Great Powers prepare for war as peace efforts are continuing

Fighting on the Danube

First Fleet in North Sea

Although on Monday morning the outlook was as black as it could be it was possible, despite the reports of fighting on the Danube, to gather from the telegrams that came in during the day that a more hopeful feel was justified.

The outstanding feature of the day’s intelligence was the announcement of Sir Edward Grey in the House of Commons of his proposal for a conference of France, Germany and Italy with himself, whose object it would be to find some means of mediating effectively in the Austro Hungarian Serbian dispute.

Especially important is the statement that the German Emperor had agreed to ‘mediation in principle’ because it is fully realised that as far as Austria’s attitude is concerned she is unlikely to press matters to extremity if the predominant parties in the Triple Alliance express a definite wish for a peaceful settlement.

So far as can be judged, the feeling in St Petersburg is significantly calmer which seems to be a result of an interview that Sazonoff had with the German ambassador.

On the other hand, the semi-official communique issued in Vienna accusing the Servian government of bad faith and a spirit of dishonesty in its official reply to the Austrian note has created an unfavourable impression, signifying that the dual monarchy’s attitude is one of unbending rigidity.

There is also to be taken into account the statement conveyed in Reuter’s message that Austria will commence the invasion of Servia today.

Confirmation of this has not come to hand but significant in this connection is the view taken in certain Austrian quarters that the opposed conference will have to deal not only with the Austro-Serbian question but also with the question of preventing complications between the Great Powers.

Military preparations are being taken by all the Great Powers but at the present they are quiet and unostentatious.

The fighting on the Danube is unconfirmed.

It was probably noted that the telegrams printed yesterday came from Vienna and the temptations to the Austrians to portray Serbia in the guise of aggressor are obvious.

For the moment the position is one of awaiting further news.

France has accepted a conference between the four powers and, while expressing some reserve as to the procedure to be followed, Italy is inclined to sanction it.

The main hope of a peaceful settlement centres on Germany, although much also depends on the attitude of Russia.

With regard to Great Britain it is of interest to note that the Navy is prepared for eventualities.

All leave has been stopped in the First Fleet which took on war stores at Portland.

The Second Fleet is being maintained at full strength.

It was reported that the First Fleet, which includes over 20 Dreadnoughts, was to steam to a point in the North Sea.