Of Germany it is too early to speak. We have not yet defeated her. If we do defeat her, no one who is acquainted with our temper and our record believes that we shall impose cruel or vindictive terms. If it were only the engineers of this war who were in question, we would destroy them gladly as common pests. But the thing is not so easy. A single home is in many ways a greater and more appealing thing than a nation; we should find ourselves thinking of the miseries of simple and ignorant people who have given their all for the country of their birth; and our hearts would fail us.
The Germans would certainly despise this address of mine, for I have talked only of morality, while they talk and think chiefly of machines. Zeppelins are a sad disappointment; but if any address on the War is being delivered to-night by a German professor, there can be no doubt that it deals with submarines, and treats them as the saviours of the Fatherland. Well, I know very little about submarines, but I notice that they have not had much success against ships of war. We are so easy-going that we expected to carry on our commerce in war very much as we did in peace. We have to change all that, and it will cost us not a little inconvenience, or even great hardships. But I cannot believe that a scheme of privy attacks on the traders of all nations, devised as a last resort, in lieu of naval victory, can be successful when it is no longer a surprise. And when I read history, I am strengthened in my belief that morality is all-important. I do not find that any war between great nations was ever won by a machine. The Trojan horse will be trotted out against me, but that was a municipal affair. Wars are won by the temper of a people. Serbia is not yet defeated. It is a frenzied and desperate quest that the Germans undertook when they began to seek for some mechanical trick or dodge, some monstrous engine, which should enable the less resolved and more excited people to defeat the more resolved and less excited. If we are to be defeated, it must be by them, not by their bogey-men. We got their measure on the Somme, and we found that when their guns failed to protect them, many of them threw up their hands. These men will never be our masters until we deserve to be their slaves.
So I am glad to be able to end on a note of agreement with the German military party. If they defeat us, it will be no more than we deserve. Till then, or till they throw up their hands, we shall fight them, and God will defend the right.
An Address to the Royal Colonial Institute, February 13, 1918
Our losses in this War continue to be enormous, and we are not yet near to the end. So it may seem absurd to speak of our gains, of gains that we have already achieved. But if you will look at the thing in a large light, I think you will see that it is not absurd.