Throughout our talk he had sat in a low chair sometimes tilting it backward as he swayed with the vehemency of his words. Suddenly he became still. He turned his head and looked dreamily out the window at his left where he could see the throng of Whitehall as it swept back and forth along London’s Great Military Way.
Then rising slowly and with eloquent gesture and trembling voice (he might have been speaking to thousands instead of one person), he said:
“The hope of the world is that America will realise the call that Destiny is making to her in tones that are getting louder and more insistent as the terrible months go by. That Destiny lies in the enforcement of respect for International Law and International Rights.”
It was a pregnant and unforgettable moment. From the Throne Room of a Mighty Conflict England’s War Lord was sounding the note of a distant process of peace.
If you had probed behind this kindling utterance you would have seen with Lloyd George himself that beyond the flaming battle-lines and past the tumult of a World at War was the hope of some far-away Tribunal that would judge nations and keep them, just as individuals are kept, in the path of Right and Humanity.
But before any such bloodless antidote can be applied to International Dispute, to quote Lloyd George again: “This war must be fought to a finish.”
These final words, snapped like a whip-lash and emphasised with a fist-beat on the table, meant that England would see her Titan Task through and if for no other reason because the man who drives the war gods wills it so. What sort of man is this who goes from post to post with inspired faith and unfailing execution? What are the qualities that have lifted him from obscure provincial solicitor to be the Prop of a People?
“Let George do it,” has become the chronic plea of all Britain in her time of trial. How does he do it?
To understand any man you must get at his beginnings. Thus to appreciate Lloyd George you must first know that he is Welsh and this means that he was cradled in revolt. He must have come into the world crying protest. He was reared in a land of frowning crags and lovely dales, of mingled snow and sunshine, of poetry and passion. About him love of liberty clashed with vested tyranny. These conflicting things shaped his character, entered into his very being and made him temperamentally a creature of magnificent ironies.
But this conflict did not end with emotion. All his life Contrast, sometimes grotesque but always dramatic, has marked him for its own. You behold the Apostle of Peace who once espoused the Boer, translated into the flaming Disciple and Maker of War through the Rape of Belgium. You see the fiery Radical, jeered and despised by the Aristocracy, become the Protector of Peers. No wonder he stands to-day as the most picturesque, compelling and challenging figure of the English speaking race. Only one other man—Theodore Roosevelt—vies with him for this many-sided distinction.