Speech by David Lloyd George, Chancellor of the Exchequer, at Queen’s Hall, London, Sept. 19.
My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen: I have come here this afternoon to talk to my fellow-countrymen about this great war and the part that we ought to take in it. I feel my task is easier after we have been listening to the greatest war song in the world ("The March of the Men of Harlech"). [Applause.]
Why Our National Honor Is Involved.
There is no man in this room who has always regarded the prospect of engaging in a great war with greater reluctance and with greater repugnance than I have done throughout the whole of my political life. ["Hear, hear!”] There is no man either inside or outside of this room more convinced that we could not have avoided it without national dishonor. [Great applause.] I am fully alive to the fact that every nation who has ever engaged in any war has always invoked the sacred name of honor. Many a crime has been committed in its name; there are some being committed now. All the same, national honor is a reality, and any nation that disregards it is doomed. ["Hear, hear!”] Why is our honor as a country involved in this war? Because, in the first instance, we are bound by honorable obligations to defend the independence, the liberty, the integrity, of a small neighbor that has always lived peaceably. [Applause.] She could not have compelled us; she was weak; but the man who declines to discharge his duty because his creditor is too poor to enforce it is a blackguard. [Loud applause.] We entered into a treaty—a solemn treaty—two treaties—to defend Belgium and her integrity. Our signatures are attached to the documents. Our signatures do not stand alone there; this country was not the only country that undertook to defend the integrity of Belgium. Russia, France, Austria, Prussia—they are all there. Why are Austria and Prussia not performing the obligations of their bond? It is suggested that when we quote this treaty it is purely an excuse on our part—it is our low craft and cunning to cloak our jealousy of a superior civilization—[Laughter]—that we are attempting to destroy. Our answer is the action we took in 1870. ["Hear, hear!”] What was that? Mr. Gladstone was then Prime Minister. [Applause.] Lord Granville, I think, was then Foreign Secretary. I have never heard it laid to their charge that they were ever Jingoes.
France and Belgium in 1870.
What did they do in 1870? That treaty bound us then. We called upon the belligerent powers to respect it. We called upon France, and 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. [Applause.] We proceeded in exactly the same way. We invited both the belligerent