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Full text of "The Struggle For Peace"

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" T T has been rather indiscreetly disclosed to you that
J[ to-morrow I shall attain my seventieth birthday. I had
hoped to keep that quiet, but, since the cat has been let out
of the bag, I am not going to deny it - only I don't see what I
can do about it, except to thank you all for your good wishes,
and to say to you that, as I am still sound in wind and limb,
I hope that I may have a few more years before me in which
to give what service I can to the State if that should be wanted.
" I had intended to-night to talk to you upon a variety of
subjects, upon trade and employment, upon social service,
and upon finance. But the tremendous events which have been
taking place this week in Europe have thrown everything else
into the background, and I feel that what you, and those who
are not in this hall but are listening to me, will want to hear
is some indication of the views of His Majesty's Government
as to the nature and the implications of those events.
" One thing is certain. Public opinion in the world has
received a sharper shock than has ever yet been administered
to it, even by the present regime in Germany. What may be
the ultimate effects of this profound disturbance on men's
minds cannot yet be foretold, but I am sure that it must be
far-reaching in its results upon the future. Last Wednesday
we had a debate upon it in the House of Commons. That
was the day on which the German troops entered Czecho-
slovakia, and all of us, but particularly the Government,
were at a disadvantage, because the information that we had
was only partial; much of it was unofficial. We had no time
to digest it, much less to form a considered opinion upon it.
And so it necessarily followed that I, speaking on behalf of
the Government, with all the responsibility that attaches to
that position, was obliged to confine myself to a very restrained
and cautious exposition, on what at the time I felt I could
make but little commentary. And, perhaps naturally, that
somewhat cool and objective statement gave rise to a misap-
prehension, and some people thought that because I spoke