On the 16th of March 1909 came a new declaration from another Prime Minister. Mr. Asquith, on the introduction of the Navy Estimates, explained to the House of Commons that the Government had been surprised at the rate at which the new German navy was being constructed, and at the rapid growth of Germany's power to build battleships. But it is the first duty of a Government to provide for national security and to provide means to foresee. A Government that is surprised in a matter relating to war is already half defeated.
The creation of the German navy is the creation of means that could be used to challenge Great Britain's sea power and all that depends upon it. There has been no such challenge these hundred years, no challenge so formidable as that represented by the new German fleet these three hundred years. It brings with it a crisis in the national life of England as great as has ever been known; yet this crisis finds the British nation divided, unready and uncertain what leadership it is to expect.
The invasion of Bohemia by two separate armies had been ordered on June 22nd. Each of these armies had passed the mountain wall that shelters Bohemia on the north, and they were now only a day's march apart quartered in scattered villages a few hours' drive to the east of Gitschin. The troops were fatigued with a week's hard work. The Crown Prince coming from Silesia with 115,000 men had with various portions of his army fought three severe battles and as many serious skirmishes. His force lay on the left bank of the Elbe around his headquarters at Königinhof, twenty-one miles due east of Gitschin. Prince Frederick Charles, the king's nephew, commanded the other army of 140,000 men, which had met with little serious resistance, though the troops were tired with the needless marching caused by ill-considered arrangements. This prince had come to report in person to Gitschin from his headquarters at Kamenitz, six or seven miles to the east.