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´╗┐Title: Lloyd George - The Man and His Story
Author: Dilnot, Frank
Language: English
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[Frontispiece: Photograph of David Lloyd George]



LLOYD GEORGE

THE MAN AND HIS STORY


BY

FRANK DILNOT



AUTHOR OF

"THE OLD ORDER CHANGETH"



HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS

NEW YORK AND LONDON



LLOYD GEORGE: THE MAN AND HIS STORY


Copyright, 1917, by Harper & Brothers

Printed in the United States of America

Published March, 1917



CONTENTS


FOREWORD

    I.  THE VILLAGE COBBLER WHO HELPED THE BRITISH EMPIRE
   II.  HOW LLOYD GEORGE BECAME FAMOUS AT TWENTY-FIVE
  III.  FIGHTING THE LONE HAND
   IV.  THE DAREDEVIL STATESMAN
    V.  THE FIRST GREAT TASK
   VI.  HOW LLOYD GEORGE BROKE THE HOUSE OF LORDS
  VII.  AT HOME AND IN DOWNING STREET
 VIII.  A CHAMPION OF WAR
   IX.  THE ALLIANCE WITH NORTHCLIFFE
    X.  AT HIGH PRESSURE
   XI.  HIS INCONSISTENCIES
  XII.  HOW HE BECAME PRIME MINISTER
 XIII.  THE FUTURE OF LLOYD GEORGE

APPENDIX--MR. LLOYD GEORGE ON AMERICA AND THE EUROPEAN WAR



FOREWORD

Mr. Lloyd George gets a grip on those who read about him, but his
personality is far more powerful and fascinating to those who have
known the man himself, known him during the time his genius has been
forcing him to eminence.  He does not fill the eye as a sanctified hero
should; he is too vitally human, too affectionate, too bitter, and he
has, moreover, springs of humor which bubble up continually.  (You
cannot imagine an archangel with a sense of humor.)  But it is this
very mixture in the man that holds the character student.  Lloyd George
is quite unpretentious, loves children, will join heartily in the
chorus of a popular song, and yet there is concealed behind these
softer traits a stark and desperate courage which leads him always to
the policy of make or break.  He is flamingly sincere, and yet no
subtler statesman ever walked the boards at Westminster.  That is the
man I have seen at close quarters for years.  Is it to be wondered at
that he alternately bewilders, attracts, and dominates high-browed
intellectuals?  Strangely enough, it is the common people who
understand Lloyd George better than the clever ones.  Explain that how
you will.

I have seen David Lloyd George, present Prime Minister of England, as
the young political free-lance fighting furiously for unpopular causes,
fighting sometimes from sheer love of battle.  I have seen him in that
same period in moods of persuasion and appeal pleading the cause of the
inarticulate masses of the poor with an intensity which has thrilled a
placid British audience to the verge of tears.  Since then I have seen
him under the venomous attacks of aristocrats and plutocrats in
Parliament when his eyes have sparkled as he has turned on them and
hissed out to their faces words which burned and seared them and caused
them to shake with passion.  And in the midst of this orgy of hate
which encircled him I have seen him in his home with his
twelve-year-old blue-eyed daughter Megan curled up in his lap, his face
brimming with merriment as, with her arm around his neck, she asserted
her will in regard to school and holidays over a happy and indulgent
father.  That is the kind of man who now rules England, rules her with
an absoluteness granted to no man, king or statesman, since the British
became a nation.  A reserved people like the British, conservative by
instinct, with centuries of caste feeling behind them, have
unreservedly and with acclamation placed their fate in the hands of one
who began life as a village boy.  It was but recently I was talking
with a blacksmith hammering out horseshoes at Llanystumdwy in Wales who
was a school-mate of Lloyd George in those days not so very long ago.
The Prime Minister still has his home down there and talks to the
blacksmith and to others of his school companions, for he and they are
still one people together, with ties which it is impossible for
statecraft to break--or to forge.  I have met Lloyd George in private,
have seen him among his own people at his Welsh home, and for five
years as a journalist I had the opportunity of observing him from the
gallery of the British Houses of Parliament, five years during which he
introduced his famous Budget, forced a fight with the House of Lords,
and broke their power.  I purpose to tell in plain words the drama of
the man as I have seen it.

A year before the war broke out, while he was still bitterly hated by
the Conservatives, I was visiting him at his Welsh home near
Llanystumdwy and he asked me what I thought of the district.  I said it
was all very beautiful, as indeed it was.  I emphasized my appreciation
by saying that the visitors at the big hotel at Criccieth near by were
one and all enchanted.  They were nearly all Conservatives, I pointed
out, and there was just one fly in their ointment.  "I know it," said
Lloyd George, vivaciously, with a quick twinkle in his eye.  "Here's a
bay like the Bay of Naples, God's great mountains behind, beautiful
woods, and green meadows, and trickling streams--everything the heart
of man can desire, and in the midst of it all HE lives."  He paused and
deepened his voice.  "Satan in the Garden of Eden," he said.  It was
just his twist of humor, but it told a story.  Now for the companion
picture.  The last time I saw Lloyd George was one dark evening in the
December which has just gone by.  It had been a day of big political
happenings; the Asquith Government had resigned, Bonar Law, the
Conservative leader, had been asked by the King to form a Ministry and
had said he could not do so.  Lloyd George's name was being bandied
about.  In those few fateful hours Britain was without a Government.
At seven o'clock I was at the entrance of the War Office at Whitehall.
Through the dark street an automobile dashed up.  The door was opened,
and a silk-hatted man stepped out and passed rapidly into the War
Office, and then the little group of bystanders noticed that the
footman at the door of the automobile was wearing the royal livery.
The silk-hatted visitor was obviously a messenger from King George.
Three minutes later the War Office doors swung open and two men came
hurrying out.  The first was the King's messenger, the second was Lloyd
George.  The latter's shoulders were hunched with haste, his hat was
pressed deep and irregularly over his forehead, his face, set hard, was
canted forward.  He almost scrambled into the conveyance, and three
seconds later the automobile was going at top speed for Buckingham
Palace.  The King had sent for Lloyd George to ask him to become his
Prime Minister.

F. D.

_January, 1917._



LLOYD GEORGE


I

THE VILLAGE COBBLER WHO HELPED THE BRITISH EMPIRE

One day in the year 1866 a middle-aged cobbler named Richard Lloyd,
occupying a tiny cottage in the village of Llanystumdwy in North Wales,
had a letter delivered to him by the postman which was to alter the
whole of his simple and placid life.  It was a letter from his sister
and bore melancholy tidings.  The letter told how she had lost her
husband and how she and her two little children were in distress.  She
was the mother of the present Prime Minister of Britain.  The elder of
her two children, then three years old, was David Lloyd George.

Miss Lloyd, the sister of Richard Lloyd, the cobbler, had married, a
few years before, a William George who came of farming people in South
Wales.  A studious young fellow, he had devoted himself to reading, and
presently passed the examinations necessary to become a teacher in the
elementary schools.  The countryside offered him no opportunity of
advancement and he migrated to the big city of Manchester, where he
secured a position as master in one of the national schools of the
district.  In Manchester were born two children, the elder of whom,
David, was fated in after years to rise to fame.  David's birthday was
January 17, 1863.  Far indeed were thoughts of future eminence from the
struggling family during that time in Manchester.

Under the strain of city life the health of William George began to
fail.  Country-bred as he was, he pined for the open air of the fields
and the valleys, and very soon the doctor gave him no choice and told
him that if he wished to prolong his life he must leave the city
streets.  And so it came about that William George and the two children
forsook Manchester and went back again to country life in South Wales
to a place called Haverfordwest.  William George took a farm and for a
year or more he and his wife toiled on it.  How much of the work fell
on Mrs. George can only be guessed, but she must have carried a full
share, for her husband's health was undermined, and the home had to be
kept up not only for the sake of her husband, but the children as well.
She was in delicate health, and her efforts must have been arduous and
painful.  Withal, destiny had its severest blow still in hand.  William
George had not recovered his strength; an attack of pneumonia came upon
him, and his death occurred some few months after leaving Manchester.

Mrs. George, overwhelmed by the death of her husband, was at the same
time faced by financial difficulties and the problem of maintaining the
existence of herself and her two children.  To carry on the farm
single-handed was impossible.  There were, moreover, immediate
liabilities to be met.  She could find no way out, and the upshot was a
public auction sale of the farm effects and the household furniture.
Three-year-old David, not understanding the tragedy of it all, was
nevertheless impressed by the scene on the day the neighbors came to
bid for, and to buy, the things that made up his mother's home.  Even
now he can recall how the tables and chairs from the house, and the
plows and harrows from the fields, were scheduled and ticketed in and
around the homestead and disposed of by the auction to the highest
bidder.  He could not understand it, but somewhere deep within the
sensitive child was struck a note of pain, the echoes of which have
never left him throughout his strenuous life.  He felt dimly in his
childlike way the loneliness of his mother.  He has never forgotten it.
Lonely indeed she was.  She had but one friend to turn to, and that one
friend was her brother, Richard Lloyd, the village shoemaker up in
North Wales.  To him she wrote and told her story.

It was her letter which Richard Lloyd paused in his work to read that
day some fifty years ago.  This village cobbler, destined unwittingly
to play such an important part in the history of the British Empire, is
still alive and hale and hearty, still lives in his old district.  I
saw him recently, a tall, erect, fearless-eyed man, though in the
neighborhood of ninety, perhaps past that age.  He had a full beard,
snow-white, and a clean-shaven upper lip, reminiscent of the fashion of
half a century ago.  He lives, of course, in comfort now and enjoys a
dignified, happy old age.  Vigorous still, he continues to preach in
the chapel of the Nonconformist denomination of which he is a member.
I tried to picture him as he must have been fifty years back, a
studious, middle-aged man, rigidly religious, a confirmed bachelor,
dividing his time between his calling, on the one hand, and the study
of the Bible, on the other.

He lived at that time a laborious life, frugal by necessity, doing his
duty as he saw it, and I dare say he appeared to a casual observer an
uninteresting village type, a silent man, sincere in his bigoted way,
but colorless as such persons must always be to those of a different
class.  To me he will remain one of the most interesting men I have
ever seen.  Richard Lloyd read his sister's letter and formed his
resolution.  He decided to go to her help.  And thus it was he
journeyed to South Wales and brought the widow and her two little boys
up north to Llanystumdwy, where he lived.  He installed them in his
cottage, a little two-story residence with a tiny workshop abutting
from it at the side where he carried on his shoe-mending.  In front the
main road ran by, twisting its way through the village, and thence
through woods and meadows, and giving access within a mile on either
side to park-lands attached to the big country houses of wealthy people
to whom the village cobbler was a nonentity and a person of a different
order of beings from themselves.  They were not to know, these rich
neighbors, that the cobbler was bringing for protection to his humble
home a child destined to be a Prime Minister of the country.  Prime
Minister in a crisis of its history.

Of the little family's years of struggle there are a few glimpses.
Cheerfully Richard Lloyd bent himself to his self-imposed task of
lightening his sister's lot, and Mrs. George worked hard that her
children should not suffer from want.  There was no money to spare in
the household.  Mrs. George baked bread so as not to take anything from
their small resources for the baker.  Twice a week there was a little
meat for the family.  Subsequently, as the children grew bigger, a tiny
luxury was here and there found for them.  At Sunday morning breakfast,
for example, they received as a treat half an egg each to eat with
their bread-and-butter.  In the garden behind the cottage vegetables
were grown to eke out supplies, and it was one of the tasks of young
Lloyd George to dig up the potatoes for the household.

Llanystumdwy, the boyhood home of Lloyd George, is a picturesque
village, a mile or so from the sea, nestling at the foot of the Snowdon
range.  Meadows and woods embower Llanystumdwy.  Rushing through the
village a rock-strewn stream pours down from the mountains to the sea,
with the trees on its banks locking their branches overhead in an
irregular green archway.  Look westward to the coast from Llanystumdwy
and you have in Carnavon Bay one of the finest seascapes in Britain.
Turn to the east, and the rising mountains culminate in the white
summit of Snowdon and other giant peaks stretching upward through the
clouds.  Could Providence have selected a more fitting spot for the
upgrowth of a romantic boy?  Lloyd George's Celtic heart had an
environment made for it in this nook between the Welsh mountains and
the sea.  Little wonder that he has never left the place.  At the
present time his country house is on the slope overlooking Criccieth,
about a mile from the old cobbler's cottage where he spent his boyhood
forty years ago.

Lloyd George was sent quite early to the church elementary school with
the other village children.  There seems to have been nothing of the
copy-book order about his behavior, nor are any moral lessons for the
young to be drawn from it.  He set no specially good example, was not
particularly studious, was quite as mischievous if not more so than his
schoolmates, and on top of all this--sad to relate after such a
record--was practically always at the head of his class.  He achieved
without effort what others sought to accomplish by hard and persistent
work.  He just soaked up knowledge as a sponge soaks up water; he could
not help it.  Out of school hours he was a daring youngster filled with
high spirits, and very active.  He had dark-blue eyes, blackish hair, a
delicate skin, and regular features, and the audacity within him was
concealed behind a thoughtful, studious expression--just such a boy as
a mother worships.  That old Puritan, his uncle, worshiped him, too,
though I am quite sure he concealed the fact behind the gravest and
sometimes the most reproving of demeanors.  An interesting point is
that the vivacious and keen-witted child understood and was devoted to
this serious-minded uncle of his.  Richard Lloyd worked hard to make
the boy grow up a straight-living, brave, and God-fearing man, and his
influence on his young nephew was strong from the start.  There is a
story told about this.  The children of the village school (which was
connected with the Established Church of England) on each Ash Wednesday
had to march from the school to the church, and were there made to give
the responses to the Church Catechism and to recite the Apostles'
Creed.  That sturdy Nonconformist, Richard Lloyd, denied the right of
the Church of England to force children, many of them belonging to
Nonconformist parents, to go to church to subscribe to the Church
doctrine.  Lloyd George carefully digested his uncle's protest, and
went away and organized a revolt among the children.  The next time
they went to church they refused to make the responses.  Lloyd George
as the ring-leader was punished, but the rebellion he organized stopped
the practice of forcing Church dogmas into the mouths of the children.
This is a very suggestive story.  I know the main facts to be true
because not so very long ago Lloyd George himself confirmed them to me.
At the same time I beg leave to doubt whether any great spiritual
fervor was the motive power of Master Lloyd George at that time.  It
was just the first outbreak of his desire for revolt against the powers
that be--wicked powers because his uncle had said so--and the
satisfaction of that instinct for audacious action which has marked him
ever since.  To me there was not much of the saint about the boy Lloyd
George; he was just a young daredevil--which, on the whole, is perhaps
the more attractive.

By the time Lloyd George was ten or eleven years of age his mother and
his uncle became filled with thoughts as to his future.  They both knew
the boy was specially gifted, both realized that unless special effort
were made he must inevitably drift from school into the lower ranks of
labor, probably that of work on a farm.  There were long and anxious
consultations between the cobbler and his sister.  Finally Richard
Lloyd came to a decision, a decision which was to have a lasting effect
on the destinies of the British nation.  He resolved on a noble act,
the nobler in that he had no idea what tremendous consequences would
spring from it.

By long years of work and self-denial he had saved a little sum toward
his old age.  It amounted to a few hundred pounds.  It was all he had.
He decided to devote that sum toward the making of his nephew, Lloyd
George, an educated man, toward putting him in a profession where he
might have a chance in the world.

After the great speculation had been decided on it was settled that
young David should be brought up as a solicitor.  This necessitated not
only the provision of certain heavy fees in connection with the
examinations, but also time spent in a prolonged course of study.  The
few hundreds of pounds was a small-enough amount, and it was obvious
that it would have to be sparingly expended if it were to cover all
that was required.  Young Lloyd George was a brilliant youth, but even
his brilliancy could not help beyond a certain point.  The old cobbler
saw one way of economizing.  He set himself the task of personally
learning the elements of French and Latin in order to impart them to
his nephew.  I have often imagined the mental agony of the cobbler
struggling with those foreign grammars.  But he succeeded.  His nephew
also succeeded.  Young George passed his preliminary examination and
his intermediate without difficulty.  Then while he progressed further
he had to have experience in a solicitor's office--which ran away with
more money.  At twenty-one, however, he was finished, and was admitted
a solicitor.  All that had been gone through for him to reach this goal
is shown by the fact that, having been formally enrolled as a lawyer,
he and his family at that time could not raise the three guineas
necessary to purchase the official robe without which he could not
practise in the local courts.  He at once went out and worked in an
office and earned that three guineas.

He was now launched in the world.  The great adventure of life began
almost immediately for him.



II

HOW LLOYD GEORGE BECAME FAMOUS AT TWENTY-FIVE

The personalities of history flash across our vision like
shooting-stars in the sky, emerging from hidden origins, making for
their unknown goal with a speed and brilliance at once spectacular and
mysterious.  They are incalculable forces; we can only look at them and
wonder at them.  It is futile and quite useless to try to define the
secret motive power of these personalities by puny analyses of moral
influences and by a catalogue of their feelings and surroundings.  They
follow their destined course and raise our admiration or our fears and
all the while they give us no real clue to the powers within their
souls or the end they serve.

There had been many endeavors to link up Lloyd George with certain sets
of beliefs; sincere persons have associated his prominence with his
Liberalism, with his Nonconformity, with his passion for the interests
of the poor, and in these later days with his fervor for national and
patriotic effort.  As a matter of fact, the framing of his dogmas has
had little or nothing to do with the power of the man.  He is one of
those persons whom nature has made of dynamite; who would have blasted
a way for himself in any kind of conditions.  It is neither to his
credit nor to his discredit that Heaven has given him an individuality
which has taken him throughout life to distinction and high
achievement.  He has always swung to his tasks like a needle to the
Pole.

It so happened that by the surroundings of his youth--the piety and
pride and modest circumstances of his uncle and his mother--he was
early thrown into certain spheres of activity.  But these spheres were
merely the medium for his powers.  A wider survey than that of the
enthusiastic Nonconformist or the patriotic Welshman shows that Lloyd
George's nature would have cleaved its way like a sword through any
obstacle in any cause.  He simply could not have helped it.  Destiny
had set a mark on him from birth.

He was only seventeen when on a visit to London he went for the first
time to the House of Commons to listen to the proceedings from the
gallery and here is an abstract from his diary at that period: "Went to
Houses of Parliament.  Very much disappointed with them. . . .  I will
not say I eyed the assembly in the spirit in which William the
Conqueror eyed England on his visit to Edward the Confessor--as the
region of his future domain.  O Vanity!"  A country youth without
money, without prospects, sitting in the exclusive Parliament House of
the most exclusive nation of the world, watched the assembly before him
and there occurred to him the thought of conquering it single-handed.
That is what it came to.  Of course his reference is in the nature of a
joke.  It could hardly be otherwise.  But it was a joke which has
proved to be a prophecy.

Before he was seventeen Lloyd George had already dived deep into
controversy.  His school of debating consisted of the cobbler's
workshop and the village smithy at Llanystumdwy, where in the evenings
young men and old men and a sprinkling of boys used to assemble to
discuss in a haphazard way questions of ethics, the politics of the
day, and most of all the rights and wrongs of the religious sects to
which they respectively belonged.  Richard Lloyd, on the one hand, and
the old blacksmith, on the other, would stir the discussion now and
again with a sagacious word.  It is easy to imagine the ripple of
musical Welsh which sometimes drowned the tap-tap of the cobbler's
hammer, or was submerged beneath the clang of the anvil.  The bright
eyes and excited faces of these Celts partly illumined by the oil-lamp
or by the sudden glow of the blacksmith's furnace must have provided
pictures worth record for themselves, quite apart from the personal
interest they would now possess.

In the midst of the discussions young David would plunge with a wit and
understanding beyond his years, and he stood up to his seniors with
both gravity and audacity.  "Do you know," said the gray-haired
blacksmith to Richard Lloyd one day, "I really had to turn my serious
attention to David last evening or he would have got the best of me."

If any of those who read this narrative are beginning to have an idea
that this fourteen-year-old boy was by way of becoming a prig they may
be relieved by the knowledge that when the youngster was not taking a
hand in polemics in the smithy or the cobbler's cottage he was often
enough leading the boys of the village into some kind of mischief.  One
old inhabitant came to have the fixed belief that David was the origin
of pretty well all the mishaps in Llanystumdwy.  Let a gate be found
lifted from its hinges, a fence or hedge broken down, or windows
smashed, and the old man had the one explanation, "It's that David
Lloyd at it again."

It is important to know that Richard Lloyd, the shoemaker, was not only
studious and intelligent, but was independent beyond his class.  A kind
of benevolent feudalism still existed in the district, and villagers at
election time fell naturally into the groove required by the rich
landowners and gentlefolk of the neighborhood.  Once at an election
three or four of the cottagers voted Liberal instead of Conservative.
They were promptly turned out of their dwellings.  The time came when
the shoemaker was the only Liberal voter in the place.  He remained
quite unshaken by persuasion, influence, or material considerations.
Lloyd George even as a young boy gloried in his stalwart uncle.  He was
rebellious that it should be possible to cow other people, and the
knowledge of the prevalent thraldom poured deep into young Lloyd
George's soul.  This simple religious village folk lived hard, with but
a week's wages between them and want, lived, so to speak, on sufferance
under the vicar and squire and land-owner, who, while often kindly
enough and even generous in their way, expected obedience, and who
exacted servitude in all matters of opinion.  The big people and the
cottage folk were two entirely different sets of beings.  What a
precipice there was between them can hardly be understood by those who
have not passed some time in the village life of Britain.  A man who
took a rabbit or hare from the preserved coverts of game extending for
miles in all directions was rigorously prosecuted as a criminal.  A man
who took fish from prohibited waters was often a good deal more harshly
adjudged than the drunken brute who beat his wife or the assailant in
some desperate fight.  And let it be noted that these superior people
had veritable power of government, for from them were drawn the benches
of magistrates--amateur local judges, who sat weekly or monthly, as the
case might be, to punish evil-doers of the district.  Many of these
people in some of the relations of life were quite admirable, but when
it came to any question of the protection of privilege, the
preservation of property, or the rights in general of their superior
class, these landowners were as merciless in the North Wales district
as in many other parts of the country.  Scorn and rage grew in the
heart of young Lloyd George as he realized that these individuals had
no claim over their fellows in personal worth or understanding, that
they were practically unassailable by reason of their ramparts of
wealth, that they lived in comfort, if not in luxury, while those whom
they dominated were struggling hard for a bare subsistence.  I can
imagine the youth reciting the couplet which sets out the position:

  God bless the squire and his relations,
  And keep us in our proper stations.


Worldly knowledge and bookish knowledge were acquired by Lloyd George
during the next few years while he was going through his law course in
the office of a firm of solicitors in the neighboring little town of
Portmadoc.  While there he had further opportunity for developing his
natural powers of oratory, for he became a member of a local debating
society which regularly had set battles on all kinds of
topics--political, literary, and social.  At twenty-one his
preliminaries ended and he became an admitted solicitor competent to
practise law and to appear as an advocate in the local civil and
criminal courts.  He was penniless, he had no friends likely to help
him in his profession.  But he had confidence in himself.  Hidden fires
were burning behind those steady dark-blue eyes of his.  The office
work which he undertook to secure the money to buy his official robe
was accomplished with a run.  Then he put up a little brass plate
announcing to all and sundry in the locality that he was prepared to
practise law.  Though he had no rich friends, he possessed certain
assets in the reputation he had made among the residents of the
district by his sparkling good humor, his ready sympathy with distress,
and his vivacious wit in debate.  Individuals of the humbler class soon
began to come to the young solicitor for advice and assistance.  He
found himself engaged to defend people charged with small offenses
before the local magistrates and to fight cases connected with small
money transactions before the county court--which was the civil
tribunal.  Clients found in the young fellow not only a shrewd lawyer,
but a friend who entered into their cases with ardor.

He differed from other lawyers of the country towns, men who had grown
prosperous in their profession, in so far as he always put up a
tremendous fight, whatever the chances of success.  He was, moreover,
never hampered by deference for the bench.  It was the practice of the
magistrates, most of them local land-owners and all of them belonging
to the propertied classes, to browbeat any local solicitors who showed
signs of presumption--that is to say, of independence and lack of what
was regarded as proper respect in their conduct of cases before the
court.  Lloyd George said things and did things which the most
experienced and successful solicitors of the district would have shrunk
from as ruinous to their business.  He made it a practice never to
waste a word in any subservience to magistrates who showed an
overbearing disposition.  The magistrates, to their amazement, found
they could not overawe the young upstart.  When one realizes the
unchallenged caste rule of those local bigwigs and the extraordinary
respect which was paid to them by advocates and litigants alike, it is
easy to understand the amazement and the shock which came upon them
when young Lloyd George not only refused to submit to their bullying,
but stood up to them and even thrust wounding words at them.  It was an
unheard-of proceeding.  Some of these magistrates, lifelong supporters
of Church and state, must sometimes have wondered why the presumptuous
youth was not struck dead by Providence for his temerity.  He, on his
part, was never so happy as when he was shocking them.  Clients quickly
grew in number.  The farmers found him an enthusiastic defender of
their rights, the shopkeepers trusted him with their small business
worries, and if there were any poachers to be defended where was there
to be found so able, so sympathetic, and so fearless an advocate as
young Lloyd George?  All this time it must be remembered he was but
early in the twenties, little more than a boy.

Many instances might be given of his audacity in the face of the lordly
magistrates before whom he appeared.  Here is one that is typical.
Lloyd George was retained to defend four men who were charged with
illegally taking fish from prohibited waters--in other words, accused
of poaching, the most deadly sin of all to the owners of the land.  The
case was tried before a big bench of magistrates, all of them local
celebrities.  Early in the proceedings Lloyd George put in a plea that
the court had no jurisdiction in the matter.  In response the
chairman--the presiding magistrate--replied grandiloquently that such a
point must be decided by a higher court.

"Yes, sir," said Lloyd George, "and in a perfectly just and unbiased
court."

The magistrate stared open-eyed at this impudence, and promptly
proceeded to put Lloyd George in his place.  "If," said he, "that
remark is intended as a reflection on any magistrate sitting on this
bench I hope Mr. George will name him.  A more insulting and
ungentlemanly remark to the bench I have never heard during my
experience as a magistrate."

"Yes," replied Lloyd George, "and a more true remark was never made in
any court of justice."

This was more than flesh and blood could stand.  In admonitory tone the
chairman said: "Tell me to whom you are referring.  I must insist upon
your stating if you are referring to any magistrate sitting in this
court."

"I refer to you in particular, sir," said Lloyd George.

"Then I retire from the bench," said the chairman, rising from his
place.  He turned to his fellow-magistrates.  "This is the first time I
have ever been insulted in a court of justice."

In company with a colleague he left the court.  A third magistrate
remarked that he could not proceed with the case until Lloyd George had
apologized.

"I am glad to hear it," said Lloyd George, imperturbably.  Promptly
another magistrate went out.  One of the few justices remaining
repeated the demand for an apology.  Instead of apologizing Lloyd
George made the following reply; "I say this, that at least two or
three magistrates of this court are bent upon securing a conviction
whether there is a fair case or not.  I am sorry the chairman left the
court, because I am in a position to prove what I have said.  I shall
not withdraw anything, because every word I have spoken is true."

This was really too much.  All the lot of the magistrates went out,
their departure being accompanied by the few barbed words from the
young advocate.  What happened when the magistrates got together
outside the courtroom can only be guessed.  They must have had a
painful discussion among themselves, because presently four of them
came in and rather meekly said they would try the case, though they
again made a protest to the effect that Lloyd George really ought to
apologize.  Of course he did not do so.

It was when Lloyd George was twenty-five and was already a highly
popular figure throughout a large part of Wales that he sprang suddenly
into a wider notice and may be said to have had for the first time the
eyes of the whole country centered on him.  Wales is a country of
Nonconformists who attend religious services in their own chapels and
do not--at least the great majority of them--belong to the Established
Church of England.  The state Church, however, is implanted throughout
the country, and it is only to be expected that local friction should
sometimes arise.

In a village at the foot of Snowdon an old quarryman died, and before
he passed away expressed the wish that he should be laid by the side of
his daughter, who was buried in the graveyard of the Church of England.
The Church clergyman would not consent to the Nonconformist rites being
performed if the old man were buried where he desired to be.  The old
man, he said, could not be placed by the side of his daughter, but must
be buried in a remote portion of the graveyard reserved for unknown
people and for suicides.  The Nonconformists of the village were
outraged at the suggestion.  They went to young Lloyd George and asked
his advice about the matter.  Lloyd George plunged deep into legal
enactments, into the local conditions, and all the facts pertaining to
the case.  Then he delivered a characteristic judgment.  "You have the
right," he said, "to bury this man by the side of his daughter in the
churchyard.  If the clergyman refuses you permission proceed with the
body to the graveyard.  Take the coffin in by force, if necessary.  If
the churchyard gates are locked against you, break them down."  The
villagers faithfully followed the suggestion of the young lawyer.  They
took the body to the churchyard--I believe Lloyd George accompanied
them--and they broke down the locked churchyard gates, dug a grave for
the old man by the side of his daughter, and buried him there.  The
Church authorities were scandalized and an action at law was the
result.  It was heard in the local county court before a judge and
jury.  Lloyd George defended the villagers, and the jury, influenced by
his speech, returned a verdict in their favor.  The judge, however,
said that Lloyd George was wrong on a point of law and decided the case
on the side of the Church.  Lloyd George instantly said that the matter
could not rest, and on behalf of the villagers he appealed against the
decision to the Lord Chief Justice in London.  The case was heard by
the Lord Chief and another judge, and they came to the conclusion that
the jury's decision was right, that the county-court judge was wrong,
and that Lloyd George was perfectly correct on the point of law in
connection with which he had been overruled.

Lloyd George was twenty-five when he secured this triumph.  All the
public were interested in the case, and in the Welsh townships and
villages his name flamed out like a beacon.



III

FIGHTING THE LONE HAND

Lloyd George was twenty-five when his fight for the burial of the old
quarryman lifted him to the public notice of the country at large.  The
year was a fateful one for him in other respects.  For two or three
years before this he had been speaking at public meetings, securing
more and more confidence as he realized his powers.  He became the
banner-bearer for the allied causes of democracy, a free Church, and
the rights of Wales as a nation.  His compatriots rallied round him as
their forefathers had rallied round Owen Glendower centuries before.

Working early and late, Lloyd George united his professional
engagements with appearances on the public platform.  He was already
rousing those eddies of hatred and that personal devotion on which he
has been borne to fame.  Furiously he flung himself into attacks on the
classes from which his political opponents were drawn.  He adopted new
methods, he heeded not convention, made always for the thickest of the
fray.  All the time there was mixed with his fervor an element of
shrewdness.  It was this shrewdness, for instance, which sent him to a
big gathering of his political opponents, where he sat quietly in a
back seat in order to learn what they had to say about him, and
listened to their abuse with keen satisfaction.  Gleams of ambition
must have been shooting in upon him by this time.  It was impossible
that he had not thoughts of a bigger future for himself, and yet it
came as a thunderclap to him when he heard that he, a youthful
free-lance, had been adopted by the Liberal associations of the
district to be their candidate for Parliament at the next election.  It
may be imagined with what zest under this stimulation he carried on his
preparations for the contest whenever it should arise.  The
constituency--Carnarvon Boroughs--comprised a group of towns and a
large number of villages.  It included castles and mansions and great
estates; a considerable portion of the general body voters were
associated with the landowners and aristocrats.  Lloyd George must have
felt it was a pretty hopeless fight, but a fight, nevertheless, which
he would enjoy.

There is one other event to chronicle during this year when he reached
the age of twenty-five.  Upon the mountain slopes beyond Llanystumdwy
was a spacious old farm-house, the home of a sweetly pretty Welsh girl
named Maggie Owen.  How or when Lloyd George first met her is not
recorded, but in the course of his diary we come across a significant
entry just before this time.  The diary refers to a meeting of a
debating society in which he had taken part, and goes on to relate
"Took Maggie Owen home."  It is hard to imagine young Lloyd George
anything but an impetuous lover.  His suit progressed, and in this same
fateful year of 1888 he was married.  It may be said in passing that
never was a happier union, and that in the hard and adventurous life
that lay before the young politician he found in Mrs. George a true
companion.  Marriage seemed to strengthen his ambition, and his vision
began to spread over the general field of politics instead of remaining
exclusively, as hitherto, fixed upon projects of special, if not of
exclusive, interest to Wales.  Nevertheless he continued the leading
figure in the fight for reforms in his native country.  A good deal of
his enthusiasm, for example, was expended on Church disestablishment in
Wales--that is to say, the separation of the English Church from state
support and state endowment, in view of the fact that the majority of
the people were Nonconformists, and that it was unfair to impose upon
them an unwanted and costly church which they had to help support even
though they were Nonconformist enthusiasts.  There is nothing like a
religious controversy to stir feelings strongly, and the conflicts in
the campaign for disestablishment were very bitter.  Lloyd George's
chief opponent on the other side was the Bishop of St. Asaph, a prelate
of the Church of England, himself a Welshman and a very able man.  He
gave the promoters of disestablishment some hard knocks, and it is
related of him that he was particularly effective in one of the
districts.  Accordingly, the Nonconformists there brought down Lloyd
George to speak at a public meeting in order to counteract the bishop's
influence.  Lloyd George himself tells the story of how he was
introduced at that meeting by the chairman, a leading deacon of the
village.  "We have suffered much of late from misrepresentations," he
said.  "The Bishop of St. Asaph has been speaking against us and we all
know that he is a very great liar.  Thank God we have a match for him
here to-night in Mr. Lloyd George."  In later years when Lloyd George
and the bishop became good friends in spite of their differences of
opinion, it was hard to decide which of them enjoyed this story most.

Lloyd George began to speak everywhere, at street corners, in
conventicles, in the market-places, at mass-meetings in the public
buildings, and his peculiar oratory secured him larger and larger
audiences and aroused attention, sympathetic or hostile, all over the
constituency.  Many who were lukewarm and went to hear him out of
curiosity were swung by his personality into being supporters.  He had
always his own natural style of talk.  Possessing a musical and clear
voice, he never strained for effect, rarely used a rotund sentence, but
talked to his audiences in a red-hot conversational kind of way, his
heightened feelings finding expression in a sibilance which always
touched the nerves of his hearers.  He seldom interrupted interrupters,
finding it more effective to let them speak and then to deal with them
in his own special manner when they had finished.  There were
occasionally exceptions to this, however.  In the course of one of his
speeches he exclaimed, "What do my opponents really want?"  A husky,
hostile voice from the crowd broke in, "What I want is a change of
government."  "No," said Lloyd George; "what you really want is a
change of drink."  Another time he had begun a sentence with the words
"I am here," when an opponent in the crowd shouted, "So am I."  "Yes,"
said Lloyd George, "but you are not all there."  One of his best
retorts in his early days was to a Conservative who came to a Liberal
meeting determined to stand no nonsense.  "We must give home rule,"
declared Lloyd George, "not only to Ireland, but to Scotland as well,
and to Wales."  "And home rule for hell," shouted a man in the
audience.  "Quite right," said Lloyd George; "let every person stick up
for his own country."

A hard-working young professional man, Lloyd George was in for a heavy
fight and, in the opinion of many, a hopeless fight, when the election
came two years later.  It was a dramatic chance that selected for his
Conservative opponent the squire of his native village, the dignitary
to whom Lloyd George as a village lad used to touch his hat.  Fierce
excitement ranged throughout the election fight.  In the result Lloyd
George snatched victory by just a handful of votes, his poll being one
thousand nine hundred sixty-three against the Conservative total of one
thousand nine hundred forty-five.  Lloyd George was twenty-seven at the
time of this triumph and became known as "the boy politician."  There
were many sneers among his opponents, who pointed out that this fluent
young demagogue had now reached the end of his tether.  In the
environment of the House of Commons, among really clever men, he would
sink to the natural inconsequence from which a series of fortunate
accidents had lifted him.  And indeed it was not unnatural for even the
sympathetic observer to feel that perhaps this was the end of Lloyd
George, that the ability which he undoubtedly possessed and which had
carried him a considerable distance was not the ability which could do
any more for him.  He had projected himself out of the congenial
surroundings wherein his talents had proved of avail, but, like a spent
rocket, he would now rapidly come to earth.

It would have been inconceivable to many of his friends and to all of
his opponents that this twenty-seven-year-old M. P. should have
regarded himself as but on the threshold of his work, should have
looked upon what he had achieved merely as preliminaries to his rarely
serious efforts in life.  They would have smiled indulgently or
ironically if they had been told at this period the story of Lloyd
George's diary entry after his first visit to the House of Commons at
seventeen.  Probably no person on earth but his wife knew the steely
determination behind her husband's impetuosity.

The young M.P. took his seat in the House of Commons on April 17, 1890.
A Liberal Government was in power.  Gladstone, over eighty years of
age, was at the head of it.  Political giants whose reputation had
reached young Lloyd George through the newspapers were scattered along
the two front benches.  He sat himself down on one of the back seats
and proceeded to look at these men in action and to weigh them up.  He
formed some judgments about them.  Here is what he wrote about Mr.
Asquith in the course of some work for a Welsh newspaper a little later
on: "A short, thick-set, rather round-shouldered man with a face as
clean shaven as that of the most advanced curate, keen eyes and a
broad, intellectual forehead--he speaks clearly and emphatically.  He
sets out his arguments with great brilliancy and force."  Little did
the young M. P. think that in the years to come he would be supplanting
this man as Prime Minister of the country.

Right from the start Lloyd George set himself to acquire the methods
and fashions of the House of Commons, with all the involved procedure.
He wanted to avoid the obvious pitfalls.  Presently he essayed a
speech, and though he confessed himself as nervous, he did well, and
members spoke highly of his first effort.  It is as well to say here
that the House of Commons quickly cuts short the ambitions and hopes of
many young men who on the strength of platform popularity look for
triumph at Westminster.  The House of Commons, whatever may be its
drawbacks, has some human qualities, is kindly to beginners, has a
respect for sincerity, an undisguised yawn for bores, and a cold
contempt for swollen-headed young members who try to impress it with
their capacity.  When once a member has passed the stage of initial
forbearance due to a new-comer, there grows upon him the fact that the
House of Commons is indeed the most critical assembly in the world.
There are always within it many who have secured their places by money
or influence, but they are in the minority, and the House, as a whole,
including even these rich men, has never any respect for moneyed men as
such, pays no special deference to the person of lordly birth within
its walls.  A member is judged absolutely on what he is himself.  The
two most popular and respected members in the strangely mixed House of
Commons I watched for years were Mr. Thomas Burt, the father of the
House, who had been a working miner, and that ardent and lovable Irish
Nationalist, Mr. Willie Redmond--both men having secured in
extraordinary measure the personal affection of the whole House.  In
some respects, therefore, the House is like a big public school, and
Conservatives and Liberals, notwithstanding their political
differences, are welded together by a common instinct so far as the
domestic character of the Chamber is concerned.

The peculiar atmosphere was not lost upon Lloyd George, and he
diligently attuned himself to the new medium.  This would have been
unavailing if there had been nothing in his speeches, but it was soon
realized that here was an interesting new member, a man inexperienced
in some directions, but with bold thoughts, apt phrases, and an almost
unpleasant sincerity.  He did not take the House by storm, but still he
was listened to.  He quickly developed.  Within a year his name was
frequently in the newspapers as one of the guerrilla fighters below the
gangway who gave the Government no peace.

Lloyd George had made up his mind about the statesmen in the House and
had come to a decision that not even the strongest of them was
unassailable.  Gladstone led the Government and Lloyd George was his
nominal follower, but on individual matters the young M. P. opposed his
chief.  It was rather like a fox-terrier standing up to a lion.
Gladstone had an incomparable prestige, the result of a continuous
half-century of work for his country, including four periods as Prime
Minister.  Probably three-quarters of the six hundred and seventy
members of the House of Commons, many of them old politicians, would
have been nervous about tackling Gladstone, who, despite his eighty
years, was still a terrific force in debate, possessing an eagle mien
which subdued opponent and recalcitrant supporters alike.  Young Lloyd
George refused to be cowed even by Gladstone.

Wales was pressing for the disestablishment of the English Church
within its borders, and Lloyd George with two or three other Liberal
members bitterly protested about the postponement of this reform.
Difficulties of immediate parliamentary action, the urgency of other
legislation, the opposition from powerful sections of the House, all
these things were nothing to Lloyd George; what he wanted was the
disestablishment of the Church in Wales.  Frequently the Prime Minister
in the British Parliament ignores the attacks of the lesser men.
Gladstone could not ignore Lloyd George.  He had to answer him.
Sometimes he condescended to berate him, much to the enjoyment of the
assembly.  Lloyd George always came up unhurt, alert, and persistent.

In 1892 Mr. Gladstone retired, and his place at the head of the Liberal
Government was taken by Lord Rosebery.  Lloyd George, in his efforts to
secure the early passage of the Welsh disestablishment bill, continued
to strike hard at his nominal chief until in 1894 came the end of this
particular sphere of his operations, for the Liberal Government was
turned out and a Conservative Government put in its place.  This,
however, was Lloyd George's real opportunity.  Independent as he had
been in the ranks of his own party, he now found far greater scope as a
foe in opposition to Ministers in power.  He went for them, tooth and
nail, making a dead set at Chamberlain, who had taken Gladstone's place
as the leading figure in the House of Commons.  Chamberlain himself had
fought his way up.  Those who have seen Chamberlain will never forget
him--the long, strong face, the steady, hard eyes, the straight-cut
mouth, the rigidly erect, slim body, the unfailing single eyeglass, and
the orchid in his buttonhole making a picture which can never be
disassociated from will-power, a mind cold and clear, a lucid gift of
speech, unflinching courage, and a savage contempt for weakness or
inefficiency.  He had against him in the House of Commons some able
critics, but not more than two or three could really stand up to him in
argument.  I believe there was not a single one even of these who dared
to take off the gloves to him in real fighting earnest.  Lloyd George
went into opposition with his eyes fixed on Chamberlain.

From that time onward Lloyd George deliberately fought the Birmingham
statesman on every possible opportunity.  In committee, during question
time, at set debate, he pursued him unremittingly.  Chamberlain tried
at first to shake him off with a scornful word or two.  But Lloyd
George was not to be dismissed as so many others had been.  He returned
to the attack like a hornet.  He was never appeased, never in doubt,
never content.  Chamberlain had presently to take real notice of him.
He turned on the Welshman and with ferocity held him up to scorn and
ridicule--not a difficult task for such a man as Chamberlain,
especially as the majority of the House of Commons were his followers.
Lloyd George certainly had his bad times then.  Sometimes his facts
would be proved awry and his arguments fallacious and he would be
harried with merciless sarcasm.  He would, in effect, be smashed to
pieces.  To the amazement of every one he refused to understand that he
was smashed.  After any and every attack he would be swiftly on his
feet, hurling forth fresh accusatory words and ignoring the punishment
he had just received--would be himself the scourger of sin.  Sometimes
he even took to imitating Chamberlain's own methods, and pointing a
finger at his distinguished victim, would hiss out his charges word by
word with a vibrant slowness.  Even the impassive Chamberlain used
sometimes to color a little under this mimicry.  If ever a man went
thoroughly out of his way to be hated it was Lloyd George.  But he
gained way.  Once under an unsparing attack by Lloyd George,
Chamberlain winced, leaped to his feet, and asked permission to make a
second speech in reply.  That was the first occasion which caused
members to say among themselves that Chamberlain, gladiator that he
was, had met his match in Lloyd George.



IV

THE DAREDEVIL STATESMAN

What was the underlying motive in Lloyd George during those years of
feverish combat?  Why should he have gone out of his way to deal injury
and to incur enmity?  Why was he always in the pose of rebel even when
his friends were in power?  Was he anything more than a clever young
politician seeking notoriety by espousing unpopular courses whenever
there was a chance to strike a blow at those high in authority?  They
are justifiable questions, and they can be answered quite shortly.
Heaven had given Lloyd George, together with much impulsiveness, the
most sensitive of souls and a kindly heart, together with the
imagination of a poet.  Even when he was a boy resentment blazed from
him as he realized the injustices which were suffered by the poorer
people, people who could not raise their voice to protest and who went
on in stolid resignation from childhood to the grave.  The example of
his mother, a patient and noble woman, struggling with fate for the
sake of her children, was ever before him.  He saw his uncle, a sturdy
Puritan of high character and intelligence, looked down upon, or at
least disapproved of, because of his religious and political opinions,
and this in spite of the fact that Richard Lloyd's beliefs sprang from
selfless emotions and held him in an upright life.  As Lloyd George
grew older and mingled with the world he saw how oppression, active or
passive, often went with wealth and power, and that not only material
sustenance, but education and even the right to think, was denied the
vast preponderance of the population by those who through inheritance,
accident, or hardihood had secured the good things of the earth.  Every
nerve within him quivered in revolt.  And even before he realized the
full extent of the powers that lay within him his ardent spirit was
leaping forward to fight what he regarded as the great giants of
evil--the systems and the customs which gave individuals the power to
hold down those who could not help themselves.  He loved his native
land passionately and was saturated with religious feeling, and he was
strung with indignation that the state Church system of England should
continue to be forced upon a nation of Nonconformists, with its
resulting social influence on the people of his land.  He was stirred
to the depths by the lives of poor people among whom he had lived his
most impressionable years.  Enraged at the mental and moral attitude of
the rich Conservatives who placidly assumed that Providence meant them
to rule the earth and all the lesser horde to bow down to their
inspired will, he was dissatisfied with the stolidity and lethargy of
the official Liberal party, although he himself was a Liberal.  When
the Boer War broke out his sense of chivalry and justice was outraged
at the thought that a great people like the British nation should
attempt to crush a tiny pastoral race, even under some provocation.
Thus from the start he devoted himself passionately and whole-heartedly
to the side of the under dog.

Incidentally in this single-handed fight he took a sardonic delight in
shocking those pillars of society who to him were symbols of the
existing order of things.  Fiercely he smashed away at idols, however
highly placed, however much revered.  At all times and in all
circumstances he was regardless of consequences to himself, a fact
which, together with his gifts, secured for him a certain measure of
concealed respect even from those who hated him most.  Withal,
throughout these years of destructiveness his mind was working toward
the formation of a new order of things.  Behind and beyond all his
Ishmaelitish tactics there were thoughts of a reconstruction.  He may
have been right or wrong in his courses.  At any rate, it is necessary
in a sketch of his career to set out the connecting links in years of
activity which to a casual observer may seem disjointed, variable, and
erratic.

A notable incident in his career was when, with practically the whole
country inflamed against him, owing to his attitude on the Boer War, he
decided to go down to Birmingham, the seat and stronghold of Joseph
Chamberlain, and address a public meeting in support of his anti-war
policy.  Friends tried to dissuade him.  He was not to be dissuaded.
Preparations were quickly set afoot in Birmingham to break up his
meeting.  When the evening arrived so great were the hostile crowds
around the town hall, so high their temper, that the chief constable of
the city begged Lloyd George not to risk himself on the platform.
Lloyd George would have none of his suggestion.  He went to the hall,
and his appearance was a signal for a riot such as had been unknown for
a generation at a public gathering in Britain.  In a frantic fight by
the Chamberlain supporters to reach the platform the sympathizers with
Lloyd George were trampled down.  Furniture was broken up, windows were
smashed, several people were seriously injured, and one man was killed.
Lloyd George was smuggled out of the hall in a policeman's uniform.

England rang with the story of the happenings on that night in
Birmingham.  Lloyd George was called a coward and sneered at for
allowing himself to get away in disguise, and if poisonous words could
have checked a man's career he would have been finished from that time.
A few days after the riot an M. P. met Joseph Chamberlain in the lobby
of the House of Commons and said to him, "So your people didn't manage
to kill Lloyd George the other night?"  "What is everybody's business
is nobody's business," said Chamberlain as he passed on.

It is a tribute to Lloyd George's power among his own people in Wales
that when an election took place in the middle of the war he retained
his seat in Parliament.  You get a touch of the kind of man in the
words he spoke to his supporters in the course of his speech after the
declaration of the poll.  "While England and Scotland are drunk with
blood, the brain of Wales remains clear, and she advances with steady
step on the road to progress and liberty."

The Conservatives remained in power to the end of 1905, and in the
beginning of 1906 there was a general election which returned to power
a strong Liberal majority augmented by some thirty Labor members.  A
vigorous spirit was sweeping through the Liberal ranks.  New men had
sprung to the front to take the place of those who had dropped out by
death, old age, or the feeling that modern thought was too advanced for
them.  Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, a pawky old Scotsman who became
the Liberal Prime Minister, did not confine the members of his Cabinet
to the respectable leaders of old time, but brought in new blood, among
his selections being Lloyd George.  This promotion was unexpected by
the public.  Lloyd George had made a big reputation in Parliament, but
it was always that of the free-lance.  On vital questions of principle
he was as free from control by the Liberals as by the Conservatives.
He was known as an untamed guerrilla, and that was all.  There were
many shrugs of the shoulder, many doubtful whispers, at the hazards
which Campbell-Bannerman was taking in putting such a person into the
Cabinet.  True, he was but one of the lesser appointments--namely, that
of president of the Board of Trade--but was he capable of even that
responsibility?  Had he any capacity at all as an administrator?  These
were the doubts pretty freely expressed in political circles when the
appointments to the new Cabinet were announced.

It is significant of the reserves in Lloyd George that from the time he
took his place among the line of Ministers on the Treasury bench he
began to show signs of qualities unsuspected.  Gone was his
combativeness.  He answered questions about his department with
urbanity, replied to criticism with courtesy and painstaking detail.
Out of the House he devoted himself assiduously to learning the
intricacies of his department.  Very soon reforms began to be
manifested.  The Board of Trade, an old and historic department,
largely bound up with red tape, became the most unconventional office
in Whitehall.  Moreover, the activities of the Board of Trade began to
get an importance in Parliament that they had never hitherto possessed.
Novel measures were brought in by Lloyd George and, what was more
surprising, were successfully piloted into law by him.  His grasp of
detail, his unfailing tact, his readiness to meet reasonable
objections, all contributed to the result.  I do not mean that he was
always suave, because occasionally biting sentences would make
themselves felt as of old, but wherever courtesy and politeness were
forthcoming from opponents he returned them in full measure.
Responsibility was certainly having its effect on him.

He passed the Patents and Designs Act, formulated to compel
manufacturers holding British patents to make their goods in Britain
instead of abroad, and he passed also the Merchant Shipping Act, for
the purpose of giving British sailors better food and healthier
conditions of life.  While the Board of Trade was thus forging its way
in public estimation it suddenly became the most important Government
department in the country.  The railway men all over the lines planned
a strike to get more pay, a strike which would have dislocated if it
had not stopped all the trains in Britain.  It is the business of the
Board of Trade to handle labor disputes.  Lloyd George was at once in
the vortex.  To the surprise of some, he took no extreme view, but
considered it his duty as a Minister first of all to keep the railways
running for the benefit of the community as a whole, and then after
that to secure some arrangement, if it were possible, by which the lot
of the railway men could be bettered.  He flung into the struggle for
compromise the whole of the ardor which for years past he had devoted
to combat, and after ceaseless struggles with both sides during some
days and nights lie was successful in fixing up a scheme under which
the railways were continued in operation, and the men got a good deal
of what they asked for.  All sections praised him, and the new Lloyd
George was acclaimed as something of a revelation.

His tenure as president of the Board of Trade was his first experience
as Cabinet Minister.  He, nevertheless, established innovations the
thought of which would have given respectable and long-established
statesmen a shudder.  He cared not a rap for convention.  He was not in
the least afraid of his permanent officials, who so often control their
department and their political chief with it.  A Cabinet Minister in
Britain is hedged with a certain divinity and is almost unapproachable
except under stated conditions.  Lloyd George bewildered people with
his approachability, his unpretentiousness.  During the strain of the
railway struggle he would exchange a cheery word with the waiting
newspaper reporters as he passed them on going in or out of his office,
an unheard-of thing for a Cabinet Minister to do.  The second day was
cold and inclement when he stopped among them as he approached the
Board of Trade entrance.  "There is no need for you gentlemen to wait
outside here in the cold.  Come inside and I'll find you a room," he
said.  He caused a comfortable apartment to be set aside for them
during their vigil, and each afternoon he caused tea and cigarettes to
be sent down to them to beguile the long period of waiting.  Here is
another little story of his early days of office.  A railway smash at
Shrewsbury resulted in the death of twenty people and the injury of a
great many more, and in accordance with the usual practice the Board of
Trade sent down immediately an inspector to investigate the cause of
the accident.  But on this occasion not only did the inspector go down
to Shrewsbury, but his chief, the president of the Board of Trade,
also, quite a novel course for a high and mighty Cabinet Minister.  I
was present as a journalist and remember seeing Lloyd George walking
along by the side of the dismantled lines, threading his way through
the wreckage, putting questions to the railway officials, and generally
seeking to probe out on his own account how the affair occurred.  On
behalf of a score of special correspondents who had come down from
London, I stopped Lloyd George in the street as he was walking to his
hotel to ask him about the official inquiry.  "Is it to be held in
private, as usual?" I said.  "No," replied Lloyd George.  "The inquiry
will be in public.  Here are twenty people killed and the country has
the right to know why they were killed."  That was the way he used to
break precedents.  Next day we all went down to the Raven Hotel, the
appointed place, and the inspector proceeded with his work of examining
witnesses.  Lloyd George sat by his side.  I felt sorry for that
inspector--who usually was monarch of all he surveyed.  He was a man of
dignified and leisurely manner.  Lloyd George cut in and took the
examination of witnesses out of his mouth and, figuratively speaking,
turned them inside out in trying to get the facts.  He did not consider
the position of the inspector one bit.  But he made the inquiry a very
interesting one.

Despite his new manner on the Treasury bench in the House of Commons
Lloyd George had lost none of the freshness and suppleness of mind
which had distinguished him as a free-lance, and as he proceeded to do
unexpected things it became apparent he was going to be as vital a
figure in office as he had been on the back benches.  Traces of
appreciation showed themselves in public comment, though his ancient
enemies, the Conservatives, held their dislike in reserve, and had some
forebodings in their hearts about the future.  They knew quite well by
now that this Welshman could not be read at a glance.

Bits of the old Adam began to show up in Lloyd George's speeches as he
lent his aid on the platform in support of Liberal proposals.  I
remember that at this time there was still a good deal of talk by the
Conservatives of tariff reform--that is to say, of the imposition of
import duties for protection and revenue purposes.  The Liberals were
against the proposals, fought them strongly, and indeed by their
attitude had won a good deal of support in the election which returned
them to power.  Lloyd George made some of his flaming speeches in
support of free trade against protection.  Then came one night when the
Board of Trade Minister had to speak in the House of Commons as a
defender of the Government policy against a motion put forth by the
Opposition in favor of tariff reform.  After speakers on both sides had
debated the topic for some hours it was Lloyd George's duty to wind up
the discussion for the Government.  When he rose there was much
excitement on both sides and a good deal of shouting and
counter-shouting.  Remarks were thrown across from the Opposition
benches indicating that Lloyd George's speeches about the evil of
tariff reform on the Continent had been exaggerated.  "I have been
challenged," he said, "with regard to statements as to the food of the
poorer people in Germany, and I am going to give now, not my opinion,
but some hard facts."  He held up a blue book.  "This volume is the
last annual report of the Consul-General in Germany.  The facts which I
shall quote are his facts, not mine.  If you will not take my word, you
will at any rate be able to take his word."  He turned to a marked
page.  "Let us see what he says about a typical center, the city of
Chemnitz.  Here are some interesting figures as to what the poorer
class eat in this tariff-reform paradise of Chemnitz."  He proceeded to
read extracts.  I cannot recall the extra figures, but Lloyd George's
phrases ran something like this: "This report states that in Chemnitz
last year there were sold in the shops two thousand tons of
horse-flesh.  These are not my figures, mind, but those of the
Consul-General.  I commend the figures to excited members opposite.
But horse-flesh is not the only thing the people through the pressure
of tariff reform are compelled to eat in Chemnitz.  They even eat
dog-meat."  (Cheers from the Liberals and derisive shouts from the
Conservatives.)  "The Consul-General states that one thousand tons of
dog-meat were consumed in Chemnitz last year."  (More shouting from
both sides.)  "But there is even worse to come."  Lloyd George's voice
took on a note of gravity, and the House hushed itself to listen.  "Not
only horse-flesh, not only dog-meat, but five hundred tons of
donkey-flesh were sold in Chemnitz last year."  He swung his finger
along the line of Opposition leaders and paused.  "The fact has a
tragic significance for right honorable gentlemen who want to introduce
tariff reform into this country."

Then his speech had to be suspended for a full minute.

At this time the cause of tariff reform was going rapidly downhill.
Austen Chamberlain, the son of Joseph Chamberlain, strove hard to keep
it to the fore, and frequently at intervals in the House of Commons the
protectionist proposals were brought forward.  Lloyd George had a
characteristic word to say about the situation one day.  "I do not
blame Mr. Austen Chamberlain for sticking to his father.  But the
considerations which have made him protectionist are not fiscal, but
filial.  History ever repeats itself, and the boy still stands on the
burning deck."

By rapid steps Lloyd George became the outstanding figure of the
Government in which he occupied a comparatively minor position.  Soon
he was as prominent in Britain as, when a youth, he was prominent in
Wales.  Hardly a week passed in which he was not by his daring speeches
or actions raising storms of anger among opponents or choruses of
approval among the advanced Liberals.  Vital force radiated from him.
When Campbell-Bannerman died in 1908 and Asquith, his Chancellor of the
Exchequer, became Prime Minister, it was on Lloyd George that his
choice fell as the new Chancellor.  The public, dazzled at Lloyd
George's swift rise, withheld their judgment as to the wisdom of Mr.
Asquith's experiment in this elevation of the Welshman to the post of
second statesman in the United Kingdom.  As for Lloyd George himself,
he took up the position with calmness and a gleaming eye.  At last he
had his hand on the helm.



V

THE FIRST GREAT TASK

The biggest day in Lloyd George's life until he was called upon by the
King to form a Government was Thursday, April 29, 1909.  On that day he
presented to Parliament and the country his first Budget--the framework
of taxation and legislation which was to be the foundation of a new
social system in Britain--which incidentally was to break the power of
the House of Lords and to lead to such a storm among all classes that the
aid of the King himself had to be invoked in order to carry out the plan
of the Welsh statesman.

A dramatic situation had arisen at Westminster.  Up to 1906 when the
Liberals were returned by a large majority the Conservatives, with the
exception of a short break, had been in power for twenty years.  Another
generation of the people had come to adult life since the early eighties
when the Liberals were last in real power, and a new set of Liberal
statesmen with advanced ideals had been put into office.  The exultation
among the forces of progress was great.  The hot hopes were to have a
speedy quenching.  The laws of England are passed by the joint consent of
the King, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons.  The House of
Commons is an electoral body, but the House of Lords has a hereditary
membership, descending from father to son.  Of the six hundred members of
the House of Lords five hundred are Conservatives.  The Conservative
minority in the Commons, faced with startling Liberal reforms, called to
their aid the five hundred stalwarts in the Lords, and the consequence
was that the sweeping measures introduced by the Liberals were promptly
thrown out by the Lords.  Thus an intolerable situation presented itself
to the Liberal majority chosen by the nation to direct its Government.

Lloyd George, on being appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, at once set
himself the task of meeting the difficulty, and there were weapons to his
hand.  He planned not only an elaborate scheme of reform, but also the
means of putting it into execution in face of the House of Lords.  The
ostensible function of the Budget is to provide a schedule of taxation
for the coming year in order to meet the current needs of the country.
Lloyd George's plan was to put forward his own conception of "the needs
of the country" and then to raise the money on account of them.  He
purposed to bring about a wholesale readjustment between rich and poor
and to use the readjustment as a basis for developments in the future.
That was his bold and carefully devised plan of action.  It will be asked
at once why the Lords could not frustrate this intention as well as those
embodied in the other Liberal bills they had thrown out.  This was the
reason: the Lords were prevented by the constitution from altering money
bills sent up to them by the Commons, though they might do what they
liked with other bills.  The people provided the taxes, the Commons are
elected by the people, and the power of the purse possessed by the
Commons gives the people the command in affairs of state.  As long ago as
the time of Charles II. this rule about the Commons and Lords with
respect to money supplies was emphatically laid down.  Lloyd George's
scheme was to wrap up social changes in his Budget and to dare the Lords
to meddle with them, inasmuch as they were part and parcel of a money
bill.

The country had no idea of this deep-rooted plan.  Something sensational
was expected of Lloyd George, but his proposals, it was thought, would be
of a purely financial nature, including, possibly, heavy taxation of rich
people and relief of the indirect taxation of the poor.  As a matter of
fact, Lloyd George, walking over from Downing Street to the House of
Commons on that Thursday afternoon, had three secrets in the leather
despatch-case he carried in his hand.  One was the amount of money he was
going to raise, the second the sources from which he was going to obtain
it, and third the way in which the money was to be spent.  Those of us
who saw him walking briskly across Palace Yard that afternoon in company
with Mr. Winston Churchill little thought that the small brown
despatch-case held plans which within three years were to alter vitally
the constitution of the United Kingdom as it had existed for eight
hundred years.

The national financial position was known in the morning before Lloyd
George made his speech.  The amount needed for the current year by the
country for the army, navy, civil services, and social relief was
164,152,000 pounds.  The revenue to be expected on the existing basis of
taxation was 148,390,000 pounds.  A deficit of nearly 16,000,000 pounds
had, therefore, to be provided for.  In addition, in the framing of this
as of other Budgets, regard was necessary to the automatic increase of
certain expenditures in coming years, increases which must be met by the
expanding capacity of schemes of revenue.  (Though the Budget is an
annual affair, a good many of its features are necessarily continuing.)
After all this has been taken into account there must be remembered that
Lloyd George was planning still further expenditure.  He had therefore to
get piles of money from somewhere or other and to make sure of it in
increasing volume as years went on.

I was present in the House of Commons to describe the Budget scene.  The
Chamber was packed and was quivering with excitement when at four minutes
to three, during the preliminary business, Lloyd George, with a red
despatch-box in his hand, came into view from behind the Speaker's chair,
and passed with alert and nervous steps to the place on the Treasury
bench reserved for him between the Prime Minister, Mr. Asquith, and Mr.
Churchill.  I can see Lloyd George now as he sat bolt-upright with one
knee crossed over the other, waiting for the moment when the chairman
should call on him.  His face was pale and his eyes were rather dull.  He
looked a little overwrought.  He was feeling the tension; so much was
obvious.  I remember wondering if he had reached the limit of his
strength, whether he was really big enough in spirit for the ordeal that
lay before him.

Within ten minutes the formal business of the day was over, and the
chairman, standing up on his dais, announced, "Mr. Chancellor of the
Exchequer."  Lloyd George rose to the table.  He seemed almost an
insignificant figure in the midst of the crowded assembly.  Members were
filling all the seats, some squatting on the steps of the Speaker's
chair, others standing together in the space below the bar at the farther
end of the House.  The galleries banked overhead were occupied by
distinguished visitors, foreign ambassadors, members of the House of
Lords, ladies of title, distinguished men of thought and action.  It was
such an audience as is given to but few men in a lifetime.

In low voice and conversational phrase Lloyd George began his speech.  He
told of the money that had to be raised, but he did not stop at the
narrative of what may be called ordinary expenditure.  He told how the
primary duty of a rich nation was to help those who had been exhausted,
to give a chance to the downtrodden.  He related some of the things he
had in his mind--the insurance of workmen against illness and
unemployment, the payment of pensions for persons over a certain age.  He
told of how unemployment might be largely eliminated by developments in
the countryside, through new methods of agriculture, through light
railways, through afforestation, through stock-breeding, through the
reclamation of land.  Efforts in these directions would not only help a
great many of the population at the present time, but would provide
enormously increased opportunities for coming generations.  He proposed
that part of the money of the year should be taken up with these projects.

Very soon he swept into the explanation of how new money was to be
raised.  It was necessary to set up a system which would, year by year,
produce an increasing supply of money.  When Lloyd George came to the
point of his actual proposals you could have heard the slightest rustle
of an order paper, so keen were the silent Commons.  He was going to
raise the income tax, he said, the existing impost on incomes of 160
pounds a year and over.  He was going to put a super tax on rich people,
those who had 5,000 pounds a year or more.  He was going to make big
additions to the duty charged on great estates when they changed hands.

Demand after demand he showered on the rich and comfortable.  The
assembly, expecting surprises, had them in abundance.  The Chancellor
drew sheaf after sheaf of notes from the red despatch-box on the table in
front of him and explained with an air of intensive reasonableness the
huge sums he proposed to draw from the property-owners in the country.
New inroads were to be made on the profits of land and liquor.
Coal-mines were to pay royalties.  People were to be taxed when they
became rich without any effort on their own part, but by fortunate
accident in the increased value of special localities.  There was to be a
complete valuation of every yard of land in the country as the basis for
developments to come.

Although the money to be raised that year by these new proposals would
not much more than cover what was required by immediate necessities, the
taxation was such as to multiply in product as years went on.  Finally
the motive behind the revolutionary Budget of Lloyd George came in the
concluding words of his speech.  "It is essential that we should make
provision for the defense of our country.  But, surely, it is equally
imperative that we should make it a country even better worth defending
for all and by all.  And it is that this expenditure is for both these
purposes that alone can justify the Government.  I am told that no
Chancellor of the Exchequer has ever been called upon to impose such
heavy taxes in a time of peace.  This, Mr. Chairman, is a war Budget.  It
is for raising money to wage implacable warfare against poverty and
squalidness.  I cannot help hoping and believing that before this
generation has passed away we shall have advanced a great step toward
that good time when poverty and wretchedness, and the human degradation
which always follows in its camp, will be as remote from the people of
this country as the wolves which once infested its forests."

It took a day or so for the full effect of the Budget to be understood.
And then enthusiasm rose in the breasts of Liberals and Labor men, while
the middle and upper classes poured forth outcries and protests.  As the
proposals were discussed in detail, feeling arose on both sides, and
Lloyd George was variously described as a genius who was laying the
foundation of a new Britain and a predatory politician out to catch
votes.  Throughout the length and breadth of the United Kingdom his name
was on the lips of all, either in execration or in praise.

The greatest Parliamentary fight of a generation began to take form in
the House of Commons.  The Conservatives, led by Mr. Balfour, put up an
obstructive fight to every line and almost every word of the finance bill
which was founded on the Budget.  Departmental duties all day, the onward
fight with his finance measure throughout the night and often the early
hours of the morning, became the routine of Lloyd George's life.  I have
seen him at the table at the House of Commons at seven o'clock in the
morning, with ashen face and burning eyes, after a week of all-night
sittings, persuading, explaining, and arguing with determined opponents
of his measure.  Often enough in these fatiguing morning hours there
would be sitting up behind the grille in the ladies' gallery an anxious,
but proud, woman watching the Welsh statesman at the table.  It was Mrs.
George, the pretty Maggie Owen of years before whom the young Welsh
solicitor had taken from her father's farm.

In justice I ought to summarize in a few sentences written at the time
the attitude of the opponents of the Budget.  "Why put forward these
extraordinary changes?  Here was an unequaled nation, the richest and
greatest in existence, which by its character and energy had built up an
empire reaching across the globe, with Parliamentary institutions which
were the admiration of every state.  The millions of our population were
welded in a common sentiment, unsurpassed since history began, making
unshakable the foundations of our nationality.  We had fought our way to
modern conditions very slowly, and now, class for class, we were perhaps
the most contented and prosperous people on the face of the earth.
Admitted that we had vast crowds of silently enduring poor.  (The poor we
have always with us, as has every great nation.)  But the way to
ameliorate the evils among them was not to disturb the comfort,
convenience, or property of the rich, but to increase the prosperity of
rich and poor alike by putting a tax on foreigners' goods coming into
this country, thus providing revenue and increasing home manufactures at
one stroke.  That was the course to pursue, not to disturb the elaborate
and happy system, the pride of the world, by sudden incursions into the
liberty of the individual and by depredations on the privileged in order
to benefit the unhappy.  Property, whether obtained without effort or
built up by the hardest of labor, had its inalienable rights, and
violently to outrage those rights was not only unjust to the persons
chiefly concerned, but dangerous to the state at large."

The campaign which was set in motion against Lloyd George has not been
equaled in violence since the old free-speaking days of a century ago.
He was called a vulgar Welsh attorney.  He was accused of having every
kind of attribute which was contemptible and hateful.  One of the things
urged against him was that he was no gentleman and could not understand
the feeling of gentlefolk, owing to his unfortunate upbringing.  His
opponents thus attacking him went into paroxysms of rage over a speech he
made at Limehouse in the East End of London, where he defended his
Budget.  The Limehouse speech has become famous as an example of Lloyd
George's oratory.  I give a few extracts to enable an idea to be formed
about it.

"The Budget is introduced, not merely for the purpose of raising barren
taxes, but taxes that are fertile taxes, taxes that will bring forth
fruit--the security of the country which is paramount in the minds of
all, provision for the aged and deserving poor.  It was time it was done.
It is rather a shame for a rich country like ours, probably the richest
country in the world, if not the richest the world has ever seen, that it
should allow those who have toiled all their days to end in penury and
possibly starvation.  It is rather hard that an old workman should have
to find his way to the gates of the tomb, bleeding and footsore through
the brambles and thorns of poverty.  We cut a new path through, an easier
one, a pleasanter one, through fields of waving corn.  We are raising
money to pay for the new road, aye, and to widen it, so that two hundred
thousand paupers shall be able to join in the march.  There are many in
the country blessed by Providence with great wealth, and if there are
among them men who grudge out of their riches a fair contribution toward
the less fortunate of their fellow-countrymen, they are shabby rich men.

"We propose to do more by the means of the Budget.  We are raising money
to provide against the evils and sufferings that follow from
unemployment.  We are raising money for the purpose of assisting our
great friendly societies to provide for the sick, the widows, and the
orphans.  We are providing money to enable us to develop the resources of
our own land.  I do not believe any fair-minded man would challenge the
justice and the fairness of the objects which we have in view of raising
this money.  But there are some who say that the taxes themselves are
unjust, unfair, unequal, oppressive, notably so the land taxes.  They are
engaged, not merely in the House of Commons, but outside the House of
Commons, in assailing these taxes with a concentrated and sustained
ferocity which will not even allow a comma to escape with its life.

"We claim that the tax we impose on land is fair, just, and moderate.
They go on threatening that if we proceed they will cut down their
benefactions and discharge labor.  What kind of labor?  What is the labor
they are going to choose for dismissal?  Are they going to threaten to
devastate rural England while feeding themselves and dressing themselves?
Are they going to reduce their gamekeepers?  That would be sad.  The
agricultural laborer and the farmer might then have some part of the game
which they fatten with their labor.  But what would happen to you in the
season?  No weekend shooting with the Duke of Norfolk for any of us.  But
that is not the kind of labor they are going to cut down.  They are going
to cut down productive labor--builders and gardeners--and they are going
to ruin their property so that it shall not be taxed.  All I can say is
this: the ownership of land is not merely an enjoyment, it is
stewardship.  It has been reckoned as such in the past, and if they cease
to discharge their functions, which include the security and defense of
the country and the looking after the broken in their villages and
neighborhood, those functions which are part of the traditional duties
attaching to the ownership of land and which have given to it its title,
if they cease to discharge those functions, the time will come to
reconsider the conditions under which land is held in this country.  No
country, however rich, can permanently afford to have quartered upon its
revenue a class which declines to do the duty which it is called upon to
perform.  And, therefore, it is one of the prime duties of statesmanship
to investigate those conditions.

"We are placing the burdens on the broad shoulders.  Why should I put
burdens on the people?  I am one of the children of the people.  I was
brought up among them.  I know their trials, and God forbid that I should
add one grain of trouble to the anxiety which they bear with such
patience and fortitude.  When the Prime Minister did me the honor of
inviting me to take charge of the national Exchequer at a time of great
difficulty I made up my mind in framing the Budget which was in front of
me that at any rate no cupboard should be barer, no lot should be harder
to bear.  By that test I challenge them to judge the Budget."

The passion among the middle classes and the upper classes rose to such a
pitch against Lloyd George's proposals as to cause more than one serious
and religiously minded person to write and express wonder that Heaven did
not strike dead such a wicked man before he could accomplish his fell
purpose in the ruin of the country.

There is a story told about a man who jumped from the pier at Brighton
into the sea to rescue a drowning person.  In describing his experience
the rescuer said: "It was easy enough.  Only a few strokes were necessary
to reach him.  I got hold of him by the collar just as he was going down.
Having turned him over on his back to see that it wasn't Lloyd George, I
then brought him to the pier."

The House of Lords felt they had the country behind them, and they
proceeded to the unprecedented and unconstitutional course of killing the
Budget.  This was exactly what Mr. Asquith and his first lieutenant had
been waiting for.  Lloyd George saw the fruits of his labor destroyed in
a day, but he watched the process, not with despair, but with grim
satisfaction.

The Lords had broken their last Liberal bill, for Lloyd George had
determined to break the Lords.



VI

HOW LLOYD GEORGE BROKE THE HOUSE OF LORDS

A few days later, with Lloyd George sitting by his side, Mr. Asquith,
the Prime Minister, made the following announcement in Parliament: "The
House of Commons would, in the judgment of his Majesty's Government, be
unworthy of its past and of the traditions of which it is the custodian
and trustee if it allowed another day to pass without making it clear
that it does not mean to brook the greatest indignity and the most
arrogant usurpation to which for more than two centuries it has been
asked to submit.  We have advised the Crown to dissolve Parliament at
the earliest possible moment."

The preparations for the general election included a campaign of
vilification against Lloyd George which shook even some of the
Conservatives.  But the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the other hand,
was not disturbed, and he did not hesitate to do a little vilification
on his own account.  "What a low creature!" was the instant retort to
any incursions of this kind.

One of the secrets of Lloyd George's career was that he always made his
opponents too angry to appraise him correctly.  They simply couldn't do
it.  A little cold-blooded study of him and his past history would have
served them well.  Because Lloyd George had a peculiarly bitter tongue
and a peculiarly stimulating one he was abused as a fluent demagogue
with nothing but unscrupulous and violent words to give him prominence.
This was not a mere pretense on the part of the upper classes.  They
seriously believed it.  As a result Lloyd George had a tremendous pull
over the whole lot of them.  One secret of his power was that his real
strength lay not in words, but in his capacity for action.  Because he
talked about things with recklessness and force it was assumed that he
could not do things.  The hard fact was that he was more effective in
doing things and in getting them done than in talking about them.  He
secured a wonderful advantage from all this.  While hard names were
being showered on him, and even while he was replying to them, he was
at work quietly.  I have often thought that as soon as his opponents
found him out they felt that this was not fair, that he ought to have
played the game and to have shown himself as exactly the kind of man
they had portrayed him to be.  Yet, at the time, his enemies would
probably have been contemptuous of the suggestion that this ranting
person could possibly be a man who was specially gifted in carrying
plots and plans and big state projects into execution.  They had to
learn to their cost that he was both resolute and stealthy.

Lloyd George had as his chief Mr. Asquith, a man of crystal intellect,
who had won high distinction, first at his university, than at the bar,
where he was a famous advocate, and latterly in the House of Commons,
where his mastery of Parliamentary arts was only equaled by that of the
rival leader, Mr. Balfour.  His speeches were powerful, but they
appealed to the head rather than to the emotions.  Unlike Lloyd George,
he was not by way of being a prophet.  He could not by sheer intensity
sway the House of Commons.  Mr. Asquith, moreover, was quite incapable
of stirring a public audience on the platform outside the House, and he
lacked that terrific energy which distinguished his principal
colleague.  But he was, nevertheless, a first-rate partner.  His
steady, cold brain would carry into effect with precision an intricate,
delicate, and bold plan of operations.  He had hardihood.  Every wile
in public life was known to him.  He had strong will-power.  And in
sheer brain of what may be called the purely intellectual type he was
miles ahead, not only of Lloyd George, but of all the other politicians
of the day.  I should say here that he undoubtedly felt deeply the slur
cast upon the House of Commons by the Lords.  And there is one more
trait that should be mentioned, his unshakable loyalty to those who
served under him, and to his brilliant Chancellor of the Exchequer not
less than to any of the others.

It implies, however, no disrespect to Mr. Asquith to say that he had
become the instrument of Lloyd George.  It was the latter's subtle
brain that evolved the possible consequences which might ensue after
his first stroke in the Budget of April, 1909.  It was his bold spirit
that urged the desperate course which was presently pursued.  He
measured the Lords and decided that if they could not be frightened
into defeat they could be hustled into a wild attempt which would be
equally disastrous to them.

Joyfully he entered the fray as soon as the Lords threw out the Budget.
In a public speech made immediately after the Lords' action he said: "I
come here to-day not to preach a funeral oration.  I am here neither to
bury nor to praise the Budget.  If it is buried it is in the sure and
certain hope of a glorious resurrection.  As to its merits, no one
appreciates them more sincerely than I do, but its slaughter has raised
greater, graver, and more fruitful issues.  We have got to arrest the
criminal.  We have to see he perpetrates no further crime.  A new
chapter is now being written for the sinister assembly which is more
responsible than any other power for wrecking popular hopes, but which,
in my judgment, has perpetrated its last act of destructive fury.  They
have slain the Budget.  In doing so they have killed the bill which, if
you will permit me to say so, had in it more promises of better things
for the people of this country than most things which have been
submitted to the House of Commons.  It made provision against the
inevitable evils which befall such large masses of our poor population,
through old age, infirmity, sickness, and unemployment.  The schemes of
which the Budget was the small foundation would, in my judgment, if
they had been allowed to fructify, have eliminated at least hunger from
the terrors that haunt the workman's cottage.  Yet here you have an
order of men blessed with every fortune which Providence can bestow on
them grudging a small pittance out of their super-abundance in order to
protect those who have built up their wealth against the haunting
terror of misery and despair.  They have thrown it out, and in doing so
they have initiated one of the greatest, gravest, and most promising
struggles of the time.  Liberty owes as much to the foolhardiness of
its foes as it does to the sapience and wisdom of its friends.  At last
the case between the peers and the people has been set down for trial
in the great assize of the people, and the verdict will be given soon."

The country was quickly in the midst of the election.  It cannot be
said that Lloyd George dealt lightly with the House of Lords.  Here is
a typical reference: "Who are the guardians of this mighty British
people?  I shall have to make exceptions, but they are men who have
neither the training, the qualifications, nor the experience which
would fit them for such a gigantic task.  The majority of them are
simply men whose sole qualification is that they are the first-born of
persons who had just as little qualifications as themselves.  To invite
this imperial race, this, the greatest commercial nation in the world,
the nation that has taught the world in the principles of
self-government and liberty--to invite this nation itself to sign a
decree that declares itself unfit to govern itself without the
guardianship of such people, that is an insult which I hope will be
thrown back with ignominy."

Not only the upper classes, but a great many of the lower classes
stormed and raged at these and similar words.  The _Daily Mail_ went so
far as to give a column of titbits from Lloyd George's speeches in
order to show what a really vulgar and detestable person he was, and
how unfit to occupy any leading position in the state.

The election results as they began to come in indicated that while the
Liberals were losing a number of seats which in years gone by had been
Conservative strongholds, they were, nevertheless, going to retain the
confidence of the country.  In the result Mr. Asquith found himself
once again in command of the House of Commons with a majority of one
hundred and twenty-four.

The cards were placed in the hands of the Liberals now, but they had to
be very carefully played.  The House of Lords swallowed its humiliation
as best it could and passed the famous Budget on April 28, 1910,
exactly one year after its introduction into the House of Commons.
They did not make any fuss about it, because, as I shall show, they had
other things to think of.  I remember the day on which the bill became
law in the House of Lords.  There were very few peers present.  Several
of the members of the House of Commons walked across from the Commons
to witness the culmination of their effort.  Among them was Lloyd
George.  He came in under the gallery, sprucely dressed in a morning
coat, his long hair brushed back from his forehead and above his ears
with a neatness which was not observable in his moments of excitement.
To-day he had no work to do: one job was finished and he was only on
the threshold of another.  As he stood at the bar he looked over the
members of the House of Lords with a grave and benignant expression
which reminded one of a fond father regarding erring children.  I
thought of the studious expression which usually characterized the face
of that daredevil boy down at Llanystumdwy all those years ago.  I am
quite sure that the peers who observed him surveying them did not think
he was benignant.  If I am any judge of feelings, they looked upon him,
as he stood there at the bar, as a particularly malignant type of
viper.  With a genial smile Lloyd George exchanged a chatty word or two
with an M. P. at his side.  No one would have guessed that there was
bitterness in his soul at this assembly or that with grim purpose he
was even now marking out the destruction of their powers.

It is the fashion in the House of Lords to give the King's consent to
legislation by proxy.  The consent, moreover, is given now, as for many
hundreds of years past, not in the English language, but in the
language of the old Norman-French conqueror of nearly a thousand years
ago.  A bewigged clerk read out in resonant tones the title of the bill
and from another official there came the answer of the King, "Le Roy le
veult" ("The King wills it").  The Budget of 1909 had become part of
the law of the United Kingdom.  Lloyd George, still chatting cheerfully
with a fellow-member of the House of Commons, walked back to the Lower
Chamber.

If any of the Lords thought that the threats used against them in the
course of the election meant nothing and were only a kind of bluster to
get the Budget passed, they were grievously mistaken.  It must have
been hard for them to realize that Lloyd George meant all the
presumptuous things he said.  He was never more in earnest.  A
cut-and-dried plan had been arranged between him and Mr. Asquith with
regard to the Lords.  The plan was no less than this--to take away from
the peers their constitutional rights to do more than to hold up for
three successive sessions any legislation passed by the House of
Commons.  They were not to have the power of killing bills, though they
might retard them a little.  And so far as money bills were concerned
they were not to be allowed to delay them at all.  The Commons were to
be given power to pass any money bill over the head of the Lords if the
latter did not agree to it immediately it was sent up to them.  In
these cases the King and Commons between them were to be the lawmaking
power, and as the King's assent is always automatically given to the
proposals of Ministers in power the net result would be the complete
supremacy of the Commons in Government.

But how were these changes to be made effective?  They could, of
course, only be brought into force by legal enactment, and it was
impossible to expect the Lords to sign their own death warrant.  It was
settled between Lloyd George and Mr. Asquith to take the House of Lords
by the throat.  Lloyd George was prepared for extreme measures, and Mr.
Asquith, a student of English history, found out a way by means of
ancient precedent.  Twice before in the story of the British Parliament
there had been similar episodes.  In the reign of Queen Anne and in the
reign of William IV. the Prime Minister of the day, encountering
opposition from the House of Lords, had gone to the reigning sovereign
and secured the promise of the creation of enough new peers to turn the
minority in the House of Lords into a preponderance of votes.  This was
the plan now agreed upon, only the audacity of it was far greater than
on previous occasions, because Queen Anne's new peers numbered but
twelve and the number of new peers proposed to be created in 1832 to
pass the Reform bill under William IV. was limited to eighty.  Mr.
Asquith and Lloyd George faced the fact that on this occasion it would
be necessary to create something like five hundred new peers.

I pass over some of the intervening stages--the howls that came from
the Lords, who saw their prestige departing with this wholesale
dilution of their order; the choking attempts which the peer leaders
made to be civil of tongue and to arrange a compromise.  Merciless was
the determination of Lloyd George.  Another general election on the
specific issue of the power of the Lords again resulted in the return
of the Liberals to office.

The Government proposals for the restriction of the future functions of
the Lords were embodied in a measure called the Parliament bill, and it
was for the Lords to pass this measure or else to suffer the immediate
creation of the army of new peers who had been nominated by Mr. Asquith
and who would immediately vote down the existing Conservative majority
in the gilded chamber.

The climax was reached on August 9, 1911, when the bill, having passed
through the Commons, was brought up to the House of Lords for their
decision.  The peers by this time were torn between two impulses.  One,
the most natural, was to defy Mr. Asquith and Lloyd George and all
their wicked companions, and let them create what peers they liked, and
the other to swallow the medicine, pass the Parliament bill, and thus,
while limiting their own powers for the future, preserve their ancient
caste and dignity.

It was touch and go throughout an excited discussion.  Lord Morley,
plain John Morley of the years gone by, made a speech of three
sentences in which he said he was authorized to state that the King
would assent to the creation of the extra peers if the bill were not
passed.  Wild hopes that the King would stand by the Lords were thus
extinguished.  There were dramatic scenes never to be forgotten by
those who witnessed them, and then finally the bill was accepted by a
majority of seventeen votes.  The power of the House of Lords, strong
for centuries, had been broken.  The man who had broken it was Lloyd
George.



VII

AT HOME AND IN DOWNING STREET

In the midst of all the stormy times of the fight with the House of
Lords and afterward up to the present moment Lloyd George's personal
life in its simplicity and happiness has been a standing contrast to
the turmoil and passion of his public energy.  Meet Lloyd George among
his family, and it is hard to realize that such a homely, genial person
could be the man who tackled so rancorously the House of Lords.  I went
to 11 Downing Street one day after the Budget fight was over, and when,
as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lloyd George was preparing further
legislative changes.  Eleven Downing Street, it should be explained, is
the official residence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and joins
number 10, where the Prime Minister lives.  It is a dingy, ugly-looking
building, attractive only by reason of its associations.  In the year
that America declared her independence number 10 Downing Street was the
residence of Lord North, and it may then, as now, have had connecting
doors which made the two houses into practically one official home.

Lloyd George discussed public affairs in a corner of the old library
lined with books which Gladstone used to consult half a century ago and
his predecessors before him.  A glance round the rows of volumes,
nearly all of them ponderous and many of them venerable, caused me to
ask Lloyd George who was his favorite author.  He gave me no
philosopher, not even a poet, in reply.  "I like romance," he said,
"historical romance.  I am fond of Dumas and of modern writers like
Stanley Weyman."  Possibly Lloyd George has never looked into those
old, handsome, leather-covered volumes at his official residence.  His
secretaries may have pondered over them in securing material for their
chief, but Lloyd George has been too busy doing things to devote much
time to ancient philosophical reflections or to learned economic
theories.  It is easy to understand how his temperament found
satisfaction and relaxation at the same time in the cut-and-thrust work
of Dumas and Weyman.  I ought, perhaps, to add that he explained with a
smile how politics did not leave him much time for serious reading just
then.  They have certainly left him still less since that time.

We were in the thick of talk about the busy political era when a little
girl of twelve, with a ribbon of blue round her tumbling hair, came
running into the room, not knowing that a visitor was present.  She
would have run out again, upon seeing me, if her father had not stopped
her and caught her into his arms.  For the rest of the interview she
sat on his knee, listening with big, live eyes to the conversation.
Once she cuddled closer to her father and laughed merrily as he
confessed to me that his next bill before Parliament was one to
prohibit the holidays of little girls at school from lasting more than
six weeks.  Megan was the darling of her father's heart.  Two or three
mornings of the week you could have seen them hand in hand walking from
11 Downing Street across St. James's Park to watch the ducks feeding in
the lake.  With sparkling blue eyes, a sensitive mouth, and vivacious
manner, little Megan had some of her father's characteristics.  She was
a daughter any father might be proud of.  I guarantee Lloyd George was
prouder of her--and still is--than of his epoch-making Budget or his
historic victory over the House of Lords.  Just now in Parliamentary
session, or indeed out of it, Lloyd George has not very much time for
walks in the parks--but I am sure Megan gets her share of attention in
spite of the European war.

The war has, of course, intensified Lloyd George's life and somewhat
altered its channels, but its main directions are preserved.  At all
hours of day and night he must be prepared for service.  He could not,
however, carry on his work without proper rest and sleep, and the
following is the kind of routine to which he has accustomed himself.
Awakening at seven in the morning, he has a quick glance through the
principal newspapers, not only of London, but those from the provinces
and from abroad as well.  Occasionally while he is dressing, and always
before he leaves his room, he looks through documents and papers which
he has brought up to his bedside on the previous night.  (They are
arranged in their proper order on a table by the side of his bed so
that in any waking fit at night he can put his hand on them readily.)

Visitors begin to arrive early, because Lloyd George has re-established
the practice of Victorian statesmen in having guests to breakfast with
him and his family.  By this means he not only saves time from many
social functions, but gets through a lot of business as well, for his
breakfast guests include politicians, editors, leading officials,
prominent travelers from overseas, indeed practically the whole range
of persons who for state or private reasons he desires to meet.

Soon after ten o'clock he is busy with his secretaries.  These have
already been at work on the morning letters, which in the days when he
was Chancellor of the Exchequer numbered a thousand a day and are now
probably three or four times as many.  Work of a widely different kind
keeps Lloyd George on the go till lunch-time--departmental conferences,
visits from or to Cabinet Ministers, the supervision of answers to
questions to be put to him in the House of Commons that afternoon, the
reception of deputations from various interests affected by current
proposals or future proposals that he is making.  At least once a week,
and sometimes more frequently, there is a Cabinet meeting in the
morning that probably lasts well into the afternoon.  On days when
there is no Cabinet meeting there will be other visitors at lunch-time,
and these are generally of an official character.  Big plans affecting
the social future of England have undoubtedly been worked out over
Lloyd George's lunch-table.  He is a vivid talker himself, but he is
also a good listener, and there is not any one more ready to give an
ear to tactful and helpful advice--only those who offer it must have
something to say.

At a quarter to three in the afternoon the House of Commons assembles,
and from that time onward to eleven o'clock at night Lloyd George is to
be found either on the Treasury bench or in his private room behind the
Speaker's chair.  Endless are the occupations for a busy Minister in
Parliament, and whether he is answering questions, expounding policy,
fighting through details of proposals, or merely listening to the
speeches of opponents, he is pretty well on the stretch the whole time.
Even in his own room there is business to be done, deputations to be
received, "whips" to be consulted, friendly or hostile talks to be gone
through with members, and frequently also the reception of individual
visitors.  All this takes no account of social usages, the little
hospitalities which must not be forgotten--the accompanying of groups
of constituents to the public galleries, the entertainment of other
groups to tea on the Terrace overlooking the river.  Sometimes an hour
may be seized for the House of Lords at the other end of the corridor
when they are dealing with Commons legislation.

I asked Lloyd George how he managed to sleep after such days as these,
and he said: "I never have any difficulty about that.  Downing Street
is only about four minutes' walk from the House of Commons.  If the
House adjourns at eleven I am usually away by twenty minutes past, and
at a quarter to twelve I am in bed--probably asleep.  This power for
quick sleep has always been a great help to me."

The Lloyd George family at home consisted of Mr. and Mrs. George, two
sons, and two daughters.  Of the two boys, both in the twenties, one
was at Cambridge University and the other in a responsible position as
a civil engineer.  Both are now soldiers, fighting in France.  There
are two girls, Megan and her sister, Olwen, a charming girl who has
lately become engaged to a medical officer in the army.  There is
another person who frequently completes the family circle at 11 Downing
Street.  It is Richard Lloyd, the old shoemaker who forty years ago
risked his little all to educate his orphan nephew.  It was one of the
pleasurable anticipations of Lloyd George, when he was appointed
Chancellor of the Exchequer with the privileges of this historic
residence, that Richard Lloyd would be able to come and stay there.
"My dear old uncle," he said, "will be so proud to come and stay at the
house in which Gladstone, his great hero, at one time lived."

Lloyd George is wiry, but no man, however strong, could continue
indefinitely to put himself under such a strain as I have indicated
without occasional complete rest.  When he is not under too heavy a
time he will go for a weekend's golf to Walton Heath, some twenty miles
from London, in Surrey, or spend a couple of days at Brighton on the
south coast.  But when he is really exhausted there is only one place
for him, and that is his beautiful home near Criccieth, about a mile
from Llanystumdwy, where he spent his boyhood.  On the hills rising
from behind Criccieth and forming the foot of the Snowdon range he has
built a graceful residence, whence he can look down over the wooded
slopes to Criccieth and thence to Carnarvon Bay.  On the other side the
house faces the snow-capped mountains.  From every window there is a
beautiful scene.  A lane leading from the gates, between towering
hedges, winds through fields and woods down to Llanystumdwy.

With the charm of mountains, countryside, and sea there goes an
invigorating atmosphere.  "When I am exhausted," said Lloyd George to
me once, "I come down here from London and I sleep long nights.  In the
daytime I sit out here on the veranda in a basket-chair with a rug
around me, facing the sea, and here I rest and sometimes sleep.  This
beautiful Welsh air wraps me all round with its healing touch, and I
let it do its work, and I am soon well again."  During these
recuperative days Lloyd George does no business, writes no letters,
receives no visitors, sees no one but members of his own family.  After
about three days of this treatment he is recovering himself.

One day in a lane near Criccieth I met him in tweed suit and soft gray
hat, with field-glasses strapped around him, and a stout walking-stick
in his hand.  He had been at Criccieth a fortnight, and thoughts of
work were again seizing hold of him.  He had in prospect a big scheme
of land legislation that was to continue and develop the movement begun
in the Budget.  (A little later the war cut the project short.)  "I am
going for a walk up to the mountains," he said.  "I can do my thinking
best when I am out walking alone."  Afterward I wondered what new
revolution to startle the landed aristocracy of Britain he devised on
that summer day by himself among the mountains.  Curiously enough,
Lloyd George does not like exercise for his own sake, but he enjoys it
when he has a mental task in hand; he also enjoys it during a game of
golf.  I once heard him say that without golf he would never have
thought of taking a four-mile walk for recreation.  It is worthy of
mention in connection with this that he has been described at second
hand on his own confession as being a very lazy man, and that he has
sometimes absolutely to force himself to a settled task--and, strange
as it may appear, there is nothing in this inconsistent with the public
estimation of him as a person of uncontrollable energy.  Let his heart
be given to an object, and there is no effort he will spare, no degree
of fatigue to which he will not drive himself.

Intensely fond of an open-air life, Lloyd George's days at Criccieth
are always a joy to him.  You will come across him unexpectedly on the
bank of the river Dwyfor with a fishing-rod in his hand, trying for
trout.  You will see him sometimes in the early morning at work in his
garden in his endeavor to demonstrate that fruit trees will grow as
well in Welsh soil as in the warm, red earth of Devonshire.  Sometimes
he and his wife, with perhaps one of his sons, will put a couple of
tents into an automobile, start off up among the mountains, and camp
out in some lonely and romantic spot for days at a time, living the
primitive life entirely by themselves.

Strange it is to observe the attitude of the people of the countryside
where he was brought up and where he built his early fame.  There are a
scattered few of the middle classes who in this remote country spot
cannot understand the heights he has reached in public estimation.  It
is really a weird sensation to come from the outer world and talk to
these people.  No, no, he may to some extent have secured notoriety in
circles even as far off as London, but really there is nothing in the
man.  Why, he was brought up here in the village!  But these quaintly
prejudiced folk are, after all, but a remnant, and the great mass of
people all around in the farms and cottages prize his fame highly.  The
pride with which a villager refers to the fact that he went to school
with Mr. Lloyd George must be one of the highest pleasures experienced
by the Welsh statesman.  It is an event to go to a meeting in the
institute at Llanystumdwy and hear him address a crowded meeting of his
compatriots in their native tongue and with all the old affectionate
familiarity of a long-standing friend and neighbor.  The rolling music
of the ancient language is echoed back from the enthusiastic Celts in a
kind of rhythmic ecstasy which thrills even the ignorant and alien
Sassenach visitor.  Lloyd George is still one of themselves.  It is
indeed hard for them to realize his position in the outside world,
though they are so proud of it.  To Criccieth and Llanystumdwy he is
not so much the prominent statesman of the United Kingdom as just Lloyd
George, the friend who grew up with them.  He will never be anything
else to them.  It is all quite delightful and, one may add, quite
bewildering to his enemies, who cannot understand that such unconcealed
and regardless simplicity is an integral part of the nature of him whom
they regard as a malignant.  I have seen Lloyd George in a hundred
capacities, electrifying a multitude, in the thick of battle with the
cleverest minds of Parliament, attacking to their faces with relentless
ferocity men of the noblest descent in Britain, and yet I know of
nothing in his life which approaches in interest his relations with his
old village friends of long ago.  They like him for himself and not for
what he has become, though they are so proud of him.  One elderly lady,
a friend of the Lloyd George family, when paying a visit to London
heard that Lloyd George was to address a London meeting, and she
thought she would like to go and hear him.  She presented herself at
the hall and was nearly swept off her feet by the surging crowd making
its way in.  After reaching one of the corridors with difficulty, she
got an attendant to take her name in to Mrs. Lloyd George.  The latter,
who was on the platform, hurried out to her old friend and took her to
a seat in the front of the hall.  The building was packed in every
part.  Lloyd George got one of his usual receptions and made one of his
usual speeches.  The old lady was staggered.  She went back to Wales
full of the wonderful experience--and it has to be remembered that she
had known Lloyd George all her life.  "I have heard that he has become
a well-known man," she said, "but I never understood what an important
man he was till I went to that meeting."

There is another reflection about his home life which must occur to any
visitor to the locality.  Big houses and lovely grounds lay off the
main road in the neighborhood, undoubtedly the homes of country
gentlefolk.  And one may venture to surmise their attitude toward this
public firebrand who lives in their vicinity and used to be a village
boy under the care of his uncle, the shoemaker.  Is he on their
visiting-list?  I rather suspect not.  The world must be turning
topsy-turvy for them when they allow themselves to reflect, as they
must at times, that this upstart has the entry to royal palaces and is
one of the principal advisers of the King of England.  I have an idea
that something more potent than gall and wormwood is required to
express their feelings.  All this before the war.  What can possibly be
the attitude of mind of the local squires and lordlings now that this
man has become an international statesman, probably the most forcible
personality among that group of men who sit in conference to direct the
activities and formulate the destinies of great European nations.
Possibly I do them an injustice, and their habits of mind have changed
of late.

During the big Budget fight Lloyd George, by virtue of his official
position, had to attend occasional society functions.  There was a
duchess who could not avoid shaking hands with this person, who to her
and her class was a monstrosity.  After he had gone she spoke of the
encounter to a friend with surprise in her voice.  "I have just met
Lloyd George," she said.  "Do you know that he is really quite a nice
man?"  I have the impression that neither squires nor duchesses trouble
Lloyd George very much, and that when this war is over and victory for
his country secured he will go down to Criccieth and enjoy himself
thoroughly in a golf-match with the local schoolmaster or one of the
farmers of the district.



VIII

A CHAMPION OF WAR

The psychology of a community is as mysterious and subtle as that of an
individual, and Lloyd George, despite all his so-called extravagance,
all his depredations, and all his wounding words, was by way of being
an acknowledged power in the country by the time the war with Germany
burst out of the sky.  The mysterious strength of the man worked on
people against their will.  Besides, there were tangible things which
had to be faced.  He had settled the great railway strike, he had
passed several sweeping Acts of Parliament, he had brought into effect
the iniquitous Budget, he had dismantled the British constitution by
taking away the powers of the House of Lords.  You may sneer at such a
man, you may hate him, but you cannot ignore him.  Sincere and
religiously minded ladies used to write to the papers, wondering in all
sincerity why Heaven permitted such a man to continue to live.  A peer
of the realm told his tenants that he would roast an ox whole for them
in celebration of the day that Lloyd George went out of office, and, on
top of this, the announcement that Lloyd George was going to speak drew
together the unprecedented gathering of sixteen thousand people to hear
him on a special day in the Midlands.  You can sort out these varied
facts to suit yourself, but taken altogether they convey a lesson.  Let
me add another point.  Lloyd George, growing in influence, for years
had been the special mark of attack for the _Daily Mail_, Lord
Northcliffe's popular morning paper.  When, after his House of Lords
fight had been brought to a finish, Lloyd George set himself to a new
colossal piece of legislation--namely, national health insurance--there
was a concentrated attack by the _Daily Mail_ to break the "poll tax"
and Lloyd George with it.  There had been a stream of violent criticism
from the Northcliffe papers during the Budget days and the House of
Lords battle, but the abuse was distributed pretty evenly upon the
Government, though Lloyd George and Mr. Asquith got the major share.
On this occasion all the guns were brought to bear on Lloyd George.
The insurance tax was unpopular, and nothing that ridicule, covert
insult, or open denunciation could achieve was left undone by the
Northcliffe papers to smash Lloyd George and his policy.  There was
plenty of scope for attack.  The Insurance Act was undoubtedly
hurriedly conceived, and its complexities incompletely dovetailed.
Whatever the merit of the conception, there had to be a score of
rectifications when the measure came into operation.  Some of Lloyd
George's best friends complained of the injustices and irregularities
of the Act.  The _Daily Mail_ was in the van of attack.  To me it is
surprising his assailants did not get Lloyd George down over this
matter.  They did not get him down.  He carried the insurance bill, he
forced it into operation, and he had left another milestone in his
career behind him some time before the catastrophe of the European war
appeared.

The country took a deep breath when the first shock of hostilities with
Germany occurred, and then turned a passing attention to the British
Cabinet, from which two or three members, including Lord Morley and Mr.
John Burns, had resigned, presumably on account of their disapproval of
the Government's action in going to war.  Remarks came thick and fast
as to the attitude of Ministers, and for a time it was suggested that
Lloyd George was one of those who were on the verge of resignation.
There was nothing impossible in the suggestion.  A hater of wars, a
fighter against wars all his life, he seemed just the kind of man to go
adrift, and a good deal of movement was in readiness for the event.
Special writers on the Conservative press sharpened their pencils
assiduously for the announcement which could not be very long delayed.
It must be remembered that Lloyd George in his earlier years had seemed
to take a perverse delight in being on the unpopular side, and now to
join what were called the "Pro-Germans" would really give him a chance
for unpopularity such as he might never meet again.

He did not resign, and then the bigger men among his late opponents
began to express the hope that in the conjunction of the parties now
set up Lloyd George would come forward with his unexampled power over
the democracy of Britain and stimulate them with trumpet note to the
great effort that lay before them.  I remember that Mr. Garvin, a
doughty Conservative writer, came forward with a well-attuned appeal to
Lloyd George to take the place which belonged to him as the leader of
the common people of Britain.  Little did he think that before many
months were past Lloyd George would, by consent, be the leader of the
whole nation, rich and poor alike.

For a week or two Lloyd George was quiet, and then it was announced
that he would speak at a gathering in the Queen's Hall in the West End
of London.  A rush for tickets followed.  I remember how crowded was
the hall and how intensely silent was every soul when Lloyd George,
wearing a gray summer suit with a black necktie, stepped to the front
of the platform.  There was none of the old, fierce, gay, fighting
glitter about him.  His mobile face was touched with gravity, his eyes
were thoughtful, not provocative.  He stood very erect, but his chin
was drawn in a little, and his head canted forward.  Responsibility lay
on him, and every one could see it.

We all speculated on what he would say.  Was he to make a half-and-half
defense of the Cabinet war policy?  Was he to try to explain why he had
not resigned?  He was always a master of the unexpected.  What had he
in store for us now?  Speaking in the midst of a dramatic silence he
said these words, slowly, almost conversationally: "There is no man who
has always regarded the prospect of engaging in a great war with
greater reluctance and greater repugnance than I have done through all
my political life.  There is no man more convinced that we could not
have avoided it without national dishonor."  That was the beginning of
the most effective war speech since the start of hostilities.  With
scorn and logic and invective he raked the German position, and in a
thrilling outburst invoked all that was honest, loyal, and strong in
the British people to strike hard and deep on behalf of outraged
Belgium.  That was the first war speech of his life.  The second was
not long in following.  It was made at the City Temple, a famous
Nonconformist church in the heart of London.  There it was that he said
the same reason that made him a "Pro-Boer" made him an advocate of this
war by Britain.  He referred to the riotous Birmingham meeting.  "It
was a meeting convened to support exactly the same principle of
opposition to the idea that great and powerful empires ought to have
the right to crush small nationalities.  We might have been right, we
might have been wrong, but the principle that drove me to resist even
our own country is the one that has brought me here to-night to support
my country."

All through his life from boyhood onward Lloyd George had been a
magnetic figure, one round whom action eddied in emergency.  In any
movement in which he was associated he automatically became the central
personage, the individual looked to for inspiration and for motive
power.  Thus it was after his active entry into the patriotic campaign.
The silent Kitchener at the War Office, the clear-headed Mr. Asquith at
the head of the Government, were, by virtue of their positions, in the
forefront, but within a week or two the newspapers and the public were
calling attention to Lloyd George's services on behalf of the nation.
His work as Chancellor of the Exchequer was indeed important; his
personality made him even more important.

The shock of war had dislocated the financial system of the world and
London, as the center of the financial system, was in the throes.
Imagine Lloyd George as Finance Minister and the possibilities are
obvious.  Rapidly, drastically, and with his usual unexpectedness he
began to act.  His Budget with its tax on property had alienated from
him the bankers and great financial houses, even where they were not
previously prejudiced by their Conservative tendencies, and he had
become anathema to them all.  They had sneered at his originality, they
had called him an ignorant person and spat out their contempt at him,
but he had blithely brought them all to his will, whether they liked it
or not, cheerfully throwing in a few words of warning and denunciation
while he stripped them.  Imagine, then, what he did in this crisis.  He
sent confidently to these old enemies of his, the leaders of the
commercial and financial world, and said: "This country is thrown into
financial chaos.  I want the assistance of the best brains of expert
people.  I want you to give me your help as to the best way of putting
things straight.  I require that help at once.  Will you come down
immediately to 11 Downing Street and see me?"  They went down to
Downing Street.  It was no time to hesitate.  The arch-fiend might yet
prove a savior.  At Downing Street they found Lloyd George the most
courteous man in high position they had ever met.  He sat at their
feet, so to speak.  He listened attentively to all their opinions, and
evolved from their various statements a true picture of the case.  Then
he took their suggested remedies one by one and quickly drew up schemes
of relief--all the time with their co-operation and advice.

His quick mind pretty soon probed the length and depth of the
situation.  The firebrand and mob orator was, within a period of days,
skilfully and delicately handling the tangled skein of national
finance, winning golden opinions from his ancient opponents, not only
by his mastery of technique, but also by the bold way he welded their
views for new remedies.

Lloyd George went before the public and explained it all with a
clearness and potency which made it apparent that money was as
important as soldiers.  It was in his first big speech on these lines
that he coined the phrase "silver bullets" and made the nation
understand that among his other operations was that of raising a huge
war loan, to which every patriot must subscribe.  "We need all our
resources, not merely the men, but the cash.  We have won with the
'silver bullet' before.  We financed Europe in the greatest war we ever
fought, and that is how we won."  It was in this speech that he showed
clearly the importance of giving British finance stability, and how
that stability was threatened.  A boy at school might have followed his
explanation.  "We have not only our own business to run; we are an
essential part of the machinery that runs the whole international trade
of the world.  We provide capital and raise produce.  We carry half the
produce, not merely of our own country, but of the whole world.  More
than that, we provide the capital that moves that produce from one part
of the world to another, not merely for ourselves, but for other
countries.  I ask every one to pick up just one little piece of paper,
one bill of exchange, to find out what we are doing.  Take the cotton
trade of the world.  Cotton is moved first of all from the plantation,
say to the Mississippi, then down to New Orleans, then it is moved from
there either to Great Britain or to Germany or elsewhere.  Every
movement is represented by a paper signed either here in London or in
Manchester or Liverpool; one sender is practically responsible for the
whole of these transactions.  Not only that, but when the United States
of America buys silk or tea from China, the payment is made through
London.  By means of these documents accepted in London New York pays
for the tea bought in China.  What has happened?  All this fine,
delicate paper machinery has been crashed into by a great war affecting
more than half, and nearly two-thirds, of the whole population of the
world.  Confusion was inevitable.  It was just as if one gave a violent
kick to an ant-hill.  The deadlock was not due to lack of credit in
this country; it was due entirely to the fact that there was a failure
of remittances from abroad.  Take the whole of these bills of exchange.
There were balances representing between 350,000,000 pounds and
500,000,000 pounds.  There was that amount of paper out at that time
with British signatures.  Most of it had been discounted.  The cash had
been found at home from British sources, and failure was not due to the
fact that Britain had not paid all her creditors abroad: it was due
entirely to the fact that those abroad had not paid Great Britain."

That was the position as Lloyd George presented it, and the position
with which he proceeded to deal, in a matter of hours, handling
hundreds of millions with the confidence with which an enterprising
tradesman handles dollars.  A temporary moratorium for debts was
established, balances were placed at the disposal of bankers, and
guarantees given for the payment of bills accepted by British houses.
There were other arrangements carried out equally swiftly.  "An
estimate of our national assets," said Lloyd George, in explanation of
his action, "is 17,000,000,000 pounds.  To allow the credit of the
country to be put in doubt for twenty-four hours in respect of
350,000,000 pounds, most of it owing to our own people, would have been
a criminal act of foolishness."

The financial houses cried blessings on Lloyd George's head.  Even the
_Daily Mail_ gave him a careful word of praise.  As for a great part of
the country, it somehow got the impression that finance, under Lloyd
George, was at least as important as military operations, and indeed
the glowing speeches of the Chancellor of the Exchequer almost gave the
impression that it was more important.  When the Welsh statesman flung
himself into an endeavor the business of the moment was to him the most
important thing in all the world, and his own supreme belief made other
people think so, too.  By general consent Lloyd George did extremely
well in his bold, rapid, and unconventional financial policy.  He was,
nevertheless, one of the first to realize that a new strong policy in
directions other than finance was necessary if ultimate victory was to
be achieved.  Indeed, before the end of that fateful five months of
1914, during which a sturdy British army of less than two hundred
thousand men had, under the pressure of the German hosts, been fighting
a retreat, yard by yard and mile by mile, in a way which will live
forever in British military history, there had been forced upon Lloyd
George as one of the principal members of the Cabinet that there were
grave deficiencies at the front in equipment, that the British
soldiers, unsurpassable for valor, for their individual skill, and
their contempt of death, were being, not only overwhelmed by German
numbers, but swept down by gun-fire which was in extent and in power
tremendously superior to that of the British.  It was a deadening,
horrible thought.  All the fighting spirit of Lloyd George rose to meet
the emergency.  His financial arrangements were in train and going
well.  He was, it is true, Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he was also
Lloyd George, and with the whole impetuosity of his nature he turned
his attention to the needs of the British army in the field.  His
colleagues in the Cabinet were patriots and were able men, but they had
not his lively imagination.  Some of them had more technical knowledge,
but their pedestrian processes of mind took very different channels
from his lightning intuitions.  I imagine sometimes that he was not
very tactful.  It is impossible to doubt that this was the time when he
first became impatient with the methods of his chief, Mr. Asquith.  It
is equally impossible to doubt that at this time, also, he was moved
sufficiently to challenge the policy of those in charge of the War
Office, those on whose advice the Prime Minister naturally relied.

The existing methods were subsequently criticised as slow,
conventional, unillumined by modern experiences.  Our soldiers, it was
said, were being swept out of action by an intensity and plenitude of
new high-explosive shells, while we proceeded in the use of ordinary
shells in ordinary quantities.  We needed immensely greater numbers of
shells, enormously improved shells, vast amounts of high explosive, new
big guns, indeed a score of things, which were afterward obtained.
Lloyd George at this period saw that, as usual, Britain was just
"muddling through," relying on her stolidity and her power of
endurance, rather than on her initiative and striking strength.  His
efforts to improve matters within Government circles could not have
endeared him to his Government colleagues.  But his blood was up, and
he cared as little for their good opinion as he did for the good
opinion of the squires and clergymen when he started professional life
in Wales.

A movement was made to increase and better equipment, but it was slow
and, in Lloyd George's view, it was ineffective.  He fought on.  At
length he succeeded in impressing the seriousness of the situation on
the Government, and it was just about this time that he became
possessed of a powerful ally.  The _Daily Mail_, in past years the most
vindictive foe of Lloyd George, swung around to his support, took up
the cry of insufficient shells, attacked Lord Kitchener, raised a
scandal in the country.  The _Times_, which now, like the _Daily Mail_,
was under the proprietorship of Lord Northcliffe, joined in the fray.
Extravagant and unjustifiable condemnation of Lord Kitchener shocked
the public, but, at the same time, there was revealed an undoubtedly
grave state of affairs in the insufficient provision of shells and
explosives and other war material.  A political upheaval followed.  The
Liberal Government was replaced by a Coalition Government, with Mr.
Asquith still in command, but with Conservatives in the Ministry and
with Lloyd George no longer Chancellor of the Exchequer, but Minister
of Munitions, a new post created for him, that he might organize the
country for the supply of needed war material for our soldiers at the
front.  At the same time started that informal, but effective, alliance
between those sworn enemies of old, Lloyd George and Lord Northcliffe,
an alliance between the two most powerful men of action in Britain in
our generation.



IX

THE ALLIANCE WITH NORTHCLIFFE

I regard Lloyd George as the most interesting man in public life in
Britain to-day.  There is, however, another very interesting man in the
country, though on a different plane from the Prime Minister.  I mean
Lord Northcliffe--the Alfred Harmsworth who started life for himself
without help at seventeen, was a rich newspaper proprietor at thirty,
and at forty was a national figure with wealth which would satisfy the
wildest visions of any seeker after gold.  He is about the same age as
Lloyd George, and he has reached his zenith at about the same time.  He
is the principal owner, not only of the popular _Daily Mail_, but also
of the famous _Times_, to say nothing of some forty other journals of
various kinds.  He is the inspiring spirit of all his publications, and
I should think the papers which he controls convey their message, good,
bad, or indifferent, to not less than six millions of people every day.
The range of his influence is obvious, and though it is an influence
primarily of the middle classes, it reacts upward and downward, and
makes itself felt even on those who dislike his policies.  Northcliffe
is undoubtedly patriotic and is sincere, but he is, above all other
things, a newspaper man.  The huge circulations of his papers tell
their story of his mind.  He is a genius in knowing what will interest
the common intelligence.  He has labeled himself, sincerely enough, a
Conservative in state affairs, though in his highly successful business
he has never hesitated in trampling down conventions.  I have to say
this, moreover, that those who are brought into personal touch with
Northcliffe, whether they agree with his opinions or not, find in him
an appreciative employer, a generous-hearted friend, and a man always
with big impulses.  He is essentially a practical man.  He has no
dreams of improving the race, no gleaming visions of a community
relieved of poverty and kindred ills.

Northcliffe was for years Lloyd George's most bitter public critic.  He
has now become his ally in the government of the British Empire.
Despite the difference in their outlook on life, there are wonderful
resemblances between the two men.  There are sympathies, too.
Northcliffe early recognized that Lloyd George was a person to be
watched, not because of his speeches, but because he was a man of
action and a man who got things done.  On the other hand, Lloyd George,
under cruel attacks, once said, reflectively: "What a power this man
Northcliffe might be if he chose!  He could carry through a political
project while we were thinking about it.  We talk of tackling the
question of housing the poor people of this country.  He could do it
single-handed."  To this a companion pointed out that he was asking too
much of Northcliffe; he had not it in him.

What is this newspaper magnate like to look at?  He is a
heavy-shouldered man with a big, broad forehead, a massive jowl, and an
aquiline nose.  His wide mouth droops at the corners.  In repose there
is something of a scowl on his face, which is intensified in
displeasure as his head shoots forward aggressively and almost
wolfishly.  And yet, on the other hand, in his pleasanter moments he
has a boyishness and vivacity which are attractive.  Nearly all who
have been in his office, whether they are at present in his employ or
not, will tell you he is a delightful man to work with.  He will come
into the reporters' room of the _Daily Mail_, sit on the edge of the
table, smoke a cigarette, and talk to the men as if he were one of
themselves.  He likes them.  They like him.  Stories cluster round him.
A young writer went out to investigate a series of happenings in a
Midland town, was rather badly hoaxed, and was responsible for a good
deal of ridicule directly against the paper.  This is a deadly sin for
a newspaper man, and the chiefs of the office were naturally severe
about the matter.  The writer in question, feeling that his career on
the paper was over, went out of the office to lunch and, as bad luck
would have it, encountered Northcliffe's automobile drawing up at the
entrance.  He knew "Alfred," as the proprietor is called, would be
fuming, and was the last man on earth whom it was desirable to meet in
such a mood.  The young fellow braced himself for the attack as
Northcliffe beckoned him forward.  "What is this I hear?  You have had
your leg pulled, have you?  Don't take it too much to heart.  We all
get deceived sometimes.  I have had my leg pulled often before now.
It's annoying, but don't worry about it."

He was frequently through the departments, making the acquaintance of
new men, and exchanging a few sentences of conversation with the
established members of the staff.  Once he stopped at the desk of a
junior sub-editor, whom he had not seen before, and said, "How long
have you been with me?"

"About three months," was the reply.

"How are you getting on?  Do you like the work?  Do you find it easy to
get into our ways?"

"I like it very much!"

"How much money are you getting?"

"Five pounds a week."

"Are you quite satisfied?"

"Perfectly satisfied, thank you."

"Well, you must remember this, that I want no one on my staff who is a
perfectly satisfied man with a salary of five pounds a week."

A subordinate who had been a couple of years on the staff died as a
result of an operation for appendicitis.  He had a wife and one little
child who were not very well provided for.  On the day after the
funeral, Northcliffe sent down and told her he had invested 1,000
pounds for her.  Members of his staff who break down in health are sent
for a prolonged rest on full salary, and, when necessary, are
despatched abroad to recuperative climates with all their expenses
paid.  He is not, however, a man who suffers fools gladly, and those
who come to him expecting, not only big salaries, but soft jobs, are
quickly swept out in a cascade of hard words.  He has a sense of humor.
Once he turned the paper on to a search for an automobile which had run
over a village child and then disappeared.  He found it after a time,
and it proved to be the car of his brother, Hildebrand, which, unknown
to the owner, had been taken out for a joy ride by the chauffeur.
There was something more than a chuckle among the other newspapers
because Northcliffe in his enthusiasm had publicly offered 100 pounds
reward for the discovery of the automobile and its owner.  A few weeks
later Fleet Street was busy trying to disentangle the mystery of the
death of a young girl who had fallen from a railway carriage in a
tunnel on the Brighton line.  Various plans for the elucidation of the
mystery were discussed between Northcliffe and the staff.  In the
course of the discussion some one made the suggestion:

"Why not offer a reward of 100 pounds for the discovery of evidence on
the matter?"

"Yes," said Northcliffe, thoughtfully, "but where was my brother
Hildebrand on that night?"

Deliberately placing behind him his previous attacks on Lloyd George,
attacks personal and political, Northcliffe came out in strong support
of the Minister of Munitions and plainly stated that it was only by
revolutionizing the whole conduct of the war that victory could be
assured within a reasonable time.  There probably was no consultation
between the two men.  The support thus given to the Welshman was, in my
opinion, perfectly genuine, and probably history will say it was a
right and excellent course, though it involved stinging comment on
Lloyd George's Cabinet associates, especially on Mr. Asquith and Lord
Kitchener.

While this newspaper campaign was in progress Lloyd George set to work
on his new effort, and that effort was the conversion of manufacturing
Britain into a network of arsenals for the making of deadly implements
of war.  Again he made his special endeavor to appear as if they were
the pivot of future victory.  Forgotten for the time was finance.
"Silver bullets" were no longer mentioned.  "Shells, shells, shells!"
was the cry of Lloyd George now, and the country echoed it.
Enthusiastically he proceeded with his new task, and within a few days
he had sketched a general scheme of operations, and within a few weeks
the scheme was beginning to bear fruit.  The difficulties were heavy,
but he had this great advantage, that the country was prepared to do
anything and to make any sacrifice which would lead toward victory.
The established armament firms and the Government works had the task of
providing shells and guns, and Lloyd George saw at a glance that this
arrangement was tragically insufficient.  To alter it he had to do many
things.  He had to secure the co-operation of manufacturers, especially
the engineering firms who had been engaged in the ordinary occupations
of peace time.  He had to train new workmen, he had to enlist women, he
had to persuade the trade-unions to remove their restrictions, he had
to prevent the sale of alcohol in munition districts, he had to tell
the capitalistic makers of munitions all over the country that they
were only going to be left a percentage of their profits, and that the
rest was going to be taken by the Government.  This was part of his
task.  Many other things had to be attended to.  There was, for
instance, the matter of supply of steel from the foundries, and then,
equally important, the question of transport by the railways.  It would
require a full book to tell of all the directions in which Lloyd
George's efforts were expended in the ensuing weeks.

He went around the various big centers in the country and called
together meetings of the prominent business men, particularly
manufacturers, and suggested to them that they should form local
committees which would schedule the locality for facilities in
engineering work, and then outlined several ways in which they might
act.  They might first organize all the factories engaged in ordinary
engineering work which could produce shells, or parts of shells, they
might develop a big central factory in the district where central work
could be done, and where finishing operations on partly made shells
might be carried out.  Everywhere he met cordial co-operation.  Within
a few weeks workshops previously used for making tramway metals,
cranes, refrigerating apparatus, automobiles, overhead wires,
agricultural implements, and many other kinds of material, were
beginning to turn themselves into shell-factories under the direction
of the local committees.  Even watchmakers' shops were brought into use
for some sections of work.

Meanwhile, Lloyd George initiated in every town and village of the
country a census of metal-working lathes, so that no tool of this kind
should be employed on needless work.  Coincident with these operations,
huge national shell-factories were planned for erection in various
parts of the country.  To co-operate the work of the local committees
with headquarters in London a department of the Ministry of Munitions
was set up in each big manufacturing center, and through this
department Lloyd George kept in touch with all local operations.

Steps were taken to stimulate production by the recognized armament
firms.  It was six months after Lloyd George had taken control that I
visited the Birmingham district, where I saw a new establishment for
shell-work, a huge structure on the outskirts of the city planted where
green grass was growing six months before, and under its one roof four
thousand young women engaged in long lines at automatic lathes
shell-making.  This, as I said, was but one sample establishment.
Hundreds of thousands of women were subsequently at the same work in
various parts.  The girls were drawn from all classes, and comprised
school-teachers, domestic servants, shopgirls, stenographers, and the
leisured daughters of the middle classes or of wealthy persons.

Lloyd George established in London, in connection with the Ministry of
Munitions, a department of labor, to advise him on matters affecting
workmen, a department of factory health which would tell him the best
way of safeguarding the strength and efficiency of factory workers, an
inventions department to encourage and examine inventions of all kinds
which might be useful in war.  He called in some of the leading
business men of the country to help him in arranging, not only
technical matters in the actual manufacture of shells and guns, but
also the transportation of them, and the material of which they were
made.  He soon had around him in Whitehall a co-ordinated little army
of iron and steel experts, explosive experts, railway experts, medical
experts, and financial experts.  They were the cream of business and
professional intellect of the country.  Under their driving stimulus
shells and munitions began to pour out at an enormous rate.  It was a
cumulative production, and the high-water mark was not reached for many
long months, but when it had been attained the production rate of
shells by Germany was well beaten.

Lloyd George had no governmental red tape about his methods.  For
instance, he ordered a notice to be put up in each of the local
munition offices, inviting callers who had inventions to submit them at
once for sympathetic examination.  Any one who went to the Ministry of
Munitions in Whitehall and had real business could quickly see the
Minister.  He had no use for a halo of officialdom.  A thousand
difficulties rose to meet him as he built up the new organization, but
he trampled them underfoot and went forward, heedless of whether he was
making enemies or friends.  An intermediate and important obstacle to
his work was the fact that many of the trade-unions of the country had
established rules which operated against an increase of production.
These rules had been built up as protection against capitalists whose
sole idea might be profits.  It was necessary to sweep away these
restrictions, and one of the arguments which Lloyd George used to the
men was that he was not allowing employers to make fortunes out of the
country's need, but was taking away all but a percentage of their new
income and giving it to the Government.  Even this was not sufficient
in some cases to get all the workmen in the proper frame of mind.
Lloyd George went down himself and addressed meetings of the men.  Here
is an extract from one of his speeches: "The enlisted workman cannot
choose his locality of action.  He cannot say, 'I am prepared to fight
at Neuve Chapelle, but I won't fight at Festubert, and I am not going
near the place called "Wipers."'  He can't say, 'I have been in the
trenches ten and a half hours, and the trade-unions won't let me work
more than ten hours.'  He can't say, 'You have not enough men here, and
I have been doing the work of two men, and my trade-unions won't allow
me to do more than my share.'  When the house is on fire, questions of
procedure and precedence and division of labor disappear.  You can't
say you are not liable to serve at three o'clock in the morning if the
fire is proceeding.  You can't choose the hour.  You can't argue as to
whose duty it is to carry the water-bucket and whose duty it is to put
it into a crackling furnace.  You must put the fire out.  There is only
one way to do it--that is, everything must give way to duty and
good-fellowship, good-comradeship, and determination.  You must put the
whole of your strength into obtaining victory for your native land and
for the liberties of the world."

The British trade-unions wanted but little persuading under such an
appeal, and rights and privileges struggled for and won at heavy cost
during half a century were cheerfully relinquished for the time being.
There was some friction among small sections in connection with the
powers taken by Lloyd George to punish workmen who struck work, or who
dislocated operations in a workshop by leaving it to seek better money.
But in the passion for victory which coursed through the veins of the
nation the ruthless doings of Lloyd George were welcomed by the
overwhelming majority of the community.  He asked the English people to
submit to shackles such as they had not known since the tyranny of the
Middle Ages.  They willingly and even enthusiastically agreed.

Lloyd George not only rushed the beginning of national shell-factories,
since completed, but established large new towns of temporary houses in
country districts with something more than the rapidity of camps on a
rich gold strike.  Britain, psychologically transformed, was in a large
measure physically altered also.

And yet, when all was said and done, Lloyd George was not satisfied.
He sought to stir the Cabinet to sterner work.  The Cabinet was not by
any means ineffective, but there was not enough driving force in it to
please the Welshman.  He wanted far wider and stronger measures taken
in order to enlist the whole strength of the British people.  Fiercely,
day by day, the Northcliffe journals attacked Mr. Asquith, often with
unfairness, and always did they exalt Lloyd George as the only man in
the Cabinet who was really fit to lead.  Then Lloyd George issued a
column prognostication as the preface to a book, and it caused a great
sensation.  Here is what he said: "Nothing but our best and utmost can
pull us through.  If the nation hesitates when the need is clear to
take the necessary steps to call forth its young manhood to defend
honor and existence, if vital decisions are postponed until too late,
if we neglect to make ready for all probable eventualities, if, in
effect, we give ground for the accusation that we are slouching into
disaster, as if we were walking along the paths of peace without an
enemy in sight, then I can see no hope; but if we sacrifice all we own
and all we like for our native land, if our preparations are
characterized by grip, resolution, and prompt readiness in every
sphere, then victory is assured."

This was a direct attack on the Cabinet, of which, of course, Lloyd
George was a member.  His words meant that the Government was
proceeding along conventional paths, and not rising to great
emergencies, and was lacking that desperate resolution so necessary in
war.  Thus it was that Lloyd George threw out to the world more than a
hint of the difficulties he had had with different departments.

Northcliffe acclaimed this message heavens high.  Some Liberals, on the
other hand, began to see in Lloyd George an intriguer for the position
of Prime Minister, and Lloyd George, not the first time in his life,
throwing past prejudices and principles to the winds, came out as a
strong supporter of conscription for the nation.  Every young man must
be serving his country either in the munition-factory or on the field
of battle.



X

AT HIGH PRESSURE

The fundamental difficulty between Lloyd George and some of his
colleagues was that he had ideas about running the country which were
at variance with theirs.  His Celtic temperament could not tolerate the
slow muddling-through process, was impatient for daring new methods.
He was disinclined for step-by-step procedure, and found reason for
anger in the officials and Ministers who thought the war ought to be
conducted according to book.  There has yet to be told the full story,
not only of all the obstacles which Lloyd George had to remove from his
path in organizing the munition supply, but also of the hindrances
which fettered the prosecution of the war as a whole with every ounce
of strength, every shilling of money, at the disposal of the British
nation.

I can imagine that Lloyd George was not a very pleasant colleague in
the Cabinet during these intervening months.  When the records come to
be given it will be seen that he was constantly and furiously striking
at the iron bars of custom and routine, that he was trying to turn the
lip service of individuals to practical service.  At times he reached
the edge of desperate action.

It was in the thick of his other work that a crisis arose in South
Wales, where the miners, numbering two hundred thousand, responsible
for the supply of coal to the British navy, refused to work unless the
employers conceded certain demands about pay and conditions.  The
seriousness of the position was appalling.  The president of the Board
of Trade, Mr. Runciman, struggled hard to bring about a settlement.  He
failed.  Something had to be done and done at once.  The country,
looking around for a man to come to the rescue, fixed on Lloyd George.
He left the Ministry of Munitions in Whitehall, took a train down to
South Wales, had a straight talk with the employers, another straight
talk with the men, and in one day settled affairs and got the men to
continue their work.  I cite this as a passing illustration of how
Lloyd George was Britain's man-of-all-work, and of how the nation had
to turn to him practically every time it was in difficulty.

While struggling to speed up the Cabinet on a hundred matters Lloyd
George became impressed with the necessity of increasing the size of
the British army, already millions strong.  The voluntary system had
hitherto been relied on, and there was strong opposition, both in the
Cabinet and in the country, to tentative proposals for conscription.
Lloyd George took an early opportunity of showing that he was on the
side of the conscriptionists.  There was an outburst of protests, but
it proved of no avail, and it was largely through Lloyd George that
conscription in Britain became an established fact.  Even then he was
by no means satisfied with the way affairs were being handled, and the
newspapers were speculating on his next big attempt, when tragedy
descended on the country in the unexpected death of Lord Kitchener by
the sinking of the war-ship _Hampshire_ off the coast of Scotland.
Kitchener had been Minister for War.  Who was to be the new man?  There
was really only one man in the running, and Lloyd George forsook his
munition work, now practically accomplished, and went over to take
charge of the War Office.  Coincident with his acceptance of this post
new arrangements in the organization were made, and it was no doubt
largely by his influence that General Sir William Robertson was
installed at Whitehall as Chief of Staff, virtually commander-in-chief
of the British armies.  He was a man after Lloyd George's own heart, a
soldier who had risen from the ranks, a quiet man who would stand no
nonsense, and one who knew modern war conditions from A to Z.

Here, then, began a new phase of the European conflict.  From the
shops, offices, farms, and factories of Britain there had sprung up an
amateur army, millions strong, and the organization of this new
national force was under the supervision and control of a Minister who
began life as a village boy in a cottage of a shoemaker, and under the
military direction of a commander-in-chief who also sprang from the
common people, and as a young man was an ordinary trooper in the ranks.
It could never henceforth be said that Britain, the most aristocratic
country on earth, had not been content to hand over the reins to
democracy in the greatest emergency of her history.  Robertson and
Lloyd George worked well together, and there can be no doubt that under
their joint effects the British forces in the field attained a fighting
value which was not excelled by any other army in existence on either
side in the great conflict.

Frequently Lloyd George was in the trenches at the front.  From time to
time he was deep in consultation in Paris or at home with the leading
statesmen and commanders of France, Italy, and Russia.  All this was
only a few months ago.  I saw him in the House of Commons at the time.
The strain was undoubtedly telling on him, but was not oppressing him.
His hair was a little whiter, his face was pallid, and thinner than of
yore, but his eyes were like burning coals.  He had much to bear apart
from the actual work, for there were large sections of politicians and
several influential newspapers who openly said that ambition was his
curse, that he was undermining Mr. Asquith who had been his greatest
political friend, and that all his discontent was directed toward an
ultimate dramatic stroke which would make him Prime Minister.  Many of
the Liberals who used almost to worship him made no secret of the fact
that he had lost their allegiance, while the extreme Socialists
denounced him as a traitor to the working classes, inasmuch as he was
tyrannizing over them by his war measures.  Moreover, many of his
opponents in the Cabinet must have regarded him with some feeling of
distrust.  He said no word in defense of Mr. Asquith, whom the
Northcliffe press persistently and violently assailed.  The conclusion
is inevitable that Lloyd George shared some of the opinions then
expressed.  Taking Lloyd George's nature into account, the situation
may be imagined, and it was not hard to see that a climax must come
sooner or later.

It was approaching swiftly.  Meanwhile the transformation of Britain in
which Lloyd George had had so large a hand was proceeding.  No longer
could it be said that the old country was lethargic.  In all directions
was the elementary strength of this stolid people manifesting itself.
Classes were uniting in the determination that there should be
limitless spending of energy, of blood, and of treasure, that the
harder grew the fight the stronger should be the will, the livelier the
action, till the great danger was trodden finally underfoot.  For
months past it could have been said:

  All the youth of England are on fire
  And silken dalliance in the wardrobe lies.


Now most of the people had reached the decision that nothing but
extermination should lead to their defeat.

  And leave your England as dead midnight still,
  Guarded with grandsires, babies, and old women,
  Either past or not arrived to pith and puissance,
  For who is he whose chin is but enrich'd
  With one appearing hair that will not follow
  Those cull'd and choice-drawn cavaliers to France?


It was really a very-much-alive England, though strangely changed,
which the amateur fighters had left behind them on their departure for
the field of war.  Tens of thousands of women unaccustomed to hard
labor were tiring their bodies from early morning till night so that
there would be more men for the fighting-line.  The state had virtual
possession of the great industries, of engineering, of railway
transportation, and of shipping.  The liquor trade had been cut down to
narrow limits which, while it benefited the health and efficiency of
the population, ruined financially a great many property-owners.  The
trade-unions had relinquished their rights, so that every hour of the
day and night there should be no strong and healthy arm which was not
lending aid to the country in its need.  Every man in the country up to
the age of forty was either in the army or doing some useful war work
at home.

Steps had been taken to prevent the price of coal being raised to
consumers, and this was shortly to be followed by the Government
acquisition of the whole of the South Wales coal-field.  Already a
movement was afoot to regulate the food-supply and to restrict
expensive luxuries.  At the head of these tremendous changes was Lloyd
George, whose so-called socialistic legislation a few years before had
roused spasms of rage among classes which now belauded his every action
and announced him as the coming savior of his country.  If there is any
consistency in human nature at all, it is hardly possible that there
were not those who recalled his incendiary speeches, his unsparing
legislative action of the Budget days.  And yet there were no
complaints.  Millionaires placed their money at his disposal.  The
dukes paid him homage.  All the while Lloyd George grew harder in the
face.  Big changes were still necessary if the war was to be brought to
an end victoriously and rapidly.

I have indicated the Minister for War as the moving spirit in all those
changes of that tangled period, but he was only a single member of the
Ministry which set them in motion, although there could be no doubt in
the mind of any one really acquainted with public affairs in Britain at
this time that his was the driving force behind the reforms, that they
were largely forced on by his resistless spirit, even as he was
desirous to push them further and quicken the pace.  Meanwhile in
France, in Italy, and in Russia Lloyd George's name roused enthusiasm
wherever it was mentioned.  News from America indicated that he was
well known and much talked of there.  In the Scandinavian capitals
which I visited toward the close of 1916 I found that it was Lloyd
George whom the statesmen, the professors, the business men, and the
common people were eager to hear about above all others.  In Germany he
was hated and feared more than any other British statesman.



XI

HIS INCONSISTENCIES

According to all the rules which are supposed to guide the rise of a
self-made man, Lloyd George should have been a master of routine, with
the orderly mind and undeviating habits without which we are sometimes
told no person of affairs can secure permanent success.  It is much to
be regretted that Lloyd George lends no aid to the well-established
maxims.  The teachers and preachers who seek to implant in the young
the principles of continuousness of purpose and of regularity and of
kindred qualities must turn their backs on Lloyd George.  They will
find nothing from him to go into the text-books, for in the course of
his career the Welsh statesman has trampled on every sound rule for
securing success.  That a man with so many contradictions in him should
have ever maintained his upward course is not encouraging to the
formalists, though it is very interesting to ordinary people.

There never was a man who could more quickly master the intricacies of
a business problem, and yet from his very early days he was quite
unbusiness-like in many things.  He laughingly says that as a young
lawyer down in Wales he showed serious incapacity in his profession, at
least in one respect: "I never sent in any bill of costs.  The result
was I never had any money."  Later when his brother, three years
younger than himself, joined him in partnership matters improved.  "The
firm did not then suffer from this serious professional drawback,"
explained Lloyd George.  He is an adept at phrases, and yet all through
his life he has hated writing.  There is a tradition among some of his
friends that even in his less busy periods, if you wanted to get a
reply from him on any topic you had to send him two postcards addressed
to yourself, on one of which was written, "Yes," and on the other,
"No."  This, it was said, was the only way you could make sure of a
prompt response, or indeed of any response at all.  He has been the
supreme business organizer of Britain during the war--in finance, in
industrial operations, and latterly in actual army work--and in each
direction he has sketched out and carried into effect an intensive
efficiency which it is not too much to describe as the admiration of
the world, yet all the time his office day-by-day arrangements would
certainly shock the ordinary merchant or banker.  He makes contingent
appointments and forgets all about them.  Some incidental scheme
adopted by him on a Saturday is on Monday thrust into limbo by the
pressure of other schemes.  If he were to schedule his office day into
five-minute appointments he would still be unable to see only a
proportion of the important men and executive chiefs who desire to get
in touch with him, and yet he will allow himself to be drawn into an
hour's keen discussion with persons who have some minor topic which
appeals to him.  Withal, he gets things done.  Some intuition, some
instinct for right action, takes him to his goal.  The task in hand is
always accomplished to the limit of efficiency.  You may seek his
secret in vain.  Probably part of it lies in his natural power of
selecting his instruments.  All the same I do not envy the lot of his
two principal private men secretaries and the girl stenographer whose
business it is to follow and, to some extent, direct his erratic course
throughout his office hours.

His speeches which in their printed form sell literally by the million,
are scarcely prepared at all before he gets on the platform.  Sometimes
the wording as it appears in cold black and white lacks a little
polish, but it has a vital and stimulating force marking it out as
distinctive literature.  He has a few notes as to facts and figures and
weaves them into a picture as he stands before his audience.  When his
famous speech at Limehouse thrilled England a London newspaper
proprietor went down to see him in the House of Commons.  "Why didn't
you let me know you were going to make that speech?" he said.  "I would
have had special arrangements made for reporting it and describing it."
"There was nothing special in it," said Lloyd George, in genuine
surprise.  "It was just an ordinary talk about the Budget.  I went down
to Limehouse and spoke to an audience I found there, that's all."

No one will deny Lloyd George's courage.  On a hundred stricken fields
he has shown it.  Yet he confesses to a timorousness and nervousness
whenever he is waiting on a public platform with a speech ahead of him.
This proven, stern man of action is just a trembling bunch of nerves,
afraid of the people in front of him, afraid of the people by his side
on the platform, as he sits waiting the fateful second when the
chairman shall announce his name.

Lloyd George's unexpectedness comes from the fact that he is a
many-sided man.  Success has not atrophied either his manners or his
impulses.  He is not ashamed to be very human because he has become
very important.  I remember how, during the stress of the Budget fight,
when, if ever, he was at a tension, he went off for a week-end with the
Attorney-General and a distinguished journalist.  They had a railway
compartment to themselves on the journey from London.  Part of the time
was passed in singing popular songs, the choruses of which Lloyd George
trilled out enthusiastically.  And yet Lloyd George is not a stranger
to the formalities.  High office brought to him a marked care for those
little chivalries which are part of Parliamentary warfare.  In the
height of the fight fatigue sometimes overwhelmed even his sturdy frame
and spirit, and he would snatch half an hour's respite from the
Treasury bench in his own room behind the Speaker's chair.  But he
would break off this short indulgence instantly when the ticker
indicated that his principal opponents had begun to speak.  Directly it
was shown that Mr. Austen Chamberlain, Mr. Balfour, or some other
leader was on his feet Lloyd George would hurry into the chamber to
listen, even though he might know perfectly well that they had nothing
to say that mattered at the moment.  He regarded it as important to pay
them the courtesy of listening to any speech they made, however casual
or trivial.

One of the charges against Lloyd George during his public life has been
his inaccuracy in small things, his disregard of detail, and in some
ways this is a justifiable charge.  And yet the man has a perfect
passion for detail when he is aroused and when he believes detail
necessary.  In instituting the Department of Munitions he made himself
in the course of only a week or two a real expert in the hundred
intricacies connected with the manufacture of shells.  Short of
handling the steel himself I doubt if there was any man in the country,
who knew more about the nature of all the deadly missiles, from the
small rifle bullet up to the great shell which weighs a ton and travels
some fifteen miles.  Delicate chemical processes connected with high
explosives rapidly became an open book to him.  As new discoveries were
made incidental difficulties connected with the filling of shells
occupied the concentered study of the manufacturers.  Lloyd George
plunged into the new arrangements.  One morning he had an appointment
in London with a group of half a dozen munition-makers from the north
of England and the Midlands for the purpose of investigating some
special difficulties in a new process.  The matter was one of
importance as well as of difficulty.  Point by point was taken and
lunch-time arrived without a complete elucidation.  Lloyd George swept
aside all other appointments for the day.  The thing had got to be
mastered.  He took the six experts out with him to lunch and went on
with the discussion over the meal.  He brought them back to the
Munition Department afterward and he went on with the matter all the
afternoon.  Tea was served, and still he would not let his advisers
escape.  It was nearly dinner-time before the difficulties were
conquered and the tired experts were permitted to go.  Lloyd George,
cheered by the achievement, had a little food, and then proceeded to
work far into the night to clear up some of the arrears of the day's
routine.  As for the staff, they had to work, too.  There are no easy
times for those associated with Lloyd George when he is under pressure.

These are examples from recent times, but throughout the whole of his
career there have been contradictions which have staggered friends as
well as enemies.  I do not believe there is a more sincere man in
public life; there certainly is no shrewder one, and yet when he was
Chancellor of the Exchequer in charge of the finances of the country he
was imprudent enough in an impulsive moment to invest privately some
hundreds of pounds in a commercial company, an investment perfectly
innocent in itself, but one which a worldly-wise person would have
realized must lay open to attack any Chancellor of the Exchequer who
had enemies.  He never gave the thing a thought.  He had always been a
comparatively poor man.  He saw a good investment and he put some of
his savings into it.  His opponents became aware of the matter, and in
storms of virtuous passion held him up to execration as a corrupt
politician who was using his position to make himself rich.  There were
bursts of unholy joy among the Conservatives.  That innocent investment
in Marconi shares was perhaps the most stupid thing in Lloyd George's
public life.  He gave his explanation with vigor and clearness, but,
nevertheless, I fancy he must have kicked himself privately about the
whole thing.  Notwithstanding, however, the disadvantage at which he
had placed himself, opponents found that now, as on other occasions, it
was not a pleasant exercise to attack the Welshman.  He had a horrid
habit of defending himself by hitting back, and he usually hit very
much harder than his attackers were capable of doing.  When the dukes
and earls fell on him in all their noble rage and dignity he culled
stories from the past about them.  One of the attacks on him was by
Earl Selborne, who had been a Cabinet Minister in a Conservative
administration.  Lloyd George permitted himself no false delicacy about
the noble earl.  "He contends there is no correspondence between his
story and mine.  He is quite right.  I have already pointed out the
essential difference.  I bought shares in a company which had no
contract with the Government, and my purchase of even these shares was
subsequent to the acceptance of the wireless tender by the Government.
Earl Selborne was a director of a company during the time it was
initiating and acquiring a huge contract with the Government, of which
he was a member.  His story is, therefore, not mine."

There had probably never been a politician in British public life who
was so affectionately regarded by all those persons who were brought
into personal contact with him, whether they agreed with him or not.
Pressmen whose duty it was to berate him in the papers were generally
fond of him personally.  Opponents in the House of Commons when not
engaged in combat had, in most cases, an active liking for him.
Business men and persons not connected with politics after once meeting
him had nothing but good to say of the "Welsh demagogue."  And in face
of all this Lloyd George has truly been the most hated man of his
generation.  He used to chuckle over it--which sent his opponents to
the last degree of fury.  "The dukes," he would remark, cheerily, "are
scolding like omnibus-drivers, and the lords swearing like
stable-boys."  He would fling out his hand with a humorously despairing
gesture about it.

Lloyd George was not very precise in his attacks sometimes.  Though he
was very rarely, perhaps never, successfully challenged on the general
basis of his charges, his vivid wording always brought on him a flood
of recriminations.  He was called an "ignorant demagogue," an
"unscrupulous electioneer," was accused of using "false sentiment" and
of "setting class against class."  His principal weapons throughout, it
was said, were his inaccuracies and offensive personalities.  The
exasperated Conservatives, only a few months before the war, secured
the time of the House of Commons to indict him for some of these sins.
Here was the resolution moved from the Conservative benches: "That this
House contemplates with regret the repeated inaccuracies of the
Chancellor of the Exchequer and his gross and unfounded charges upon
individuals."  No motion could have pleased Lloyd George better.
Ponderous and dignified were the speeches against him.  He replied with
a quizzical lightness, and did not refrain from personal remarks even
in the course of his defense.  He demonstrated the general accuracy of
his speeches, ridiculed the indictment against himself, and showed how
it arose partly from political prejudices, partly from the mental
obtuseness and anger of his opponents.  A portion of his speech
recalled the things the Conservatives attacking him said about Joseph
Chamberlain, now one of their idols.  They were remarks made during
Chamberlain's radical days.

"One Tory Minister said he spoke 'with customary inaccuracy.'  Another
Minister talked about 'his habitual incapacity for being accurate.'
Another said he was 'setting class against class.'  The _Times_, using
the language of the gentleman in opposition to-night, said he was
'forgetting what was due to his dignity and responsibility as a Cabinet
Minister.'  He was compared by the leader of the House to 'Jack Cade.'
Another called him 'an unscrupulous demagogue.'  Another said he was
'weeping crocodile tears for electioneering purposes.'  I seem to
recognize some of these epithets.  I am amazed at the lack of
imagination in the vituperation of honorable men opposite."  When the
laughter and cheering had died away Lloyd George said that Chamberlain
was fifty at the time these things were uttered, the age at which he
himself stood.  "So there is hope for me," he said.  It is difficult to
tackle a man like that.

No one would deny that Lloyd George has gone back on many of the
opinions he used to hold so firmly.  The exhilarating names he called
members of the House of Lords have been replaced by invitations to some
of them to join him as Ministers in a Cabinet of which he is the head.
No doubt he would give good reasons for the change, but the fact
remains.  His mobile mind is ever adapting itself to what he considers
the exigencies of the times, though no one could with less justice be
named a time-server.  "Other times, other means, other manners" may be
described as his attitude of mind.  If at the moment the welfare of the
community in his judgment demanded certain courses of action no words
of his in the past, no principles that he had held, would prevent him
from adapting himself or from using whatever powers lay to his hand.
As motive forces in social life are almost invariably to be obtained
from individuals, Lloyd George without shame and without hesitation has
proceeded to use individualities wherever he found them suitable for
his purpose.  Meanwhile the worshiper of consistency can find in him no
idol.

The crowning inconsistency of Lloyd George's career I have not yet
described.  So far as he owed success in life to any man except himself
he owed it to Mr. Asquith, the Prime Minister.  Lloyd George has all
the sensitiveness and affection of the Celtic nature, and must
certainly have had within him a well of gratitude to this man who had
been so great a friend to him.  Yet it came about that he eventually
decided it was his duty to pull this man from the throne and take his
place there.



XII

HOW HE BECAME PRIME MINISTER

In some lights it seems rather a shabby thing that Lloyd George should
have ousted Mr. Asquith and taken his place as Prime Minister.  Mr.
Asquith, with great intellectual attainments and with the highest
attributes of an English gentleman, had been at the head of the British
Government for eight years, and during this period big achievements had
been inscribed on Britain's story.  He had been a strong and constant
friend of Lloyd George who, under his leadership, had risen from the
position of a minor Minister to giant eminence.  Then at a crucial
moment Lloyd George overthrew him.  Stated baldly like that, the thing
doesn't read very well.  I believe there are some leaders in England
who will never forgive Lloyd George.  It remains to be said that they
are taking a narrow and immediate view of a drama so immense that its
proper perspective will only be available many years hence.  They are
trying to test men's souls under strain in a small mechanical balance.
Forces were at work such as are only met with once or twice in
centuries.  You cannot bring a puny, every-day judgment to bear on
issues which may mean misery or happiness to millions of people, and
life or death to a great proportion of them.  In such circumstances the
raw strength of big men comes out, and the spectacle is not always
pleasant to the gentle-minded.

I am not one of those who believe that Lloyd George sordidly schemed to
become Prime Minister, though I am sure that in some side reflections
from time to time he realized quite certainly that one day he would be
Prime Minister of his country.  I believe that from the moment he
decided the war was a right one and must be pressed to victory he
concentrated the whole of his heart and soul, all of his bewildering
and compelling properties, to the task of securing victory.  And that
the remarkable success he attained, first in the sphere of finance,
then in the provision of munitions, thirdly in the raising of armies
and general organization for battle, led him quickly to a vision of the
whole contest, a vision unshared by his colleagues, but of dazzling
clearness to himself.

His whole being, designed for the emergencies of combat, quivered and
thrilled as he saw the hundred directions in which urgency and rapidity
and ruthlessness could forge the weapons of success.  I believe he was
completely selfless about the matter.  He made efforts to touch various
spheres of war organization with the white-hot spirit which possessed
himself, and became partly the terror, partly the admiration, of those
among whom he moved.  And then, realizing more and more, week by week,
what he regarded as the inertia in the departments that ran the
country, and seeing the importance of stirring the feelings of his
principal Cabinet colleagues to wholesale, passionate, fear-nothing
strokes which should bring the end of the war within sight, there grew
upon him resistlessly the thought that he must himself secure supreme
control of the war in Britain.  I believe the idea took hold of him,
not from any vulgar motive, but in the way that religion grows upon a
man, possessing him utterly, leaving him heedless of the criticism
directed against his personal aims.

What was the system he was up against?  In the British Cabinet each
Minister is the head of his own department, and in normal times the
Prime Minister doesn't interfere in the departments, although, as
chairman of the Cabinet, his consent has to be given to any big
national policy initiated by another Minister.  Mr. Asquith had strong
and clever men around him, and, quite apart from the fact that he was
the most chivalrous of chiefs, he trusted their capacity.  Strong and
capable as they were, they had not the flashing genius of Lloyd George,
certainly had not his genius for war, implying large decisions and
great risks.  They plodded along and threshed out plans and put some of
them into execution.  To Lloyd George both the plans and the way they
were carried out were half-hearted.  To him there was always delay,
never the stark action which he believed was everywhere necessary.
Decisions were taken too late and were not carried out with promptitude
or thoroughness.

For months Lloyd George was in a state of simmering revolt.  He
received support from powerful organs in the press, notably from the
_Times_ and _Daily Mail_.  The tone of their criticism is best
summarized in the suggestion that Mr. Asquith was "an amiable old
gentleman," unfitted for the position of leader of a nation at war for
its life.  Far less than justice was accorded him, but under the stress
of war the most stolid people became impatient, and there was
undoubtedly manifested in many sections of the public a desire for more
strenuous leadership.  The difficulties with which Mr. Asquith had had
to contend were certainly not fully appreciated, though they will be
later on.  He was the head of a Coalition Government, and had kept that
Government together with a managing skill to which everybody paid
tribute.  The claim of the Lloyd George supporters was that qualities
different from those required for the skilful handling of a Government
were necessary in a war Prime Minister.  It looks as if Lloyd George
shared this opinion.  He came to the conclusion that he must make his
stroke.  One fateful day he presented to Mr. Asquith an ultimatum to
the effect that the conduct of the war should be placed in the hands of
a small committee of three or four members who should have absolute
power, and that Mr. Asquith himself should not be on it, or, if so,
should be a member in name only.

Mr. Asquith tried to get him to compromise.  Lloyd George would have
none of it.  If Mr. Asquith would not agree he would resign, he said,
and he was supported by the Conservative members of the Government.
Mr. Asquith and his supporters would not give way.  There were one or
two exciting days of secret negotiations, and then, a deadlock being
reached, there was but one course to be pursued, and that was for the
entire Cabinet to place its resignation in the hands of the King.  It
must have been a bitter moment for Mr. Asquith.  Indeed, it was
probably an unhappy time for Lloyd George.  Nevertheless, he flinched
not.

The whole Cabinet went out of office.  The King, who is bound by
precedent, sent for the leader of the Conservatives, Mr. Bonar Law, and
offered him the position of Prime Minister and the task of forming a
Government.  Owing to the split-up of the parties and the various
cross-currents, Mr. Law felt himself unable to carry out the formal
request of the King.  Then the expected happened, and the King sent for
Lloyd George, who promptly expressed his willingness to try to form a
Government, so long as he was assisted in the task by Mr. Bonar Law.
He was successful.  His Cabinet, rapidly brought into being, consisted
of several Labor men, several Conservatives, some notable members of
the House of Lords, and also, quite a novel feature, some captains of
industry, whom Lloyd George took from their private businesses to run
the business departments of the state.  A war council was formed,
consisting of Lloyd George himself; Mr. Arthur Henderson, the leader of
the Labor movement; Lord Curzon, and Lord Milner.  (The most recent
claims to distinction of the latter two was their violent opposition to
Lloyd George's Budget and the Parliament bill.)  The sum total of
arrangements was that the new Prime Minister became virtually a
dictator.  He rules England to-day.

What will be his record as Prime Minister?  It may be taken as a
certainty that his tenure of office will be a memorable chapter in
English history.  That he will use to the utmost his natural powers in
bringing the war to a conclusion satisfactory to his country goes
without saying.  I am inclined to think that there is no one who yet
realizes the lengths to which he will go in order to secure victory.
No precedent will stand in his way, no consideration of popularity or
unpopularity will deter him.  That he may break himself in his attempt
is a trifle to him.  I do not think he will break himself, for he has
reserves not usually found in a single personality.  Obloquy may again
take the place of the praise which now encircles him.  He may yet be
assailed by some of the new colleagues whom he has chosen, and the
newspapers which have supported him may turn against him.  But if he
lives and preserves his health he will win the war.  He is not entirely
admirable, but nothing will obliterate his powers of success but
extinction.

He has the imagination to envisage the uncountable forces at his
disposal in the British Empire, and if need be he will use these forces
to their very limits.  Already he has proceeded on new lines.  With
that intense practicalness which goes with his spiritual exaltation he
has appointed a grocer and a provision-dealer to control the
food-supplies of the country, has put a ship-owner at the head of the
mercantile marine, has given to a man who was a working steel-smelter
the unshackled control of labor, has chosen as another Cabinet Minister
a young American who has made a fortune in business--staggering
appointments indeed for conservative old England.  But that is only a
beginning.  The Prime Minister has hitherto been but the titular head
of the various departments of his Government, but now he is going to be
the real head, for Lloyd George has set up a Prime Minister's
Department which co-ordinates continually all the various Government
offices.  Lloyd George means to be no mere figure of dignity as a Prime
Minister.

What more can he do?  There is no end to the war expedients which are
to his hand if the conflict with Germany goes on.  If more young men
are wanted for the army I can see him levying the whole of the women in
the country for work on the farms and in the offices or its shops.  He
may turn his eyes to the overseas dominions, where there are scores of
millions of population from which separate vast new armies may be
drawn.  I have little doubt that erelong the enemies of Britain will
come up against the quality of unexpectedness which has so often
discouraged his opponents at home.  No field of endeavor will be closed
to him.  I can even see him with a board of inventors and constructors
setting to work to provide, let us say, a fleet of one hundred thousand
aeroplanes which shall, in truth, make the invasion of Germany
possible.  There are other novel fields of effort with potentialities
of equal or even greater scope.

It was complained of Mr. Asquith that he was too much of a gentleman,
too kindly and considerate even to those who harassed him, that he
feared to repress those who strove to make his tenure of office
impossible.  There will not be any nonsense of that kind about Lloyd
George.  Heaven help those who, however highly placed and whatever
their services to him in the past, now stand in his way.  Interesting
suggestions have been made that his recent alliance with Northcliffe
was a fatal mistake for him, because Northcliffe, in pursuit of
newspaper sensations, combined with patriotic aims, having helped to
place him in the seat of power, will presently turn on him without
scruple and without mercy.  Well, there may even be an attempt in that
direction.  I know both men pretty thoroughly, having been brought into
personal contact with each, and watched the work and studied the power
of both of them for years.  If Northcliffe attempts any action of the
kind indicated he will find that he has gone out for a walk with a
tiger.  He has no dignified Mr. Asquith to deal with now.  If
Northcliffe, by any journalistic sensations, interferes in what in
Lloyd George's opinion is the proper and efficient conduct of the war,
Lloyd George will break him like a twig and without a second thought.
Some people of Britain talk of what will happen to Lloyd George when
Northcliffe throws him over.  One can only smile.  To stop the
publication of the _Daily Mail_ and the _Times_, wrecking a million
pounds' worth of private property at least, and ruining Northcliffe on
the way, will be twenty minutes' cheery work for Lloyd George in his
present mood, if he thinks the interests of Britain demand it.

It will be found from now until the treaty of peace is signed that
Lloyd George will be the personal director of democratic Britain, as
grim an autocrat as was Oliver Cromwell, and when the plenipotentiaries
meet around a table to settle terms there will be among them the
blue-eyed Welshman, pleasant of manners and with iron will, putting in
some commas and taking out the clauses he doesn't like.



XIII

THE FUTURE OF LLOYD GEORGE

When this war is concluded there must be a new era for the world.
Already there are signs of its approach.  Generations hence there may
again be awful conflicts between nations, spasms of hell in which the
blood and anguish of millions will pay their tribute to the beast in
man, but it will not be in our time, and in the interval, the beginning
of which must be upon us very quickly, a new order of things will arise
among the civilized people of the globe.  Stricken humanity will insist
on happier prospects for its children and its children's children.  In
the formulation of that new order of things I can see Lloyd George as
one of the main instruments.

In the first place, Britain will be a revivified country after the war,
chastened in some ways, teeming with new thoughts, pulsing with a new
virility for at least a generation.  Class prejudice will be lessened,
perhaps in some directions will be completely wiped out.  There will
probably be a centralized effort after the trials which all the people
have suffered together to reconstruct the social fabric so that all the
people of the country, with the exception of those who are lazy or
criminal, shall have the means by which they may be able to secure a
decent livelihood and need have no fear of poverty-stricken old age.  I
foresee the disintegration of the older political parties and the
building up of new ones, in which the great contending features will be
the means and methods by which the new Britain shall be established.
The old party shibboleths will be swept away.  Mere words and windy
generalities will be displaced from influence and the nation's leaders
will deal with facts.

The education of the war has brought everybody in the country up
against hard realities.  While prejudices and so-called principles have
been put in the background, there has been going on a learning of new
lessons.  Lloyd George will undoubtedly be the main figure in the
building up of the national edifice.  The war will effect political
changes which a generation of Parliamentary efforts could not have
brought about.  Hundreds of thousands of men drawn from shops,
factories, offices, who have been hardened and stimulated by their
out-of-doors campaigning, will be averse from returning to their old
drab conditions, and coincident with this the rich and beautiful
farmlands of England will be made available in holdings for such as
wish to settle on the land and to establish themselves there.  Cottage
dwellings and farm buildings will be put up by the thousand with the
assistance of the state.  The settlers from the towns will not only
find health for themselves and families, but by their activities will
add enormously to the food-supplies of the country through their market
gardens, their dairy farms, as well as by the extra corn which will be
produced by them.

Lloyd George's heart and soul will be in this project, for, country
born and bred as he is, he knows not only the troubles, but also the
opportunities and the personal joys of the population on the land.  I
regard a revolution on these lines in England as a practical certainty.
It may be asked, Where is the money to come from for all this?  The
answer is, that loans from the state are inevitable, but they will be
remunerative loans which presently will yield returns, not only in the
shape of interest, but in new food-supplies and also, not less
important, in the benefits of new physical strength and new happiness
in life to big sections of the population.  Sacrifices will be asked
for from the great land-owners, but they will be sacrifices of
sentiment rather than of money, because these proprietors will
certainly be well recompensed financially for any land that is taken
from them.

But this transformation in the countryside will be only one phase of
the new Britain.  Virtual revolution is certain in town life--and
something like forty millions out of the fifty millions of population
have their present homes in towns and cities, and not in the country.
A great stimulation of production may be looked for under the lessons
of war-time.  Scores of inventions have been devised under the strain
of the war's demands and the discoveries in chemistry, in mechanics,
and in other directions will remodel certain industries and create
fresh ones.  Novel methods of organization have been brought into use
and have greatly aided efficiency, but even these developments will be
but supplementary to the changes in the methods of British industrial
life.  The Labor movement of Britain, which has obtained during the war
a political power previously unknown in British Government, has altered
its modes of procedure, subordinated its laws, and generally
transfigured itself.  The position can never be readjusted to the old
basis.  This will carry with it remarkable results.  Something like
three million trade-unionists constitute the effective Labor movement
of Britain, and the unions, with their rights and privileges, have only
been built up by half a century of struggle against prejudice, against
material interests, against opposition in Parliament.  In the last ten
years, however, enormous progress has been made.  Forty Labor men have
seats in the legislature, and the combination of trade-union rules and
regulations safeguarding workmen and restricting employers has become
as effective as a legal charter.  Hours and conditions of labor as well
as wage rates in the various trades have been set up and continually
strengthened with a view to prevent exploitation by employers, and
though there is necessarily a running struggle with regard to isolated
matters, there has come to exist, on the whole, amicable relations
between the great unions, on the one side, and the great employers, on
the other.  Under Lloyd George's appeals during the war trade-unions
have flung overboard the restrictions they had imposed, have permitted
unskilled people to come in and do parts of their work, permitted women
to take a hand, allowed employers to increase hours of work, and
voluntarily have taken upon themselves the old burdens which they had
fought so long to shake off.  They have had at least this recompense
that, so far as money is concerned, they have not been badly off.  In
important industries, notably in munition-making, piece-work--payment
according to work accomplished--is the rule, with the result that large
sums are earned by those who choose to work hard and to work early and
late.  The general result of all this has been a marvelously
accelerated output of material as compared with that which would have
been produced under old conditions.  The unions have the promise of the
Government that all their old rules shall be restored after the war if
they want them.  It has become inconceivable that incidental advantage
secured in these abnormal times shall be thrown away when peace comes
just because of a traditional adherence to principle.  Employers, also,
seeing the tremendously increased results, will be eager to maintain
the new acceleration.  Are the unions, for the sake of old prejudices,
to put back the clock and throw out all the employment of the women who
have entered the hitherto-reserved industries, and to abolish the
overtime work?  Are they, moreover, to return to the old principles of
prohibiting an operative from doing more than a certain amount of work
in a certain time--a practice quite defensible so far as it arose from
the greed of employers who, with their men on piece-work, finding the
rate of production increased, promptly put back the rate of payment so
that workpeople should never earn more than a certain amount by day or
by week?  Is there to be a reaction in all these directions?  There is
not.  Unions will not want all their old provisions, but they will want
new ones in their places.  And the arrangements which will have to be
made, and which Lloyd George will undoubtedly have a large share in
making, will lead to the establishment of an entirely new system which,
while giving employers a wider field of labor and an immensely
increased production, will, at the same time, provide working-men and
women with greatly enlarged earning capacity, an earning capacity which
will be largely based on their own energy, initiative, and persistence.
A wide extension of what may be called co-operative payment by results
may be looked for.

The good-will among classes introduced by the war will certainly help
the changes.  The net result to be looked for is a practical abolition
of unemployment, the extension of the area of labor to great numbers of
women, increased earning powers for individuals, and still more for the
families as a whole, and a greater output of all kinds of products, not
only manufactured articles, but also food products from the land.
Accompanying all this will be higher profits for employers.

That this revolution can be accomplished in a day or even in a year is
not to be expected.  That it is the direction in which British social
life is bound to trend cannot be doubted.  I see Lloyd George as the
engineer-in-chief of the whole operation.  In conjunction with the new
national land scheme the industrial reformation will provide a policy
with a far-reaching scope and a practicability which will appeal to his
long-sighted vision, his active mind, his scorn of past usages which
litter the road of progress.  That he will attempt to recreate the new
social system on the wreckage of that which has been destroyed by the
war I think is beyond all question.

But Lloyd George's future destiny is not confined to his work for his
own race and nation.  The war has lifted him to international
prominence.  He is now and will be henceforth the most-talked-of
British statesman in all other civilized countries.  He will still have
enemies who will detest him, but no one in the future will attempt to
deny his effectiveness.  Respect will be accorded him by the statesmen
of other nations and the democracy of other nations, the latter of whom
will remember his lifelong fight for the poor.  Such a man may well be
of influence in determining not only the fate of his own people, but
also the fate of the civilized community at large.  I see approaching
him, when this war is over, an opportunity far greater than anything
fate has yet placed in his way.  The world will be shuddering at the
ghastliness of its recent experiences and asking if there is no way of
guarding against the possibility of such a catastrophe in the years
ahead.  Among all the nations lately at war there will be but one
desire--namely, the insuring of the enjoyment of peace for the
generations to come.  If that mood comes to exist, as it surely will,
among all the nations when this present conflict is over, there are two
men who, working together, may write their names indelibly on the
history of the world.  President Wilson's uplifting vision of an
enduring peace by a mutually protective combination of nations is
regarded by many as impracticable even as an illusion.  I do not
believe Lloyd George will regard it either as impracticable or as an
illusion.  His spirit will glow at the thought of it.  The magnitude of
the proposal will encourage him rather than check him.  As to the
difficulties in the way, he will tackle them with a confident smile.
The tenacity and high-mindedness of President Wilson are qualities
which will especially appeal to him.  He will be able to supplement
them with that ingenuity and practicalness which are an integral part
of his genius for getting things done.  I can see these two men,
therefore, as collaborators in days not so very far ahead.  In the
collaboration Lloyd George will probably find his culminating task.



APPENDIX

MR. LLOYD GEORGE ON AMERICA AND THE EUROPEAN WAR

On the anniversary of President Lincoln's birthday, February 12, 1916,
Mr. Lloyd George sent a remarkable message to the American people
comparing the American Civil War with the European conflict.  By the
courtesy of the New York _Times_ this message is presented here.

A LINCOLN DAY MESSAGE

I am very glad to respond to your request for a message for publication
on Lincoln Day.  I am glad because to my mind Abraham Lincoln has
always been one of the very first of the world's statesmen, because I
believe that the battle which we have been fighting is at bottom the
same battle which your countrymen fought under Lincoln's leadership
more than fifty years ago, and most of all, perhaps, because I desire
to say how much I welcome the proof which the last few days have
afforded that the American people are coming to realize this, too.

Lincoln's life was devoted to the cause of human freedom.  From the day
when he first recognized what slavery meant he bent all his energies to
its eradication from American soil.  Yet after years of patient effort
he was driven to realize that it was not a mere question of abolishing
slavery in the Southern States, but that bound up with it was a larger
issue: That unless the Union abolished slavery, slavery would break up
the Union.

Faced by this alternative, he did not shrink, after every other method
had failed, from vindicating both Union and freedom by the terrible
instrument of war.  Nor after the die for war had been cast did he
hesitate to call upon his countrymen to make sacrifice upon sacrifice,
to submit to limitation upon limitation of their personal freedom,
until, in his own words, there was a new birth of freedom in your land.

Is there not a strange similarity between this battle, which we are
fighting here in Europe, and that which Lincoln fought?  Has there not
grown up in this continent a new form of slavery, a militarist slavery,
which has not only been crushing out the freedom of the people under
its control, but which in recent years has also been moving toward
crushing out freedom and fraternity in all Europe as well?

Is it not true that it is to the militarist system of government which
centers in Berlin that every open-minded man who is familiar with past
history would point as being the ultimate source of all the expansion
of armaments, of all the international unrest, and of the failure of
all movements toward co-operation and harmony among nations during the
last twenty years?

We were reluctant, and many of us refused to believe that any sane
rulers would deliberately drench Europe in its own blood, so we did not
face the facts until it was almost too late.  It was not until August,
1914, that it became clear to us, as it became clear to Lincoln in
1861, that the issue was not to be settled by pacific means, and that
either the machine which controlled the destinies of Germany would
destroy the liberty of Europe or the people of Europe must defeat its
purpose and its prestige by the supreme sacrifice of war.  It was the
ultimatum to Serbia and the ruthless attack upon Belgium and France
which followed because the nations of Europe would not tolerate the
obliteration of the independence of a free people without conference
and by the sword, which revealed to us all the implacable nature of the
struggle which lay before us.

It has been difficult for a nation separated from Europe by three
thousand miles of sea and without political connections with its
peoples, to appreciate fully what was at stake in the war.  In your
Civil War many of our ancestors were blind.  Lord Russell hinted at an
early peace.  Even Gladstone declared "we have no faith in the
propagation of free institutions at the point of the sword."  It was
left for John Bright, that man of all others who most loved peace and
hated war, to testify that when our statesmen "were hostile or coldly
neutral the British people clung to freedom with an unfaltering trust."
But I think that America now sees that it is human unity and freedom
which are again being fought for in this war.

The American people under Lincoln fought not a war of conquest, but a
war of liberation.  We to-day are fighting not a war of conquest, but a
war of liberation--a liberation not of ourselves alone, but of all the
world, from that body of barbarous doctrine and inhuman practice which
has estranged nations, has held back the unity and progress of the
world, and which has stood revealed in all its deadly iniquity in the
course of this war.

In such wars for liberty there can be no compromise.  They are either
won or lost.  In your case it was freedom and unity or slavery and
separation, in our case military power, tyrannously used, will have
succeeded in tearing up treaties and trampling on the rights of others,
or liberty and public right will have prevailed.  Therefore, we believe
that the war must be fought out to a finish, for on such an issue there
can be no such thing as a drawn war.

In holding this conviction, we have been inspired and strengthened
beyond measure by the example and the words of your great President.
Once the conflict had been joined, he did not shrink from bloodshed.  I
have often been struck at the growth of both tenderness and stern
determination in the face of Lincoln, as shown in his photographs, as
the war went on.

Despite his abhorrence of all that was entailed, he persisted in it
because he knew that he was sparing life by losing it, that if he
agreed to compromise, the blood that had been shed on a hundred fields
would have been shed in vain, that the task of creating a united nation
of free men would only have to be undertaken at even greater cost at
some later day.  It would, indeed, be impossible to state our faith
more clearly than Lincoln stated it himself at the end of 1864.

"On careful consideration," he said, "of all the evidence it seems to
me that no attempt at negotiation with the insurgent leader could
result in any good.  He would accept nothing short of severance of the
Union, precisely what we will not and cannot give.  His declarations to
this effect are explicit and oft repeated.  He does not deceive us.  He
affords us no excuse to deceive ourselves; . . . between him and us the
issue is distinct, simple, and inflexible.  It is an issue which can
only be tried by war and decided by victory."

That was the judgment of the greatest statesman of the nineteenth
century during the last great war for human liberty.  It is the
judgment of this nation and of its fellow-nations overseas to-day.

"Our armies," said Lincoln, "are ministers of good, not evil."  So do
we believe.  And through all the carnage and suffering and conflicting
motives of the Civil War, Lincoln held steadfastly to the belief that
it was the freedom of the people to govern themselves which was the
fundamental issue at stake.  So do we to-day.  For when the people of
central Europe accept the peace which is offered them by the Allies,
not only will the allied peoples be free, as they have never been free
before, but the German people, too, will find that in losing their
dream of an empire over others, they have found self-government for
themselves.

D. LLOYD GEORGE.



THE END





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