominions a message in which he expresses the confident belief that in the hour of trial the Empire will stand united, calm, and resolute. His Majesty's appeal -will, we feel assured, not be made in vain. The unity of the Empire has, indeed, already been convincingly demonstrated. The most striking proof has been afforded of the devotion of the British people throughout the world to the ancient insti tutions that are the expression and the embodiment of their liberties. They are not unmindful of the traditions of their race and they may be depended upon to show that they are not degenerate sons ot their fathers. They will be cheered by the emphatic declaration, which the Minister of Foreign Affairs has made, that Great Britain is prepared for the titanic struggle into which she has, however unwillingly, felt compelled to fling herself. They are themselves prepared to take what part may be permitted to them in the clash of arms. The Governor has, in the name of New Zealand, intimated that she " is prepared to make any sacrifice to maintain her heritage and her birthright." The terms of this message will be generally acclaimed throughout the dominion. The most tangible form in which New Zealand can at the present time manifest her readiness to accept the responsibilities that devolve upon her as part of the Empire is the equipment of an expeditionary force that may be utilised to garrison British possessions where the maintenance of armed forces is regarded as essential. Both Houses of Parliament yesterday, without a dissentient voice, passed resolutions expressing approval of the measures that have been taken by the Government with a view to the organisation of such a force, and we publish this morning the conditions under which applications for enrolment, in the force may be made. The effect of the "war upon the domestic life of the dominion is shown by the issue ol a proclamation under which the note currency of the banks of issue that are operating in New Zealand is declared to be legal tender for the period of a calendar month. This is a purely precautionary measure of a kind that has already been adopted in most, if not all, of the other countries directly interested in the war, and it need give rise to no apprehension whatever. It is the usual and proper precaution to take in a time of national crisis, and it conveys no imputation upon the stability of the banks. As a matter of fact, the position of the banks is one of exceptional strength at the present time. Most ofthem have, by a fortunate coincidence, lately increased their capital by considerable amounts, and their Resources are undoubted. In Australia attention is being given to the industrial position in so far as awards of the Arbitration Courts and decisions of the Wages Boards 'affect various trades, and it wjll be seen that there was a short discussion on a similar point at a sitting of the Arbitration Court yesterday in Wellington. The matter it. one to which it will be necessary that consideration should be given to the end that the interests of employers and employed alike may be conserved during a period of inevitable slackness of trade. vve are pleased to observe that the Government contemplates the adoption of measures to prevent the exploitation of the public in respect of foodstuffs. There is no sufficient reason why in a practically selfsustaining country like New Zealand there 'should be any serious inflation of prices 01 the necessaries of life during the war, but it is satisfactory to know that the Government is prepared to take steps to safeguard the community against the risk ot its being exposed to needless hardships through the operations of • speculators. The ensuing few weeks will be a period ol anxiety and suspense for the whole population, but there is no cause for panic, ana it may at least be hoped that it will be after a short, though perhaps extremely sharp, conflict that the issue will be determined—in, it is devoutly to be prayed, under Divine providence, the triumph ot the Empire and the nations associated with her.

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Bibliographic details

THE OTAGO DAILY TIMES THURSDAY, AUGUST 6, 1914. THE EMPIRE AT WAR., Otago Daily Times, Issue 16145, 6 August 1914

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1,190

THE OTAGO DAILY TIMES THURSDAY, AUGUST 6, 1914. THE EMPIRE AT WAR. Otago Daily Times, Issue 16145, 6 August 1914

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