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Selected Speeches on British Foreign Policy 1738-1914

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You should ... add most earnestly that the one way of
maintaining the good relations between England and
Germany is that they should continue to work together to
preserve the peace of Europe.... For that object this
Government will work in that way with all sincerity and

If the peace of Europe can be preserved and the present
crisis safely passed, my own endeavour will be to promote
some arrangement to which Germany could be a party, by
which she could be assured that no aggressive or hostile
policy would be pursued against her or her allies by France,
Russia, and ourselves, jointly or separately. I have
desired this and worked for it--

The statement was never more true--
as far as I could, through the last Balkan crisis, and
Germany having a corresponding object, our relations
sensibly improved. The idea has hitherto been too Utopian
to form the subject of definite proposals, but if this present
crisis, so much more acute than any that Europe has gone
through for generations, be safely passed, I am hopeful
that the relief and reaction which will follow may make
possible some more definite _rapprochement_ between the
Powers than has been possible hitherto.

That document, in my opinion, states clearly, in temperate and
convincing language, the attitude of this Government. Can any one
who reads it fail to appreciate the tone of obvious sincerity and
earnestness which underlies it; can any one honestly doubt that the
Government of this country, in spite of great provocation--and I
regard the proposals made to us as proposals which we might have
thrown aside without consideration and almost without answer--can any
one doubt that in spite of great provocation the right hon. Gentleman,
who had already earned the title--and no one ever more deserved
it--of Peace Maker of Europe, persisted to the very last moment of the
last hour in that beneficent but unhappily frustrated purpose. I am
entitled to say, and I do so on behalf of this country--I speak not
for a party, I speak for the country as a whole--that we made every
effort any Government could possibly make for peace. But this war has
been forced upon us. What is it we are fighting for? Every one knows,
and no one knows better than the Government, the terrible incalculable
suffering, economic, social, personal and political, which war, and
especially a war between the Great Powers of the world, must entail.
There is no man amongst us sitting upon this bench in these trying
days--more trying perhaps than any body of statesmen for a hundred
years have had to pass through--there is not a man amongst us who has
not, during the whole of that time, had clearly before his vision the
almost unequalled suffering which war, even in a just cause, must
bring about, not only to the peoples who are for the moment living in
this country and in the other countries of the world, but to posterity
and to the whole prospects of European civilization. Every step we
took we took with that vision before our eyes, and with a sense of
responsibility which it is impossible to describe. Unhappily, if--in
spite of all our efforts to keep the peace, and with that full and
overpowering consciousness of the result, if the issue be decided in
favour of war,--we have, nevertheless, thought it to be the duty as
well as the interest of this country to go to war, the House may be
well assured it was because we believe, and I am certain the country
will believe, we are unsheathing our sword in a just cause.

If I am asked what we are fighting for, I reply in two sentences.
In the first place to fulfil a solemn international obligation, an
obligation which, if it had been entered into between private persons
in the ordinary concerns of life, would have been regarded as an
obligation not only of law but of honour, which no self-respecting man
could possibly have repudiated. I say, secondly, we are fighting to
vindicate the principle,--which in these days when force, material
force, sometimes seems to be the dominant influence and factor in the
development of mankind,--we are fighting to vindicate the principle
that small nationalities are not to be crushed, in defiance of
international good faith, by the arbitrary will of a strong and
overmastering Power. I do not believe any nation ever entered into a
great controversy--and this is one of the greatest history will ever
know--with a clearer conscience and stronger conviction that it is
fighting, not for aggression, not for the maintenance even of its own
selfish interest, but that it is fighting in defence of principles,
the maintenance of which is vital to the civilization of the world.
With a full conviction, not only of the wisdom and justice, but of the
obligations which lay upon us to challenge this great issue, we
are entering into the struggle. Let us now make sure that all the
resources, not only of this United Kingdom, but of the vast Empire of
which it is the centre, shall be thrown into the scale, and it is that
that object, may be adequately secured, that I am now about to ask
this Committee--to make the very unusual demand upon it--to give the
Government a Vote of Credit of L100,000,000. I am not going, and I am
sure the Committee do not wish it, into the technical distinctions
between Votes of Credit and Supplementary Estimates and all the
rarities and refinements which arise in that connexion. There is a
much higher point of view than that. If it were necessary, I could
justify, upon purely technical grounds, the course we propose to
adopt, but I am not going to do so, because I think it would be
foreign to the temper and disposition of the Committee. There is one
thing to which I do call attention, that is, the Title and Heading of
the Bill. As a rule, in the past Votes of this kind have been taken
simply for naval and military operations, but we have thought, it
right to ask the Committee to give us its confidence in the extension
of the traditional area of Votes of Credit so that this money which
we are asking them to allow us to expend may be applied not only
for strictly naval and military operations, but to assist the food
supplies, promote the continuance of trade, industry, business, and
communications,--whether by means of insurance or indemnity against
risk or otherwise,--for the relief of distress, and generally for all
expenses arising out of the existence of a state of war. I believe the
Committee will agree with us that it was wise to extend the area of
the Vote of Credit so as to include all these various matters. It
gives the Government a free hand. Of course, the Treasury will account
for it, and any expenditure that takes place will be subject to the
approval of the House. I think it would be a great pity--in fact, a
great disaster--if, in a crisis of this magnitude, we were not enabled
to make provision--provision far more needed now than it was under the
simpler conditions that prevailed in the old days--for all the various
ramifications and developments of expenditure which the existence of a
state of war between the Great Powers of Europe must entail on any one
of them.

I am asking also in my character of Secretary of State for War--a
position which I held until this morning--for a Supplementary Estimate
for men for the Army. Perhaps the Committee will allow me for a moment
just to say on that personal matter that I took upon myself the office
of Secretary of State for War under conditions, upon which I need not
go back but which are fresh in the minds of every one, in the hope and
with the object that the condition of things in the Army, which all
of us deplored, might speedily be brought to an end and complete
confidence re-established. I believe that is the case; in fact, I know
it to be. There is no more loyal and united body, no body in which the
spirit and habit of discipline are more deeply ingrained and cherished
than in the British Army. Glad as I should have been to continue the
work of that office, and I would have done so under normal conditions,
it would not be fair to the Army, it would not be just to the country,
that any Minister should divide his attention between that Department
and another, still less that the First Minister of the Crown, who has
to look into the affairs of all departments and who is ultimately
responsible for the whole policy of the Cabinet, should give, as he
could only give perfunctory attention to the affairs of our Army in a
great war. I am very glad to say that a very distinguished soldier and
administrator, in the person of Lord Kitchener, with that great public
spirit and patriotism that every one would expect from him, at my
request stepped into the breach. Lord Kitchener, as every one knows,
is not a politician. His association with the Government as a member
of the Cabinet for this purpose must not be taken as in any way
identifying him with any set of political opinions. He has, at a great
public emergency, responded to a great public call, and I am certain
he will have with him, in the discharge of one of the most arduous
tasks that has ever fallen upon a Minister, the complete confidence of
all parties and all opinions.

I am asking on his behalf for the Army, power to increase the number
of men of all ranks, in addition to the number already voted, by no
less than 500,000. I am certain the Committee will not refuse its
sanction, for we are encouraged to ask for it not only by our own
sense of the gravity and the necessities of the case, but by the
knowledge that India is prepared to send us certainly two Divisions,
and that every one of our self-governing Dominions, spontaneously
and unasked, has already tendered to the utmost limits of their
possibilities, both in men and in money, every help they can afford to
the Empire in a moment of need. Sir, the Mother Country must set the
example, while she responds with gratitude and affection to those
filial overtures from the outlying members of her family.

Sir, I will say no more. This is not an occasion for controversial
discussion. In all that I have said, I believe I have not gone, either
in the statement of our case or in my general description of the
provision we think it necessary to make, beyond the strict bounds of
truth. It is not my purpose--it is not the purpose of any patriotic
man--to inflame feeling, to indulge in rhetoric, to excite
international animosities. The occasion is far too grave for that. We
have a great duty to perform, we have a great trust to fulfil, and
confidently we believe that Parliament and the country will enable us
to do it.


SEPTEMBER 19, 1914


I have come here this afternoon to talk to my fellow countrymen about
this great war and the part we ought to take in it. I feel my task is
easier after we have been listening to the greatest battle-song in the

There is no man in this room who has always regarded the prospects
of engaging in a great war with greater reluctance, with greater
repugnance, than I have done throughout the whole of my political
life. There is no man, either inside or outside of this room,
more convinced that we could not have avoided it without national
dishonour. I am fully alive to the fact that whenever a nation has
been engaged in any war she has always invoked the sacred name of
honour. Many a crime has been committed in its name; there are some
crimes being committed now. But, all the same, national honour is a
reality, and any nation that disregards it is doomed.

Why is our honour as a country involved in this war? Because, in the
first place, we are bound in an honourable obligation to defend the
independence, the liberty, the integrity of a small neighbour that has
lived peaceably, but she could not have compelled us, because she was
weak. The man who declines to discharge his debt because his creditor
is too poor to enforce it is a blackguard. We entered into this
treaty, a solemn treaty, a full treaty, to defend Belgium and her
integrity. Our signatures are attached to the document. Our signatures
do not stand alone there. This was not the only country to defend the
integrity of Belgium. Russia, France, Austria, and Prussia--they are
all there. Why did they not perform the obligation? It is suggested
that if we quote this treaty it is purely an excuse on our part. It is
our low craft and cunning, just to cloak our jealousy of a superior
civilization we are attempting to destroy. Our answer is the action we
took in 1870. What was that? Mr. Gladstone was then Prime Minister.
Lord Granville, I think, was then Foreign Secretary. I have never
heard it laid to their charge that they were ever jingo.

What did they do in 1870? That Treaty Bond was this: We called upon
the belligerent Powers to respect that treaty. We called upon France;
we called upon Germany. At that time, bear in mind, the greatest
danger to Belgium came from France and not from Germany. We intervened
to protect Belgium against France exactly as we are doing now to
protect her against Germany. We are proceeding exactly in the same
way. We invited both the belligerent Powers to state that they had no
intention of violating Belgian territory. What was the answer given by
Bismarck? He said it was superfluous to ask Prussia such a question
in view of the treaties in force. France gave a similar answer. We
received the thanks at that time from the Belgian people for our
intervention in a very remarkable document. This is the document
addressed by the municipality of Brussels to Queen Victoria after that

The great and noble people over whose destinies you preside
have just given a further proof of its benevolent sentiments
towards this country. The voice of the English
nation has been heard above the din of arms. It has asserted
the principles of justice and right. Next to the unalterable
attachment of the Belgian people to their independence,
the strongest sentiment which fills their hearts is that of
an imperishable gratitude to the people of Great Britain.

That was in 1870. Mark what follows.

Three or four days after that document of thanks the French Army was
wedged up against the Belgian frontier. Every means of escape was
shut up by a ring of flame from Prussian cannon. There was one way of
escape. What was that? By violating the neutrality of Belgium. What
did they do? The French on that occasion preferred ruin, humiliation,
to the breaking of their bond. The French Emperor, French Marshals,
100,000 gallant Frenchmen in arms preferred to be carried captive to
the strange land of their enemy rather than dishonour the name of
their country. It was the last French Army defeat. Had they violated
Belgian neutrality the whole history of that war would have been
changed. And yet it was the interest of France to break the treaty.
She did not do it.

It is now the interest of Prussia to break the treaty, and she has
done it. Well, why? She avowed it with cynical contempt for every
principle of justice. She says treaties only bind you when it is
to your interest to keep them. 'What is a treaty?' says the German
Chancellor. 'A scrap of paper.' Have you any L5 notes about you? I am
not calling for them. Have you any of those neat little Treasury L1
notes? If you have, burn them; they are only 'scraps of paper'. What
are they made of? Rags. What are they worth? The whole credit of the
British Empire. 'Scraps of paper.' I have been dealing with scraps of
paper within the last month. It is suddenly found the commerce of the
world is coming to a standstill. The machine had stopped. Why? I will
tell you. We discovered, many of us for the first time--I do not
pretend to say that I do not know much more about the machinery of
commerce to-day than I did six weeks ago, and there are a good many
men like me--we discovered the machinery of commerce was moved by
bills of exchange. I have seen some of them--wretched, crinkled,
scrawled over, blotched, frowsy, and yet these wretched little scraps
of paper moved great ships, laden with thousands of tons of precious
cargo, from one end of the world to the other. What was the motive
power behind them? The honour of commercial men.

Treaties are the currency of international statesmanship. Let us be
fair. German merchants, German traders had the reputation of being as
upright and straightforward as any traders in the world. But if the
currency of German commerce is to be debased to the level of her
statesmanship, no trader from Shanghai to Valparaiso will ever look at
a German signature again. This doctrine of the scrap of paper, this
doctrine which is superscribed by Bernhardi, that treaties only bind
a nation as long as it is to its interest, goes to the root of public
law. It is the straight road to barbarism, just as if you removed the
magnetic pole whenever it was in the way of a German cruiser, the
whole navigation of the seas would become dangerous, difficult,
impossible, and the whole machinery of civilization will break down if
this doctrine wins in this war.

We are fighting against barbarism. But there is only one way of
putting it right. If there are nations that say they will only respect
treaties when it is to their interest to do so, we must make it to
their interest to do so for the future. What is their defence? Just
look at the interview which took place between our Ambassador and
great German officials when their attention was called to this treaty
to which they were partners. They said: 'We cannot, help that.'
Rapidity of action was the great German asset. There is a greater
asset for a nation than rapidity of action, and that is--honest

What are her excuses? She said Belgium was plotting against her, that
Belgium was engaged in a great conspiracy with Britain and with France
to attack her. Not merely is that not true, but Germany knows it is
not true. What is her other excuse? France meant to invade Germany
through Belgium. Absolutely untrue. France offered Belgium five army
corps to defend her if she was attacked. Belgium said: 'I don't
require them. I have got the word of the Kaiser. Shall Caesar send a
lie?' All these tales about conspiracy have been fanned up since. The
great nation ought to be ashamed, ought to be ashamed to behave like a
fraudulent bankrupt perjuring its way with its complications. She has
deliberately broken this treaty, and we were in honour bound to stand
by it.

Belgium has been treated brutally, how brutally we shall not yet know.
We know already too much. What has she done? Did she send an ultimatum
to Germany? Did she challenge Germany? Was she preparing to make war
on Germany? Had she ever inflicted any wrongs upon Germany which the
Kaiser was bound to redress? She was one of the most unoffending
little countries in Europe. She was peaceable, industrious, thrifty,
hard-working, giving offence to no one; and her cornfields have been
trampled down, her villages have been burned to the ground, her art
treasures have been destroyed, her men have been slaughtered, yea, and
her women and children, too. What had she done? Hundreds of thousands
of her people have had their quiet, comfortable little homes burned to
the dust, and are wandering homeless in their own land. What is their
crime? Their crime was that they trusted to the word of a Prussian
King. I don't know what the Kaiser hopes to achieve by this war. I
have a shrewd idea of what he will get, but one thing is made certain,
that no nation in future will ever commit that crime again.

I am not going to enter into these tales. Many of them are untrue; war
is a grim, ghastly business at best, and I am not going to say that
all that has been said in the way of tales of outrage is true. I will
go beyond that, and say that if you turn two millions of men forced,
conscripted, and compelled and driven into the field, you will
certainly get among them a certain number of men who will do things
that the nation itself will be ashamed of. I am not depending on them.
It is enough for me to have the story which the Germans themselves
avow, admit, defend, proclaim. The burning and massacring, the
shooting down of harmless people--why? Because, according to the
Germans, they fired on German soldiers. What business had German
soldiers there at all? Belgium was acting in pursuance of a most
sacred right, the right to defend your own home.

But they were not in uniform when they shot. If a burglar broke into
the Kaiser's Palace at Potsdam, destroyed his furniture, shot down his
servants, ruined his art treasures, especially those he made himself,
burned his precious manuscripts, do you think he would wait until he
got into uniform before he shot him down? They were dealing with those
who had broken into their households. But their perfidy has already
failed. They entered Belgium to save time. The time has gone. They
have not gained time, but they have lost their good name.

But Belgium was not the only little nation that has been attacked in
this war, and I make no excuse for referring to the case of the other
little nation--the case of Servia. The history of Servia is not
unblotted. What history in the category of nations is unblotted? The
first nation that is without sin, let her cast a stone at Servia. A
nation trained in a horrible school, but she won her freedom with her
tenacious valour, and she has maintained it by the same courage. If
any Servians were mixed up in the assassination of the Grand Duke they
ought to be punished. Servia admits that; the Servian Government had
nothing to do with it. Not even Austria claimed that. The Servian
Prime Minister is one of the most capable and honoured men in Europe.
Servia was willing to punish any one of her subjects who had been
proved to have any complicity in that assassination. What more could
you expect? What were the Austrian demands? Servia sympathized with
her fellow countrymen in Bosnia. That was one of her crimes. She must
do so no more. Her newspapers were saying nasty things about Austria.
They must do so no longer. That is the Austrian spirit. You had it in
Zabern. How dare you criticize a Customs official? And if you laugh
it is a capital offence. The colonel threatened to shoot them if they
repeated it.

Servian newspapers must not criticize Austria. I wonder what would
have happened had we taken the same line about German newspapers.
Servia said: 'Very well, we will give orders to the newspapers that
they must not criticize Austria in future, neither Austria, nor
Hungary, nor anything that is theirs.' Who can doubt the valour of
Servia, when she undertook to tackle her newspaper editors? She
promised not to sympathize with Bosnia, promised to write no critical
articles about Austria. She would have no public meetings at which
anything unkind was said about Austria.

That was not enough. She must dismiss from her Army officers whom
Austria should subsequently name. But these officers had just emerged
from a war where they were adding lustre to the Servian arms--gallant,
brave, efficient. I wonder whether it was their guilt or their
efficiency that prompted Austria's action. But, mark, the officers
were not named. Servia was to undertake in advance to dismiss them
from the Army; the names to be sent on subsequently. Can you name a
country in the world that would have stood that?

Supposing Austria or Germany had issued an ultimatum of that kind to
this country. 'You must dismiss from your Army and from your Navy all
those officers whom we shall subsequently name!' Well, I think I could
name them now. Lord Kitchener would go; Sir John French would be sent
about his business; General Smith-Dorrien would be no more; and I am
sure that Sir John Jellicoe would go. And there is another gallant old
warrior who would go--Lord Roberts.

It was a difficult situation. Here was a demand made upon her by a
great military Power who could put five or six men in the field for
every one she could; and that Power supported by the greatest military
Power in the world. How did Servia behave? It is not what happens to
you in life that matters; it is the way in which you face it. And
Servia faced the situation with dignity. She said to Austria. 'If any
officers of mine have been guilty and are proved to be guilty, I will
dismiss them.' Austria said, 'That is not good enough for me.' It was
not guilt she was after, but capacity.

Then came Russia's turn. Russia has a special regard for Servia. She
has a special interest in Servia. Russians have shed their blood for
Servian independence many a time. Servia is a member of her family,
and she cannot see Servia maltreated. Austria knew that. Germany knew
that, and Germany turned round to Russia and said: 'Here, I insist
that you shall stand by with your arms folded whilst Austria is
strangling to death your little brother.' What answer did the Russian
Slav give? He gave the only answer that becomes a man. He turned to
Austria and said: 'You lay hands on that little fellow and I will tear
your ramshackle empire limb from limb.' And he is doing it.

That is the story of the little nations. The world owes much to little
nations--and to little men. This theory of bigness--you must have a
big empire and a big nation, and a big man--well, long legs have their
advantage in a retreat. Frederick the Great chose his warriors for
their height, and that tradition has become a policy in Germany.
Germany applies that ideal to nations; she will only allow
six-feet-two nations to stand in the ranks. But all the world owes
much to the little five feet high nations. The greatest art of the
world was the work of little nations. The most enduring literature of
the world came from little nations. The greatest literature of England
came from her when she was a nation of the size of Belgium fighting
a great Empire. The heroic deeds that thrill humanity through
generations were the deeds of little nations fighting for their
freedom. Ah, yes, and the salvation of mankind came through a little
nation. God has chosen little nations as the vessels by which He
carries the choicest wines to the lips of humanity, to rejoice their
hearts, to exalt their vision, to stimulate and to strengthen their
faith; and if we had stood by when two little nations were being
crushed and broken by the brutal hands of barbarism our shame would
have rung down the everlasting ages.

But Germany insists that this is an attack by a low civilization upon
a higher. Well, as a matter of fact, the attack was begun by the
civilization which calls itself the higher one. Now, I am no apologist
for Russia. She has perpetrated deeds of which I have no doubt her
best sons are ashamed.

But what Empire has not? And Germany is the last Empire to point the
finger of reproach at Russia. But Russia has made sacrifices for
freedom--great sacrifices. You remember the cry of Bulgaria when she
was torn by the most insensate tyranny that Europe has ever seen. Who
listened to the cry? The only answer of the higher civilization was
that the liberty of Bulgarian peasants was not worth the life of a
single Pomeranian soldier. But the rude barbarians of the North--they
sent their sons by the thousands to die for Bulgarian freedom.

What about England? You go to Greece, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany,
and France, and all these lands, gentlemen, could point out to you
places where the sons of Britain have died for the freedom of these
countries. France has made sacrifices for the freedom of other lands
than her own. Can you name a single country in the world for the
freedom of which the modern Prussian has ever sacrificed a single
life? The test of our faith, the highest standard of civilization is
the readiness to sacrifice for others.

I would not say a word about the German people to disparage them. They
are a great people; they have great qualities of head, of hand, and of
heart. I believe, in spite of recent events, there is as great a store
of kindness in the German peasant as in any peasant in the world. But
he has been drilled into a false idea of civilization,--efficiency,
capability. It is a hard civilization; it is a selfish civilization;
it is a material civilization. They could not comprehend the action of
Britain at the present moment. They say so. 'France', they say,
'we can understand. She is out for vengeance, she is out for
territory--Alsace Lorraine. Russia, she is fighting for mastery, she
wants Galicia.' They can understand vengeance, they can understand you
fighting for mastery, they can understand you fighting for greed
of territory; they cannot understand a great Empire pledging its
resources, pledging its might, pledging the lives of its children,
pledging its very existence, to protect a little nation that seeks for
its defence. God made man in His own image--high of purpose, in the
region of the spirit. German civilization would re-create him in the
image of a Diesler machine--precise, accurate, powerful, with no room
for the soul to operate. That is the 'higher' civilization.

What is their demand? Have you read the Kaiser's speeches? If you have
not a copy, I advise you to buy it; they will soon be out of print,
and you won't have any more of the same sort again. They are full of
the clatter and bluster of German militarists--the mailed fist, the
shining armour. Poor old mailed fist--its knuckles are getting a
little bruised. Poor shining armour--the shine is being knocked out
of it. But there is the same swagger and boastfulness running through
the whole of the speeches. You saw that remarkable speech which
appeared in the _British Weekly_ this week. It is a very remarkable
product, as an illustration of the spirit we have got to fight. It is
his speech to his soldiers on the way to the front:--

Remember that the German people are the chosen of
God. On me, on me as German Emperor, the Spirit of
God has descended. I am His weapon, His sword, and His
vizard! Woe to the disobedient! Death to cowards and

There has been nothing like it since the days of Mahomet.

Lunacy is always distressing, but sometimes it is dangerous, and when
you get it manifested in the head of the State, and it has become
the policy of a great Empire, it is about time when that should be
ruthlessly put away. I do not believe he meant all these speeches. It
was simply the martial straddle which he had acquired; but there were
men around him who meant every word of it. This was their religion.
Treaties? They tangled the feet of Germany in her advance. Cut them
with the sword. Little nations? They hinder the advance of Germany.
Trample them in the mire under the German heel. The Russian Slav? He
challenges the supremacy of Germany and Europe. Hurl your legions
at him and massacre him. Britain? She is a constant menace to the
predominancy of Germany in the world. Wrest the trident out of her
hands. Ah! more than that. The new philosophy of Germany is to destroy
Christianity. Sickly sentimentalism about sacrifice for others--poor
pap for German digestion. We will have a new diet. We will force it on
the world. It will be made in Germany. A diet of blood and iron. What
remains? Treaties have gone; the honour of nations gone; liberty gone.
What is left? Germany--Germany is left--_Deutschland ueber Alles_.
That is all that is left.

That is what we are fighting, that claim to predominancy of a
civilization, a material one, a hard one, a civilization which if once
it rules and sways the world, liberty goes, democracy vanishes, and
unless Britain comes to the rescue, and her sons, it will be a dark
day for humanity. We are not fighting the German people. The German
people are just as much under the heel of this Prussian military
caste, and more so, thank God, than any other nation in Europe. It
will be a day of rejoicing for the German peasant and artisan and
trader when the military caste is broken. You know his pretensions.
He gives himself the airs of a demi-god. Walking the pavements
--civilians and their wives swept into the gutter; they have no right
to stand in the way of the great Prussian junker. Men, women, nations
--they have all got to go. He thinks all he has got to say is, 'We
are in a hurry.' That is the answer he gave to Belgium. 'Rapidity of
action is Germany's greatest asset,' which means 'I am in a hurry.
Clear out of my way'.

You know the type of motorist, the terror of the roads, with a 60-h.p.
car. He thinks the roads are made for him, and anybody who impedes
the action of his car by a single mile is knocked down. The Prussian
junker is the road-hog of Europe. Small nationalities in his way
hurled to the roadside, bleeding and broken; women and children
crushed under the wheels of his cruel car. Britain ordered out of his
road. All I can say is this: if the old British spirit is alive in
British hearts, that bully will be torn from his seat. Were he to win
it would be the greatest catastrophe that has befallen democracy since
the days of the Holy Alliance and its ascendancy. They think we cannot
beat them. It will not be easy. It will be a long job. It will be a
terrible war. But in the end we shall march through terror to triumph.
We shall need all our qualities, every quality that Britain and its
people possess. Prudence in council, daring in action, tenacity in
purpose, courage in defeat, moderation in victory, in all things
faith, and we shall win.

It has pleased them to believe and to preach the belief that we are
a decadent nation. They proclaim it to the world, through their
professors, that we are an unheroic nation skulking behind our
mahogany counters, whilst we are egging on more gallant races to
their destruction. This is a description given to us in Germany--'a
timorous, craven nation, trusting to its fleet.' I think they are
beginning to find their mistake out already. And there are half a
million of young men of Britain who have already registered their
vow to their King that they will cross the seas and hurl that insult
against British courage against its perpetrators on the battlefields
of France and of Germany. And we want half a million more. And we
shall get them.

But Wales must continue doing her duty. That was a great telegram that
you, my Lord (the Chairman), read from Glamorgan.[2] I should like to
see a Welsh army in the field. I should like to see the race who faced
the Normans for hundreds of years in their struggle for freedom, the
race that helped to win the battle of Crecy, the race that fought
for a generation under Glendower, against the greatest captain in
Europe--I should like to see that race give a good taste of its
quality in this struggle in Europe; and they are going to do it.

I envy you young people your youth. They have put up the age limit
for the Army, but I march, I am sorry to say, a good many years even
beyond that. But still our turn will come. It is a great opportunity.
It only comes once in many centuries to the children of men. For most
generations sacrifice comes in drab weariness of spirit to men. It has
come to-day to you; it has come to-day to us all, in the form of the
glory and thrill of a great movement for liberty, that impels
millions throughout Europe to the same end. It is a great war for the
emancipation of Europe from the thraldom of a military caste, which
has cast its shadow upon two generations of men, and which has now
plunged the world into a welter of bloodshed. Some have already given
their lives. There are some who have given more than their own lives.
They have given the lives of those who are dear to them. I honour
their courage, and may God be their comfort and their strength.

But their reward is at hand. Those who have fallen have consecrated
deaths. They have taken their part in the making of a new Europe,
a new world. I can see signs of its coming in the glare of the
battlefield. The people will gain more by this struggle in all lands
than they comprehend at the present moment. It is true they will be
rid of the menace to their freedom. But that is not all. There is
something infinitely greater and more enduring which is emerging
already out of this great conflict; a new patriotism, richer, nobler,
more exalted than the old. I see a new recognition amongst all
classes, high and low, shedding themselves of selfishness; a new
recognition that the honour of a country does not depend merely on the
maintenance of its glory in the stricken field, but in protecting its
homes from distress as well. It is a new patriotism, it is bringing
a new outlook for all classes. A great flood of luxury and of sloth
which had submerged the land is receding, and a new Britain is
appearing. We can see for the first time the fundamental things that
matter in life and that have been obscured from our vision by the
tropical growth of prosperity.

May I tell you, in a simple parable, what I think this war is doing
for us? I know a valley in North Wales, between the mountains and
the sea--a beautiful valley, snug, comfortable, sheltered by the
mountains from all the bitter blasts. It was very enervating, and I
remember how the boys were in the habit of climbing the hills above
the village to have a glimpse of the great mountains in the distance,
and to be stimulated and freshened by the breezes which, came from the
hill-tops, and by the great spectacle of that great valley.

We have been living in a sheltered valley for generations. We have
been too comfortable, too indulgent, many, perhaps, too selfish. And
the stern hand of fate has scourged us to an elevation where we can
see the great everlasting things that matter for a nation; the
great peaks of honour we had forgotten--duty and patriotism clad in
glittering white: the great pinnacle of sacrifice pointing like a
rugged finger to Heaven. We shall descend into the valleys again, but
as long as the men and women of this generation last they will carry
in their hearts the image of these great mountain peaks, whose
foundations are unshaken though Europe rock and sway in the
convulsions of a great war.

[Footnote 1: 'The Men of Harlech.']

[Footnote 2: 'Glamorgan has raised 20,000 men.']

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