English Jingoes and the Russo-Japanese War (Freeman’s Journal, 1904)

1.643. The Freeman’s Journal, (Dublin), Thursday, 24 March, 1904, 4.

Editorial Comment from The Freeman’s Journal.

Jingoism in the English papers surrounding the Russo-Japanese War gave The Freeman’s Journal of the 24th of March the chance to reflect on the contemporary state of the British Empire, and the disingenuous logic by which its existence was sometimes defended:

It is curious how English Jingoes can deceive themselves, especially in the midst of a crisis. One remembers how certain they were, in October, 1899, that the British army would be at Pretoria by Christmas. Six weeks ago, again, they quite anticipated, after the first Japanese attack on Port Arthur, that that stronghold would, within a few days, fall into the hands of their ally. It is still, however, in the hands of the Russians. The amusing development of the situation is that, owing to the absurd suggestion of a Russian paper that because Great Britain and France have made certain business arrangements, there should be a new Triplice composed of Russia, France, and England, a number of foolish individuals in London have got it into their heads that such an impossibility is possible. And on the strength of this Will-o’-the-Wisp we find a paper of the standing of the “Pall Mall Gazette” writing actually as if the Will-o’-the-Wisp was a real light in the darkness.

The “Pall Mall Gazette” writes evidently with every seriousness. “We, in this country,” it says, “have no ambition for territorial aggrandisement; our earth-hunger, if we ever had any, would long since have been satisfied by the evolution of that amazing series of accidental acquisitions which has made the British Empire what it is. We believe that there is room enough in the world for the three great expansive, centrifugal Powers — which are England, France, and Russia. England, then, would welcome an agreement with Russia which should secure to that Power all that she can reasonably require, including that outlet to the Pacific which might well be conceded to her without any inevitable danger to the independence either of China or of Japan.” This is surely comic opera — without the music. “We, in this country, have no ambition for territorial aggrandisement.” As Lord Salisbury would say, “We seek no territory; we seek no goldfields.” The territory, however, by some kind of “accident,” is generally got hold of, and the goldfields, of course, naturally come in with the territory.”