Sir Douglas Haig greeting the King Nicholas I Petrovic of Montenegro at his Chateau at Beauquesne, November 1916. File Photo courtesy Imperial War Museums
LONDON, Dec. 13, 1916 (UP) -- The British people have already answered Germany's offer of peace-"No, not on such a basis as proposed."
That was perfectly apparent today. It was reflected not only in newspaper comment, but in expressions from the people on the streets.
The nation looks to Lloyd George next Tuesday to frame this answer.
It was reliably learned today that the premier is preparing an answer to the German chancellor, to be delivered in connection with his general statement on the government's policy.
But Tuesday will be Lloyd George's first appearance as premier before the house of commons, and before news of the German proposal came, he had been announced as ready to outline on that date the aims and purposes of the new cabinet.
Press and public alike look to Lloyd George on this occasion to voice the nation's rejection of any peace which is based on Germany's idea of her victory.
Germany's peace terms, as given out by a Germany embassy official in Washington, were generally regarded here as preposterous, and unworthy of serious consideration.
Lloyd George's telegram to Premier Briand of France, together with the former's recent interview granted the United Press, portions of which were liberally reproduced in the British press today, were considered indicative of Britain's attitude to Bethmann-Hollweg.
In his interview Lloyd George said:
"The fight must be to a finish-to a knockout."
The only keynote of difference observable in editorial comment today was whether the allies, in their reply to the German not, should set forth therein their own terms upon which peace discussion would be considered.
If the practical unanimity of opinion of he press and public mans anything, the reply will be rejected.
Press comment ranged today all the way from the Daily Mail suggestion that Von Bethmann-Hollweg is "no more entitled to the courtesy of a reply than an armed burglar in a private house," to that made by the Manchester Guardian that "negotiations should at least go as far as to ascertain Germany's exact terms."
A number of newspapers point out the desirability, in view of the manner in which Germany made her offer, that the allies, in replying, clearly enunciate their own aims in the war, fro the benefit of the world's opinion; that the terms on which the allies are willing to enter peace negotiations be clearly set forth.
Such comment holds that only in this way can responsibility for the continuance of the war-which responsibility Germany obviously seeks to place upon the allies-be turned upon the central powers.
Among numerous interviews with public men gathered by London press, there is only one advocating acceptance of Germany's proposition and immediate entrance into negotiations.
That is the opinion voiced by Philip Snowden, the empire's leading pacifist, who considers that the allies incur an awful responsibility if they decline. It is at least their duty, he holds, to see whether the German proposals contain the possibility of ending the war on conditions, reasonable and, as far as possible, satisfactory to everybody.
There was considerable opinion that the note was merely a "clever Teutonic trick" for the purpose of starting discussion among the allies and possibly thus to create dissension.