THE RIGHT HON.
D. LLOYD GEORGE, M.P.
CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
AT THE QUEEN'S HALL
SEPT. 19 1914
METHUEN & CO. LTD.
36 ESSEX STREET W.C.
HONOUR AND DISHONOUR
A Speech by the Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George,
at Queen's Hall, London
I HAVE come here this afternoon to talk to my fellow country-
men about this great war and the part we ought to take in
it. I feel my task is easier after we have been listen-
ing to the greatest battle song in the world.*
There is no man in this room who has always regarded the
prospects of engaging in a great war with greater reluctance,
with greater repugnance, than I have done throughout the whole
of my political life. There is no man, either inside or outside of
this room, more convinced that we could not have avoided it
without national dishonour. I am fully alive to the fact that
whenever a nation has been engaged in any war she has always
invoked the sacred name of honour. Many a crime has been
committed in its name ; there are some crimes being committed
now. But, all the same, national honour is a reality, and any
nation that disregards it is doomed.
Why is our honour as a country involved in this war ? Because,
in the first place, we are bound in an honourable obligation to
defend the independence, the liberty, the integrity of a small
neighbour that has lived peaceably, but she could not have com-
pelled us, because she was weak. The man who declines to
discharge his debt because his creditor is too poor to enforce it
is a blackguard. We entered into this treaty, a solemn treaty,
a full treaty, to defend Belgium and her integrity. Our signatures
are attached to the document. Our signatures do not stand alone
there. This was not the only country to defend the integrity of
Belgium, Russia, France, Austria, and Prussia — they are all
there. Why did they not perform the obligation ? It is suggested
that if we quote this treaty it is purely an excuse on our part.
It is our low craft and cunning, just to cloak our jealousy of a
superior civilisation we are attempting to destroy. Our answer
is the action we took in 1870. What was that ? Mr. Gladstone
was then Prime Minister. Lord Granville, I think, was then
* "The Men of Harlech."
UNUERSiTY OF CALIFORNIA
HONOUR AND DISHON(^K:rA BAB.BMIA
Foreign Secretary. I have never heard it laid to their charge
that they were ever jingo.
What did they do in 1870 ? That Treaty Bond was this : we
called upon the belligerent Powers to respect that treaty. We
called upon France ; 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. We are proceeding exactly in the same way. We
invited both the belligerent Powers to state that they had no in-
tention of violating Belgian territory. What was the answer
given by Bismarck? He said it was superfluous to ask Prussia
such a question in view of the treaties in force. France gave a
similar answer. We received the thanks at that time from the
Belgian people for our intervention in a very remarkable docu-
ment. This is the document addressed by the municipality of
Brussels to Queen Victoria after that intervention :
" The great and noble people over whose destinies you
preside have just given a further proof of its benevolent
sentiments towards this country. The voice of the English
nation has been heard above the din of arms. It has asserted
the principles of justice and right. Next to the unalterable
attachment of the Belgian people to their independence, the
strongest sentiment which fills their hearts is that of an im-
perishable gratitude to the people of Great Britain."
That was in 1870. Mark what follows.
Three or four days after that document of thanks the French
Army was wedged up against the Belgian frontier. Every means
of escape was shut up by a ring of flame from Prussian cannon.
There was one way of escape. What was that ? By violating
the neutrality of Belgium. What did they do ? The French on
that occasion preferred ruin, humiliation, to the breaking of their
bond. The French Emperor, French Marshals, 100,000 gallant
Frenchmen in arms preferred to be carried captive to the strange
land of their enemy rather than dishonour the name of their
country. It was the last French Army defeat. Had they
violated Belgian neutrality the whole history of that war would
have been changed. And yet it was the interest of France to
break the treaty. She did not do it.
It is now the interest of Prussia to break the treaty, and she
has done it. Well, why ? She avowed it with cynical contempt
for every principle of justice. She says treaties only bind you
when it is to your interest to keep them. " What is a treaty ? "
says the German Chancellor. " A scrap of paper." Have you
any ^5 notes about you ? I am not calling for them. Have you
any of those neat little Treasury £1 notes? If you have, burn
them ; they are only '* scraps of paper." What are they
made of ? Rags. What are they worth ? The whole credit
HONOUR AND DISHONOUR
of the British Empire. " Scraps of paper." I have been
dealing with scraps of paper within the last month. It is
suddenly found the commerce of the world is coming to a stand-
still. The machine had stopped. Why ? I will tell you. We
discovered, many of us for the first time — I do not pretend to say
that I do not know much more about the machinery of commerce
to-day than I did six Aveeks ago, and there are a good many men
like me — we discovered the machinery of commerce was moved
by bills of exchange. I have seen some of them — wretched,
crinkled, scrawled over, blotched, frowsy, and yet these wretched
little scraps of paper moved great ships, laden with thousands of
tons of precious cargo, from one end of the world to the other. What
was the motive power behind them ? The honour of commercial
Treaties are the currency of international statesmanship. Let
us be fair. German merchants, German traders had the reputa-
tion of being as upright and straightforward as any traders in
the world. But if the currency of German commerce is to be
debased to the level of her statesmanship, no trader from Shanghai
to Valparaiso will ever look at a German signature again. This
doctrine of the scrap of paper, this doctrine which is superscribed
by Bernhardi as treaties which serve only as long as it is to its
interest, goes to the root of public law. It is the straight road to
barbarism, just as if you removed the magnetic pole whenever
it was in the way of a German cruiser, the whole navigation of
the seas would become dangerous, difficult, impossible, and the
whole machinery of civilisation will break down if this doctrine
wins in this war.
We are fighting against barbarism. But there is only one way
of putting it right. If there are nations that ay they will only
respect treaties when it is to their interest to do so, we must make
it to their interest to do so for the future. What is their defence ?
Just look at the interview which took place between our Am-
bassador and great German officials when their attention was
called to this treaty to which they were partners. They said :
" We cannot help that." Rapidity of action was the great
German asset. There is a greater asset for a nation than rapidity
of action, and that is — honest dealing.
What are her excuses ? She said Belgium was plotting against
her, that Belgium was engaged in a great conspiracy with Britain
and with France to attack her. Not merely is that not true, but
Germany knows it is not true. What is her other excuse ?
France meant to invade Germany through Belgium. Absolutely
untrue. France offered Belgium five army corps to defend her
if she was attacked. Belgium said : " I don't require them. I
have got the word of the Kaiser. Shall Caesar send a lie ? "
All these tales about conspiracy have been fanned up since. The
great nation ought to be ashamed, ought to be ashamed to behave
HONOUR AND DISHONOUR
like a fraudulent bankrupt perjuring its way with its complica-
tions. She has deliberately broken this treaty, and we were in
honour bound to stand by it.
Belgium has been treated brutally, how brutally we shall not yet
know. We know already too much. What has she done ? Did
she send an ultimatum to Germany ? Did she challenge Ger-
many ? Was she preparing to make war on Germany ? Had
she ever inflicted any wrongs upon Germany which the Kaiser
was bound to redress ? She was one of the most unoffending
little countries in Europe. She was peaceable, industrious, thrifty,
hard-working, giving offence to no one ; and her cornfields have
been trampled down, her villages have been burned to the ground,
her art treasures have been destroyed, her men have been
slaughtered, yea, and her women and children, too. What had
she done ? Hundreds of thousands of her people have had their
quiet, comfortable little homes burned to the dust, and are
wandering homeless in their own land. What is their crime ?
Their crime was that they trusted to the word of a Prussian King.
I don't know what the Kaiser hopes to achieve by this war. I
have a shrewd idea of what he will get, but one thing is made
certain, that no nation in future will ever commit that crime
I am not going to enter into these tales. Many of them are
untrue ; war is a grim, ghastly business at best, and I am not
going to say that all that has been said in the way of tales of out-
rage is true. I will go beyond that and say that if you turn two
millions of men forced, conscripted, and compelled and driven into
the field, you will certainly get among them a certain number of
men who will do things that the nation itself will be ashamed of.
I am not depending on them. It is enough for me to have the
story which the Germans themselves avow, admit, defend, pro-
claim. The burning and massacring, the shootmg down of
harmless people — why ? Because, according to the Germans,
they fired on German soldiers. What business had German sol-
diers there at all ? Belgium was acting in pursuance of a most
sacred right, the right to defend your own home.
But they were not in uniform when they shot. If a burglar
broke into the Kaiser's Palace at Potsdam, destroyed his furni-
ture, shot down his servants, ruined his art treasures, especially
those he made himself, burned his precious manuscripts, do you
think he would wait until he got into uniform before he shot him
down ? They were dealing with those who had broken into their
households, but their perfidy has already failed. They entered
Belgium to save time. The time has gone. They have not
gained time, but they have lost their good name.
But Belgium was not the only little nation that has been
attacked in this war, and I make no excuse for referring to the
case of the other little nation — the case of Servia. The history
HONOUR AND DISHONOUR
of Servia is not unblotted. What history in the category of
nations is unblotted ? The first nation that is without sin, let her
cast a stone at Servia. A nation trained in a horrible school, but
she won her freedom with her tenacious valour, and she has
maintained it by the same courage. If any Servians were mixed
up in the assassination of the Grand Duke they ought to be
punished. Servia admits that ; the Servian Government had
nothing to do with it. Not even Austria claimed that. The
Servian Prime Minister is one of the most capable and honoured
men in Europe. Servia was willing to punish any one of her
subjects who had been proved to have any complicity in that
assassination. What more could you expect ? What were the
Austrian demands ? Servia sympathised with her fellow-country-
men in Bosnia. That was one of her crimes. She must do so
no more. Her newspapers were saying nasty things about
Austria. They must do so no longer. That is the Austrian
spirit. You had it in Zabern. How dare you criticise a Customs
official, and if you laugh it is a capital offence. The Colonel
threatened to shoot them if they repeated it.
Servian newspapers must not criticise Austria. I wonder what
would have happened had we taken the same line about German
newspapers. Servia said : " Very well, we will give orders to the
newspapers that they must not criticise Austria in future, neither
Austria, nor Hungary, nor anything that is theirs." Who can
doubt the valour of Servia, when she undertook to tackle her
newspaper editors ? She promised not to sympathise with Bosnia,
promised to write no critical articles about Austria. She would
have no public meetings at which anything unkind was said about
That was not enough. She must dismiss from her army officers
whom Austria should subsequently name. But these officers had
just emerged from a war where they were adding lustre to the
Servian arms — gallant, brave, efficient. I wonder whether it was
their guilt or their efficiency that prompted Austria's action.
But, mark, the officers were not named. Servia was to undertake
in advance to dismiss them from the army ; the names to be sent
on subsequently. Can you name a country in the world that
would have stood that ?
Supposing Austria or Germany had issued an ultimatum of that
kind to this country. " You must dismiss from your Army and
from your Navy all those officers whom we shall subsequently
name!" Well, I think I could name them now. Lord Kitchener
would go ; Sir John French would be sent about his business ;
General Smith-Dorrien would be no more; and I am sure that
Sir John Jellicoe would go. And there was another gallant old
warrior that would go — Lord Roberts.
It was a difficult situation. Here was a demand made upon
her by a great military Power who could put five or six men in
HONOUR AND DISHONOUR
the field for every one she could ; and that Power supported by
the greatest military Power in the world. How did Servia
behave ? It is not what happens to you in life that matters ; it is
the way in which you face it. And Servia faced the situation
with dignity. She said to Austria, " If any officers of mine have
been guilty and are proved to be guilty, I will dismiss them."
Austria said, " That is not good enough for me." It was not guilt
she was after, but capacity.
Then came Russia's turn. Russia has a special regard for
Servia. She has a special interest in Servia. Russians have
shed their blood for Servian independence many a time. Servia
is a member of her family, and she cannot see Servia maltreated.
Austria knew that. Germany knew that, and Germany turned
round to Russia and said, " Here, I insist that you shall stand by
with your arms folded whilst Austria is strangling to death your
little brother." What answer did the Russian Slav give ? He
gave the only answer that becomes a man. He turned to Austria
and said, " You lay hands on that little fellow and I will tear your
ramshackle empire limb from limb." And he is doing it.
That is the story of the little nations. The world owes much
to little nations — and to little men. This theory of bigness — you
must have a big empire and a big nation, and a big man — well,
long legs have their advantage in a retreat. Frederick the Great
chose his warriors for their height, and that tradition has become
a policy in Germany. Germany applies that ideal to nations ;
she will only allow six-feet-two nations to stand in the ranks.
But all the world owes much to the little five feet high nations.
The greatest art of the world was the work of little nations. The
most enduring literature of the world came from little nations.
The greatest literature of England came from her when she was
a nation of the size of Belgium fighting a great Empire. The
heroic deeds that thrill humanity through generations were the
deeds of little nations fighting for their freedom. Ah, yes, and
the salvation of mankind came through a little nation, God has
chosen little nations as the vessels by which he carries the
choicest wines to the lips of humanity, to rejoice their hearts, to
exalt their vision, to stimulate and to strengthen their faith; and
if we had stood by when two little nations were being crushed and
broken by the brutal hands of barbarism our shame would have
rung down the everlasting ages.
But Germany insists that this is an attack by a low civilisation
upon a higher. Well, as a matter of fact, the attack was begun
by the civilisation which calls itself the higher one. Now, I am
no apologist for Russia. She has perpetrated deeds of which I
have no doubt her best sons are ashamed. But what Empire has
not ? And Germany is the last Empire to point the finger of
reproach at Russia ? But Russia has made sacrifices for freedom
— great sacrifices. You remember the cry of Bulgaria when she
8 HONOUR AND DISHONOUR
was torn by the most insensate tyranny that Europe has ever
seen. Who listened to the cry ? The only answer of the higher
civilisation was that the liberty of Bulgarian peasants was not
worth the life of a single Pomeranian soldier. But the rude
barbarians of the North — they sent their sons by the thousands
to die for Bulgarian freedom.
What about England ? You go to Greece, the Nether-
lands, Italy, Germany, and France, and all these lands, gentlemen,
could point out to you places where the sons of Britain have died
for the freedom of these countries. France has made sacrifices for
the freedom of other lands than her own. Can you name a
single country in the world for the freedom of which the modern
Prussian has ever sacrificed a single life ? The test of our faith,
the highest standard of civilisation is the readiness to sacrifice
I would not say a word about the German people to disparage
them. They are a great people ; they have great qualities of
head, of hand, and of heart. I believe, in spite of recent events,
there is as great a store of kindness in the German peasant as in
any peasant in the world. But he has been drilled into a false
idea of civilisation, efficiency, capability. It is a hard civilisation;
it is a selfish civilisation ; it is a material civilisation. They could
not comprehend the action of Britain at the present moment.
They say so. *' France," they say, " we can understand. She is
out for vengeance, she is out for territory — Alsace Lorraine.
Russia, she is fighting for mastery, she wants Galicia." They
can understand vengeance, they can understand you fighting for
mastery, they can understand you fighting for greed of territory ;
they cannot understand a great Empire pledging its resources,
pledging its might, pledging the lives of its children, pledging its
very existence, to protect a little nation that seeks for its defence.
God made man in his own image — high of purpose, in the region
of the spirit. German civilisation would re-create him in the
image of a Diesler machine — precise, accurate, powerful, with
no room for the soul to operate. That is the "higher"
What is their demand ? Have you read the Kaiser's speeches ?
If you have not a copy, I advise you to buy it ; they will soon be
out of print, and you won't have any more of the same sort again.
They are full of the clatter and bluster of German militarists —
the mailed fist, the shining armour. Poor old mailed fist — its
knuckles are getting a little bruised. Poor shining armour — the
shine is being knocked out of it. But there is the same swagger
and boastfulness running through the whole of the speeches.
You saw that remarkable speech which appeared in the " British
Weekly " this week. It is a very remarkable product, as an illus-
tration of the spirit we have got to fight. It is his speech to his
soldiers on the way to the front : —
HONOUR AND DISHONOUR
Remember that the German people are the chosen of God.
On me, on me as German Emperor, the Spirit of God has
descended. I am His weapon, His sword and His vizard.
Woe to the disobedient ! Death to cowards and unbe-
There has been nothing like it since the days of Mahomet.
Lunacy is always distressing, but sometimes it is dangerous,
and when you get it manifested in the head of the State, and it
has become the policy of a great Empire, it is about time when
that should be ruthlessly put away. I do not believe he meant
all these speeches. It was simply the martial straddle which he
had acquired ; but there were men around him who meant every
word of it. This was their religion. Treaties ? They tangled
the feet of Germany in her advance. Cut them with the sword.
Little nations ? They hinder the advance of Germany. Trample
them in the mire under the German heel. The Russian Slav ?
He challenges the supremacy of Germany and Europe. Hurl
your legions at him and massacre him. Britain ? She is a con-
stant menace to the predominancy of Germany in the world.
Wrest the trident out of her hands. Ah ! more than that.
The new philosophy of Germany is to destroy Christianity.
Sickly sentimentalism about sacrifice for others — poor pap for
German digestion. We will have a new diet. We will force it
on the world. It will be made in Germany. A diet of blood and
iron. What remains ? Treaties have gone ; the honour of nations
gone ; liberty gone. What is left ? Germany — Germany is left
— Deutschland iiber AUes. That is all that is left.
That is what we are fighting, that claim to predominancy
of a civilisation, a material one, a hard one, a civilisation
which if once it rules and sways the world, liberty goes, de-
mocracy vanishes, and unless Britain comes to the rescue,
and her sons, it will be a dark day for humanity. We are not
fighting the German people. The German people are just as
much under the heel of this Prussian military caste, and more so,
thank God, than any other nation in Europe. It will be a day of
rejoicing for the German peasant and artisan and trader when
the military caste is broken. You know his pretensions. He
gives himself the airs of a demi-god. Walking the pavements
— civilians and their wives swept into the gutter ; they have no
right to stand in the way of the great Prussian junker. Men,
women, nations — they have all got to go. He thinks all he has
got to say is, " We are in a hurry." That is the answer he gave to
Belgium. " Rapidity of action is Germany's greatest asset,"
which means " I am in a hurry. Clear out of my way."
You know the type of motorist, the terror of the roads, with a
6o-horse power car. He thinks the roads are made for him, and
anybody who impedes the action of his car by a single mile is
knocked down. The Prussian junker is the road-hog of Europe.
10 HONOUR AND DISHONOUR
Small nationalities in his way hurled to the roadside, bleeding and
broken ; women and children crushed under the wheels of his cruel
car. Britain ordered out of his road. All I can say is this : if
the old British spirit is alive in British hearts, that bully will be
torn from his seat. Were he to win it would be the greatest
catastrophe that has befallen democracy since the days of the
Holy Alliance and its ascendancy. They think we cannot beat
them. It will not be easy. It will be a long job. It will be a
terrible war. But in the end we shall march through terror to
triumph. We shall need all our qualities, every quality that
Britain and its people possess. Prudence in council, daring in
action, tenacity in purpose, courage in defeat, moderation in
victory, in all things faith, and we shall win.
It has pleased them to believe and to preach the belief that we
are a decadent nation. They proclaim it to the world, through
their professors, that we are an unheroic nation skulking behind
our mahogany counters, whilst we are egging on more gallant
races to their destruction. This is a description given to us in
Germany — " a timorous, craven nation, trusting to its fleet." I
think they are beginning to find their mistake out already. And
there are half a million of young men of Britain who have already
registered their vow to their King that they will cross the seas
and hurl that insult against British courage against its perpe-
trators on the battlefields of France and of Germany. And we
want half a million more. And we shall get them.'''
But Wales must continue doing her duty. That was a great
telegram that you, my Lord (the Chairman), read from Gla-
morgan. I should like to see a Welsh army in the field. I
should like to see what the race who faced the Normans for
hundreds of years in their struggle for freedom, the race that
helped to win the battle of Crecy, the race that fought for a
generation under Glendower, against the greatest captain in
Europe — I should like to see that race give a good taste of its
quality in this struggle in Europe ; and they are going to do it.
I envy you young people your youth. They have put up the
age limit for the army, but I march, I am sorry to say, a good
many years even beyond that. But still our turn will come. It
is a great opportunity. It only comes once in many centuries to
the children of men. For most generations sacrifice comes in
drab weariness of spirit to men. It has come to-day to you ; it
has come to-day to us all, in the form of the glow and thrill of a
great movement for liberty, that impels millions throughout
Europe to the same end. It is a great war for the emancipation
of Europe from the thraldom of a military caste, which has cast
its shadow upon two generations of men, and which has now
plunged the world into a welter of bloodshed. Some have already
Glamorgan has raised 20,000 men."
HONOUR AND DISHONOUR 11
given their lives. There are some who have given more than
their own lives. They have given the lives of those who are
dear to them. I honour their courage, and may God be their
comfort and their strength.
But their reward is at hand. Those who have fallen have
consecrated deaths. They have taken their part in the making
of a new Europe, a new world. I can see signs of its coming in
the glare of the battlefield. The people will gain more by this
struggle in all lands than they comprehend at the present
moment. It is true they will be rid of the menace to their free-
dom. But that is not all. There is something infi^nitely greater
and more enduring which is emerging already out of this great
conflict ; a new patriotism, richer, nobler, more exalted than the
old. I see a new recognition amongst all classes, high and low,
shedding themselves of selfishness ; a new recognition that the
honour of a country does not depend merely on the maintenance
of its glory in the stricken field, but in protecting its homes from
distress as well. It is a new patriotism, it is bringing a new
outlook for all classes. A great flood of luxury and of sloth
which had submerged the land is receding, and a new Britain is
appearing. We can see for the first time the fundamental things
that matter in life and that have been obscured from our vision
by the tropical growth of prosperity.
May I tell you, in a simple parable, what I think this war is
doing for us ? I know a valley in North Wales, between the
mountains and the sea — a beautiful valley, snug, comfortable,
sheltered by the mountains from all the bitter blasts. It was
very enervating, and I remember how the boys were in the habit
of climbing the hills above the village to have a glimpse of the
great mountains in the distance and to be stimulated and fresh-
ened by the breezes which came from the hilltops, and by the
great spectacle of that great valley.
We have been living in a sheltered valley for generations. We
have been too comfortable, too indulgent, many, perhaps, too
selfish. And the stern hand of fate has scourged us to an eleva-
tion where we can see the great everlasting things that matter for
a nation ; the great peaks of honour we had forgotten — duty and
patriotism, clad in glittering white ; the great pinnacle of sacri-
fice pointing like a rugged finger to Heaven. We shall descend
into the valleys again, but as long as the men and women of this
generation last they will carry in their hearts the image of these
great mountain peaks, whose foundations are unshaken though
Europe rock and sway in the convulsions of a great war.
^' A CALL TO ARMS
THE PRIME MINISTER
THE WAR OF CIVILIZATION
THE PRIME MINISTER
HONOUR AND DISHONOUR
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
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