Lea’s British connection
       Not only should the Chinese and Americans recognize and honor Homer Lea, but the British should pay tribute to him also. His book, The Day of the Saxon, projected largely the growing ambitious power of Germany that threatened the survival of the Saxon, the British Empire, and Commonwealth. This book is truly a guiding light for the restructuring of the British political system, to renew its naval and military methods, such as land power in relationship to the sea power of Britain's maritime rule.

       On September 30, 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, holding the peace agreement between Britain and Germany as he landed at Heston aerodrome, and after his meeting with Hitler, consented to the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia at Munich. "We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again!" he said, and this ignorant statement proved to be wrong when Germany bombed London. Thirty years ago, Homer Lea foretold a different scenario. If England had followed Lea's advice and instruction, Germany would never even have threatened to touch British rule.

        Homer Lea's British connection began when Sir Tollenmache Sinclair requested Lea for the French translation and the publication rights of his book, The Valor of Ignorance, when it became known in London. "Now, in ordinary course, such a book could hardly have been of any immediate interest to the British reader. It so happened, however, that it fell into the hands of Field Marshal Lord Earl Roberts, who is full of the idea that England is not sufficiently armed to defend herself against invasion. He saw in Gen. Lea's book a somewhere parallel case to that of England." (The preceding quote was literary gossip published in the New York Times on January 1, 1910.) Roberts highly recommended this book to his friends and talked about it at all social gatherings. As a result, this book sold out rapidly, and the second edition was on its way from Harpers, the New York publisher. Roberts commented with his views and even called the publisher. Lea from Long Beach, on April 16, 1910 wrote a letter to thank Roberts for bringing his book to the notice of the British public: "Not only that but the effort to suppress it in this country would undoubtedly [have] been more successful." This book would be an introductory attempt to bring about "a change in form & spirit of this government" & conscription. Since then, Homer Lea and Roberts began exchanging their ideas about improving British military position through their personal correspondence. Lea was ready to outline his second book, The Day of the Saxon.
          Unfortunately, in April 1911, the progress of this book came to a halt, due to Lea's  worsening eyesight. This news became a serious concern to Roberts and Sir Sinclair. Sinclair immediately cabled, as well as sending a letter to Lea and advised him to see the famous optometrist, Dr. Pagenstreicher in Wiesbaden, Germany, to avoid blindness. "Lord Roberts, Lord Charles Beresford and others would show you the greatest attention…I might be able to have you made an honorary member of the Travellers Club." Sir Sinclair also persuaded Lea to come to London for the coronation of King George V, following Lea’s consultation with his oculist in Germany, and as soon as the condition of his eyes permitted. Ethel and Homer thought it would be proper to get married for this trip.

          While the couple was in Washington to apply for passports for their Europe trip, Lea approached Senator Root and enquired if he would present Lea’s views to other politicians as well as Secretary of State Philander Knox, asking that Washington support Dr. Sun Yat Sen both politically and financially but, unfortunately, the outcome was disappointing. Mr. and Mrs. Lea arrived in Wiesbaden in late July 1911. Dr. Pagenstreicher was unable to treat his eyes for an unknown reason, but another doctor, Dr. Meurer, had more luck. By middle August, Lea's eye had improved rapidly. In Germany, Lea had a chance to observe the country’s political and military situation which was important for the development of his coming book, The Day of the Saxon. It reported that the emperor, Billy [Wilhelm II] had read The Valor of Ignorance and bought copies for his officers. As result of the emperor's favor, Lea was invited to view a parade of 26,000 soldiers with the emperor at Mainz and to witness the German war maneuvers on another occasion. Lea's recuperated eyes permitted him to complete the first chapters of his book. He also took time to travel to Switzerland where the Simplon Pass provoked in him a flashback of Napoleon's army crossing into Italy.

          A cable from Sun informed Lea that the Chinese revolution had started prematurely and that Lea had to rush from Wiesbaden to London. Lea had written to Sir Sinclair about his arrival and Ethel stayed behind for Lea's return. In a letter (along with the first chapters of his new book) on October 19th, from Savoy Hotel, London, Lea told Lord Roberts that he was looking forward to seeing him the following Monday and would speak to him about important matters in the Orient relating to these chapters. While waiting for Dr. Sun's London arrival, Lea was requesting Lord Roberts' assistance to request that the British Government grant recognition and financial support to Dr. Sun's new democratic government. More importantly, apart from the matters of his new book, the request for political support and financial assistance, Lea and Sun wished to make an Anglo-Saxon Alliance agreement with the United States, Great Britain and China.

         Lea also contacted Lord Charles Beresford, a former Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty and a writer on China, whom he was acquainted with when Lea was offered an honorable membership in the Imperial Maritime League, but Beresford was out of town. Later, Beresford arranged for Lea to speak at the League's general meeting on November 10, which was the date of Sun's arrival, but Lea sent regrets in a letter to be read at the meeting. During this long weekend, Sir Tollemache Sinclair entertained Lea with sight seeing, dinner and opera. Lea would not be able to return to Wiesbaden soon and he decided Ethel should come to London to join him.

         Lord Roberts and Lea first met on Monday, October 24, and he expressed his appreciation on what Lea wrote on his new book. Roberts further discussed and exchanged his views with Lea and urged him to complete the book, because it was vital for the survival of the Saxon. Roberts agreed to approach the British Government for political support for Sun's revolution, but he preferred Sun's presence, believing they would have more chance of success if he were there as well. Another week would drag on without any accomplishments. The following day Lea signed a book contract for The Day of the Saxon at the Harpers' London office and received advance royalties.

         By October 28 the London Times reported that Li Yuan-hung was proclaimed the new president of the Chinese Republic which disturbed Lea tremendously and would ultimately make his progress much more difficult. Sun cabled Lea about Li's proclamation and assured Lea that he was the ultimate leader, “Liyuen pro[clamation] inexplicable, perhaps ambition carry by sudden success but lacking of generalship cannot hold his own any longer. All looking for me to lead. If financially supported I could control situation absolutely." Sun urged Lea to get a loan before a strong government could be formed. The next day, Sun dispatched another cable informing him that General Huang Hsing had arrived in Hankow and had suppressed Li Yuan-hung. On November 2, Lea forwarded that telegram along with his letter to Roberts, "Send you telegram from Sun Yat Sen, Shin [Hsing] to supersede Liyuan, whose dilatory tactics made possible the attack on our main arsenal at Han Yang. Shin [Hsing] the general in which I've greatest confidence. Sun will probably arrive on the Mauretania next week...... Do you think it will be possible for us to at least formulate some plan whereby we can proceed to secure the loan immediately? I'm writing to Senator Root, need to organize a strong government. The dynasty is hopeless. Also asked Root to explain to the President and Secretary the new development."

           As Sun's arrival approached, and to clear Li Yuan-hung's disturbance, Roberts sent a letter from Lea to the Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey to enquire for a meeting. Sir Edward replied that he had too many parliament and official appointments. Assuming that Prime Minister Asquith would give a similar answer, Roberts declined to forward another request. After Sun's arrival, Asquith invited Lea and Sun to his country house the following Sunday, but Ethel did not join them because her new clothes were not ready. The records do not show what their discussions were about and if further assistance was to be had from Lord Roberts.

          After Sun's arrival, Lea had another plan to approach Sir Edward Grey. Sir Hiram S. Maxim, a famous inventor of the automatic machine gun and a member of the British arms firm, Vickers Son & Maxim, sympathized with the revolution. He had once offered the improved rifle to the revolutionaries and told Lea about the military value of airplanes. Sir Maxim approached Sir Trevor Dawson, also a member of the arms firm, who personally knew Sir Edward Grey. Dawson visited Grey on November 24, the day after he forwarded Grey a lengthy statement by Lea and Sun, "Sun Yat Sen's party wishes to make an Anglo-Saxon Alliance with Great Britain and the United States of America. They are in close touch with the United States of America through Senators Root and Knox. General Homer Lea is chief of staff and responsible only to Sun Yat Sen........ He [Sun] will agree, in the event of his party coming into power and his becoming President - which he believes now to be a certainty - to make an agreement with the British Government and with the United States of America by which they shall have favoured nation terms over all other countries. He will further place the new Navy under the command of British Officers, subject to his orders. In regard to any agreement China may make with Japan they would act under advice of the British Government." 

           It seems this political gamble that Lea and Sun were so desperately to bet on would gain some political and financial support. Nevertheless, the British Government decided to stay neutral. The Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey preferred Yuan Shi-Kai to be the new leader rather than Dr. Sun Yat Sen, as he referred to Yuan as "one good man." As for private financial support, one would sum up what J.P. Morgan had said, "I am ready to do business with any established government on earth, but I can not help to make a government to do business with!" But how can a government be established without money and support? 
            The only happy moment during Lea’s stay in London from October 19 to November 20, occurred on the day before his thirty-fifth birthday, November 16. He received a new uniform according to his own specifications and was made Chief of Staff by Dr. Sun. Ethel admired, "he looked so nice" in it. Sadly, not many Chinese today know how hard Homer Lea worked for the Chinese Revolution. "Homer is on the trail of 5 million and I hardly see him!" Ethel wrote to her sister. Homer Lea’s efforts would ultimately threaten his own health, even his own life, for the Chinese people. Lea was advised by his doctor to not go to China and that such a long voyage would be fatal to him, due to his poor health. Lea's eyesight had worsened again, because of his hard work on his book, The Day of the Saxon, as well as a manual of military instruction for the new republican army.

             In Hong Kong, December 21, Homer gave an interview to China Mail newspaper, "I want America to take the lead in recognizing China, in assisting the movement, and to take the lead in bringing to this country the liberty that they in America enjoy. I want this in order that the Republic of China, and the Republic of America with the Pacific Ocean between them, will be able to conserve the rights and liberty of the least two-thirds of the human race." With the Anglo-Saxon Alliance in place, I believe the world would have been made a better place to live, its repercussions still resonating on today.

             I would like to thank Mr. Alastair Massie of the British, National Army Museum, who forwarded me the information of Homer Lea's correspondence with Lord Earl Roberts.

Reference:  The Day of the Saxon
An argument of Lea’s book, End of England, with subtitles, Homer Lea Predicts the downfall of the “Saxon” People, was posted in The New York Times of July 12, 1912. “So it seems that Gen. Lea’s work is sadly lacking in perspective.” Quite the opposite, as we see today -- the General was right. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9B0CEFD81E3CE633A25752C2A9619C946396D6CF

Photo: British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain holding the peace agreement between Britain and Germany as he landed at Heston aerodrome - courtesy of The National Archives of the United Kingdom. Other reference, courtesy of the Joshua Powers Collection.

Sunday, January 10, 2010