Your Majesty is an idealist. We are practical, and, I may say, far-seeing men. And we are the three men, perhaps, who have given your Majesty the chair you sit on and made your kingdom what it is.
[Drawing himself up.
I think I have not been ungrateful. But my people come first, and I will not have my people plunged into misery for no valid and inevitable necessity.
Your Majesty, I have served you for fifteen years and I served your exalted father for twenty. You are right. This war may be avoided. In two days this war-cloud could be so utterly dissipated that men would laugh here and in the great Republic that for a day they had talked so hotly of war. Dissipated. For a year, for two years. For always? No. The war must come sooner or later. It is a matter, in the first place, of prestige, of national honor. But, more emphatically, it is a question of mathematics, birth-rate, death-rate, revenue, taxes, industries, imports, exports.
[Crossing to left.
There is a map of the world, your Majesty. This stretch of land there we need as a safety-valve. If we get that we are safe. If we fail to get it we explode. Not at once. But sooner or later. Our army and navy have never been in better shape. These two gentlemen can give your Majesty their word for that. But you can take mine, too. The enemy’s army is politically rotten, and enfeebled by sentimental peace propaganda. Their defenses are inadequate and their navy likewise. Those things will change. Strike today—and they never raise their heads again. Wait—and it is you who may be crushed.
That is a theory. Not a fact. Ten years may change the aspect of things entirely, particularly if we use those ten years in preparations not for war but for peace, honest at home and abroad, just, open, civil, to our neighbors.
Your Majesty, I look farther than ten years, farther than ten times ten years. And I have wrought for this moment, prepared for this moment, this moment of our strength and our enemy’s weakness. I have a right to insist that I, who have brought your kingdom thus far, shall not have my hands tied when the moment for stern action arrives.
[With a whimsical smile.
After all, my good Prime Minister, it is my kingdom, you know.
Your Majesty knows that what I have done I have done for your glory. The liberals have cursed me for a reactionary through the length and breadth of the kingdom; because I served you, and served you in all love and devotion.