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Title: Lord Roberts' Message to the Nation
Author: Roberts, Earl
Language: English
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  V.C., K.G.






A Speech to the Citizens of Manchester

Letter to the _Manchester Guardian_



Introductory Note: The National Service League and the Territorial Force

The Mansion House Speech: Lord Haldane's Scheme Examined



Introductory Note: Mr. Blatchford's Criticism of the Manchester Speech

Letter to the _Times_ on Compulsory Service and the Social Condition of
the Working Classes



Address at the Annual Dinner of the Kentish Men and the Men of Kent


My recent speech in Manchester has been so widely discussed, and, in
certain quarters, so gravely misrepresented or misunderstood, that, in
the interests of the cause which I there defended, I am impelled to
place before the public a complete text of that speech with such notes
and supplementary matter as seem necessary to make my meaning
unmistakable except to faction or to prejudice.

No one who has followed with attention the efforts of the National
Service League has any right to imagine that we desire a strong army
solely in order to invade the territory of European or more distant
States; or that we wish to root out the Territorial Force in order to
establish in its place an army system modelled on the army system of
Germany; or, again, that we have the ambition of resuscitating once
more medieval blood-lust, anarchic plunder, and delight in war!

What, then, are our aims?

We desire, in the first place, that all patriotic men within this
Empire should be made to see and to feel that from one cause or another
England, by neglecting her armaments, has drifted into a position which
it is impossible to describe otherwise than as a position of danger.
We desire further that all patriotic men should, without either
insincerity or delay, put to themselves the questions: How are we to
arrest that drifting, and how are we to evade or overcome that danger?
And, in the third place, with regard to foreign nations or empires, our
ambition is simply that States well-disposed towards us, whether near
or distant, may have it in their power to mix with their friendliness
respect, and with their goodwill esteem.

In the following pages I have stated in brief the solutions of these
problems which, after some experience of peace and war and after some
deliberation not free from anxiety, I have come to look upon as the
only workable solutions, as the only solutions consonant with our
honour and our continuance as an Empire.

And in view of the discussion and criticism which this speech has
provoked, and still provokes, I may be permitted to add, that, in
whatever I have said in this speech as in other speeches, I have had in
sight but one purpose--the good of this nation and the safety and
greatness of this Empire.  It is for my fellow-countrymen to judge
between me and those who, during these past few weeks, have willingly
or unwillingly misinterpreted my purpose or misstated my words.  It is
also for my countrymen to decide upon a far mightier issue; for in this
self-governed, free, and democratic State of England it is for all its
citizens to assert whether, in this matter of war and preparedness for
war, they shall face the facts, resolute to see things as they are, or
whether they shall continue indifferent to the history of the past and
obstinately blind to the warnings of the present, even to such beacons
as are now aflame on every hill from the Balkans to the Dardanelles!

And I appeal above all to the young men of this nation, to our young
men of every rank and social status, to the young men of every trade
and profession and calling of any kind; for it is they who, in victory
or in disaster, will have to meet the consequences of this tremendous
decision.  It is they, in a word, who now are England.

Young men, young men of British birth, is it possible that you can
shirk the issue, that you can fail to hear, or that, hearing, you can
fail to respond to your country's summons, to the memories of the past,
to the hopes of the future?




  OCTOBER 25, 1912.


This is only the second occasion in a long life on which I have had the
privilege of speaking in your city; and it is with no inadequate sense
of the value of that occasion and of the responsibility attaching to
the position which, for the past ten years, I have taken up towards
this Empire and its armies that I come before you this afternoon.  For
in the upbuilding of that Empire what city in our dominions has taken a
more conspicuous part than this city, made illustrious almost since its
foundation by commercial enterprise and by its political sagacity and
spirit in affairs?  In the eighteenth century your merchants aided the
designs of the elder Pitt, and of the statesmen who followed him, in
founding that power in India and the East which to-day is the envy and
the admiration of the nations.  In the nineteenth, within my own
memory, your city, under the unforgotten leadership of John Bright,
Richard Cobden, and Milner Gibson, gave a great watchword[1] to a great
and still living party, and by its resolute effort forced through
Parliament the repeal of the Corn Laws, one of the most momentous and
revolutionary measures in this nation's history.

Nor, in more recent times, has Manchester abated her zeal or her vital
energy in every phase of English political life.  The greatest, most
temperate, and statesmanlike Liberal newspaper in England is night by
night printed within your walls; so that, at least in one phase of our
national life and amongst one group of our fellow-citizens--the Liberal
party, that is to say--it is literally true that what Manchester thinks
to-night London thinks to-morrow.  And a certain election the other
day, and the overflow meetings which, I understand, have been held in
favour of Tariff Reform within the sacred precincts of the Free Trade
Hall itself, give a further proof that here in Manchester you are not
petrified in your opinions, but that the stream of your political life
flows fresh and from the fountain-head.

Judge then, gentlemen, whether it was not with some concern that I
looked forward to this occasion; judge whether it was not with some
searching of the heart that I reflected upon what I have this afternoon
to say to you.  For does it not appear at first sight as if what I have
to say is not merely antagonistic to the teaching of the two greatest
names of the Manchester School, John Bright and Richard Cobden, but is
in every way the contradiction of the characterizing ideas and the
traditions associated with this city itself?

For I come before you to-day to advocate the necessity of National
Service; to affirm once more that the "Nation in Arms" is the only
worthy and sure bulwark of this Empire and these islands.[2]  Cobden,
on the other hand, has left it on record that he considered it the
glory and the exceeding great reward of all his labours that he had
contributed, in however small a degree, to that universal disarmament
of Europe, which, he sanguinely hoped, would be the result of Free
Trade and of expanding commerce and the organization of labour.  And
John Bright, his great colleague, in one speech after another, added
the lustre of his eloquence to that same high and flattering
anticipation.  I can remember easily the ardent and sympathetic
reception which those anticipations met in the France of Louis
Napoleon; I can remember also the added weight which France's
enthusiasm gave to those happy anticipations here in England.  War,
indeed, seemed at an end.  To-morrow, it seemed, we should be turning
our barracks into granaries and our arsenals into banking houses.

Gentlemen, I am, I trust, doing no wrong to the memory of these
statesmen when I point out that in the very years--nay, in the very
months--that they were cherishing these illusions of peace and
universal disarmament, in those very months the mightiest and most
disciplined force that this earth has ever contained was silently being
drilled in that wide region from the Rhine to the Elbe and the Oder,
and from the North Sea to the Bavarian frontier, until, the right hour
having struck, that army disclosed itself in all its prodigious and
crushing mass and in all its unmatched capacity for destruction and
war.  And, amid those auspicious dreams of peace, for what was that
army being trained?  Koeniggrätz, Metz, St. Privat, and Sedan are the
answer.  Nor did that army pause until upon the ruins of the Empire of
the third Napoleon--upon the ruins, I may say, of France, unprepared in
peace, and in war scattered and dismayed--it had reared a new Empire,
the Empire of William I., of Frederick I., and of William II., for
whose personal character, noble and imaginative patriotism, and
capacities as a ruler, I yield to no man in my admiration.  Such,
gentlemen, was history's ironic comment upon John Bright's and Richard
Cobden's eloquently-urged enthusiasm.  Let me not increase by any word
of mine the crushing weight of Destiny's criticism.

Now, gentlemen, at the present day, now in the year 1912, our German
friends, I am well aware, do not, at least in sensible circles, assert
dogmatically that a war with Great Britain will take place this year or
next; but in their heart of hearts they know, every man of them,[3]
that, just as in 1866 and just as in 1870, war will take place the
instant the German forces by land and sea are, by their superiority at
every point, as certain of victory as anything in human calculation can
be made certain.  "Germany strikes when Germany's hour has struck."
That is the time-honoured policy of her Foreign Office.  That was the
policy relentlessly pursued by Bismarck and Moltke in 1866 and 1870; it
has been her policy decade by decade since that date; it is her policy
at the present hour.  And, gentlemen, it is an excellent policy.  It
is, or should be, the policy of every nation prepared to play a great
part in history.  Under that policy Germany has, within the last ten
years, sprung, as at a bound, from one of the weakest of naval Powers
to the greatest naval Power, save one, upon this globe.  But yesterday,
so to speak, the British Fleets did not feel the furrow of a German
war-keel on the wide seas.  To-day every British warship and every
British merchant vessel thrills in all her iron nerves to that mighty
presence.  Just as in 1866, by the massing of her armies towards this
frontier or towards that frontier, Prussia controlled the action of
Austria, so Germany constrains the action of England at the present
day.  Do you wish for proofs?  I point to the gradual displacement of
the British Fleet before the German menace.  I point to the
Mediterranean, bereft of British battleships, and to the gradual
narrowing, year by year, of our once far-flung battle-line.

We may stand still: Germany always advances, and the direction of her
advance, the line along which she is moving, is now most manifest.  It
is towards that consummation which I have described--a complete
supremacy by land and sea.  She has built a mighty fleet; but, as if
nothing were done so long as anything stands between her and her goal,
still she presses on--here establishing a new Heligoland, for every
available island in the North Sea has been fortified--there enclosing
Holland in a network of new canals, and deepening old riverbeds for the
swifter transport of the munitions of war, whether to her army or her

Contrasted with our own apathy or puerile and spasmodic efforts, how
impressive is this magnificent and unresting energy!  It has the mark
of true greatness; it extorts admiration even from those against whom
it is directed!

But, it is urged by the advocates of universal peace, how monstrous is
this expenditure of human strength and human ingenuity, if unused, and
how yet more monstrous the waste of human life if actually used in
war![4]  And how much more sane is the policy of Cobden and of Bright
and of their imitators or followers at the present day!  Gentlemen,
arguments which prove the folly and criminality of war are, at the
present stage of history, like the arguments which prove the folly and
criminality of ambition and of the love of glory.  Even those who argue
most eloquently against glory do, by that very eloquence, seek to win
glory; and those who argue most forcibly against war do, nevertheless,
live, and for long will continue to live, under an invisible power
which has made war an inseparable portion of human polity.  Much,
during the autumn of 1911, was said and written upon arbitration.
America's action in the Panama Canal, and the impotence of diplomatists
in the Balkan crisis,[5] are again history's ironic comment in the
autumn of 1912!  Arbitration most certainly is more humane than war;
but, at the present stage of the polity of nations, arbitration again
and again refuses to extend itself to some of the most vital and
essential questions--questions which, to a nation or empire sensitive
alike to its honour and to its abiding interests, make war unavoidable.

Again, we have heard much during the current year of the power of
Labour in international politics.  The German Socialist, it is said,
will not make war upon his French or his English comrade.  Gentlemen,
it is to the credit of the human race that patriotism, in the presence
of such organizations, has always proved itself superior to any class
or any individual.  Love of country has on the actual day of battle
always proved itself superior to love of profit.  That law has not been
abrogated, and if war broke out to-morrow the German working man would
quit himself like a German, and the British working man, I hope, like a

Hence, gentlemen, the mistrust with which I have always viewed the
proposals of British Ministers for a limitation of armaments.
Emanating from Great Britain, such proposals must always, I imagine,
impress a foreign observer as either too early or too late in English
history.  For how was this Empire of Britain founded?  War founded this
Empire--war and conquest!  When we, therefore, masters by war of
one-third of the habitable globe, when we propose to Germany to disarm,
to curtail her navy or diminish her army, Germany naturally refuses;
and pointing, not without justice, to the road by which England, sword
in hand, has climbed to her unmatched eminence, declares openly, or in
the veiled language of diplomacy, that by the same path, if by no
other, Germany is determined also to ascend!  Who amongst us, knowing
the past of this nation, and the past of all nations and cities that
have ever added the lustre of their name to human annals, can accuse
Germany or regard the utterance of one of her greatest Chancellors a
year and a half ago,[6] or of General Bernhardi three months ago, with
any feelings except those of respect?

Gentlemen, other world-Powers besides Germany have arisen and are
arising around us; but there is one way in which Britain can have
peace, not only with Germany, but with every other Power, national or
imperial, and that is, to present such a battle-front by sea and land
that no Power or probable combination of Powers shall dare to attack
her without the certainty of disaster.  That is the only reply worthy
of our past and wise for our future which we can or ought to make to
those unparalleled efforts which I have described.  And there is a way
in which England can have war; there is a way in which she is certain
to have war and its horrors and calamities: it is by persisting in her
present course, her apathy, unintelligence, blindness, and in her
disregard of the warnings of the most ordinary political insight, as
well as of the examples of history.

And what is the lesson which History enforces?  Of two courses you must
choose one: you must either abandon your Empire, and with it your
mercantile wealth; or, in the world as it is at present, be prepared to
defend it.

But, you will say, are we so unprepared?  Have we not a Fleet?  Have we
not an Army?

We have a Fleet, but that Fleet is rapidly becoming unequal to the
fleets by which we may be opposed, and by the inadequacy of our land
forces it is maimed and hampered in its very nature as a Fleet.  For
the essence of a Fleet in such an Empire as ours is the utmost
mobility: it must have complete freedom of action.  But if, in addition
to its own duties, our Fleet has to perform the role of an army of
defence, what must follow?  It becomes a "wooden wall" indeed, unmoving
and inert, anchored around these shores.  It is helpless to protect our
food-supplies, without the regular arrival of which we must starve.

A paramount Navy we must possess, whether of two keels to one or three
keels to two.  That is a self-evident truth.  But if this Empire is to
keep abreast of the rapid and tremendous developments amongst the
world-Powers around us, something more is necessary, and the necessity
increases with every year, almost with every month.  It is the
necessity for an Army strong enough to insure the mobility of our Navy,
and strong enough also to make our strength felt on the mainland of
Europe, should we ever appear there as the armed ally of another Power,
as we were on the verge of doing last autumn.  That also is, or ought
to be, self-evident.

What, then, is my plan, and what is my ultimate counsel to the nation
and the message to my countrymen that at this solemn hour I would
utter?  It is the message burnt into my mind twelve years ago during
the crisis of the South African War; it is the message which every hour
of that protracted and not too glorious struggle made me feel to be
more and more necessary; and, I am compelled to say frankly, it is the
message which events, some quite recent and some remoter, have
compelled me to regard as more pressing in 1912 than in 1900-1901.
Gentlemen, that message is: "Arm and prepare to quit yourselves like
men, for the time of your ordeal is at hand."  A long interval has been
allowed us for preparation; for in this era of rapid evolution twelve
years is a big space in human affairs.  Twelve years have been given to
us, and in those years what have we done?  We have modified and
remodified the effete voluntary system; we have invented several new
names and a new costume.  But as regards efficiency and as regards
preparedness for war, we are practically where we were in 1900.[7]

For, so far as the choice between the voluntary system and some form of
National Service is concerned, what have these twelve years
demonstrated, except the futility and positive danger of any and every
other system except some form of compulsion?  There has, I say, been
much juggling with words and names.  The old Militia and Volunteers
have disappeared, and the Special Reserve and the Territorials have
taken their place; there has been much complimentary and interested or
disinterested laudation by Members of Parliament, and, I regret to say,
by some few officers of the army.  The fact remains, that in the
opinion of every impartial soldier with any experience of modern
war--in the opinion, I say, of every soldier, whether British, German,
or French, who has given any attention to the subject, this great
Empire is wholly unprepared for war.  As a European Power, as a
Continental Power, we do not exist--for war.  Our Army, as a
belligerent factor in European politics, is almost a negligible
quantity.  This great Empire, indeed--and the more we exalt its
greatness and its unrivalled character, the more astounding does our
recklessness appear--this great Empire is at all times practically
defenceless beyond its first line.  Such an Empire invites war.  Its
assumed security amid the armaments of Europe, and now of Asia, is
insolent and provocative.

For remember that war does not begin, nor does it end, on the day of
battle.  There is a kind of war which goes on silent and unperceived
amid apparent peace.  That is the war which undermines commerce, which
profoundly affects a city like your city.  If once you permit any one
State to be your undisputed superior by sea and land, that hour, even
if not a shot be fired, you cease to be a free nation.  You are no
longer an Empire.  Your commercial greatness is vanished.  You hold
your very lives by the sufferance of another, and would have to submit
to any terms he might dictate.

Such, gentlemen, is the origin, and such the considerations which have
fostered in me the growth of this conviction--the conviction that in
some form of National Service is the only salvation of this nation and
this Empire.  The Territorial Force is now an acknowledged failure--a
failure in discipline, a failure in numbers, a failure in equipment, a
failure in energy.[8]  I have so often demonstrated this thesis; I have
so often analyzed the contradictions[9] in the arguments of the
supporters of the Territorial movement; I have so often exposed their
vamped-up statistics, and the rewards and encouragement offered by
politicians to every soldier or civilian willing to say a word in
praise of that scheme--I have done all this so often that there seems
nothing left for me to say.  To you, as practical business men, I will
merely repeat this one statement--a statement the truth of which is
known to every experienced soldier--that so long as the Territorial
Force is based on voluntary enlistment, it is impossible to give its
members a sufficiently lengthy and continuous period of training to
insure a discipline which will stand the severe test of modern war.  In
saying this, I am making no aspersions against the zeal or intelligence
of the patriotic men who compose the Force; neither they nor their
employers can afford the necessary time, so long as all men in this
country are not treated alike, and all compelled to serve their
apprenticeship in the National Forces.[10]  And, unless I am
misinformed, the majority of the Territorials are now in favour of

Gentlemen, only the other day I completed my eightieth year, and to
some of you, doubtless to many of you, I am indebted for one of the
moments of the deepest gratification in my life, and the words I am
speaking to-day are, therefore, old words--the result of earnest
thought and practical experience; but, gentlemen, my fellow-citizens
and fellow-Englishmen, citizens of this great and sacred trust, this
Empire, if these were my last and latest words, I still should say to
you, "Arm yourselves!"  And if I put to myself the question, How can I,
even at this late and solemn hour, best help England?--England that to
me has been so much, England that for me has done so much--again I
answer, "Arm and prepare to quit yourselves like men, for the day of
your ordeal is at hand."  I have commanded your armies in peace and in
war.  In my early years, as in my middle life, and now in these my
latest years, I have felt to the quick the glories accompanying the
armies of the past across every battlefield.  What made the valour of
those armies so distinguished?  One thing at least: it was that, in
officers exclusively, and in the ranks mainly, they were composed of
men who regarded citizenship as incomplete unless it involved
soldiership.  Gentlemen, you have been enfranchised, many of you, by
the great Acts of 1832 and 1867.  I say to you, the young men of this
city and of this nation, that your enfranchisement is not complete
until you have become soldiers as well as citizens, prepared to attest
your manhood on the battlefield as well as at the election booths.

Much has been said recently of the rights and the power of the workers
of this nation.  We all, I hope, belong to that class--workers--but the
artisan class of the nation has been urged--and to you, the working men
of Manchester, I now specially address myself--you have been urged, I
say, to refuse to do your duties in war until your rights in peace are
granted.  Gentlemen, I say to you, that is not the policy either of
Britishers or of men.  I will go further: I say to you that it is not
by declining or shirking duty that you will extend your rights.  He who
diminishes the power and vital resources of Great Britain diminishes
the power and the vital resources of every Britisher.  How can you most
easily and most securely better yourselves as Britishers--as working
men?  By making England better, by making it better worth your while to
be a citizen of, and a worker in that nation!  If you seized by
violence or by Act of Parliament all the accumulated capital of the
centuries, you might have a madman's holiday for a time; but in the end
you would emerge bankrupt and starving.  You yourselves are the capital
of the nation--the life-wealth of the nation--its manhood.  Weapons,
however perfect, will not make an army.  Men are necessary--men of
spirit, men of energy, loving their country, not merely loving their
class or themselves.  And on you, in turn, that discipline and those
duties will confer unreckonable benefits.  A tyranny imposes an
exterior restraint; but you, in your free democratic constitution,
should consider it as your privilege to impose upon yourselves from
within that discipline and those sacred duties.

I say to you, therefore, assert your rights as Britishers by demanding
the greatest, the highest of all civic and of all national rights--the
right to be taught to defend your country--the right, that is, to
defend your own honour as Britons and your liberties as citizens of
this Empire.  Thus, and thus only, shall you be worthy of that Empire's
great past and of the dignity which that past confers upon every man of
you, whatever your position in life may be.

[1] Apart from Free Trade and unrestrained competition, there are three
other doctrines, or political principles, associated with the
Manchester School: (1) To maintain peace at any cost; (2) strictly to
avoid all interference with the internal affairs of foreign Powers; (3)
to subordinate as far as possible all other interests to the interests
of industry.  The complete organization of industry was to have, as its
immediate consequence, the abolition of war.  These principles
crystallized later into the familiar watchword of Liberalism: "Peace,
Retrenchment, and Reform."

[2] Succinctly, by "the Nation in Arms" I mean that every able-bodied
citizen has patriotism enough to take his place in the firing-line to
repel invasion; and, secondly, that he has common sense enough to
undergo the discipline to make that self-sacrifice effective.  In the
second part of this book I have indicated what that preparation means.
Here I may only observe that when Lord Haldane speaks of "the whole
nation springing to arms at the call of duty" he is once more
forgetting the part which discipline plays in modern war.  A nation may
"spring to arms," but if it is not disciplined, and thoroughly
disciplined, its very courage will only serve to hasten its
destruction.  Within the last few weeks tens of thousands of brave
Ottomans have sprung to arms, but with what dire results!

[3] It would be easy, I am informed on good authority, to illustrate
this from passages in the works of German writers from Treitschke, the
great exponent of Bismarckism, to writers of the present day.  And I
may quote a paragraph in support of my thesis from an unexpected
source, that of Mr. H. M. Hyndman, in a letter to the _Morning Post_ of
November 9, nearly three weeks after my Manchester speech.  Mr.
Hyndman, I need not remind my readers, not only enjoys a wide
experience of German Socialism, but of many phases of German politics
and political life.  He writes: "I cannot for the life of me understand
what Sir Edward Grey hopes to gain by rebuking Lord Roberts for stating
that which the whole Continent knows perfectly well to be the truth.
The German Fleet is being strengthened now, as it has been increased up
to the present time, in order either to attack us in the North Sea,
when the German Government thinks it safe to do so; or, by threats of
what will occur, to force us to accept German policy, and allow the
German Empire to do what it pleases with Holland, Belgium, Denmark, and
Switzerland, after having crushed or arranged with France.  If Germany
is not hostile to this country, why does the whole Pan-German party
(and Press), to which the heir to the German throne openly belongs,
declare that she is?  Why is it that 'England is the enemy' is the
common talk all through German middle-class circles?  Or, on the other
hand, if the relations between the two nations are so excellent as our
Foreign Minister assures us they are--thus leading many sober Frenchmen
to believe that our _entente_ with France only means that we shall
betray the French Republic the moment it suits us to do so--why are we
fortifying Rosyth as a naval base, why have we withdrawn our Fleet from
the Mediterranean to concentrate it in home waters, and why was every
journal in this country discussing the issues of peace and war with the
German Empire when the late German Ambassador came to this country?
More important still, why have we given way to a worse Government than
that of Germany--the Russian Government, to wit--on matters of the
first importance in Persia and elsewhere?  Are the English people mere
children thus to be fed on the pap of fatuous pacificism and convenient
party misrepresentation at one of the most serious crises in the
history of our race?"

[4] It is, or ought to be, superfluous to rebut the frantic accusation
brought against myself and the National Service League by a leading
Liberal weekly on October 26--that of blood-lust.  Can there be
Englishmen--or men bearing English names--in whom all sense of personal
honour is so decayed, that to resent a national affront or to defend
their Fatherland from foreign aggression appears a duty from which they
recoil in shuddering apprehension?

[5] Since these words were spoken, with what an unparalleled rapidity
has event crowded upon portentous event in the Near East!  I have no
wish to establish hasty analogies or to draw premature inferences; but
what Englishman can consider the events of these past three weeks and
remember without a pitying smile Lord Haldane's naïve assurance that
with six months' training our Territorials would be ready for war!  Did
ever dilettantism so give itself away?

[6] In March, 1911, when every pulpit and every newspaper, under the
influence of President Taft's message, promised us within a brief
period universal peace and disarmament, the German Chancellor, Herr
Bethmann-Hollweg, had the courage and the common sense to stand apart,
and, speaking for his Emperor and his nation, to lay it down as a maxim
that, at the present stage of the world's history, the armed forces of
any nation or empire must have a distinct relation to the material
resources of that nation or empire.  This position seems to me as
statesmanlike as it is unanswerable; but in applying the principle to
our own country, I should be inclined to modify it by saying that the
armed forces of any nation or empire ought to represent, not only its
material resources, but the spirit which animates that nation or
empire--in a word, that its armed forces should be the measure of the
nation's devotion to whatever ends it pursues.

[7] For a more complete examination of this subject, I must refer the
reader to the First Part of "Fallacies and Facts," published two years
ago in answer to Lord Haldane's and Sir Ian Hamilton's "Compulsory

[8] Since these words were spoken a remarkable series of letters in the
_Daily Mail_, emanating from every grade in the Territorial Army
itself, has illustrated and demonstrated this position point by point.

[9] See, for example, my speech at the Mansion House, which forms the
second part of the present publication.

[10] As an illustration, let me quote a letter which I received from an
important firm of manufacturing chemists in reply to a request from the
Secretary of the National Service League to be allowed to speak to
their men on the subject of Universal Military Training: "We regret
that our manager at Hounslow is not in favour of your going there, for
fear Territorial enlistment may be encouraged.  Our business is of a
peculiar nature, and is already quite seriously interfered with by the
training of the appreciable number of Territorials in our employ.  The
difficulty is that ours is very skilled labour; in many cases we have
no duplicate men, and outsiders cannot temporarily take up and
discharge the duties of these men.  When service is compulsory we shall
be on equal terms with everybody else, and willing to bear an increased


    November 5, 1912.



My attention has been drawn to the leader in your issue of the 4th
instant, in which you deal with a passage in my speech in Manchester.
I am too much accustomed to adverse criticism in my efforts to arouse
the nation to a sense of its unpreparedness for war to resent in any
way the attacks of my opponents.  But when a paper of such standing as
that of the _Manchester Guardian_ completely misconstrues what was
certainly a salient passage in my speech, I feel bound, in justice to
the cause which I have at heart, to explain my meaning more fully than
was possible when I was dealing with the whole question of National
Defence in relation to our position as a world-Power.

It is true that I pointed out the striking process by which Germany has
developed from a loose congeries of petty federated States to the
united Empire which arouses the admiration of the world to-day.  Before
1866 the German States, under the scarcely-established leadership of
Prussia, were surrounded on every side by jealous rivals or hostile
neighbours, and it seemed doubtful whether the unity which was the
dream of Stein in 1806, and of the Revolutionists in 1848, could ever
be attained, except by a policy of blood and iron.  Certain it is that
Bismarck, the architect of united Germany, saw in the policy of
successful war the only means of realizing German nationality, and of
constructing the edifice of national greatness so firmly that it should
stand "foursquare to all the winds that blow."  The three hammer
strokes of 1864, 1866, and 1870, were needed to achieve this result,
but the strength and precision of those hammer blows were prepared by
long years of patient, self-sacrificing labour, during which the German
forces were made "as certain of victory as anything in human
calculation can be made certain, by their superiority at every point."
Of this process and development, inspiring the whole nation to manful
effort and to individual sacrifice for the common fatherland, even if
it be in preparation for death or victory on the battlefield, I said
that "it is an excellent policy.  It is, or should be, the policy of
every nation prepared to play a great part in history."  And I repeat
that statement to-day, when the glorious achievements of the younger
Nations in Arms have lent point to its truth, while they have
established their claims to nationhood and the gratitude of hundreds of
thousands of their kinsmen.

But to suggest that I am urging upon England that it should be her
policy, first, to arm herself better than Germany, and then to make war
on Germany, with or without a just cause, with or without even a
quarrel, simply because England thinks herself at that moment able to
win a war--this is a suggestion so strange and so repugnant to my mind
that I am utterly at a loss to understand how it could be attributed to
me, or elicited from my speech.  A moment's reflection will show the
vast difference between the position of Germany, with which I was
dealing, and that of England to-day.  While Germany, owing to her
rapidly expanding population and vast economic development, is impelled
to look for means of expansion in a world which is already for the most
part parcelled out, we, on the other hand, do not require or seek
another square mile of dominion.  Our object must be to develop the
resources of our Empire, commercially, industrially, and socially.  But
in order to be able to do so we must be in a position to defend
ourselves successfully against aggression, and so to remove the
temptation which a wealthy but ill-defended Empire must always offer to
a strong and virile people, proud of its achievements and conscious of
its fitness to fill a greater place amid the nations.  My whole speech
was directed, therefore--as are all my efforts--to impressing upon my
fellow-countrymen the terrible danger which is involved in the present
situation, in which we alone find ourselves, as a nation, untrained,
unorganized, and unarmed, amid a Europe in which every people, not only
great Powers like Russia, Germany, and France, but the smaller
States--Bulgaria, Servia, Greece, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark--stand as
armed nations, providing a balance of forces which, while it
strengthens each one of them physically and industrially, makes for
peace with honour--or for the triumph of the right.

Yours very truly,




The controversies raised by my Manchester speech prove that there is
still much misapprehension, not always involuntary, in regard to the
position of the National Service League towards the Territorial Force.
I therefore insert in this place a statement of that position which I
made in a speech delivered in the Mansion House in July last.

As an introduction to that speech I may be permitted to quote from a
statement which, as President of the League, I published in the _Times_
in January, 1912:

"It is not infrequently asserted that the League is hostile to the
Territorials, that we have discouraged recruiting for them, and that,
were our programme adopted, the Territorial Force would disappear.
Nothing is further from the truth.  From the date of its formation we
have constantly praised the Territorial Force as an organization; we
have again and again borne willing witness to the patriotism of those
who joined its ranks.

Thus in 1908, Lord Milner, speaking at the annual dinner of the League
on June 24, said: "Let us hold up high the standard of efficiency for
the Territorial army as we have got it, and let us back up those who
have originated that army and who are trying to make the best of it;
let us back them up in all their efforts to make it as like a real army
in training and in equipment as it is possible to make it.  That, I
believe, is the proper course for us to pursue."

In our official statement issued in February, 1909, these words occur:
"The National Service League has consistently given the warmest support
to the Territorial Force from its inception, recognizing the great
superiority in organization and capabilities that this Force provides
as compared with the old Volunteer Force."

And, during the past year (1911), in his volume, "Fallacies and Facts,"
the President of the League, whilst criticizing Lord Haldane's and Sir
Ian Hamilton's deductions, allots the highest praise to the public
spirit alike of employers and employees who support the Territorial

In addition to this, our members have actively helped the Territorial
Force by working on the County Associations and by obtaining recruits.
We are represented on the majority of the County Associations, and
nearly one-fourth of the members of these Associations are also members
of the National Service League.  Again, many of our members are
enrolled in the Territorials, and Lord Haldane himself, speaking at the
headquarters of the 6th City of London Rifles on December 1, 1911, said
there were numbers of the National Service League who had assisted in
the work of recruiting for the Territorial Force, and he "took this
opportunity of thanking them."

Moreover, it is to be observed that the whole programme of the National
Service League is now based on the maintenance and expansion of the
Territorial Force.  Our programme, far from involving the disappearance
of that Force, or of any part of that Force, accepts it in its
entirety.  All that it does is to change the system of recruiting, and
thus enable the training to be given before and not after war breaks
out.  Were the League's proposals adopted, not a single unit of the
Territorial Force would be reduced, nor a man called upon to leave its
ranks.  The whole organization and personnel would be preserved, and
their services would be invaluable in bridging the difficult period of
transition from the old system to the new.  The Territorial Force would
be increased to an adequate strength, made efficient as a military
machine, and would rest on the firm basis of universal military
training of the manhood of the nation, instead of--as at present--on
insufficient service given with difficulty by a patriotic minority.

The above, we trust, will be sufficient to dispose of the idea that
there is, or ever has been, any antagonism on the part of the League
towards the Territorial Force as a body.  We contend that all
able-bodied men should be trained in it.

But, whilst we have from the beginning praised the organization of this
Force, whilst we have admired the patriotism and self-sacrifice of
those who have joined it, and encouraged our members to support it, we
do not conceal our opinion that, resting as it does on voluntary
enlistment alone, it can never become a Force on which the country can
rely for its protection in time of peril.  Every year that passes
emphasizes the correctness of this view.  The Territorial Force is in
the fourth year of its existence, and, despite the large measure of
support given to it and the unwearied labour of one of the ablest War
Ministers we have ever had, what is its condition?  Its strength in
round numbers should be 314,000.  It is 264,000.  All its members
should do fifteen days' drill in camp every year.  Only 155,300 have
done so this year.  It should have 11,300 Territorial Officers.  It has
only 9,500.  Finally, 40 officers and 6,703 men were absent from camp
this year without leave.

We ask any open-minded man whether a Force thus constituted is an army
at all, much less an army to which this country can entrust its
existence as a great Nation?

We do not bring these facts forward in order to discredit Lord
Haldane's courageous efforts or to depreciate the patriotism of those
now serving in the Force.  We bring them forward simply in order to
demonstrate the impossibility of constructing a defensive Army equal to
this country's needs on a basis of voluntary enlistment.  If Lord
Haldane, backed by the hearty support of King and country, has
failed--and by his own admission he has failed--who is likely to

Not many weeks ago this country was on the verge of a gigantic war.
And it was a war which, if it had come, would have come unexpectedly
and suddenly.  What would have been our position?  All the soothing
fallacies which pass current in time of peace--the belief that our
Expeditionary Force can at the same time be sent abroad and yet kept at
home to cover the training of the Territorial Force; the belief that
this Force is sure of six months' unmolested leisure in which it can
fit itself for the serious business of war--would have been shattered
in twelve hours.  The Expeditionary Force--to be of any use at
all--must have been despatched abroad without a day's delay; and, for
the defence of these islands, we should have had to rely upon a handful
of Regulars left behind in the depots as "unfit"; such of the Special
Reserve as may not be required for the Expeditionary Force, and the
National Reserve; but mainly upon a Territorial Force,[1] nominally
264,000 strong, untrained for war, and further weakened by a shortage
of 1,800 officers!

Now, making every allowance for the immense resisting power which in
moments of supreme peril nations and cities have occasionally derived
from enthusiasm or despair, is it either fitting, we ask, or even
prudent, that, in the twentieth century, Great Britain should repose
her trust in so problematical and hazardous a presumption?  For the
transformation of the most heroic enthusiasm into an effective weapon
of war demands time, exactly as the transformation of the Territorials
into an efficient Army demands time.  But when war comes it will come
with great suddenness; the essential crisis will be on us in an
instant, and for Great Britain--as Lord Salisbury in his latest
utterances significantly warned us--the stake is not to be reckoned in
millions of a war indemnity; the stake is our very existence as an

When Lord Haldane cites the exploits of untrained or semi-trained
forces, when he speaks of "a whole nation springing to arms at the call
of duty," he has his eyes fastened upon other circumstances and upon
other times than ours.  Under the conditions of modern war, discipline
alone can confront discipline on a field of battle.

"We appeal to our countrymen to join us in our effort," I went on to
say.  "We appeal, above all, to the officers and men of the existing
Territorial Force.  We are working to insure that their sacrifice to
patriotism should not be made futile, nor their devotion thrown away.
We are working to make the Army to which they belong a reality--that is
to say, a Home Army efficient and sufficient; an Army which shall
always be ready to take up the defence of these islands, and leave our
Regulars free and our Fleets free to fight our battles elsewhere.  We
ask them to assist us in our efforts to introduce a system of
compulsory training, the only system under which the safety of the
country can be secured and the Territorial Force made really effective."

[1] On June 17, 1908, Lord (then Mr.) Haldane said: "In the event of a
great war breaking out ... the Territorials would be embodied, not for
immediate fighting, if it could be avoided, but for their war training."



  _Speech delivered in the Mansion House,
  July_ 22, 1912.


It is seven years, almost to the day, since I had the honour of
addressing a meeting of City men in this historic House on the subject
of Imperial Defence.  On that occasion I prefaced my remarks by saying:
"I have but one object in coming before you to-day, namely, to bring
home to my fellow-countrymen the vital necessity of their taking into
their earnest consideration our unpreparedness for war."  I then
affirmed that the armed forces of this country were as absolutely
unfitted and unprepared for war as they were in 1899-1900.  And, my
Lords and gentlemen, I grieve to have this afternoon to repeat to you
that we are now scarcely better fitted or better prepared to carry on a
war to-day than in 1905.  The experience that we gained in the Boer War
has had little effect upon our general military policy.  We have
neglected, except as regards the Regular Army, to profit by the lessons
which that war ought to have taught us.

What are the causes of this indifference and this deep-seated apathy?

The causes, I think, are not far to seek.  In the first place, if you
will permit me as a soldier to speak with the frankness of a soldier,
it is one of the most dangerous tendencies of a nation, especially a
democratic and self-confident nation, devoted to commerce and industry
as we are, to ignore so disturbing and apparently so remote a
contingency as our being forced into war.  But there is another more
immediate and a more particular cause, and it is to this that I mainly
wish to direct your attention this afternoon.

Those who are responsible for our defences--and I must include in this
category the late Minister for War--are, I maintain, either so blind to
the lessons of history, or so enamoured of their own schemes, that they
have deliberately lulled the nation into the belief that our present
system is adequate, and that we are amply prepared to meet any dangers
which come within the sphere of consideration by practical men.  Thus
the very men who ought to declare the facts in the plainest terms to
the nation, the very men who ought to be endeavouring to rouse the
nation from its fatal apathy, are the men who are fostering that spirit
of indifference and self-confidence to which the nation of itself is
already too prone.  A democracy like ours will never take the necessary
measures to safeguard itself so long as Ministers and a partisan Press
proclaim that we are as a nation perfectly safe, when, as a matter of
fact, our position is precarious in the extreme.  This is a serious
statement; but, if you will have patience with me, I hope to convince
you that it is well founded, and it can be demonstrated from the
principles of Imperial Defence which Lord Haldane has so frequently,
and, it must be admitted, so plausibly, urged upon us.

My Lords and gentlemen, I have on many occasions paid a tribute to Lord
Haldane's services.  He has placed the problems of National Defence
upon what is, for a British Minister, a new and comprehensive basis;
and he will go down to posterity as the first British statesman who, in
theory, embodied in an actual scheme the idea of a National Army, "A
Nation in Arms."  This conception is so important to my whole subject
this afternoon that it is worth while to recall some of Lord Haldane's
expressed ideas with regard to it.

Speaking at Newcastle-on-Tyne in September, 1906, Lord Haldane said
that we must have a highly trained nucleus in time of peace, and must
look for a great expansion in time of war, "and for that expansion we
must go to the nation, and ask for the co-operation of the nation,"
adding: "A nation in arms is the only safeguard for the public
interests," and that "this idea has been neglected in our military
contemplation.  The problem," he went on to say, "is not a problem of
the Regular Forces nearly so much as the problem of the nation in arms,
of the people as a whole, with all the forces of the country welded
into one."

Such an expression of opinion by the newly-created Secretary of State
for War was to many of us an augury of great hope.  It seemed that at
last Great Britain might have an army adapted to modern conditions of
war; that we had at last a Minister who not only understood, but had
enunciated in a clear and masterly manner our own conception of a
Nation in Arms.  From that time forward, we imagined, the Nation in
Arms would be regarded as a vigorous trunk from which the Regular Army
and the personnel of the Navy would spring forth as branches, drawing
their sap and the vigour of their life from the qualities--mental,
moral, and physical--of the nation itself.  For that, and no other, is
the real meaning of the phrase "A Nation in Arms."

Such, my Lords and gentlemen, was Lord Haldane's language in September,
1906--less than six years ago.  Might it not be imagined that he was
speaking as President of the National Service League, addressing a
meeting such as I am addressing to-day?

Nor can it be denied that, in his subsequent description of the
functions to be fulfilled by the Forces which he has substituted for
the Volunteers, Lord Haldane has correctly kept in view the
relationship which ought to exist between the branches and the trunk,
between the Navy and the Regular nucleus on the one hand, and the
"National Army lying behind" them on the other.

In his Memorandum on the Army Estimates for 1908-09, when the
Territorial Force was created, Lord Haldane said that it was "designed--

"1. To compel any hostile Power which may attempt invasion to send a
force so large that its transports could not evade our own fleets and

"2. To free the Regular Army from the necessity of remaining in these
islands to fulfil the functions of Home Defence.

"3. And," he said, "a further result will be to permit greater freedom
to the Navy."

Elsewhere Lord Haldane protested that the "essence of the duty of the
Territorial Force is to protect us against invasion"; and he pointed
out that the Territorial Force might have to be entrusted with the
defence of these shores after the whole of the Regular Army had left
the country.

You will see, my Lords and gentlemen, that an efficient Territorial
Force is thus made the fundamental condition of the effectiveness of
our whole defensive system, and the question immediately arises, Can
the Territorial Force perform the functions assigned to it?  If it
cannot perform those functions, the whole defensive system, of which it
is the central pillar, must fall to the ground.

What, then, is this system?

It consists, for an Empire such as ours, of three parts--

1. A supreme Navy, the standard for which has been laid down by the
present Government as that of a 60 per cent. superiority over the next
strongest Navy.

2. A Regular Army, to act as a garrison and police force to our Empire
in time of peace, and as a striking force in time of war.

3. A Home Army of such a character as regards numbers and training as
would enable it to free the Navy and the Regular Army from the primary
duties of Home Defence by providing direct security against an
attempted invasion of these shores, and at the same time to form a
potential reserve which could supply by voluntary effort in a national
emergency powers of expansion to the Regular Army when fighting for the
very existence of our Empire abroad.

Does our Territorial Force, as it stands to-day, provide us with a Home
Army of this character?

I have no hesitation in answering this question in the negative.  The
Territorial Force is not and, under the conditions of voluntary
service, never can be fit to perform the functions allotted to it by
Lord Haldane himself.

My Lords and gentlemen, three conditions must be fulfilled in order
that an Army may be efficient.  These conditions are--

1. Sound organization.

2. Sufficient numbers.

3. Adequate training.

To the soundness of the organization established by Lord Haldane I have
frequently testified.  He wisely followed the advice given by the Royal
Commission on the Auxiliary Forces, and there is, therefore, as regards
organization, nothing to criticize.

With regard to numbers, I have reminded you that, when the scheme was
first put forward, Lord Haldane talked of a "Nation in Arms," and the
figures he gave--"seven, or eight, or nine hundred thousand"--showed
that he contemplated the training of a Home Army of a strength which
would correspond in a measure to that phrase.  At that time, too, he
declared his intention of including in his scheme a comprehensive plan
for the training of boys in Cadet Corps, which would have contributed
materially to broaden the basis of the Home Army, and might have
shortened the period of training for those who joined the Territorial
Force, had that period in itself been adequate.  But this most useful
proposal he dropped at the outset at the bidding of a small section of
his political supporters.  And, my Lords and gentlemen, in actual
numbers what do we possess?  The establishment of the Territorial Army
is 315,000.  On April 1, 1912, the numbers obtained (a large proportion
being mere boys) were 278,955--that is to say, four years after the
scheme was started the force is about 25,000 short of the establishment
laid down, but more than 400,000 short of the smallest number that Lord
Haldane originally hoped for.

Can it be pretended for a moment that such a number provides the Home
Army which Mr. Asquith described as necessary, if we are to be able to
guard against a successful invasion of even 70,000 men?  I say nothing
at this point of the danger of believing that no force larger than
70,000 may have to be dealt with; but I must point out that, in order
to deal with an invasion of even 70,000 highly-trained soldiers, a
field force of at least 300,000 partially-trained men are required, in
addition to some 200,000 men needed for the protection of the naval
bases and arsenals, and to garrison the principal places in Great
Britain and Ireland.

It is important that you should realize the facts: that the number
asked for was quite inadequate; that even that number has not been
obtained, and that the age and physique of a considerable proportion of
those who have come forward are not up to a satisfactory standard; for
Lord Haldane has been concentrating all his efforts and the attention
of the public on securing, at almost any cost, the number of men for
the Territorial Force--that is, the total of 315,000 men, to which his
ideal of a Nation in Arms has shrunk.  But even in this he has failed.
These frantic efforts to secure a nominal success are designed to
distract attention from the far more serious question of the training
of the Territorial Force, and to create the impression that the scheme
is a masterpiece which is beyond criticism, and which has, once for
all, made it quite unnecessary to discuss the question of compulsory
service for the Home Army.

So much for organization and numbers; now for the third
condition--namely, the _training_ of the Territorial Force.  In
discussing this question I must try to avoid misinterpretation by
saying that, in stating plain facts, I am not criticizing the officers
or men of that Force.  On the contrary, I honour them for their
patriotism, and for the admirable example they are setting to their
apathetic fellow-countrymen.  It is the voluntary system that I
condemn, and the politicians who are hoodwinking this nation into the
belief that that system is adequate and sufficient for our needs.  And
surely I need not apologize for examining the standard of training laid
down for the Territorial Force.  Lord Haldane himself, in 1906,
declared, "It is preparedness for war which is the key to the sort of
organization we ought to have in peace"; and on another occasion he
said, "The contemplation of large numbers by the people of this
country, who are unable to take into account questions of war
efficiency and war organization, necessarily promotes dangerous
national illusions."  It is against such "dangerous national illusions"
that I wish to warn my fellow-countrymen in the following analysis of
the training of the Territorial Force.

The Territorial soldier can be enlisted at seventeen years of age, and
the engagement is for four years.  In the first year he must do a
minimum of forty drills of an hour each, and a minimum of eight days or
a maximum of fifteen days, in camp.  In the next year he must do ten
drills of an hour each, and the same camp training.  The musketry
standard can hardly be described as high, seeing that each man is only
provided by the State with 90 rounds per annum, and in some cases this
number is disposed of on an enclosed range on one day in the year.
This is simply ludicrous, considering that, in modern war and with the
modern rifle, the soldier who cannot use this weapon with skill and
confidence is absolutely useless.[1]

Such is the minimum peace training laid down for the Territorial Force.
It is less than the minimum training in any army or Militia in the
world.  I am aware that many officers and men do a great deal more as
individuals.  But what is far more important--and I ask you, my Lords
and gentlemen, most earnestly to realize the fact--a large number do
not reach even this minimum amount of training.

The proposal to give six months' training after war breaks out is so
amazing as to be unworthy of consideration, and it is difficult to
believe that it was made seriously by its talented author, seeing that
readiness for war is the purpose aimed at by every European nation; and
now-a-days, when war breaks out with the greatest suddenness, and the
stake at issue between two great nations going to war would be so
gigantic, the temptation to secure the advantage of the initiative and
to commence hostilities without declaration of war could hardly be

But it may be urged that, although the Territorial Force is evidently
not fit to perform its functions without a proper course of recruit
training, surely it would be possible to secure that training in time
of peace, instead of postponing it until the outbreak of war, as Lord
Haldane proposed.  If the nation still hugs this delusion, I hope it
will abandon it before it drags us down to disaster.  For one hundred
years the voluntary system for Home Defence has been tried and found
wanting.  Under it a sufficient number of men have never been
forthcoming, and can never be forthcoming, to devote enough time in
peace to render the Army fit for war.  Discipline cannot be acquired by
homeopathic doses; nothing but a considerable period of continuous
training can give individual soldiers and military units that
self-confidence and cohesion which are essential to success in war; and
no modification of the voluntary system, no amount of lavish
expenditure, no cajolery, no juggling with figures, will ever produce
an adequate and efficient Home Army.

This truth was clearly expressed by the Duke of Norfolk when he said,
with reference to the Report of the Royal Commission on the Auxiliary
Forces, of which he was the President: "The breakdown is in almost
every case attributed essentially to the nature of the voluntary system
itself, which makes it impossible to demand a reasonable standard of
efficiency without greatly reducing the forces."

Curiously enough, Lord Haldane, speaking of the Territorial Force,
seems to have recognized the correctness of this conclusion, for in the
House of Commons on March 9, 1908, he said: "Because it is a voluntary
Army on a voluntary basis, you can only give it just so much training
as volunteers are able and willing to take...."  Can anything be more
condemnatory of the value of a Force, which will assuredly be required
the moment war breaks out?  And to quote the Duke of Norfolk again: "If
you trust the present organization ... you will be leaning on a prop
which will fail when the day of trial comes."

What would be the result is simply this--for six months the striking
force could not strike.  The Regular Army could not leave these shores
to assist our fellow-countrymen in India and the oversea Dominions, or
to reinforce our friends and allies in accordance with the obligations
of honour and mutual interest which we have undertaken.  For six months
the Navy would be hampered and shackled in performing its traditional
duties of seeking out the enemy's fleets--it would, in fact, be
deprived of that "greater freedom" which the Territorial Force was
intended to give it.

But, my Lords and gentlemen, we have not had to wait for war to see the
effects of this pernicious policy; its evil effects are already upon
us, though nominally we are at peace with all the world.  Year by year,
during the past decade, the ocean area over which the British flag
floats has been steadily narrowed, and within the past three months,
the most presageful, the most ominous narrowing of all, has taken
place.  We have abandoned the Mediterranean Sea.  But yesterday that
great sea was like a British lake; to-day not a single British
battleship disturbs the blue of its waters.  Could any more
significant, more startling warning ever be given to a Government not
wilfully deaf, or to a nation not wedded to luxury and self-indulgence,
indifferent alike to its past glories and its present security?

What better exemplification could be imagined of the truth of Mahan's
axiom that "a fleet charged with the care of its base is a fleet so far
weakened for effective action"?  And what does this whole process of
the withdrawal of the British flag from one sea after another and its
concentration in home waters indicate?  It indicates just this, that
while "the British Navy a hundred years ago was superior to the
combined navies of all Europe," it is to-day little more than equal to
the next largest European Navy, and is quite inadequate in proportion
to the interests it has to guard.

This revolution in our relative strength at sea is mainly owing to the
want of foresight on the part of successive Lords of the Admiralty, and
it is incidentally an additional condemnation of our retention of the
old voluntary system of our land defence.  While we are standing still,
Germany is moving, and we have this year the announcement of a new and
larger programme, a programme which goes much beyond the Navy Law of
1900, and will, when completed, give Germany--the greatest military
Power in the world--a group of battle fleets in the North Sea
calculated to make us consider whether even our concentrated naval
strength will be sufficient to cope with them.

My Lords and gentlemen, in mentioning Germany in this connection I want
to make it perfectly clear that I do so in no spirit of hostility, with
no wish to stir up any feeling of resentment or enmity against a great
people bent upon working out their own salvation.  I have not the
slightest sympathy with the Press controversies carried on in both
countries, which have done so much to embitter the feeling between what
are really two branches of the same race.  What I desire to point out
to my fellow-countrymen is simply this: Great Britain has attained to
the limits of her territorial expansion.  She neither requires nor
seeks another square mile of dominion.  Her object should be to develop
the resources of her people commercially, industrially, and socially,
and to maintain the traditions of religious and political freedom which
have been the main cause of her greatness.  At the same time there is
Germany, a great homogeneous State, with a population of 66,000,000,
which is consciously aiming at becoming a world-Power with "a place in
the sun," where its vigorous progeny may develop a German life,
actuated by German thought and ideals.  This nation has already built
up, in an incredibly short space of time, the second Navy in the world,
not, moreover, scattered over the seven seas, but concentrated like a
clenched mailed fist in the waters of the German Ocean.

Who is there with any knowledge of the history of nations, or of the
trend of European politics, but must see in these plain facts a danger
of collision, no one can say when, but within a limit of time indicated
by the convergence of the lines of destiny of the two peoples, and
which at any moment may be accelerated by some misunderstanding or some
conflict with the friend or ally of either country.  To one whose sole
desire is to see his country safe and at peace, pursuing the path of
her destiny to even greater heights than she has as yet reached, it is
simply amazing that anyone can imagine that the conflict of which I
have spoken can be permanently averted merely by denying that there is
any danger, or by abandoning our preparations for defence as an amiable
invitation to Germany to do the same.

Germany--indeed the whole world--is well aware of the real feebleness
underlying the proud appearance of our naval and military strength.
She knows that the efficacy of armaments to-day, even more than a
hundred years ago, depends essentially upon their being founded upon
the nation itself, and drawing their strength of mind and muscle, of
courage and inspiration, from the very heart of the whole nation.  Such
armaments can be attained by one means only--the training of all the
able-bodied men of the State.  This alone will give a basis, solid as a
rock, to all machinery of war; this alone will enable the nation to
bring to bear, in support of the national will, the whole might of the
nation's power.

But, my Lords and gentlemen, our statesmen still assert that the
country will never stand compulsory training.  Is that so certain?  I
am persuaded it is by no means certain.  On the other hand, it is
certain that so long as our fellow-countrymen are soothed and flattered
by their leaders into believing that the Territorial Force, as at
present constituted, gives all the backing that is necessary to the
Navy and Regular Army, they can see no need to consider compulsory
training, and are not to be blamed for their belief.  But if our
leaders would have the honesty and courage to tell the people the
truth--the truth being that we are on the eve of a great crisis--a
crisis without parallel certainly during the past hundred years, and
that our national forces are unfit to meet the strain that may be put
upon us with any assurance of success--then I feel confident that the
present generation of Britishers would willingly adopt the first
necessary reform, the substitution of universal training--compulsory
upon all, high and low, rich and poor, from the son of a duke to the
son of a labourer--as the foundation of our Territorial Force, instead
of the present foolish and unfair method of basing it on a voluntary
enlistment.  The real difficulty is to move our leaders to take the
people into their confidence and tell them the truth about this vital

My Lords and gentlemen, when I consider the certainty of the struggle
in front of us, its probable nearness, and the momentous issues at
stake, I am astounded that the nation should be kept in the dark as to
the dangers we have to cope with, and for which we most certainly are
not prepared.  But if our political leaders will take no part in
putting our true position before the people, all the more necessary is
it for those who love their country, and who have great commercial
interests at stake, to help us in our efforts to prevent Great Britain
falling from her high estate, and to preserve for her the blessings of
peace.  With all the strength and earnestness I possess, I want to
impress upon you, gentlemen of this great city, that this aim cannot be
fulfilled unless we are to have a Navy strong enough to insure our
supremacy at sea, and an Army strong enough to prevent invasion, and
free the Navy from the necessity of being tied to these shores.

[1] In the course of the controversies raised by my Manchester speech
the fallacy of the superiority of the volunteer to "the unwilling
conscript" has once more reappeared.  I must here repeat what I said in
the House of Lords in April, 1911, that much of this talk about "one
volunteer being worth two pressed men" is nonsensical.  The truth is
that one man, whether pressed or not, if well disciplined and carefully
trained, is worth at least half a dozen undisciplined, insufficiently
trained volunteers.  No doubt, if I had to lead a forlorn hope
requiring men determined to carry out the job, no matter what the odds
against them might be, I would rather have half the number of men who
volunteered than double the number ordered to perform it, provided all
were equally well trained; but if it were a question of soldiers versus
untrained volunteers, I would infinitely prefer to have ten
well-trained and well-disciplined soldiers than fifty ill-trained and
ill-disciplined volunteers.

I could give many instances from history in support of this view--the
opinions of great commanders like Washington and Napoleon--but I will
here cite only one incident from my own experience of war:

During the Franco-German War of 1870-71, the French, from having an
army without any means of expansion, were forced, after the first few
weeks, to employ hastily-raised levies.  These levies, even in greatly
superior numbers, were no match for the highly-trained German soldiers.
On one occasion towards the end of the war, 35,000 German soldiers
found themselves engaged with a force of these recently-raised levies,
numbering between 140,000 and 150,000.  They had been given such
training as was possible while war was going on, for four and a half
months.  They were brave men fighting for their own country, and in
their own country, and what happened?  Within a month 60,000 of them
were killed, wounded, prisoners, or missing, while the remaining 80,000
were driven over the Swiss frontier and there interned.

[2] And as regards the much-needed six months' training, supposing, for
argument's sake, that we could calculate on being given six months'
warning, can we feel absolutely certain that the few patriotic
employers who have allowed their men to join the Territorial Army, and
are good enough to spare them for a week's or fortnight's training
yearly, would or could consent to their being taken away for six
months, during which time their business would go to pieces, while
their competitors in trade, who have refused to allow their men to
serve their country, would be reaping great benefit from their
selfishness and want of patriotism?




I here insert a letter on the political situation, which I wrote to the
_Times_ a year ago.  This letter, I hope, will serve to show that the
National Service League has at least considered the effects which
National Service in Arms would have upon the working men of this

The assertion advanced by Mr. Blatchford in criticizing my Manchester
speech, that the working men of Great Britain will never hear of
compulsory service because they distrust the ruling classes, rests upon
a misconception of the English Constitution almost too obvious to
require exposure.  This subject has already been dealt with in Part
III. of "Fallacies and Facts" (pp. 208-217), and to that work I must
refer the reader.  I shall only observe in this place that in a
democratic nation the working classes are themselves the ruling
classes, and that the interests of England and of the Empire are their
interests.  Does Mr. Blatchford really imagine that the working men are
so blind that, rather than defend those interests like men, they will
prefer tamely to hand them over to Germany or to any other foreign
Power?  For this, and this only, is the logical consequence of his
assertion, that he and his fellow-workers prefer invasion to universal
compulsory service.

In former times, when the ruling classes of this nation consisted in
very deed of the men of birth and property, that class considered it as
its sacred right and inalienable privilege to serve the nation in war.
Now, in the twentieth century, when the working men of this country
have by the gradual extension of the franchise succeeded to the
political influence and supremacy of the old aristocratic class, is it
too much to hope that, as their condition of life improves, they will
seek in the same spirit to secure that right and that inalienable
privilege--service in war?  For such service is the only mark of the
true and perfect citizenship.

Surely that were a greater path and to a nobler goal than the path and
the goal prescribed to the workers of this nation by the criticism in
the _Clarion_, to which I have just referred.




The notification in the _Times_ that Lord Selborne will shortly address
a meeting in London on Imperial unity has caused me to reflect very
seriously on what Imperial unity means to us, and on the disastrous
effects that must follow any diminution on the part of the oversea
Dominions in the splendid feeling of loyalty to the Mother Country of
which we have quite recently had such a convincing example.

Personally, I have had sufficient proof of the strength and practical
value of that loyalty to make me feel that we should do all in our
power to strengthen and foster it; and to this end, and in order that
we may retain undiminished the confidence of our distant
fellow-subjects, we must begin to put our own house in order, and show
the peoples of the oversea Dominions that we are determined to grapple
with the several problems with which we are confronted and with which
they are immediately concerned--that our Government, for instance, is
established on a firm and constitutional basis; that our fiscal policy
is sound; and that our Navy and Army are strong enough to defend our
own interests, and to give the Dominions such help as they may require
in time of trouble.

Yet, what is the present condition of affairs in this country?  We have
just passed under the domination of a Single Chamber.  Tariff Reform,
which occupies the chief place in the Unionist programme, is supported
only in a half-hearted manner by the leaders of the party, and is
opposed by some of its most powerful members.  Our Navy is being
rapidly approached by other navies in the number, speed, and power of
their warships.  Our Army is quite unfitted to meet the demands that
may at any moment be made upon it.

How and by whom is this all to be changed?  It can hardly be changed by
the party now in power.  That party has declared openly enough its
policy, alike in regard to a Second Chamber, to Tariff Reform, to the
Army and Navy, and therefore also in regard to our position as a
first-rate European Power.  The men to whom, on account of their high
public character and culture, the nation looked for a steadying
influence on the ultra-Radical and Socialistic sections of the party,
have not fulfilled those expectations, and seem prepared to make any
concessions that their most advanced supporters may demand.

On the other hand, is the Unionist party in a condition to bring about
the changes that are absolutely necessary before we can take up the
question of Imperial unity in any practical manner?  Has that party
placed before the country a definite policy upon those primary and
all-important problems to which I have referred?  Is it doing anything
to make clearer to the people of this country what these mean to them?
Or is it endeavouring to deal with them in a business-like way?  I
confess I can detect no indications of such a policy, and am not
surprised, therefore, that a large number of the most earnest and most
thoughtful Unionists have become disheartened and discontented.

It seems to me that the only way the desired end can be attained is for
the prominent members of the Unionist party at once to place before the
country a constructive policy; above all, as to the two problems that
are the most pressing and the most vital--Social Reform and National
Defence.  These two problems are intimately connected, and a
satisfactory solution of them must precede any real strengthening of
Imperial bonds.

The question of Social Reform has been very fully discussed in the
public papers during the last few months, and one of the writers on
this subject has happily explained it as meaning "securing for the
slum-dwellers good air, good housing, good food, good clothes, and good
education."  The conditions amid which millions of our people are
living appear to me to make it natural that they should not care a
straw under what rule they may be called upon to dwell, and I can quite
understand their want of patriotic feeling.

Again, by Social Reform I mean a reform which includes essential
changes in our primary schools.  No other civilized nation leaves its
young boys and girls to shift for themselves, as we leave ours when
they are thirteen or fourteen years of age.  Nor is the education they
receive an education calculated to make them lovers of their country.
They are never told anything of its history, or taught to be proud of
their country and its past.  They are not given any idea of what their
duty is to their country or what they owe to it.  In some schools,
indeed, it is even forbidden to hoist the Union Jack.  Much of the
teaching has no bearing upon actual life, and it comes to an end at the
very age at which boys are most receptive of tuition, be it good or
evil, and most require to be under some kind of control.  Our oversea
Dominions are wiser in this respect than we are.  By means of Cadet
Corps the boys are looked after until they reach the age of manhood,
and the ground is thus prepared for the formation of a reliable Citizen

The same excellent results are obtained to some small extent in this
country by training-ships, homes such as the Gordon Boys' Home, schools
like the Duke of York's and the Royal Hibernian Military Schools, and
societies like the Church Lads' and Boys' Brigades.  Why are the
failures in after-life amongst the lads brought up in these
institutions so remarkably few?  It is simply owing to the habits of
order, obedience, and discipline they have been taught in their youth.
And the Scout movement has already produced remarkable results.  But
such organizations are too limited in scope and too few in number, and,
with the exception of the two Royal schools, they depend almost
entirely upon private enterprise, and to a serious Government or a
serious nation they are only signposts to the true policy.  They should
be an integral part of our national education.

Social Reform is a preliminary to any thorough system of national
defence.  "My country right or wrong; and right or wrong my country!"
is the sentiment most treasured in the breast of anyone worthy of the
name of man.  Nevertheless, with how much more confidence should we be
able to appeal to the young men of this nation and the Empire to do
their duty as citizen soldiers if we had the certainty that they
regarded England, not as a harsh stepmother, but as a true motherland,
sedulously nurturing its youth, and not indifferent to their welfare in
manhood or in age, and if we could further appeal to them to defend the
nation and the Empire, because within its bounds they can live nobler
and fuller lives than on any other spot on earth!  Yet recent
unimpeachable evidence makes it clear that, to tens of thousands of
Englishmen engaged in daily toil, the call to "sacrifice" themselves
for their country must seem an insult to their reason; for those
conditions amid which they live make their lives already an unending

Will the Unionist party realize the gravity of this state of affairs?
The Liberal party, by the Act for Payment of Members, has fulfilled to
the letter the trust committed to it by the rising democracies of the
'forties.  That Act, the last of the five points of the Charter, ends
an epoch of which I can remember the beginnings more than sixty years
ago.  But the Radical-Liberal party has no longer a policy of
construction; it seems only to have given the democracy enfranchisement
in order to lead it to the disintegration of a time-honoured
Constitution and the gradual dismemberment of a great Empire.

Is it too late to hope that the Unionist party will come forward to
lead the millions that wait for a leader?

No party can long continue in power which relies for its prestige
solely upon fomenting class hatreds--that is, by dividing the State
against itself.  But before a great national sacrifice to patriotism
can fitly be demanded, a great act of national justice must be
performed.  The Unionist party missed its opportunity with respect to
granting old-age pensions on a contributory basis.  Now in 1911 it is
confronted by larger issues; by problems affecting the industrial life
of the entire nation, and touching, so to speak, the very fountain-head
of the Empire's life.

Is it too late?

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,




Whilst seeing the present little book through the press an opportunity
unexpectedly offered itself to me of speaking to some officers of the
existing Territorial Force in regard to the dilemma in which they are
placed between their duty as patriotic citizens and their growing
conviction of the inadequacy of the Territorial Force to perform the
task imposed upon it in the event of war.

I therefore subjoin the address which, on the invitation of the
officers themselves, I delivered at the annual dinner of the Kentish
Men and the Men of Kent, on November 27, 1912.

In that address I was able to state more fully than at Manchester my
reasons for criticizing the Territorial Force with regard to
discipline, numbers, equipment, and energy.


NOVEMBER 27, 1912.


Words fail me when I try to tell you what a great pleasure it was to me
to be able to accept the invitation of the Kentish Men and the Men of
Kent to their annual dinner.  I was more than gratified by their
invitation, for I felt that I should not have been asked to be their
guest had they interpreted my comments on the Territorial Force in my
Manchester speech in the way some people have done, as an attack upon
the members of the Force.  Indeed, I am profoundly grateful for this
opportunity having been given to me to explain my views about the Force
more fully than it was possible for me to do at Manchester.

Well, gentlemen, if I am right in feeling that you acquit me of any
desire to disparage the officers and men who compose the Territorial
Force, and that you will believe me when I repeat, what I have often
said before, that I am second to none in my admiration of the
patriotism and self-sacrifice displayed by them in their endeavour to
make Lord Haldane's scheme a success--you will not, I am sure,
misunderstand me if I now express my views quite frankly to you.

At the Manchester meeting I gave it as my opinion that the Territorial
Force is a _failure in discipline_, a _failure in numbers_, a _failure
in equipment_, and a _failure in energy_.  Let me say a few words on
each of these supremely important points.

_Failure in Discipline_.--Gentlemen, only those who have taken part in
war, or have carefully studied the history of wars, can, I am
persuaded, realize to its full extent the significance of discipline as
applied to war.  They alone can know that it is by discipline, and
discipline alone, that bodies of men can be relied upon to work
together in times of great difficulty and danger, and to withstand the
disintegrating effect of war; for they have learnt that it is
discipline alone which prevents panic seizing upon men when unforeseen
circumstances arise.  They alone know that amongst untrained or
ill-trained troops panic spreads with lightning rapidity, and that when
there is no sense of discipline to be appealed to and to keep the men
together, defeat is the inevitable result.

It is discipline alone which gives the soldier confidence in himself,
reliance on his comrades, and belief in his officers.  It is discipline
alone which gives him the courage to face vastly superior numbers; to
continue marching, though worn out with fatigue and want of food, ready
to fight again, and yet again.  It is discipline alone that supports
him under the strain of lying still for successive hours in the
punishing fire zone--one of the most trying of the many exacting
conditions of modern warfare.  It is discipline alone which makes the
soldier obey the word of command, even under such circumstances as I
have described.  Clear understanding of and prompt obedience to an
order become an instinct to the properly trained soldier, whereas the
imperfectly trained man, when he finds himself in an unfamiliar and
trying position, frequently misunderstands the word of command, and,
when matters become acute, he does not heed or even hear it.

Gentlemen, when I tell you that discipline is the backbone of an army,
I ask you whether it is possible for that essential quality to be
instilled into the ranks of the Territorial Force with the amount of
training that is given to them.

_Failure in Numbers_.--Gentlemen, despite the untiring efforts of the
Territorial Associations--a large proportion of whose members are
staunch supporters of the National Service League--the Territorial
Force is still far short of its established strength of 315,000 men.
Possibly this is a blessing in disguise, for if men had come forward in
sufficient numbers to bring the Force up to its establishment,
politicians would have assured the country, even more fervently than
they do now, that our Home Defence Army is in all respects what is
needed.  The truth is that the number 315,000 has no relation to our
real requirements.  It was fixed upon because the experience of fifty
years had proved that a larger number could never be forthcoming under
the voluntary system.  As with the Regular Army, so with the Home
Defence Army, the strength is governed by what is known to be the limit
obtainable by voluntary effort.  It has no relation to the requirements
of war.  It solves no known problem.  Again, therefore, gentlemen, I
ask you whether it is possible to regard the Territorial Force as
fitted, in respect to numbers, for the defence of the United Kingdom.

_Failure in Equipment_.--In common with the Regular Army the
Territorial Force is armed with a rifle inferior to the rifle possessed
by foreign nations, and with a less deadly bullet than is used by them.
But the Territorial rifle is even inferior to the present Regular Army
rifle in range, in trajectory, and in stopping power.

Then the gun in use with the Territorial Artillery is a mere makeshift.
It is distinctly inferior in power, range, and rapidity of fire to the
gun of any first-rate State, and it is not too much to say that, if our
Regular soldiers were armed as the Territorials are armed, they could
not keep the field against the troops of any European nation.  If this
is so, how unfair, how disastrous, it would be to ask Territorial
troops to undertake a task which their seasoned and disciplined
comrades of the Regular Army could not face.

Then as regards mobilization arrangements, supply and transport
services, ammunition columns, trains, horses, vehicles, harness, even
boots for the men--in none of these essentials are the Territorials, as
a Force, complete.  I therefore repeat that _failure in equipment_ is
not an unfair statement.

_Failure in Energy_.--By failure in energy, I do not for a moment mean
to imply that individual members of the Territorial Force are wanting
in energy.  I know how earnestly many of them have striven to learn and
to do their duty under adverse circumstances.  My criticism applies to
the Force itself--to its corporate energy--if I may use such an
expression.  And even those who are the firmest believers in the Force
must, I think, admit that, under existing conditions, it is not
practicable for it to attain that combined action, that alertness, that
intensity and vitality, all of which are essential to success in war.

But, gentlemen, in addition to the shortcomings of the Territorial
Force which I have enumerated, there is one defect in its conception
which would alone show its unfitness for what you all know is its
primary duty--that is, to defend these shores from invasion.  That
defect lies in the strange condition which is an essential factor in
this scheme--a condition unprecedented with any army in the
world--namely, that the Force is to receive six months' training, after
war has broken out, before it is even supposed to be capable of dealing
with an invading army.  Can any scheme for the defence of any nation be
more madly conceived?  We have been given an object lesson in the Near
East as to the insanity of the idea that our Citizen Army will be given
six months to prepare after war has been declared.  On October 8
Montenegro declared war, and in four weeks the Turks were beaten in all
directions and were making their last stand within a few miles of

Gentlemen, I am told by my opponents that it is unpatriotic of me to
express these opinions, and that by doing so I am discouraging the
Territorial Force.  But which is really the more unpatriotic course, to
tell the truth about the Force, so that the people of this country may
insist upon its terrible deficiencies being remedied, or to gloss over
these deficiencies and thus to expose to certain disaster the few
patriotic men who have joined it, and who are asked to be prepared with
a Force untrained, under-officered, and under-manned to cope with a
highly-trained enemy.

I venture to think, gentlemen, that I am doing you no disservice in
speaking plainly about the Territorial Force.  My hope is that when its
grave condition is no longer concealed from our countrymen, they will
realize the folly of trusting the defence of these shores to a
make-believe Army, that they will take to heart the false position in
which the patriotic members of the Force are placed, and that they will
insist upon a law being passed by which all able-bodied men must be
prepared to take their place in the Citizen Army.  The Territorial
Force must either be made efficient in all respects, or it will
speedily cease to be a Force even in name.

I hope, gentlemen, you will understand that I am thinking and speaking
of the Territorial Force as a Force that must be prepared to move and
live, to march and fight as an army.  I am not thinking of individual
men, or companies, or batteries, or squadrons, but of a Force which, if
it is ever called upon to take the field, will have to deal as a whole
with highly-trained picked troops.

What, then, gentlemen, is right for the Territorial officers to do?  It
seems to me that a tremendous responsibility rests upon those officers.
If they agree with me that neither they themselves, nor the men they
command, are sufficiently trained to take the field against first-class
soldiers; if they agree with me that neither in discipline nor in
numbers, neither in equipment nor in vital energy, can the Territorial
Force be reckoned as a modern army; if they agree with me that no great
improvement either in efficiency or numbers can ever be reached under
the conditions necessarily imposed upon all citizens who enter a
voluntary force; if they agree with me that the safety of these
islands, and therefore of our Empire, is endangered by this state of
affairs--then their course of action is clear.  While still giving of
their best to the Force to which they belong, while still setting the
fine example which they have consistently done, they should make the
Government and the nation distinctly understand that, in their opinion,
they are unable to carry out the duties entrusted to them, and that
unless they are given the trained assistance of the manhood of the
country, they can never guarantee the safety of these islands and the
integrity of the Empire.

Such a warning, coming from such men, will awaken the country in a way
that I can never hope to do.  Such an announcement, coming from the men
who alone in the country have obeyed the call of duty, and who, at the
cost of convenience, time, and money, have tried to fit themselves for
the defence of their country and the security of the Empire--such a
summons, I say, will arouse the People, and they themselves will call
upon the Government to enact a law which shall impose upon all citizens
of a military age the noble duty of defending the country and the
Empire to which they have the glory to belong.



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