Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Prime Minister
Author: Spender, Harold
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Prime Minister" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                          [Cover Illustration]



[Illustration: _From a Photograph by Miss Olive Edis_, _F.R.P.S._,
 specially taken for this book at 10, Downing Street, October 15, 1917.
 D Lloyd George (Signature)]



                                  THE
                            PRIME  MINISTER

                                   BY
                            HAROLD  SPENDER

                    “Who, if he be called upon to face
              Some awful moment to which Heaven has joined
              Great issues, good or bad, for human kind,
              Is happy as a Lover; and attired
              With sudden brightness, like a Man inspired.”
                          The Happy Warrior.

                                NEW YORK
                        GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY



                            COPYRIGHT, 1920,
                       BY GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY

                PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



                            F O R E W O R D

    MY thanks are due for assistance in writing this book to Mr.
    Lloyd George, with regard to whom I have the privilege of
    drawing on the memories of twenty-seven years of unbroken
    friendship; to Mrs. Lloyd George; to Mr. William George, the
    Prime Minister’s only brother; to Mr. Philip Kerr and Miss
    Stevenson, C.B.E., his secretaries; and to Mr. Arthur Rhys
    Roberts, formerly his professional partner.

    For certain chapters I owe particular thanks to Sir John
    Stavridi, Consul-General of Greece and Councillor of the Greek
    Legation; to Sir Hubert Llewellyn Smith, G.C.B., Permanent
    Secretary of the Board of Trade; and to Mr. W. T. Layton,
    C.B.E., formerly of the Ministry of Munitions.

    I wish also to express my gratitude to all the other numerous
    persons who have so generously helped me in this important task.

                                                             H.  S.
     LONDON, 1920.



                                CONTENTS


      CHAPTER                                                   PAGE
          I CHILDHOOD (1863-1873)                                 11
         II SCHOOL DAYS (1873-1877)                               26
        III YOUTH (1877-1881)                                     41
         IV EARLY MANHOOD (1881-1886)                             51
          V MARRIAGE (1886-1888)                                  61
         VI ENTERS PARLIAMENT (1888-1891)                         75
        VII FIRST SKIRMISHES (1891-1892)                          88
       VIII PITCHED BATTLES (1892-1899)                          100
         IX SOUTH AFRICA (1899-1902)                             114
          X FOR WALES AND FOR ENGLAND (1902-1906)                128
         XI A MINISTER (1906-1908)                               139
        XII A GERMAN TOUR (1908)                                 150
       XIII CIVIL STRIFES (1908-1914)                            161
        XIV A WAR MAN (1914-1915)                                172
         XV EAST OR WEST? (1915)                                 183
        XVI SERBIA (1915)                                        195
       XVII MUNITIONS (1915)                                     206
      XVIII THE NEW MINISTRY OF MUNITIONS                        218
        XIX PREMIERSHIP (1916)                                   231
         XX THE SAVING OF ITALY                                  245
        XXI THE VERSAILLES COUNCIL                               257
       XXII VICTORY                                              269
      XXIII THE PEACE CONFERENCE                                 285
       XXIV THE NEW WORLD                                        304
        XXV THE MAN                                              319
       XXVI HIGHWAYS AND BYWAYS                                  331
      XXVII THROUGH FOREIGN EYES                                 345

      APPENDIX
          A PRINCIPAL DATES IN MR. LLOYD GEORGE’S LIFE           359
          B THE CRISIS OF DECEMBER, 1916: THE CORRESPONDENCE
              BETWEEN MR. ASQUITH AND MR. LLOYD GEORGE           361
          C THE PEACE CONFERENCE: MINUTE OF THE CRITICAL
              RUSSIAN DEBATE OF JANUARY, 1919                    369
          D THE “FOURTEEN POINTS”                                378

      INDEX                                                      383



                             ILLUSTRATIONS


      1. THE RIGHT HON. DAVID LLOYD GEORGE, O.M., M.P.
      2. MR. WILLIAM GEORGE, THE FATHER OF DAVID LLOYD GEORGE
      3. “HIGHGATE”—NOW “ROSE COTTAGE”—THE COTTAGE AT LLANYSTUMDWY
        WHERE MR. LLOYD GEORGE WAS BROUGHT UP AS A BOY
      4. “UNCLE LLOYD”: MR. RICHARD LLOYD, THE UNCLE OF DAVID LLOYD
        GEORGE
      5. THE SMITHY AT LLANYSTUMDWY: THE OLD “VILLAGE PARLIAMENT”
      6. MRS. WILLIAM GEORGE, THE MOTHER OF DAVID LLOYD GEORGE
      7. DAVID LLOYD GEORGE AT THE AGE OF SIXTEEN
      8. MRS. LLOYD GEORGE
      9. DAVID LLOYD GEORGE AS A YOUNG MAN



                          THE  PRIME  MINISTER



                          THE  PRIME  MINISTER



                               CHAPTER  I


                               CHILDHOOD

            “When that I was and a little tiny boy,
                With hey, ho, the wind and the rain.”
                    SHAKESPEARE’S _Twelfth Night_, Act v, Sc. i.

EVERY school-child is familiar with that striking shape taken by North
Wales on the map of Britain, so like to a human being pointing with
outstretched arm down St. George’s Channel towards the Atlantic. In that
shape Anglesey is the head, and Carnarvonshire is the pointed arm. On
the lower side of the arm, towards the hollow of the armpit, there lie a
village and two small towns. Naming from west to east they are
Llanystumdwy, Criccieth, and Portmadoc.

In these three places and in the country around them the childhood and
youth of David Lloyd George was entirely spent. It was there that he was
trained and educated, and there that his mind first formed vivid
impressions of the universe—there, on the sea-limits of Wales between
the mountains and the ocean.

It is a fertile country, watered by streams from the mountains and
showers from the Irish Channel, a country of deep grasses and rich woods
right up to the foot of the mountains and down to the verge of the sea.
From every raised point you obtain wide-stretching views. Facing you
along the south-eastern horizon are the hills of Merionethshire, often
shrouded in sea-mist, but on good days clear to the utmost detail of
field and hedgerow. Still farther away, in the very best weather, can
sometimes be seen even the outline of St. David’s Head and of the
Pembrokeshire hills. Nearer home, the great stretch of Cardigan Bay
sweeps round to the east in many a bend and fold of the coast. From
above Criccieth you can see the famous castle of Harlech and the golden
glitter of the sands at Barmouth, though you cannot hear the “moaning of
the bar.” Taking it all in all, there are few finer prospects along the
immense and varied sea-board of these islands.

Turn from the sea and look northwards; and you will gain glorious
glimpses of the great piled mountains of the Snowdon group, sometimes
hidden in cloud, sometimes clear to every wrinkle of their rugged
outlines. These are “Eyri”—the “Eagle Rocks”—black in storm, blue and
green in the sunshine, purple and crimson in the sunset. There is no
mere prettiness in these mighty views, no soft luxury of Italian
backgrounds, and yet no barren terrors of arctic solitudes. On all sides
there is majesty and power—the power of the height and the storm, the
majesty of the winds and the deeps.

Of these three places in which Mr. Lloyd George spent his childhood and
youth, Portmadoc is the business town, Criccieth is the pleasure resort,
and Llanystumdwy is the village. Portmadoc, with its straight-set
streets of little grey houses, speaks of money and affairs; Criccieth is
a little watering-place of lodging-houses and villas prettily placed in
the innermost bend of Cardigan Bay; Llanystumdwy is just a little Welsh
village drawn back from the sea and cosily hidden away in the woods,
astride a little mountain river which hurries down to the sea with many
a rippling murmur and many a gleam of white foam on its brown waters.

It was to this little village of Llanystumdwy—Welsh of the Welsh in
name, situation, and tradition—that David Lloyd George was brought at
the age of a year and a half.

Up to that time, indeed, life had not gone very well with the young
child. For his father, William George, had just died in the prime of his
life, at forty-four years of age. Mrs. William George, with David and
his elder sister Mary, had been left but scantily provided to face an
unsmiling world.

David’s father, William George, was an able, earnest man, very sociable,
full of fun and humour, and very happy in his home life. Brought up on a
prosperous farm in South Wales, he could easily have followed smoothly
and serenely in the steps of his thriving forefathers. For there, on
that fertile coast, his father and grandfather had farmed well and fared
sumptuously, holding their heads high.[1]

But William George was not content with farming. Early in life he fell
in love with books and the things of the mind; and through his short
life he wandered—a true “scholar-gipsy”—from school to school, trying
to kindle the youth of Wales to the passion for knowledge in those early
difficult days before the Education Acts had come to make the
schoolmaster a power in the land. He taught in London and Liverpool; he
opened a grammar-school of his own in Haverfordwest; he served the Free
Churches and the Unitarians—any and all who felt the fire of knowledge
and shared his passion to extend its power. He became the friend of that
great, pure spirit, Henry Martineau[2]—a fact alone sufficient to prove
his high quality.

The fire of the schoolmaster’s zeal burnt him up. He was never a strong
man; and a life of excessive labour had exhausted him before his time.
He resolved to lay down his ferule and return to the land of his
forefathers. As his last teaching task, he took a temporary
headmastership at Manchester and lodged in a little house in York Place,
off Oxford Road. A few years before, when teaching at Pwllheli, he had
loved and wedded Elizabeth, the daughter of a Baptist minister, David
Lloyd, who preached and ministered in Criccieth and the village of
Llanystumdwy.

With fair skin and a wealth of dark hair, Mrs. William George was in
youth and early womanhood a comely and fascinating woman. I saw her only
in later life; and, though sorrows and trials had told on her frail
frame, her troubles had only added to the fine charm and spirituality of
her character. “Happy he with such a mother!” She proved to William
George a capital housewife, and helped him to save enough to leave to
her a small property even out of their hard-earned savings.

To this couple had already been born the daughter Mary. Now, on January
17th, 1863, a son was born also and named David, after his two
grandfathers—David George and David Lloyd. His admiring father recorded
at the time that the little David was a “sturdy, healthy little fellow”
with curly hair. At any rate, his father thought so; and thus, as a last
flash of happiness to his dying father, little David came into the
world.

By such a chance twist of events, Manchester can claim to be the
birthplace of David Lloyd George.

Before he went to Manchester, William George had already decided to give
up schoolmastering; and soon after David’s birth, towards the end of
1863, he left Manchester and entered into occupation of a small farm
named Bwlford, about four miles from Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire.

It was close to the home of his fathers.

But this change came too late to save his life. He was already a tired
man, and he was not equal to the strain of outdoor labour. On June 7th,
1864, he died of pneumonia, due to a chill caught in gardening.

Thus little David was left fatherless before he had lived eighteen
months on the earth; and on the threshold of life he was robbed of the
influence which ought to be the strongest prop and stay of a young boy’s
life. His father left him before the age of memory. Yet memory is a
strange thing; for when Mr. Lloyd George revisited the home of his
infancy some few years ago, he recalled instantly, with surprising
accuracy, some features of his father’s farm.[3]

The sudden death of William George left David’s mother with two small
children on her hands, and another on the way to this vale of tears. The
family inheritance ought to have left her in comparative security to
bring up this family well. But William George, with that large-hearted
generosity which had always characterised him, had allowed the family
patrimony which devolved on him as heir-at-law to be enjoyed by others
whom he thought to be in greater need than himself. Such savings as they
had put together from a schoolmaster’s salary could not suffice to bring
up a family in comfort or security. Thus to the grief of her husband’s
death there was added for Mrs. William George a grave and acute anxiety
for the upbringing of her children. It looked as if that little family
would be driven into that wilderness of poverty which is no easy
dwelling-place in these islands.

But far away up in Carnarvonshire, in that little Welsh village which
was her birthplace, Mrs. William George had a brother named Richard
Lloyd.[4] He was not at all like the wealthy godfather of the
storybooks. He was not by any means rich or prosperous. He was just the
village bootmaker at a time when boots were still made in villages.
True, he was also, like his father before him, a preacher and a
minister. But he possessed no rich living or easy sinecure; on the
contrary, like Paul the tent-maker, he received no penny of pay for
either his preaching or his ministry. He belonged to a religious
community classed with the Baptists and called the “Disciples of
Christ,” who held a belief, unpopular in ecclesiastical circles, that a
man ought to preach the Gospel of Christ and feed His flock without pay
or reward.[5]

In that simple faith he then preached and taught in the plain, grey
little chapel above Criccieth and baptized in the little green basin of
fresh spring water ever renewed by the running stream.

Yet this preaching bootmaker did not seem to have suffered seriously in
his Christianity by this strange and rare distaste for endowment. If it
be still, as an Apostle once thought, “true religion and undefiled” to
“visit the widow and the fatherless,” Richard Lloyd went straight to the
mark. For on receiving his sister’s tragic news he put down his tools,
left his workshop, and started out to help his bereaved relations. There
was no railway from Criccieth to Carnarvon in those days; so for some
twenty miles he journeyed on foot. Then from Carnarvon he took the train
to Haverfordwest, and joined his widowed sister on her farm, a true
friend and comforter. He stayed for some months helping her with the
sale of her farm-lease and her stock. Then he took back the mother and
the two children, Mary and David, to his own little home at
Llanystumdwy. That is a plain record of a simple and heroic act.

There, in that little Welsh mountain village, without any show or fuss,
the sister and her children became part of Richard Lloyd’s home. A few
months later the third child was born posthumously—a second boy,
William George. The little stranger was welcomed in that simple,
hospitable home.



So for the next twelve years the little family lived and throve in the
bootmaker’s cottage at Llanystumdwy; and there, in those village
surroundings, little David grew from infancy to manhood.

Let us see what the surroundings were.

The little cottage stands to-day for all the world to
visit—two-storied, four-roomed, creepered, slate-roofed; then called
“Highgate,” now “Rose Cottage”—a sweet-smelling name. The front door
opens on to the living-room—a warm, cosy chamber with a raftered
ceiling, a big fireplace, and a floor of worn slate-slabs. It was in
this room that the family had their meals and gathered in the evenings
when the uncle read and talked to them. It was there that he cheered and
rebuked those growing boys.

You step round a low screen into a smaller room, once a storeroom for
leather, but in those years used as the boys’ study. Here the boys were
“interned” during the daily hours of home work; for Uncle Lloyd was as
strict as he was kind.

Between the two rooms a small cottage staircase mounts to the
bedrooms—now three, in those days two. The boys slept in the little
front room looking over the street.

Descend again and pass through the back door. You pass into a fair-sized
cottage garden, with several fruit-trees—apple, plum, and gooseberry.
Every inch of the soil is filled with vegetables. There are traces of an
old pigsty that once stood against the cottage wall. Move a few steps to
your left, and you can enter a little stone building that gives the
impression of having been a single-roomed cottage. It is now like a
capacious cave. This was Richard Lloyd’s workshop. There is a large
fireplace in the corner near the garden. On the side nearer the road is
a space where the benches of Richard Lloyd’s workmen ran along the wall
by the small window. There by the door is the little hole in the wall
where Richard Lloyd kept his papers and into which the boys pushed their
books. It looks like an old spy-hole, now blocked at the farther end.

This place was not merely a workshop. It was known as “the village
Parliament.” Here the “village Hampdens” poured out their grievances;
hither the evicted farmers and underpaid labourers came to consult the
village oracle. On wet days the place was crowded. For bootmakers are
notorious storm-centres both in town and country; and this bootmaker was
a prophet and priest as well.

It was always both the refuge and the guard-room of the village
children. There, against the corner, looking into the sad grey wall,
stood the children who had misbehaved, waiting for Richard Lloyd’s
kindly word of release. Good boys would often bring bad boys to be
punished; and the good boys did not always get off without a clearance
of soul. Who could tell whether “Uncle Lloyd” was going to be stern or
soft? It was always a fascinating mystery for children—that workshop;
in any case, there were always the bootmakers’ tools to finger and
handle if you were lucky. The children knew that Uncle Lloyd found it
very hard to refuse a thread; and what more fascinating than beeswax?
Sticky, black, and smelly! But put out your hand for the knife—then ten
to one he would see you—and instantly the stern look would come into
his grey eyes, his eyebrows would contract, and he would cry in the
voice which thrilled you—“No! No! Not that! Not that!”

Pass out of this little crumbling old building, with the slates now
sagging down as if the whole thing might collapse, but for the one
upright beam which now supports the roof, and take a few steps still to
your left along the stone footpath. There you find the garden divided
from the street only by a low wall of rubble. Over that wall,
David—like that other David, the sweet-singing psalmist of Israel[6]
would often leap, and head across the village on some boyish adventure.

In these buildings the Lloyds had lived for several generations. There
is still (1920) living in the village of Llanystumdwy an old tailor of
ninety-five years of age whose chief pride it is that he made the first
pair of trousers for the Prime Minister of England. The old man can
remember David Lloyd, the grandfather of the Prime Minister, cutting
leather in the little room on the right of the entrance door of the
cottage. He can remember this friend and neighbour, who was also a
minister and preacher, breaking forth into singing verse when moved, as
those bardic preachers of Wales are still wont to do.[7] Bobby Jones,
the son of this old tailor, was one of David’s intimate comrades of
boybood; and they two carved their names together on the trees in the
woods and on the village bridge.

Many legends have already grown round Richard Lloyd’s cottage and the
life lived in it. There is no need to exaggerate the poverty of that
home. Richard Lloyd was a master bootmaker and always employed at least
two hands. He must have earned a good weekly sum. His chief fault was
that he could not collect his money. It was somewhat distressing to Mrs.
William George to hear her brother serenely say to customers: “I can
wait—any time will do.” She, being a woman, well knew that in the
matter of collecting debts there is no time like the present.

At any rate, all that he had was theirs. They were fed on simple
fare—more oats and barley, as Mr. Lloyd George has since told us, than
wheat—but they were well fed. Eggs were cheap in the village, and the
garden was full of vegetables. There were doubtless hard times. There
was little meat—perhaps they were none the worse for that. But these
children were nevertheless always held up in school as models of
neatness and cleanliness. There was little to spare for pleasure. There
was no easy flow of “pocket-money” for these boys. But they possessed
the heart of the whole matter. They loved one another, and they were
happy. “It was a little paradise,” says one who stayed there often,[8]
and when asked to explain she adds: “there was such high talk.”

“Plain living and high thinking,” was the note of that little home.
Here, indeed, was—

                                  “Fearful innocence,
              And pure religion, breathing household laws.”

There was also much kindness and humanity. Richard Lloyd could not for
long be a stern uncle. The pictures handed down to us are Goldsmithian
in their quaint and simple charm—the little David sitting on one of his
uncle’s knees and punctuating his infant periods by beating his fist on
the other; or, in later years, wheedling his uncle with some clever
boyish defence of an indefensible prank; or listening for long hours,
with open mouth and eyes, to the “deep sighing of the poor,” as the
farmers and labourers from all the district round poured their tales of
woe into the ears of the gentle village seer.

I saw much of Richard Lloyd at a later time. He was a man who always
lived on the heights of thought and feeling; he was one of nature’s
great men to whom goodness was a delight: he was one of God’s crusaders.
Tall and bearded, but with a clean-shaven mouth and dark eyebrows, he
was a man of singular dignity and strength both in bearing and
expression. It is difficult to describe the impression of mingled
strength and tenderness which he gave. His face had some of the vigour
of the eagle; and yet with it all his voice had some of the softness of
the dove. He loved children with all the strength of his large, warm
heart; and yet he was never weak with them, but sometimes very stern,
with the strength of those who can be “cruel only to be kind.”

“He was the most selfless man I ever knew,” is the deliberate verdict of
one of his foster children to-day. “Even in illness he never spoke of
himself. It was painful to him even to think of himself.”

Such was the high influence that filled that little cottage and made it
a fit nursery for a ruler of men. From the moment that Richard Lloyd
took over the guardianship of his sister’s bereaved family he gave to
the task all his resources of money, love, and wisdom. He was not one of
those who know limits to giving—

         “Give all thou canst; high Heaven rejects the lore
         Of nicely calculated less or more.”

He laboured for these children as if they had been his own. If money was
spared it was only to save it for their better training in later years.

The only available school at that time in Llandystumdwy was the National
School provided by the Established Church of England and Wales; and to
that school the children had to go. Many years afterwards, when the
House of Commons was in the midst of one of its chronic wrangles over
religious education, Mr. Lloyd George startled the High Churchmen by
putting himself forward as a specimen of their chosen education. He was
well within the letter of the fact; but I doubt whether the Llanystumdwy
Voluntary School at that time could be called an average Church School;
for the head master of the school—a Welshman named David Evans—was
more than an average schoolmaster.[9] He was a good “scholar” and
mathematician, and he taught well. He gave the young boys that thorough
grounding in the elements of knowledge which is really a better gift for
the young than all the frills of a more dainty schooling. Richard Lloyd,
at any rate, showed his confidenec in this teaching by keeping the boys
on at school for two years beyond the ordinary limited time. From twelve
to fourteen years of age David Lloyd George worked with a small group of
boys also still remaining on at school in what would now be called an
“Ex VIIth” standard. These boys carried their mathematics on as far as
trigonometry, learned the elements of Latin, and were encouraged to read
widely. David Evans kept a close eye on these studies, and Richard Lloyd
found the fees well worth his while.

I have talked to one of the boys[10] who stayed on at school with David
Lloyd George, and his impressions of that time are still very vivid. His
recollection is that David Lloyd George was the quickest boy of this
little group. David could do twice as much work as any other boy in the
same time. He still remembers the envy and annoyance which this habit
used to cause among David’s companions. But little David was especially
quick at higher mathematics. “He was through trigonometry,” says this
witness, “by the time we started.” He was very rapid at mental
arithmetic.

But perhaps the most active part of his growth came outside his school
life. Most of the other boys of their age had left school and gone out
to work, and those few picked ones that remained were a small company
and hardly numerous enough for games on a large scale. Thus it was that
they took to walking instead of play; and during these walks David began
to develop that habit of keen discussion which he has loved throughout
his life. His favourite subjects in those days were Baptism and Tithe.
Among the little company were two pupil-teachers who were a little older
than the boys themselves. Both of these teachers were destined for the
Church; one of them became a rector and another became a canon of St.
David’s.[11] We can imagine the debates that took place within this
little company of keen, honest, ardent youths!

Thus, in this varied life of work and play, the young David grew from
infancy to youth, there in that distant little Welsh village, between
the mountains and the sea.

-----

[1] Here is his pedigree on the paternal side:

William George (farmer) and his wife (lived to 80 and 90 years
  respectively)
                               |
                David George (farmer, died at 33)
                               |
            William George (schoolmaster, died at 44)
                               |
                      David Lloyd George.

[2] A large engraving of Dr. Henry Martineau, signed by himself and set
in a massive oak frame, is one of the treasured family heirlooms to-day.

[3] He noticed that a passage had been widened, and he asked after a
green gate which was found to have been removed. He can still remember
his sister putting stones under the gate to prevent the men from coming
to take away his father’s goods.

[4] At this time thirty years of age. Born in July 1834.

[5] The movement had its origin in one of those great efforts after a
return to simple Christianity which have from time to time stirred the
surface of the Welsh Churches. This was led by Mr. J. R. Jones of
Ramoth, who died in 1822. David Lloyd became one of its elders, and was
largely influenced by the writings of the Campbells. The Campbellites in
the United States still number some 2,000,000.

[6] See Psalm xviii. verse 29.

[7] He was ordained on May 20th, 1828, in the Baptist chapel at
Criccieth and died in 1839. This singing habit it known as “hwyl.”

[8] Miss Jones, a niece of Richard Lloyd.

[9] See Mr. Lloyd George’s charming sketch of the schoolmaster in his
speech at Llanystumdwy on September 8th, 1917: “He had a genius for
teaching.”

[10] Mr. William Williams, who occupies a farm near Llanystumdwy.

[11] The Rev. Owen Owens and Canon Camber-Williams of St. David’s.



[Illustration: MR. WILLIAM GEORGE,
 THE FATHER OF DAVID LLOYD GEORGE.]



[Illustration: “HIGHGATE” NOW “BOSE COTTAGE”—THE COTTAGE AT
 LLANYSTUMDWY WHERE MR. LLOYD GEORGE
 WAS BROUGHT UP AS A BOY.]



                              CHAPTER  II


                              SCHOOL DAYS

               “Ye Presences of Nature in the sky
               And on the earth! Ye visions of the hills
               And Souls of lonely places! can I think
               A vulgar hope was yours when ye employed
               Such ministry?”
                                 WORDSWORTH’S _Prelude_.

THE training of a little Welsh Nonconformist child in a village Church
School must lead either to submission or to revolt. In most cases it
leads to submission. In this case it led to revolt. That is what makes
the story of David Lloyd George worth telling.

To subject children of one faith to the religious discipline of another
in a school subsidised by the State was, and still is, part of the
ordinary machinery of life in this island; and it is generally
acquiesced in by children, who as a rule suffer from a great fear of
varying from their kind.

But in this case there were influences behind the boy which suggested
the thought of injustice; and there is no more flaming thought in the
mind of a young child. There was the uncle in the workshop, type of the
heroic and the divine; he was against the system, and did not hesitate
to say so in the presence of the boys. Then there was the village
blacksmith, whose “smithy,” hard by the school, was a sort of village
cave of Adullam; he said so between the clang of the hammer on the
reverberant anvil, and what he said was law. No wonder that there
stirred in the boy’s mind the working wonder whether he should really
submit.

There was, for instance, the yearly visit of the rector, the squire, and
the gentry, in full feudal state, to hear the replies to the Church
Catechism—a sort of annual homage to the powers that were, not unusual
in village schools.

Then there was the visit of the Bishop, who was willing to confirm as
many children, Baptist or otherwise, as the rector would present for him
to lay hands on.

Now David admired his schoolmaster and worked hard and steadily in the
only school accessible to him. But when the Church tried to turn his
necessity to such uses he remembered that he was a Nonconformist child
born of Nonconformist parents. Then he became a rebel.

The tales of these school revolts have already become part of the heroic
legends of Wales. They have been told in many forms. I will try to tell
the simple facts as gathered from contemporary witnesses and comrades.

The most famous revolt occurred over the Catechism. We can recapture the
scene. There were the three village authorities—the Squire, the Rector,
and the Schoolmaster, together with the Diocesan Inspector and a bevy of
fair ladies—standing in front of the little class of Welsh children in
the grey little building, expecting nothing but meekness and docility.
Nothing fierce about these visitors, you may be sure—rather an attitude
of smiling expectancy as they waited to hear the children repeat in
chorus the comforting assertion that they were ready to order themselves
“lowly and reverently” to all their “betters.”

But look at the children. Their eyes look strangely bright and their
lips are drawn together. There have been many whisperings on the way to
school, and much flitting to and fro of the small Scotch cap with the
ribbons that David wore. Some look flushed; others look grave and pale.
Fear battles against resolve. Something big is struggling in those
little minds.

The rector puts his questions; the squire affably awaits the reply; the
schoolmaster looks stern. Little David looks unusually innocent.

There is a dead silence.

The rector raises his eyebrows and repeats the question:

“What is thy duty towards thy neighbour?”

Still, a dead silence.

And so the question is passed from child to child. The little heads are
shaken. The little faces grow paler and paler. But still silence.

The rector turns to the schoolmaster questioningly. The schoolmaster is
white with vexation. The squire smiles indulgently. Little David looks
more innocent than ever.

But farther along the line, behind his little desk, sits a boy with a
little troubled, anxious face, looking as if he were the centre of guilt
in that little company. He watches with growing trouble the ashen face
of the schoolmaster; for he loves his master with all his soul, and he
cannot bear to see him suffer. For this is little William George—a boy
of milder, quieter temperament, given to love his enemies; and when his
much-distressed head master appeals to the children to recite the
Apostles’ Creed it is William George who suddenly breaks the silence
with a strident “I believe,” and all but two or three “infant” Die-hards
join in the recital that followed. The schoolmaster turns to the class
with a flush of pleasure; the rector smiles—“good boys”—the squire
nods approvingly; and the scene ends as suddenly as it began.

So much for the Catechism revolt. The second revolt arose over the
Church’s claim to “confirm.”[12]

It was little William Williams, one of David’s intimates, who had been
selected as a capture for the Bishop. His father, a Calvinistic
Methodist, but with a kindly heart for the great, had surrendered the
lad to the rector. William had been duly prepared and instructed.
Confirmation day had arrived. William Williams, shining with soap, smart
in his best clothes, was already on the road—walking to school to join
the church boys. There the little catechumens, all duly marshalled, were
waiting to be marched off to the church.

But on the way to school it was fated that William Williams should meet
David Lloyd George. Seeing his friend so smart, David naturally asked
what he was going to do. Williams told him. David’s eyes flashed; his
voice rang out. He argued; he persuaded; he urged. Not that! Not that!
His winged words went home. In a few moments William Williams, aged
fourteen, felt thoroughly ashamed of himself. His best clothes and his
clean collar became garments of shame. He was willing to follow David
anywhere.

The two boys managed to get out into the school-yard; and there, in the
twinkling of an eye, they were over the wall. They hid behind the hedge.
In a few moments out came the schoolmaster, hurried and eager; he could
see no one in sight. He blew his whistle once, twice, and yet again.
There was no reply. Time pressed. The Bishop could not be kept waiting.
There was nothing for it but to go back and fetch the others.

So David and William Williams stood and watched while the little
procession of children, with their nicely washed faces, walked across
the school-yard to the church.

Then, when all had passed by, out came the two rebels. Without a pause
they jumped over the wall, leapt into the road, and made for Richard
Lloyd’s workshop. Instantly, when he had heard their story, the
bootmaker dropped his last and patted the boys on the back. “Well done,
my boys!” he cried; “well done!”

I will suggest to any Anglican reader that he should, for the moment,
try to look at the situation from the point of view of his Nonconformist
neighbour. Suppose that he, an Anglican parent, were obliged by law to
send his boy to a Baptist School because no other school existed in his
village. Suppose then that the Baptist minister took advantage of this
situation to baptize the boy up to the neck in the village stream. What
would the Anglican parent do? Why, probably something much more violent
than either uncle Lloyd or nephew David.

Yet the spirit of rebellion is rare, and the act is slow. Doubtless
there were other boys in that school whose hearts waxed hot within them,
and other parents whose blood boiled. But they did nothing. Where David
Lloyd George differed from the other boys, and his uncle from the other
parents and guardians, was just here—that they acted while the others
merely raged. That is the startling difference.

They possessed that particular quality which explodes in deeds. There it
was already—this care thing called courage, which was, in process of
time, to become the driving-wheel of the whole machine.



It is not to be thought that a boy thus endowed was to prove a pattern
boy in all directions. David was sound enough at heart; but he was
certainly not a saint. He was not born with a halo round his curly head.
In that little village he was often the leader of enterprises of pith
and moment. He was not without suspicions of piracy. “It’s that David
Lloyd George,” was the sure comment of the village mother when she found
her fences down. Wherever those two ribbons were seen flying in the
wind, you might be sure that the other boys were not far behind. You
would scent mischief in the tainted breeze. There was indeed much to be
done. There were fish to be caught; rabbits to be snared; dogs to be
trained. There was even—alas!—at one time a privy “cache” in the woods
where pipes and tobacco were stored to be fearfully tested on uncertain
stomachs.

No, certainly David was no model of the boyish proprieties; no candidate
for a stucco niche. He was already a Robin Hood of the woods, an
adventurer of that winding, brawling stream. He led others into the
adventures with him; for he was already gregarious to the finger-tips.
He would draw along with him his more cautious brother; and, somehow, it
always seemed to be the brother who bore the weight of the trouble that
followed.

Not that David ever shirked the penalties of his youthful sins. He was
ever ready to “face the music.” He would bravely stand before his uncle
in his sterner moods; and many an explosive of argument and reproof had
to be expended on his well-entrenched defences.

Not that his uncle ever took up that relentless attitude which drives so
many children faster on the downward path. He remembered the text—“Whom
He loveth He chasteneth,” or, as it has been rewritten, “lick ’im and
love ’im.” But Richard Lloyd never let the stripes blot out the love. He
always believed in this boy David. That was the real secret of the
uncle’s influence. Beneath the rough, dusty ore he already saw the
gleaming gold.

There were indeed some rare features about this boy’s character. His
early companions testify to some features that still shine in memory.
“He was the most kind-hearted boy I ever met,” said one who was an
inseparable. “If he ever got a penny he would buy his sweets, and then
divide up the whole among the other boys.” He was very fond of
animals—a glorious virtue in the young. There was always a dog in his
train—and a dog, being ever young, loves youth and mischief. Then David
was ever full of pity for the weak. Pity and audacity met in his nature.
They made him at school, as in after-life, a terror to the bully and a
trial to the boaster.

His youthful companions cannot remember that he was notably ambitious.
But he was from early days a lover of books; and that often held in
leash his passion for adventure. He rarely, for instance, played truant
from school. There is one historic dawn, still standing out in red
letters in the memory of his friends. On that morning the school-bell
sounded to deaf ears; all that day those spirits from prison scampered
by the river-side testing a new dog.[13] The deed was never repeated.
That day of glowing delight was probably burnt into his memory by one of
those reprimands from an uncle whose words cut deeper than another’s
whips.

There is, indeed, an epic story of a holiday hunt of a hare down in the
Aberkin farm between the village and the sea. The boys followed the dogs
and the dogs went through the river, but an old ganger on the railway
refused to allow the boys to cross the bridge. But David was not to be
daunted. “Come on, boys!” he cried; and straight through the river he
went almost up to his shoulders!

As the years went on he became more serious. He conceived the idea of
going to see the world. He spent weeks with maps and made a plan of a
journey. Boys will do such things, and the difficulty generally comes
when the tickets have to be bought. That was where David Lloyd George’s
plan broke down. But if he could not wander in the body, he could at any
rate travel in the spirit. He read more and more as the years went on.
After twelve, remaining on at school after his friends, he became rather
a lonely boy. At that time he would often go off with a book into the
woods; and he acquired the habit of climbing a tree and there reading
for hours in some kindly fork of the branches far away from his romping
friends.

There, alone in the woods, his mind formed; and the shadowy whims of
youth—perhaps influenced, like Wordsworth’s, by the surrounding
mountains and sea—steeled into firmer stuff. When he was a very small
boy he would say, boy-like, to his uncle, “I am going to be a giant,
like that tree.” This infantile yearning after something larger than his
natal fate seemed to grow upon him. A sense of power seemed to be
working within him. Strange, when you consider the cramping conditions
of his life. Here was a boy living in a little cottage in a remote Welsh
village; talking a despised language; an obscure member of a race
scoffed at by the powerful of this earth. He had already proclaimed
himself faithful to a religion contemned by all who wished to rise in
life. He was surrounded by a peasantry long trained to humility; living
in houses that belonged to others; with few rights in their own
land—excluded from their own woods and fields by laws of trespass, and
menaced with dire penalties if they killed the wild animals of their own
land. He found himself born with little freedom beyond the liberty of
the village street. There were few adventures for him that were not
crimes in the eye of the law. In such a life there seemed enough to
quell any growing spirit and to crush any latent ambition. For in those
days the social power of the Welsh squires was still scarcely
challenged; their claims shadowed all the large spaces in the world
around him.

Yet this boy began to look at all this with candid, unprejudiced eyes.
He began to grasp the fact that what was required was daring, and still
daring.

In this vision he was by no means alone. It was a perception dimly
stirring in the minds of all those multitudes of youth who were then,
during those years, the first to pass through the new schools of the
nation and to win the franchise of the mind. Again, where he was alone
was in the courage to pursue this vision—the courage to act as well as
to see.



At the age of fourteen (1877) it became necessary to choose a
life-calling for David Lloyd George. The village National School had
finished its work for the boy. The extra two years’ schooling had
brought him as far as that training could take him.

Richard Lloyd was not indeed compelled by any law, human or divine, to
carry the boy’s education any further. He would certainly have achieved
as much as most men consider due to a sister’s child if he had now taken
David from school and apprenticed him to his own honourable handicraft
of bootmaking.

But Uncle Lloyd knew only too well the carking cares of a workman’s
life. He knew what it was to feel a mind-hunger which cannot be sated.
Those who saw much of the preacher-bootmaker in those days tell how
eager he was for books—how in this eagerness he struck up a very
admirable friendship with the kindly village curate; how, after his long
day’s work, he would read half through the night, and how the village
doctor, going on some errand of midnight or dawn, would still see the
light of his candle shining through his bedroom window.

Such a life is often filled with an aching regret. The hardly tasked
body yearns for a fuller freedom—the freedom to follow, undisturbed,
the clear call of the mind.

It was such a life that he dreamed of for his boys when he decided to
send them, at all costs, into one of those learned professions which
Britons hold in so much honour. His eager aim was to free them, at any
sacrifice, from the great burden of manual drudgery.

That being decided, it was not so easy to make a choice between the
professions. Richard Lloyd was not one of those men who think it a sign
of strength to force children into careers against their own will. Above
all, he wished to have the following wind of their free consent and
help.

The “ministry” was practically closed to them by that rule of their
uncle’s Church which forbade Christian service as a means of livelihood.
The Established Church, indeed, was an open road for them; there
“Welcome!” was written over the door for every clever Welsh village boy.
If David had consented to follow the lead of some of his village
friends, who can say that he might not have ended as an Archbishop? The
thought never took serious shape at Highgate Cottage. I scarcely dare to
think of what would have been said in the village “smithy” or the
uncle’s workshop if David had turned his steps towards that primrose
path—as both he and his brother were more than once invited to do.

Richard Lloyd’s own desire was that David should be a doctor. But the
lad had an instinctive, physical shrinking from disease and death.
Richard Lloyd, being a wise man, sorrowfully agreed that David’s
temperament was unfitted for the hospital ward and the sick-room.

His mother, Mrs. William George, pondering the future in her heart, and
watching the boy with a fond mother’s eyes, desired him to be a lawyer.

The mother won.

In those old days when Mrs. William George was in the depths of sorrow
and distress, through the long agony of her husband’s illness, she had
received much help and kindness from an old friend of her husband’s, one
of those tender-hearted family lawyers who are the crown and salvation
of their profession—Mr. Thomas Goffey of Liverpool. The boys had heard
much of this man at an impressionable age; and the effect left on David
was a great desire to go and do likewise. “To be a lawyer like Mr.
Goffey!” That was the shining quest before him.

At this critical moment the memory of this helper acted as a magnet to
them all; and it was this lode-stone that drew on first David, and then
his brother William.

In such pleasant guise did that useful calling present itself; in such
Christian fashion came to the youth this summons. The lawyer’s gown
appeared to him as the robe of the Samaritan.

So far, so good. But the career of the law requires a long
apprenticeship; and apprenticeship means money. The examination fees
alone for a solicitor amount to a good sum, and there was a substantial
premium on apprenticeship to a good firm to be paid in addition. Then
there would be over five years without earnings. Where would they obtain
the resources to face the strain?

At this point Richard Lloyd turned to the pooled family savings of
himself and his sister, Mrs. William George, and dipped deep. Little was
left when sufficient for this purpose had been drawn, and even so the
supply was precariously meagre. Could they find enough to start the two
boys on their careers?

It was clear, on a survey, that they could not send the boys either to a
higher school or to a University. How, then, were they to acquire that
considerable store of general knowledge required of the legal
apprentice?

David had done well under Evans’s faithful tuition. He had advanced into
the higher mathematics; he had read a certain amount of history; he had
now mastered the elements of French and Latin.

But much more was required if he was to pass that first obstruction in
the great obstacle race set before the novice in the law—the
Preliminary Examination. He must, for instance, know more French. He
must read Cæsar and Sallust. The village dominie could not carry David
as far as that.

Here seemed a formidable gulf to bridge. Less formidable barriers have
closed careers to others and driven them back into the workshop.

But human love can leap over great obstacles; and Richard Lloyd was no
ordinary man. He knew neither French nor Latin. Very well, he would set
out to learn them.

So together the uncle and the nephew started into the unexplored. Hand
in hand, they tackled the Latin and the French grammars, and thumbed the
dictionaries. For this great-hearted man knew that if both be ignorant
of the way it is better to go together. Company gives courage. So in the
dark winter evenings, with the light of a candle, they together spelt
out the sentences of Cæsar and Sallust and laboriously read Æsop in
French. I will warrant that those lessons in Latin and French were not
wasted. I even doubt sometimes whether the class-rooms of Eton or
Harrow, with their picked teachers, can show anything so inspiring as
this little village study—the uncle and nephew struggling along that
unknown path, lit only by zeal and affection. May it not be, perhaps,
that the accident of this laborious schooling gave a special nourishment
to the boy’s instinct of self-confidence, proved more potent than the
spoon-feeding of some well-endowed college?

At any rate, this common struggle for knowledge gave the uncle a new
insight into his nephew’s powers. From this time onward the boy became
his very special “Di”—the darling of his heart—the apple of his eye.
He began to perceive that there were few things impossible for this boy
to achieve.

At last this astonishing experiment in coaching came to an end. But his
uncle was determined to stand by the nephew to the end in the first
great trial of his life.

In December, 1877, he accompanied him to Liverpool, where the
examination was to take place. Every morning—as he often told in later
life—Richard Lloyd accompanied the youth to the examination room in St.
George’s Hall; and every evening, after the day’s work, he met him on
the steps of the hall and went home with him.

The examination lasted a week. Suspense was followed by triumph. David
passed.

The young hopeful who had set out from Llanystumdwy with the good wishes
and fervent prayers of friends and neighbours, returned on December 8th
with the first flush of achievement on his cheek.

Nowhere was there a happier Christmas in that year of 1877 than at
“Highgate.”

There was only one man as happy as the uncle and the mother—and that
was the village schoolmaster. It was a proud day when he could solemnly
record the fact of David’s passing in the Log Book of the Llanystumdwy
National School.

-----

[12] Implying a belief in Infant Baptism, “Confirmation” is regarded as
inconsistent with the creed of the Baptists.

[13] “Bismarck”—a dog snatched from the streets of Hamburg and brought
home by a sailor from the village—a bold and unscrupulous poacher.



                              CHAPTER  III


                                 YOUTH

           “Who, with a natural instinct to discern
           What knowledge can perform, is diligent to learn;”
                            WORDSWORTH’S _The Happy Warrior_.

PORTMADOC is a little provincial business town lying on the coast some
five miles to the west of Criccieth in the very heart of Cardigan Bay.
It stands at the mouth of the Glaslyn, one of those little mountain
rivers which flow southward through wild valleys from the Snowdon range.
The river broadens to a port at its mouth and the town spreads on both
banks. A hundred years ago the land here was below high-water mark. It
was redeemed by an enterprising man who has given his name to the town
and the estate.[14] The old high-water mark can be seen far up the
valley, and it is an actual fact that every building in Portmadoc itself
stands on land snatched from the sea.

Here in Portmadoc, just east of the Town Hall, stood the office of
Messrs. Breese, Jones, and Casson, the firm to which David Lloyd George
was articled after he had passed his Preliminary Law Examination. There
the square-built, airy chambers still stand. Here, in this building,
young David Lloyd George, aged sixteen, took his seat at the window on
one of those high stools where the clerks of to-day still sit; and
doubtless the young David’s eyes sometimes glanced anxiously at the same
old clock that still measures out the limits of work and play. The
preliminaries of this articling took some time; but within six
months—at the opening of 1879—David had been fully articled by his
uncle as clerk to Mr. Casson, the junior partner.

Portmadoc itself stands in prim straight rows of slate-roofed houses
built at right-angles to the long main street. The great thing about the
town is that from every corner of its streets you can see the mighty
mountains of Snowdon on the horizon. It was still under those Eagle
Rocks that David’s life-work was to be carried on for the next few
years.

It was no longer possible for him to live in the little cottage at
Llanystumdwy, which was over seven miles from Portmadoc and two miles
from Criccieth railway-station.

So it was arranged that the lad should spend the week at Portmadoc and
go back to his uncle’s home at week-ends.

During the week he lodged with some good people whose children had gone
out into the world[15] and who looked after him for several years as if
he had been their own child. Like many another young Welshman he was
also taken into the kindly fraternity of the chapel folk, who looked
after him on behalf of his uncle. He soon began to find friends. On
Wednesdays he would attend the little chapel; and he was especially fond
of frequenting the little candle-making workshop behind the main street,
where the workmen can still be seen ingeniously contriving the special
illuminant candles for the slate quarries of North Wales. There, as in
the smithy at Llanystumdwy, he found much congenial company for
discussion and debate; for it was a significant fact that in youth David
Lloyd George was always drawn to the places where men assemble and
discuss their affairs.

Here was a youth at the age of sixteen taken out of his village and
thrown into the larger turmoil of the world’s affairs. The solicitors’
firm to which he was articled was an important legal centre in
Carnarvonshire. The solicitors were Clerks to the Petty Sessional
Division, and Mr. Breese was also Clerk to the Lieutenant of the County,
besides being the Liberal agent for Merionethshire. Finding that the
youth was handy and smart, they soon began to use him as deputy in their
various functions. So David found himself immersed into all the affairs
of a great county, besides being in constant touch with the stirring
life of a little port. The ships and sailors were ever coming and going,
and all the murmur of larger interests flowed in from outside. There, in
that little corner of Wales, they could constantly hear “the great wave
which echoes round the world.”

From the vantage-post of his firm the boy could gradually gain an
insight into the whole machinery of county administration.

In law, as in journalism, provincial experience is a far better school
for a young man than that of London; for in the provinces work is less
specialised, and the young clerk in a busy lawyer’s office has a chance
of such varied work as his powers show him capable of. David Lloyd
George, for instance, now found himself often called upon to undertake
responsible tasks; to watch the interests of his firm in the Police
Court or in the Quarter Session; to collect rates and taxes; to find his
way through that complicated network of wire entanglements which British
wisdom had thrown around the exercise of the suffrage. The canvassing
work which he did for his firm in their capacity as Liberal agents stood
him in very good stead later on which he had to do the same work for
himself. It was during this period that he acquired, too, that intimate
mastery of the details of rural rating with which he afterwards
astonished the House of Commons. During the same years he achieved an
insight into the surprising affairs of many county families. There is no
surer way of finding out the secrets of the English land system than to
look at them through the peep-holes of a good lawyer’s office.

No doubt the young Lloyd George lost much by being plunged so early in
life into the urgencies of practical work. But he also gained. For it
would have been difficult to devise a training more suitable for a
coming statesman.

For a time the young man was absorbed by his new work; and, indeed, it
was enough to take up his energy. David Lloyd George was from the
beginning a keen lawyer. He was not content with practical experience;
he read hard at the law; but in his case law did not take form in his
mind as a fixed dead thing, but as a vital function of growth, with
possibilities of perpetual change and reform.

Thus his apprenticeship began to feed and stimulate his instinctive
interest in public affairs. His daily experience led him back at every
turn into larger public interests and speculations. He had his week
evenings free; and so gradually among the young men of Portmadoc he was
led into that life of debate which has always been his very life-blood.

In 1880 his uncle, his mother, his brother, and his sister gave up the
little cottage at Llanystumdwy and moved to “Morvin House” in Criccieth.
Richard Lloyd and Mrs. William George, their mother, had now saved
enough to enable Uncle Lloyd to give up the bootmaking; and his interest
was now so much centred round David that he decided to make a move that
would enable the youth to live at home. The little house where David was
to live for the next ten years was just beneath the walls of that
shattered Norman castle which crowns a precipitous cliff on the very
edge of the sea. Now battered and worn by the assaults of man and the
ravages of the ocean, that castle was once a strong link in that scheme
of blockhouse fortresses which the Normans built to keep down North
Wales. The ruins typify to-day the valour of this land of bards, and
prove the power of a little nation over a mighty conqueror. At its
strongest, the rule of the Normans extended very few feet beyond those
castle walls. Now this fortress is in ruins; and all around the very
portals of that ancient blockhouse you will hear few words of any
language except the very tongue which the Normans tried to ban and to
bar.[16]

To this house David Lloyd George now came home every evening and he was
able to give up his kindly lodgings in Portmadoc. This return to the
strongest influence in his youth perhaps explains a certain deepening of
purpose which now becomes visible in his diaries[17]; but there emerges
also a new independence of spirit. Somewhat to the alarm of the uncle,
the youth was beginning to exhibit a rambling interest that went far
outside that still lagoon of puritanism which was the home of that high,
simple spirit. There was already a touch of that defiant self-confidence
which has so often since puzzled and troubled both the followers and the
counsellors of Mr. Lloyd George. The young man was reading widely and
daringly—not merely sermons, but plays, histories, and novels. He was
going through crises of spiritual doubt unknown to the securely anchored
soul of his foster-father. He was catching the malady of his age, and
finding its remedy, as so many others of that time found it, in the
vague anodyne of books like Carlyle’s _Sartor Resartus_.

His growing spirit was finding outlets in every direction. He was
attending political meetings and listening eagerly and critically to
such gospel as his elders preached. He had begun writing regularly for
the newspapers; and over the challenging name of “Brutus,” the _North
Wales Express_ was producing a series of articles,[18] vigorous and
combative—a little young and flamboyant, but always arresting and
stimulating to the audience of young Wales.

Already in the 1880 Election those articles, written by a boy not yet 18
years of age, played no insignificant part in North Wales: and now the
people of Carnarvonshire were beginning to ask of the young David, as in
the old days another people asked of a greater prophet—“Who art thou?
What sayest thou of thyself?”

To these questions the daring youth soon began to give an answer with
both speech and action. In 1881, the third year of his apprenticeship,
he was elected a member of one of those little centres of intellectual
energy which were growing up all over Wales in the dawn of this new
time. The Portmadoc Debating Society may have meant little to the world;
but it meant a great deal to itself and to the town of Portmadoc. This
little assembly met weekly in a room over a shop in the Portmadoc High
Street. There came together an eager throng of young Welshmen determined
to discuss for themselves all the problems of the day. Their debates
covered every great question of the eighties. David Lloyd George, now
eighteen years of age, did not intend to be a silent member. He soon
began to speak often. He took part in debates on all the great problems
that occupied his later life—Franchise and Free Trade, Trade Unionism
and Irish Land, even the Channel Tunnel. On all these subjects he
expressed bold and progressive opinions, and in this little school he
began to train his power of speech.

Such a passion for debate is a common disease of youth, and often passes
like a fitful fever. But with the young Lloyd George it was not to be
so. It was soon clear that the power of speech was with him a very
special gift, and he threw into it a great deal of care and industry.
Men at Portmadoc will still describe how he could be seen walking along
the high-road gesticulating as he practised his speeches; and there is
no doubt that at this moment of his life he already had some dim
perception that he possessed the magic gift of oratory.

There are those in Portmadoc to-day who can still remember some of these
youthful orations, and especially remember the wonderful speech which he
made in 1881 on the Egyptian crisis of that year. At that moment
conflicting opinions swirled round the figure of Arabi Pasha—the
Egyptian Nationalist leader. Was he a hero or a villain? History has not
even yet quite decided.[19] But the young Lloyd George was in no doubt.
He saw in Arabi a hero of romance rightly struggling for the freedom of
a small nation. The impassioned speech in which he defended Arabi gained
for him the first attentions of the Welsh press. It revealed to his
hearers that deep enthusiasm for freedom among the little nations which
afterwards became his leading public characteristic. Men who heard the
speech still speak of it as a remarkable event in Portmadoc.

At that time young Lloyd George was slim of body and pale of face; the
portraits that exist possess none of that twinkling gaiety which came to
him in later years. Youth with him, as with many, seemed to be the
gravest period of his life; and indeed it happened that very heavy tasks
were laid upon these young Welshmen at the opening of their lives.

For these were perilous years in Wales. The power of the old order had
been shaken, but not shattered. The constituencies indeed could no
longer be divided up by the squires at a private meeting in Carnarvon;
it was not quite so easy now to woo a seat through a Welsh interpreter.
The General Election of 1868 had revealed the power of the new order;
but the day of Welsh Nationalism was still to come. The older men stood
aloof; there was much of the old cringing humility still left in the
social life. The squires had punished the Welsh farmers of
Carnarvonshire for their votes in 1868 by ruthless, widespread
evictions, and a certain fear had been spread through the county. It was
clear to the young Lloyd George that this fear could only be destroyed
by a new dose of daring and defiance. Thus beneath the shadow of Snowdon
the new spirit of young Wales was working up to a storm.

It is not to be wondered at if his debating achievements caused in the
mind of this eager young man certain stirrings of ambition that began to
belie the opinion of his old schoolmates. In November, 1881, he visited
London for the first time: and, like most young men with kindly London
friends, he was taken to see the House of Commons. At this time he was
keeping a fairly full diary; and the entry of this date (November 12th)
is rather remarkable in view of subsequent events:

    “I will not say but that I eyed the assembly in a spirit similar
    to that in which William the Conqueror eyed England on his visit
    to Edward the Confessor, as the region of his future domain. Oh,
    vanity!”

Perhaps it is scarcely fair to intrude on such self-communings of early
aspiring adolescence—easily forgivable for their naïve boyish pride.
But in the same diaries, a year or two later, this young articled clerk
jots down another reflection rather strangely prophetic of what was to
come. A quotation appeared in the _Carnarvon and Denbigh Herald_ which
signified that David Lloyd George was already in the public eye:

          “When first the college rolls receive his name,
          The young enthusiast quits his ease for fame,
          Resistless burns the fever of renown,
          Caught from the strong contagion of the gown.”[20]

Young Lloyd George makes a curiously level-headed comment on this
reference to his thirst for renown:

    “Perhaps (?) it will be gratified. I believe it depends entirely
    on what forces of pluck and _industry_ I can muster.”

Strangely sober reflection for the eighteenth year!

The desire for fame—that “last infirmity of noble minds”—was already
there. But it had not turned the head of the young man. Already he
seemed to have some measure of the task before him, and of the effort
that would be required to achieve it.

-----

[14] Mr. A. Maddocks. One of the men who was interested in this project
was the poet Shelley.

[15] Mr. and Mrs. D. Lloyd Owen, Auctioneer, High Street, Portmadoc.

[16] After writing this I came across the following passage in a speech
of Mr. Lloyd George’s made in the House of Commons: “Two thousand years
ago the great Empire of Rome came with its battalions and conquered that
part of Carnarvonshire in which my constituency is situated. They built
walls and fortifications as the tokens of their conquest, and they
proscribed the use of the Cymric tongue. The other day I was glancing at
the ruins of those walls. Underneath I noted the children at play, and I
could hear them speaking, with undiminished force and vigour, the
proscribed language of the conquered nation. Close by, there was a
school where the language of the Roman conquerors was being taught, but
taught as a _dead_ language.”

[17] These diaries are very fully published in Herbert Du Parcq’s
excellent _Life of David Lloyd George_, London; Caxton Publishing
Company Limited, 1912.

[18] A large selection of these articles can be read in the pages of Mr.
Du Parcq.

[19] Lord Cromer always called him an adventurer. Mr. Wilfrid Blunt has
always regarded him as a great patriot.

[20] From Dr. Johnson’s “Vanity of Human Wishes” (135-138), an early
poem, based on Juvenal’s Tenth Satire. The third and fourth lines should
run—

              “Thro’ all his veins the fever of renown
              Burns from the strong contagion of the gown.”

The poem was popular with such different judges as Sir Walter Scott,
Byron, Cardinal Newman, and Matthew Arnold.



[Illustration: “UNCLE LLOYD”: MR. RICHARD LLOYD,
 THE UNCLE OF DAVID LLOYD GEORGE.]



[Illustration: THE SMITHY AT LLANYSTUMDWY:
 THE OLD “VILLAGE PARLIAMENT.”]



                              CHAPTER  IV


                             EARLY MANHOOD

         “Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise
         (That last infirmity of Noble Mind)
         To scorn delights, and live laborious days”
                                   MILTON’S _Lycidas_.

DURING these years of the early eighties (1880-4) that great Government
of Mr. Gladstone’s which opened so triumphantly in 1880 was rapidly
drawing towards its downfall. Checked in Ireland and stagnant at home,
the Whigs who dominated the Cabinet had been gradually drawn abroad into
enterprises for which they lacked both heart and capacity. Mr. Gladstone
was losing the middle class, and not winning the manual workers.
Meanwhile that astonishing young man from Birmingham, Mr. Joseph
Chamberlain, had swiftly perceived the decline of the old Liberalism,
and was building up a new and daring programme of social and political
reform. He was speaking with a new voice. He was uttering his mind in
simple language, and calling things by very plain names.

The heart of the young Lloyd George went out to this newcomer with a
frank enthusiasm. It is quite clear from his diaries and
newspaper-writings during these years that he was at the beginning a
vehement supporter of Mr. Chamberlain.

In an article on Mr. Chamberlain written by David Lloyd George for the
_North Wales Observer_ of October 17th, 1884, there is a remarkable
passage which is worth while recalling to-day as a flashing revelation
of the mind of the young writer:

    “Mr. Chamberlain is unquestioningly the future leader of the
    people. Any one who reads his speeches will know the reason
    why. . . . He understands the sympathies of his countrymen. It
    is therefore that he speaks intelligibly and straightforwardly,
    like a man who is proud of the opinions which he holds. He is a
    Radical, and doesn’t care who knows it as long as the people
    do.”

So strongly was he attracted by Mr. Chamberlain’s personality that the
young Lloyd George was always inclined to take his side. He supported
him, for instance, in that struggle with the Whigs over his Radical
Programme which, by the strangest possible twist, led later on to that
great misunderstanding over the tactics of Home Rule and ended in
splitting the old Liberal party. Mr. Lloyd George had perhaps some
temperamental sympathy with that spirit of impatience which made Mr.
Chamberlain resent so deeply the snubs and checks he received at the
hands of the Whigs.

Although a fervent Nationalist and Home Ruler, Mr. Lloyd George was
always inclined to sympathise with Mr. Chamberlain’s methods of
approaching the Home Rule problem. Looking at it from the view-point of
Wales, he liked Mr. Chamberlain’s feeling for federalism. It is a
curious fact that if Mr. Lloyd George had stood for Parliament in 1886,
he would probably have been drawn by his sympathy for Mr. Chamberlain
into the ranks of that small section of Radical Unionists who followed
Mr. Chamberlain in his opposition to Gladstonian Home Rule, but
afterwards, recoiling from open reaction, rejoined the Liberal
party—men like Sir George Trevelyan and Mr. W. S. Caine, a small,
afflicted, but deeply interesting group.

In 1884 David Lloyd George went up to London to pass his Final Law
Examination in order to enable him to be admitted on to the roll of
practising solicitors. His comment in his diary on the admission
ceremony shows his growing freshness and independence of outlook. He was
not at all cheered by that atmosphere of dusty dullness which envelops
the ritual of our law:

    “The ceremony disappointed me. The Master of the Rolls, so far
    from having anything to do with it, was actually listening to
    some Q.C. at the time, and some fellow of a clerk swore us to a
    lawyerly demeanour at the back of the court, and off we shambled
    to the Petty Bag Office to sign the Rolls.”

On the occasion of this visit to London, he again attended the House of
Commons, and for the first time listened to a debate. He was fortunate
enough to be present at a lively skirmish between Lord Randolph
Churchill and Mr. Gladstone. “It was a clever piece of comedy,” he said
some years afterwards, recalling the scene. “I thought Churchill an
impudent puppy, as every Liberal was bound to do—but I thoroughly
enjoyed his speech.” Then, as now, he could never sufficiently express
his admiration for courage in any field of life and on any side.

He could now (1884) leave the high desk in the square room at the office
by the Town Hall. He had served during the past five years (1879-1884) a
faithful apprenticeship. He had allowed few diversions to draw him from
his work. In those days the Puritan tradition of a little Welsh township
held the young people in a fairly tight grip, and there were few light
distractions. Portmadoc held no theatre or opera within its boundaries.
The “Moving Pictures” had not yet taken Puritanism on the flank.
Football was beginning to seize the Celtic fancy; but David had little
taste or time for violent sports. In 1882 he became a Volunteer, and
went into camp at Conway. But it is not recorded that he secured any
promotion, or at any time suffered from the pangs of military ambition.
Otherwise his amusements took that sober form of the Portmadoc debating
society speeches, or essays for the Eisteddfod, for which the two
brothers wrote a discourse on the “Cash and Credit System.” They spoke
of credit with a scorn unhappily rare in young men!

He was no longer any master’s man. He could, if he liked, set up for
himself. The firm for which he had worked all these years had, indeed, a
high opinion of his powers; and they did not wish to lose him wholly.
Mr. Breese, the head-partner, “a kind master and a thorough man,” as
David described him in his diary, had died in 1881; but the other
partners did their best to give him a start. They secured him an offer
of a managing clerkship in an old county firm at Dolgelly. It would have
been a most attractive opening for a man who wished to follow the safe
course in life. But David Lloyd George was one who preferred risks. He
wished to be the ruler of his own fate.

He had now practically no one behind him. The long period of examination
and apprenticeship had exhausted the slender stores of his mother and
his uncle. He had even to wait for his first cases before he could
purchase the robes required of a Welsh solicitor before he could plead
in the County Court.

But he still preferred a small independence to a big dependence. Perhaps
he was right. Probably he had ideas as to the way of conducting a legal
business which would not have always gratified any old-fashioned firm of
country solicitors.

The young solicitor started quite simply by putting a brass name-plate
on the door of Morvin House, their little dwelling at Criccieth. He then
began to practise in his uncle’s back parlour.

It was a daring venture for an unknown village youth; but after a few
months he began to get under way. His diaries of 1885 punctuate with
thrilling eagerness the opening steps in his professional career—his
first case in the Police Court, his first service of an order, his first
plea in the County Court. On June 24th he records with glee that he won
all his cases. “Never had a more successful field-day.” On July 9th he
is attending Penrhyn Sessions for the first time, opposing the transfer
of a license. On September 8th he is in the Revision Courts. “Came off
better than Liberals ever did.” In fact, he marches in these first
skirmishes from victory to victory.

So successful was he, in fact, that in this year (1885) he opened an
office in the High Street at Portmadoc, not far from the building in
which he had been articled. He began in a very small house, and remained
there for some years before moving to the corner house where the legend
“Messrs. Lloyd George and George” is still prominent in the window. This
corner house was previously a public-house known as “The Fox Inn.” There
the brothers—for now William had joined David in practice—took the end
of the lease, and finally secured the freehold. There, in that
dispossessed hostelry, William George practises to-day (1920).

This year and the years that followed in David’s life were crammed with
intense activities. The diaries show that day after day he rose between
five and six o’clock. He devoted the cream of his energies to the active
pursuit of the law. But he could never be a man of one interest. He was
also, during these same months, fiercely energetic both in religion and
politics. He was constantly reading sermons and listening to sermons. He
often spoke from the pulpit, after that liberal fashion encouraged in
the Free Churches.

But gradually in these diaries the political interest begins to loom
larger. When the autumn General Election of 1885 comes on, he takes an
active part with pen and voice. On October 17th he goes to the Tory
member’s meeting, and is with difficulty restrained from taking part. On
November 18th he makes an impassioned speech in defence of Mr.
Chamberlain, and is tremendously cheered. On November 24th he goes to a
Tory meeting and finds that he is the chief butt of their attack. He
shows his precocious political shrewdness by the satisfaction he feels
in thus drawing the enemy’s fire.

Instead of injuring the practice of his profession by these public
displays of courage, he soon found that he was really attracting to his
house and office a new class of client, the discontented farmers of the
county. First one and then another began coming to him, at first privily
and then confidently. They came on tithes, and on rents, and on rates.
He took up some of these cases and scored successes which resounded
through the county. The result was that other men came who had never
before been to lawyers, and he began to open up a new vein of business.
Law, after all, can sometimes pay, even as a remedy for injustice.

He was, indeed, now becoming a very busy solicitor of the kind which in
the provinces is not easily distinguished from a barrister. The fact
that a solicitor can address a County Court and a Petty Sessional Court
gives him, outside the great centres of English life, a practical
command of both branches of the law and abolishes that rather absurd
pedantry of divided function. This power of speech suited young Lloyd
George very well. It gave him a new training in public address, and it
provided him with a new weapon for asserting public rights. From the
time of that great nation of lawyers—the Romans—the Law Court has
always been second only to the Senate House as an instrument of popular
power. Mr. Lloyd George showed to the Welsh people that, in the
integrity of the British law, they had a new resource for the recovery
of their ancient rights.

But never at any time did he allow the call of the law to divert him
from politics. Day by day his diaries reflect his passionate interest in
the struggle of 1885. When the first results come in he is profoundly
disappointed. “There is no cry for the towns,” he writes on November
26th. “Humdrum Liberalism won’t win elections.” Then, on December 4th:

    “Great Liberal victories in counties. Very glad of it. Am
    convinced that this is all due to Chamberlain’s speeches.
    Gladstone had no programme that would draw at all.”

Throughout we can see his ardour for the forward course and the vigour
in attack. “Humdrum Liberalism won’t win elections”—that was to be the
gist of his political teaching in later years: it almost summed up his
political strategy.

Certainly young Lloyd George was not himself inclined to be “humdrum.”
Just at this moment, when the old and the new Liberalism in Wales, as in
England, were wrestling for the mastery, he definitely took the forward
side. It was significant of this that he first came out as a notable
public speaker in a sphere beyond his own district at a great public
meeting held at Festiniog on February 12th, 1886, and addressed by the
famous Irishman, Michael Davitt.

The Liberal Party was not at that moment fully committed to Home Rule,
and among the elder men there had been grave head-shakings over this
invitation to Michael Davitt. Rebellion was more seriously regarded in
those days; and Michael Davitt had both rebelled and paid the penalty.
The law had laid its finger on him and marked him with its broad arrow;
and respectable people whispered the word “felon.”

Young Lloyd George was invited to the Davitt meeting. There were grave
doubts in the family circle as to whether he ought to go. But he was
urged on by one who had already a great and growing influence over him,
a certain Maggie Owen living at a farmhouse about a mile from Criccieth
and more and more mentioned in the diaries of this time. This young lady
already had her definite views, and she had no patience with this
attempt to make a pariah of Michael Davitt. “Of course you must go,” she
said simply; “why not?” And that seemed to settle the matter.

The difficulty was to persuade any one to move a vote of thanks to
Michael Davitt at this meeting; all the prudent people stood aside. But
there sat in a chair a brave and stalwart man—Mr. Michael Jones of
Bala—and at the last moment he persuaded young Lloyd George to move the
vote of thanks. The young David rose, and he instantly made a speech
which was largely reported and which electrified North Wales. In this
speech there are already some of those daring, flashing phrases with
which he afterwards familarised the world. There was already that
fearless touch which has since made the speaker a perpetual
storm-centre.

Michael Davitt, always a shrewd judge of men, was deeply impressed with
the speech. He advised Mr. Lloyd George to think of Parliament, and the
other Michael—Jones of Bala—urged the same advice. From that time
forward the young man’s thoughts began to turn towards Westminster.

And yet his first approach to Parliament was not easy. Some of the young
enthusiasts who now gathered round him wanted him to stand for
Merionethshire in the General Election that soon followed in 1886. But
here there was another son of young Wales already in the field with
stronger local claims. This was none other than the man always known
afterwards as “Tom” Ellis, son of a Merionethshire farmer. Ellis was
four years older than Lloyd George; and young David readily and
instantly stood aside in favour of the elder man. They met soon after;
and a great friendship struck up between them which lasted until the
premature death of Tom Ellis in 1899. It was a wonderful friendship
between two men of common aspirations but utterly different character.
Tom Ellis was by no means the “Welsh Parnell”—no description could have
been further from the truth. He was a man of high enthusiasms and noble
integrity. He was a real Welsh Nationalist. But, by going to Oxford, he
had come within the governing English circle; he was touched with that
Saxonism which tempers the native zeal of the Celt. He was no longer
“racy of the soil.” It was no mere chance that he was afterwards drawn
before his due season into the circle of British power, and was fated to
stand aloof from his friend when Lloyd George was asserting the rugged
and relentless claims of Welsh Nationalism.

Thus David Lloyd George was for the moment delayed in his progress to
Parliament. Perhaps this was a fortunate accident, because it gave him a
breathing time in which to master the needs of his own people and to
train himself more thoroughly for the public stage.



                               CHAPTER  V


                                MARRIAGE

       “A Daniel come to judgment! Yea, a Daniel!
       O wise young judge, how I do honour thee!”
               SHAKESPEARE’S _Merchant of Venice_, Act I, Sc. iv.

CUT off from Parliament for the moment (1886) David Lloyd George spent
no time in vain regrets. He resumed that life of combined public and
private activity which was rapidly becoming his second nature. His
diaries during the following years show that he was now absorbed in his
growing “practice.” But that did not prevent him from continuing his
eager and active interest in public affairs. Then, as ever after, the
two interests developed together.

From this time forward he steadily directed his energies to work on
behalf of his own beloved little nation. Perhaps never did he quite lose
sight of that high ambition to command “listening senates” which had
come to him when he first sat in the Gallery at Westminster and looked
down on the combats of the great parliamentary gladiators. But for the
moment there was urgent work to do nearer to hand; and David Lloyd
George knew the wisdom of Carlyle’s great law of conduct—“Do the Duty
that lies nearest thee.”[21]

So he plunged into the great work for Wales which was already on foot at
his own doors.

In 1886 he joined eagerly in the great Anti-Tithe campaign which was
being carried on throughout North Wales by those remarkable men, Mr.
Thomas Gee and Mr. John Parry. David Lloyd George became the Secretary
of that League in South Carnarvonshire, and he addressed meetings
throughout the district. He accompanied Mr. Gee and Mr. Parry on many of
their most daring raids. He drove long distances in a small governess
cart and addressed meetings in little villages away in remote districts.

It was characteristic of David that he actually provoked and promoted
hostility. He would hold his meetings by preference in the neighbourhood
of the Parish Church or of the National School. He would regard it as
his greatest triumph if he could draw the parson or the curate to come
out and meet him in open warfare. One of the visions of him at this
period handed down is that of a day in June 1887, when he was seen
coatless and in his shirt-sleeves arguing against the curate in the open
green at the village fair of Sarn Melltcyrn. He did not shrink from
passive sympathy with the mild rioting which began to take place at the
tithe sales resulting from the distraints that followed. His whole heart
went out in sympathy to Welsh farmers compelled by law to contribute
from their pocket to what they regarded as an alien Church.

The “Tithe War” gave David Lloyd George that best of training for a
young public speaker—the training of public controversy in the open
air. It made him quick and resourceful. Here was the best possible
whetstone for his natural gift of courage. These speeches made him
already a rising public champion.

This was a new portent for the Welsh farmer—a lawyer who was not in
league with the rich. It flashed as a shining light on the eyes of a
people who had always been used to regard the law as the paid servant of
power and property. It brought more of those farmers flocking to his
office: and once more it brought him forward as the legal friend of the
poor and the oppressed—“the poor man’s lawyer” of Carnarvonshire.

The people gradually learned that here was a man skilled in the law who
was ready on their behalf to face the tyrants of the Bench and to
challenge their power.

In nothing had this power of the Bench been more ruthlessly exercised
than in the matter of fishing. By a curious distortion of public rights,
the rivers of this country have been mainly turned into private
property. While fishing on the open sea is as free as the air,
unlicensed fishing in fresh water in England outside navigable waters is
often accounted a crime.[22]

This law of private property in fresh water fishing has fallen with
peculiar harshness upon a people like the Welsh, who inherit a great
passion for this particular sport. The pressure of the law has been made
worse by the fact that the prohibition is perpetually being extended to
waters where a customary right of fishing has existed.

Here has been a cause of perpetual conflict between the law and the
public—a conflict in which the bias of the law has been mainly against
the public.

Such a case occurred in North Wales in May 1889, when four quarrymen
were prosecuted for fishing in a small mountain quarry lake.[23] The aim
of the prosecution was to bring the lake within the definition of the
word “river” in the Act of Parliament. It soon became quite clear from
the proceedings that the bias of the Court was against the quarrymen.
Mr. Lloyd George rapidly determined to bring this out in the most vivid
manner possible. So when the chairman—a great local potentate and
sportsman—gruffly interrupted his legal argument by saying that the
legal point must be tried in a higher Court, Mr. Lloyd George swiftly
replied:

“Yes, sir, and in a perfectly just and unbiassed Court too.”

The result of this remark was precisely what Mr. Lloyd George expected.
The chairman rather unwisely asked Mr. Lloyd George to what magistrate
he was referring. To this the young advocate immediately replied:

“I refer to you in particular, sir.”

Whereupon the chairman immediately rose with great pomp and dignity and
left the court.

The other magistrates now felt that it laid with them to take some
action. A second magistrate, allied to sport, protested. A third,
noddingly acquainted, declined to proceed with the case: whereupon Mr.
Lloyd George calmly remarked, “I am glad to hear it.” A fourth rose and
left the court. One of the few left asked Mr. Lloyd George for an
apology, whereupon he replied:

    “I shall not withdraw anything, because every word I have spoken
    is true.”

The result was that all the magistrates left the court, and Mr. Lloyd
George’s purpose was fully achieved.

Here was an incident by no means the result of mere thoughtless
impertinence on the part of a young lawyer. Mr. Lloyd George has always
regarded this as one of the proudest incidents of his life. He is still
of opinion that it came at a critical moment to shake the petty tyranny
of the local Bench, and he still quotes it as a good example of one of
his favourite methods of public action.

A short time afterwards David Lloyd George was the chief actor in
another famous case which showed the people of Wales that the spirit of
British justice, if boldly challenged, was capable of maintaining their
cause. This was a case arising from that incredible ecclesiastical
inhumanity which consisted in attempting to visit ignominy upon a man of
another faith even after he had passed through the gates of death.
Nothing did more to shatter the power of the Established Church of Wales
than the refusal of the parsons to bury the dead of other sects within
the walls of the old parish burial-grounds. Those parish “God’s acres”
had been in the possession of the people before the Reformation, and it
was only by a chance turn of English history that they passed away from
them.

The growth of the great Free Churches resulting from the immense
religious revival of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries
made this an acute matter. The hostility of the Established Church to
this revival led to a new use of the power of exclusion from the
burial-grounds. Terrible memories have centred round that struggle. The
late President of the English Divorce Court, Sir Samuel Evans, once told
me that he had to carry by stealth the coffin of his first wife into his
parish cemetery before he could obtain burial for her in Christian
ground. The Established Church in Wales has had to pay heavily for the
luxury of such adherence to a narrow and inhuman practice.

In 1880 the Welsh members returned to Parliament since the Liberal
Revival of 1868 had succeeded in passing that famous Burial Act which
now enables a British Nonconformist to be buried in a parish
burial-ground according to the rites of his own religion as long as due
notice is given to the parish priest. In most of the parishes in Wales
this Act was accepted by decent parsons as a satisfactory settlement of
a prolonged dispute.

But in the little village of Llanfrothen, at the very foot of Snowdon,
there was a rector whose fanatical religious instinct led him to make
one last daring effort to cheat his parishioners out of their rights of
decent Christian burial. In 1888, an old quarryman died at Llanfrothen.
He left it as his last wish that he should be buried by the side of his
daughter. Now, this daughter had been buried in a piece of land which
had been added to the churchyard as far back as 1864 by a certain Mrs.
Owen of Dolgelly. The new piece of land had been enclosed by a wall
built out of their own money by the parishioners. This “acre” had been
recognised up to that time as part of the burial-ground. But the Rev.
Richard Jones cared nothing for walls and little for precedents. This
“churlish priest” raked up the old records and found that Mrs. Owen had
made no legal conveyance of the land. In 1881, the year after the new
Burial Act had passed into law, he persuaded that good lady to make a
new conveyance, with a trust which confined it to those parishioners who
used the rites of the Church of England.

The new grave had actually been dug for the poor old quarryman to rest
by the side of his daughter. A notice under the new Act was served upon
the rector. Then began the struggle. The rector filled in the grave and
pointed out another spot for the burial of the old quarryman—a spot far
from his daughter, “bleak and sinister,” in the words of Mr. Lloyd
George—a place reserved for shipwrecked sailors and suicides.

It was at that moment in the struggle that the relatives of the
quarryman went to consult young David Lloyd George.

Without any hesitation Mr. Lloyd George advised them to act on their
rights. Following his daring counsel, they entered the graveyard and
reopened the filled-in grave. Then they made a pathetic appeal to the
rector. He still forbade them to act. Then they made a demand on the
rector. He still refused. Meanwhile young David had spent a night in
foraging and rummaging through the church records, and he had discovered
that in 1864 the rector had allowed the public to enclose the piece of
ground without any conditions. He advised the relatives to go on. Let
them, if necessary, break into the churchyard.

They went on. They broke into the churchyard. They borrowed a bier from
the church. They gave the old man a Christian burial by his daughter.
The Calvinist minister spoke the service, and the relatives went home
happier—contented with the feeling that they had buried the old man
where he had wished to lie.

Infuriated by their defiance, the stubborn rector sued the relatives for
damages in Portmadoc County Court. Mr. Lloyd George took up the defence
and asked for a jury. The jury decided that his facts were correct. The
County Court Judge decided against him on the point of law. Fortunately
for Mr. Lloyd George, the Judge made an incorrect record of the jury’s
verdict and refused to correct it. David Lloyd George appealed to the
Divisional Court. He was heard by Lord Chief Justice Coleridge and
Justice Manisty. In the middle of the case Lord Chief Justice Coleridge
discovered the incorrect record by the County Court Judge. Result—fury
of the Lord Chief Justice, anger of the Court, and, finally, a verdict
in favour of the quarryman.

So that poor old quarryman of Llanfrothen was after all laid to rest in
peace in that little burial-ground beneath the mighty precipices of
Snowdon; and the fame of Mr. Lloyd George spread wider and wider
throughout North Wales. It was felt that here at last the people had a
man who had the courage to support them in their struggles against the
powers in high places.

He now began to act as a popular pleader in cases of social injustice
before the Petty Courts of the Principality.



It was during this period of dawning thoughts and powers that David
Lloyd George wooed and won the woman who became his wife. The young man
was at that time a keen-eyed, attractive youth; and the silver tongue
which he was already using in Court and on the platform was also very
social in private life. He was from the beginning a sociable,
conservative man. Dowered with welded gifts of wit and wisdom, he had
already the makings of a good talker. Above all, he had that gift of
sympathy with the views of others which is more popular with women than
with men. So it was that the cottage-born boy of Llanystumdwy, the
promising son of Morvin House, was a prime favourite with the girls of
Criccieth—and with one girl in particular who lived just outside
Criccieth.

For about a mile inland from the sea, on a hundred-acre farm called
Mynydd Ednyfed, there lived a farming family of old lineage and high
standing possessing the proud, historic Welsh name of Owen. They claimed
descent from Owen Glyndwr, and they faced life with that simple Homeric
pride which lends dignity to worthy living. The yeomen farmers of Wales,
like the “statesmen” of the Cumberland Dales, inherit the pride of
landed men; and the Owens were no exception to this rule.

The Owens of Ednyfed had a daughter—Maggie by name—whom they loved
passing well. She was the apple of her father’s eye; and no man who
sought her hand was likely to have an easy time. That, of course, was
likely to make Maggie not less, but more desirable to David Lloyd
George.

Maggie went to chapel at Criccieth, and the young people met in that
simple but thrilling way—when the heart is at its best and highest—as
they went to and from their little chapels. They did not worship
together; for the Owens were Methodists. But love has leapt higher
barriers than that between Baptists and Methodists.

Then there came those entries in the diaries—innocent, human
entries—how David took Maggie home from meetings—how, later on, he
began to go to the farm and talk. Little is said; but we see the old,
old story developing along its ancient trodden paths. The son of the
land is going back to the land for his wooing.

Then came those stones in the path without which the truth of love never
was and never shall be proved. It was after 1885 that the young man
began to go frequently to the farmhouse—solely, of course, to obtain
sound political advice and counsel from a very wise young lady. Fathers
have strange illusions, and at first Mr. Owen thought that David came to
talk to him. Many fathers have often thought the same.

But the day came to Mr. Owen, as it comes to all parents, when the veil
was torn asunder. It became only too obvious that this young man did not
toil out so often to Ednyfed solely in order to enjoy the society of Mr.
Owen—or even of Mrs. Owen.

Then Mr. Owen became less friendly. It is not Polonius only who thought
himself wiser than youth; and in this case Mr. Owen brought Mrs. Owen
over to his side.

Ah! If this young David could look forward to the secure tenancy of a
good solid farmhouse and a rich, broad-acred farm, how different it
would be! But there he was, a struggling limb of the law, scarcely
emerged from articles, given to outrageous public forays, still under
his uncle’s roof! Farmers rarely love lawyers.

Happily the Owen parents had friends and relations, who took a sounder
and longer view. Maggie had one of those friendly aunts who are the best
counsellors of our youth. That good lady now urged Maggie to stick to
the young man. “Mark you,” she would say, “that young man has a great
future. Don’t give him up.” Maggie was perhaps like any other young
girl, at first a little divided and disturbed—distracted between the
calls of love and filial duty. But in the end she did the sound,
straight thing—she stuck to her man and won.

Once the victory was established, and bold heart had won fair lady, then
the parental entrenchments surrendered. The white flag became the flag
of loyalty; and Mr. and Mrs. Owen, once won over, became the devoted
friends and worshippers of their son-in-law up to the close of their
lives. I saw something of them in their home at a later time; and among
all those humble folk who have helped David Lloyd George to achieve,
those two wise elders, Mr. and Mrs. Owen, held no mean or unworthy
place.

The years flew swiftly, and by 1888 it became clear that Maggie’s aunt
was the true prophetess, and that the young Criccieth solicitor was a
coming man. The rumour of him was spreading through the county like the
roar of a “spate” from the hills of Snowdon. What was more important, he
was earning an income. Not even the thrifty, careful farmer of Ednyfed
could doubt any longer.

So with the opening of that year it was decided that the marriage should
take place.

On January 24th, 1888, just after the twenty-fifth birthday of the young
bridegroom,[24] David Lloyd George and Maggie Owen were married. The
wedding took place in a romantic spot, in the little chapel of
Pencaenewydd, an inland Carnarvonshire village, a few miles from
Chwilog. Uncle Lloyd took David over by train on that fateful morning to
Chwilog; there they breakfasted, and walked over to Pencaenewydd. Uncle
Lloyd and the Rev. John Owen performed the simple ceremony; and there
were present only relations and a few friends. But it was recorded in
the _Carnarvon Herald_ that flags were to be seen everywhere in
Criccieth, and in the evening, after the young couple had left for
London, the people defied the drizzling rain with a bonfire and
fireworks. Already the people knew their friend.



Twenty-nine years later (1917) a daughter of these simple spousals was
married with the same simplicity in a little Baptist chapel in London.
Only the welling, pressing crowd outside the chapel showed that the man
who stood by the pulpit giving away his daughter was Prime Minister of
England. One wedding was as simple as the other.



When they returned to Criccieth from their brief honeymoon, Mr. and Mrs.
Lloyd George settled down at first at Mynydd Ednyfed, in the farmhouse
of the Owens, and there they spent a few happy years under her parents’
roof. There the elder children were born.

It was soon clear that the marriage was not going to bring any abatement
of courageous action on the part of the young husband. Mrs. Lloyd George
was not the sort of wife who encourages her husband to uxorious ease.
She was, and always has been, on the side of daring. She faces danger
with a simplicity which is disarming.

One night, for instance, there was to be held at Criccieth a meeting of
the kind known as “Church Defence”; a species of gathering not free from
offence to the people of Wales. David was suffering from a mild attack
of tonsillitis. There seemed every reason why he should not go to the
meeting.

But the people of Carnarvonshire had had to stand a good deal of this
sort of thing; and David’s blood was up. He wanted to go. Would his
young wife mind? She? “Why not go?” she said.

So he went off, closely muffled up by a wife who was tender as well as
brave.

He stepped into the meeting with one definite object. It was his
deliberate intention to stop a practice that was growing into a scandal.
It had become a habit in these gatherings to fend off the eager
questionings of militant Nonconformity by disingenuous postponement. It
is a method well known to the tricksters of public life. “Questions? Oh!
yes, as many as you like! Only it is more convenient to answer them at
the close of the meeting!” Then at the close—“So sorry! But our friend
here has to catch a train—his invaluable time—” We all know this sort
of thing.

But at the opening of this particular meeting—an important meeting, to
be addressed by a very special Church advocate—there arose the young
David Lloyd George, muffled but insistent. Yes, he wanted to ask some
questions. No, he would rather ask them now. In fact, he intended to ask
them now. So he stood, pale to the lips, but unyielding.

The audience, taking courage, began to clap and cheer. “To the
platform!” shouted some one. So David quite deliberately stepped up to
the platform, mounted it, and began to address the meeting.

In vain did the righteous rage. The chairman ordered David down. He held
his ground. Nay, he began to address the people, simply, incisively,
thrillingly. The chairman was forgotten. David had become the speaker of
the hour.

Then a curious thing happened. Warming to the task, David began to take
off his mufflers. He unwound them and cast them aside. His hoarse voice
became clear and ringing. The sick throat was forgotten.

He captured the meeting. The platform was silenced. It was he who made
the speech of the evening; and at the end the enthusiastic Free
Churchmen in the audience took up the young man and carried him from the
hall on their shoulders.

No, certainly, marriage had not pinioned the wings of this young stormy
petrel.

-----

[21] _Sartor Resartus_, Book II., chapter ix.

[22] In countries like Japan all fishing is free; and public fishing, of
course, can be “preserved” as easily as private.

[23] The lower Nantlle lake.

[24] He was born on January 17th, 1863.



                              CHAPTER  VI


                           ENTERS PARLIAMENT

    “The day of the cottage-bred man has at last
    dawned.”—=Lloyd George.=

NOW (1888) happily married and well started on his legal career, Mr.
Lloyd George was able to return to his larger ambition of sitting in
Parliament. From this time forward he definitely aspired to sit at
Westminister as the representative of his own native constituency, the
Carnarvon Boroughs. The achievement was not to be easy. There were many
lions in the path.

During the last few years, indeed, he had immensely increased his
reputation. He had travelled through many parts of Wales and visited
many courts, fighting the cause of the “under-dog.” The tenants of
Wales, harried and evicted after 1868 and 1880, had begun to hold up
their heads again. They felt that they had a new champion on their side.

But the old habit of sending to Westminster only the powerful and
wealthy was not yet dead. Feudalism always dies slowly. It was a very
sudden change indeed to pass from the squire and the manufacturer to the
cottage-bred lad of Llanystumdwy.

David Lloyd George, indeed, neglected no opportunities. Besides being a
lawyer and a public speaker, he was now an active journalist. Working
with that fine spirit, Mr. D. R. Daniel—then one of the noblest sons of
the Young Welsh movement—David Lloyd George founded at Pwllheli in 1888
a paper called _The Trumpet of Freedom_—a name which certainly did not
lack sound and vigour.

Then, a few months after his marriage, with the consent and support of
his fearless wife, he allowed his name first to be put forward as
possible Liberal candidate for the Carnarvon Boroughs.

Then followed one of those personal struggles which test and try a man.

It is right that all claim to rise above our fellows should be narrowly
scrutinised. There is even in jealousy some element of that instinct for
equality which gives dignity to the meanest man. Here is a factor that
takes multitudinous forms, varying from fair judgment to sheer malice.
The strongest man will wince under the scorpions of spite; but he will
accept the verdict of a fair jury of his peers. It was to such a jury
that young David Lloyd George now fearlessly appealed.

Certainly it was scarcely to be expected that his claims to the seat
should pass unchallenged. He was still (1888) only twenty-five years
old. He was appealing to his own countryside; and a prophet is recorded
to have authority anywhere but there. There was the inevitable question
of envious neighbors—“Is not this the bootmaker’s boy?” There was the
man who had known “David” with the curls down his back—who had kept a
record of his youthful pranks. Then there was “the County”—that fine
essence of squiredom which had always regarded “the seat” as one of its
own possessions. Above all, there were the little borough circles—the
elders in the chapels, the grey-beards in the seats of the saints. There
were some such seniors who shook their heads gravely at such madness.
The boy must bide his time. Who was he to rule over them? For when
David, the shepherd’s youngest son, came up to face the Philistine
champion, it was not only the Philistine enemy, but also his own elder
brothers who scoffed and doubted.

Against all these doubts and envies only one thing could prevail. It was
the new wave of Nationalism which was sweeping over the younger
generation throughout Wales, and especially North Wales. Wales was tired
of those respectable professional members who were so easily captured by
the political machines at Westminster. They wanted some one endowed with
the courage to revolt; and already they had a perception that David
Lloyd George was such a man. He had shown this in his defence of the
fishermen of Nantlle, and in his championship of that poor old quarryman
of Llanfrothen. In both cases he had defied authority; and in both cases
he had won. He had been the first to break the tradition of fear which
brooded over the Welsh people.

He had already roused a new spirit of hope in the younger generation:
and they were determined that he should carry their banner forward.

At first his candidature progressed very slowly. It was true that the
constituency had fared badly of recent years. In 1886, when Tom Ellis
was sweeping all before him in Merionethshire, the Carnarvon Boroughs
had put forward an old-fashioned Liberal who had lost the seat to an
able Tory.

At this time it was still in the possession of that Tory member—Mr.
Swetenham, Q.C. Humdrum Liberalism, as David Lloyd George had already
prophesied, had not proved a winning card in the Boroughs. But such an
experience does not always remove prejudice. There were those who argued
that a Q.C. could only be defeated by another Q.C.—or say, a professor;
or perhaps, even better, a millionaire, if he could be obtained. We all
know these dreams that haunt the minds of local committee-men in
difficult and doubtful constituencies.

The first step towards achievement was taken in the spring of 1888 when
he was adopted as candidate by the Liberals in the Borough of
Carnarvon.[25] But for some months the other four Boroughs held aloof,
and it was not until later in the year that he was selected as candidate
by the Liberals of Nevin, Pwllheli, and Criccieth. For several months
longer there was a hesitation among the respectabilities of that eminent
cathedral city of Bangor, where even Liberalism has a tinge of blue. But
on December 20th Bangor surrendered, and he was chosen as Liberal
candidate for the whole constituency.

It is clear from the letters and diaries of the time that these months
marked a period of great stress in his life. When he was selected at
Bangor he wrote to his family one of those passionate youthful
assertions of “will to win” characteristic of power in the bud:

    “Despite all the machinations of my enemies, I will succeed. I
    am now sailing before the wind, and they against it.”

It is clear from these sentences that there was keen personal opposition
to his candidature. It was a moment in Welsh Liberalism of fierce tidal
struggle between the old and the new forces. The old forces died hard.
That type of Liberalism, still not rare in England, which aims at
cashing its seat in Parliament for money favours or local privileges,
was by no means yet dead in Wales. The strong wind of that great
national spirit which has since swept through the Principality had not
yet risen to hurricane force. There were many elements of fear and
self-interest which viewed with horror the challenge to powers in high
places which David Lloyd George set before Wales as the only sure road
to liberty. These men found his doctrine too hard for them. Mr. Doubting
and Mr. Feeble-mind hoped still to serve two masters and to get the best
of two worlds. It yet required a great struggle before David Lloyd
George could convince them that his was a sign in which they could
conquer. These great victories are not achieved easily; it is only
through great storm and stress that nations attain to freedom of soul.

But a great event in this progress was destined to take place the
following year—1889. It was a singular curiosity of this period of
reaction in British home affairs that there had crept into the Unionist
Government a man of large and progressive views. Mr. C. T. Ritchie[26]
had emerged from the British middle class to take his seat among the
mighty of this land. He had not lost sight of his own people in the
process. Mr. Ritchie was a bluff man, rugged of speech and ungainly of
appearance. He seemed like a fly in amber in the midst of a Tory
Government. But he happened to be very popular with Queen Victoria, and
he was a power in the City of London. It has always been in England a
part of the compromise of the great aristocrats who dominate the Tory
Party that they should promote to high office a few shining lights of
the middle class. In an earlier time they had to promote Sir Robert
Peel—at a great price to their cause. Now they had to admit Mr.
Ritchie; and the penalty was almost as great. For in 1888, by creating
the County Councils, he struck a blow at the roots of county feudal
government.

Young Lloyd George saw in a flash the tremendous opportunity thus given
to Wales. He knew by long experience that the power of the squires was
largely based upon their control of county government in Quarter
Sessions. He saw that they would endeavour to prolong their power by
capturing the new County Councils. He determined to do his utmost to
defeat them. He refused to stand for election himself, although he was
offered four seats. His own ambition was larger. It was to capture the
county. He moved about from place to place speaking everywhere and
trying to rouse the whole of Carnarvonshire to the great chance now
placed in their hands. He succeeded. He carried the county. Everywhere
the candidates of progress were returned. “It is a revolution!” he
cried. “The day of the squire has now gone!”[27] So profound was the
conviction of the Welsh Liberals that he had won their battle for them
that he was immediately chosen as county Alderman along with Mr. (now
Sir) Arthur Acland, who, at that time, had a house in Carnarvonshire.

“The boy Alderman,” as he was called, instantly threw himself hotly into
the new work of the Carnarvonshire County Council. He became a
conservator for those native rivers of his which he loved so dearly,
soon winning for them that freedom for which he had always striven in
other ways. He took an active part in every branch of administration.
But his main purpose was directed to using the Welsh County Councils as
a political stepping-stone towards the great goal of Home Rule for
Wales. He was a prime mover in appointing a Committee to collect
evidence for the Royal Commission on the Sunday Closing Act in Wales. He
pushed forward the idea of an Association of County Councils for the
whole of the Principality. During those months of 1889 David Lloyd
George created a Home Rule weapon in Wales of which he was destined to
make a mighty use in one of the greatest struggles of his later years.
Perhaps he “builded better than he knew.” But it is a very striking
evidence of his early political instinct that he should have perceived
so soon the full possibilities of the Welsh County Councils.

The tide of events now began to sweep him rapidly towards a larger
political career. As recognised candidate for the Carnarvon Boroughs he
already began to play an important part on the larger political stage.
In October 1889 he had supported a Welsh Disestablishment resolution at
a meeting of the Welsh National Council. In December he persuaded the
National Liberal Federation at Manchester to accept the policy of the
Local Veto on the drink traffic. On February 4th, 1890, he made at the
South Wales Liberal Federation a brilliant and arresting speech on Welsh
Home Rule—a speech which instantly marked him out as a coming figure in
Welsh politics. He argued with force and power that, as compared with
Ireland, the argument for Welsh Home Rule was stronger because they
lacked the specific difficulty of Ireland—the Ulster problem. The
speech made a deep mark. Already in his own country he stood for unity
and daring, while even in England rumours began to reach the ears of
Radical politicians that a new and fiery force was arising hard by the
rocks of Snowdon.



It was at this critical moment that Mr. Swetenham, the Conservative
member for the Carnarvon Boroughs, died; and suddenly the young David
Lloyd George was faced with a supreme challenge. Probably, if he had
been able to shape events himself, he would have preferred to wait a few
years before standing for Parliament. But to some men the call of fate
comes early and swiftly, and cannot be denied.

Certainly David Lloyd George showed no sign of hesitating to meet the
call. On March 24th, 1890, he issued his Address—a brief, terse,
dignified statement of his political faith. It was not the Address of an
ordinary Liberal candidate. True, he gave his homage to Mr. Gladstone
and the cause of Irish Home Rule; but then he passed on rapidly to a
strong assertion of the claims of Wales—first and foremost, for
religious liberty and equality; then for sweeping reforms in land and
labour laws; last, but not least, for a liberal extension to Wales of
the principle of self-government. In other words, Mr. Lloyd George stood
for Parliament always before all things as a Welsh Nationalist. In
subsequent years, when he was to be so often accused of disloyalty to
the Liberal Party, that fact might perhaps have been more often
remembered.

The sudden death of the Tory member threw the Unionist organisers into
some confusion. At first they pushed forward a Liberal Unionist; but
Wales has no liking for the lukewarm in politics. Finally, they selected
the local squire, Mr. Ellis Hugh Nanney,[28] a strong Tory, but a man of
considerable local popularity with those who admired him.

Here, then, was a thrilling contest—between the village boy and the
local squire; between the rebel of the village school and its secular
ruler; between the Robin Hood of the village woods and their lord and
owner.

It was a sharp, keen struggle, fought to all appearances on Irish Home
Rule; but the weapons of the fight were edged and pointed by the new
spirit of freedom that was blowing hard from the Welsh hills. On Mr.
Nanney’s side was the old order, with all its powers and attractions,
its graces and its condescensions; on the side of David Lloyd George was
the keen, breezy hope of the future, with all its rough and rugged
possibilities. In the end the veteran Liberals of Wales rallied to the
support of the young David. Both Mr. John Parry and Mr. Thomas
Gee—after a searching interrogation—came to his help.

We may be sure that in the fierce atmosphere of that contest there was
little effort to spare the humble origins of the Liberal candidate. It
was characteristic of David Lloyd George that he met these attacks, not
with apology, but with bold defiance.

On March 28th, speaking at Carnarvon, he uttered this ringing reply:

    “The Tories have not yet realised that the day of the
    cottage-bred man has at last dawned.”[29]

It is clear that that idea had taken hold of his mind with mastering
power.

We can recover a picture of that little by-election as the struggle
ebbed and flowed in the streets of those little Welsh townships, far
away there between the mountains and the sea. To the great world it was
a mere episode in Mr. Gladstone’s last great struggle.[30] It was only
dimly that the shrewd London special correspondents began to perceive
that something else was at stake also—something else for Wales,
something else for England also.

We see the slow-moving drama working to a crisis through that far-away
Easter-tide—the public still mainly absorbed in their holiday
pleasures—the meetings at first feebly attended, and then, as the day
of election draws near, more and more crowded—the squire-candidate at
first amiably confident and aloof, pleading ill-health, then suddenly
appearing constantly in public, feverishly canvassing, plainly alarmed
by the reports of his agents. All through we can see the little
“hamlet-lad” with the yellow rosette—boldly sporting his
colours—flitting from town to town, urging on his supporters, speaking
to the Welsh people in that sweet mellifluous, persuasive tongue of
theirs, so magical to those who know it.

“A dull election,” said the correspondents at first. The result seemed
to them doubtful. These Londoners expected the Welsh to be very
excitable; and they were surprised to find them so calm. They forgot
that deep waters run still.

Then they began to notice the Liberal candidate. One who heard him speak
in Welsh wrote to London: “I never heard any one speak Welsh so
charmingly as Mr. Lloyd George. It was the first time I had heard him;
and though I could not understand a word of it, it is exceedingly
pleasant to listen to him.”[31] Truly, a remarkable victory for the
power of sound!

Then, as the election goes forward, we can see pale fear gradually
creeping through the ranks of Tuscany. The Welsh Tory agent was
hurriedly sent down from headquarters and wired back that the situation
was serious. Exertions were redoubled. On those last days this election
certainly was not dull. Deep cried unto deep; and the Welsh crowds began
to murmur like the restless sea which beats on their shores.

Then comes the polling day—Friday, April 4th. Up to the last the issue
is doubtful. It is a neck-and-neck struggle. The poll is very heavy.
Carnarvon votes to a man—and Bangor almost to a man.[32] The shrewd
observers are puzzled. They feel like those who watch the meeting of the
tides. The signs are not clear. One coming from Nevin finds David Lloyd
George in Carnarvon the solitary wearer of his own favours. He cannot
understand it.

Then, the closing scene—the counting of the votes on the polling day in
the room beneath the town hall at Carnarvon. It is midday of a beautiful
spring day, and the street outside is packed with seething, expectant
humanity. How slow they are inside there! How wearily the minutes drag
on! But far away, over Criccieth, Snowdon shines, still snow-crowned,
beautiful and serene.

Inside the town hall the issue wavers to and fro. From hour to hour fate
oscillates in the balance.

The votes have now been counted. The Nanney heap is one side of the
table, and the Lloyd George heap on the other. The heaps seem almost
equal. But to the trained eyes of close observers the papers on the
Nanney heap rise above his rival’s by just a shadow of a shade. There
can be no doubt about it—David Lloyd George is beaten. Better tell him
at once.

David Lloyd George smiles bravely. His friends gather round him with
sober solace. “Better luck next time”—when suddenly there is a stir in
the throng which surrounds the ballot papers.

One of David Lloyd George’s vigilant agents has been better occupied
than in uttering words. He stands eagerly scrutinising the piles of
papers: and now his keen eye has noticed something doubtful about one of
the packets of papers on Mr. Nanney’s heap. He picks it up and glances
rapidly through the voting-papers. Below one or two Nanney votes there
is a little unnoticed series of votes for Lloyd George. It is enough to
make the difference, and to return David Lloyd George as member by a
majority of 20.

Stung by frustrated hope, the Nanney agents insist on a recount; and one
vote is transferred from Lloyd George to Nanney, reducing the majority
to 18.

David Lloyd George is M.P. for the Carnarvon Boroughs!

The word goes swiftly forth. As soon as he appears, he is received by
that hitherto silent crowd with tumultuous acclaim. The still waters
break into foam. He is drawn in a carriage through the town by a
tremendous crowd. At Castle Square he addresses them in Welsh: “My dear
fellow-countrymen,” he says, “the county of Carnarvon to-day is free.
The banner of Wales is borne aloft, and the boroughs have wiped away the
stains!”

Eighteen votes[33]—not a very large gap between defeat and victory. But
it is enough. ’Twill serve. The moving finger has written.

-----

[25] Now (1920) as then a constituency consisting of five Welsh
Boroughs—Carnarvon, Bangor, Criccieth, Pwllheli, and Nevin. Out of
consideration for the Prime Minister the constitution was left unaltered
by the Act of 1918.

[26] Afterwards Lord Ritchie.

[27] In a speech at Liverpool on February 18th, 1889. The first mention
of Mr. Lloyd George in a leading article was in the _Carnarvon Herald_
over this speech.

[28] Now Sir Ellis Hugh Nanney.

[29] These words are taken from the verbatim report of his speech in the
_Carnarvon Herald_.

[30] Mr. Gladstone wrote the following by-election letter:

    “DEAR SIR,

    “Your sanguine anticipations do not surprise me. My surprise
    would be this time, if a Welsh constituency were to return a
    gentleman who, whether Tory or Liberal, would vote against the
    claims which Wales is now justly making, that her interests and
    feelings should at length be recognised in concerns properly her
    own. Even if he reserved or promised you his individual vote, by
    supporting the party opposed to you and keeping it in power, he
    would make that favourable vote perfectly nugatory.

                                                 “I remain,
                                          “Your faithful servant.
                                                 “W. E. GLADSTONE.”

[31] The _Daily News_, April 2nd, 1890: “He has a flexible, sympathetic
voice, a silvery, mellifluous articulation, and his action is that of an
accomplished orator.”

[32] The _Carnarvon Herald_ records that the Tories polled every
possible man. One voter was brought all the way from Wolverhampton.
Three Carnarvon plasterers were brought by car to Carnarvon from the
beach at Pwllheli, where they were working.

[33] The full figures were:

                  David Lloyd George              1,963
                  Ellis Nanney                    1,945
                                                     ——
                            Majority                 18
                                                     ——



[Illustration: MRS. WILLIAM GEORGE,
 THE MOTHER OF DAVID LLOYD GEORGE.]



[Illustration: DAVID LLOYD GEORGE AT THE AGE OF SIXTEEN]



                              CHAPTER  VII


                            FIRST SKIRMISHES

                                               “And now,
           Out of that land where Snowdon night by night
           Receives the confidences of lonely stars,
           And where Carnarvon’s ruthless battlements
           Magnificently oppress the daunted tide,
           There comes, no fabled Merlin, son of mist,
           And brother to the twilight, but a man.”
            _William Watson on Mr. Lloyd George._

ENTERING the House of Commons in April 1890, David Lloyd George walked
straight into one of those great party struggles which in those days
supplied the British public with an efficient substitute for the Prize
Ring. The subject was a clause in the Budget of 1890 compensating the
Drink Trade for abolished licences. The whole Liberal Party attacked
this clause hotly under the leadership of Mr. Gladstone. The whole
Unionist Party supported it.

On the face of it, the young Lloyd George, hot with temperance
enthusiasm, could not have found a more congenial theme. But his letters
and diaries reveal that he felt an immediate chill on contact with the
House of Commons. He found the drink question being used as a great
party weapon on both sides. Shrewd political calculations had annexed
one party to drink and another party to temperance. But the young Lloyd
George, drunk with the temperance faith, detected no real enthusiasm on
either side.

“The debate,” he wrote to his uncle on May 16th, “was rather an unreal
one, no fervour or earnestness characterising it. The House does not
seem at all to realise or to be impressed with the gigantic evils of
drunkenness.”

It was characteristic of young Lloyd George that he hoped for a great
change in the atmosphere when the country was really aroused; and he
proceeded to do his best to arouse it.

Often in the years that followed the young Lloyd George felt the same
chill in the atmosphere of Westminster. He often used to say in those
days that he found it necessary to renew his strength by constantly
visiting the constituencies. He was always rather a platform man than a
House of Commons man: he was never a great lobbyist. Often in those
early years he used to find that he gained more inspiration from great
popular meetings than from a week in the House of Commons.

He was a little timid of the House of Commons—perhaps wisely so. He saw
in a moment that the House liked to be wooed carefully. “I shan’t speak
in the House this side of the Whitsuntide holidays,” he wrote to his
uncle. “Better not appear too eager. Get a good opportunity and make the
best of it—that’s the point.” There, at any rate, he showed that he had
the first qualification for parliamentary success—respect for his
audience.

I can remember the ferment of expectation that gathered round Mr. Lloyd
George among those of us who, in those days, watched the House of
Commons from the gallery. We had heard vaguely of him as a great
“spell-binder” in North Wales. We had been told that no man equalled him
in his power of rousing Welsh crowds in the Welsh tongue. We had heard
that he had the gift of the “hwyl”; and, not knowing quite what that
meant, we expected to see something resembling a Druid appear on the
floor of the House of Commons. Imagine our surprise, therefore, when we
saw a slim, well-groomed young lawyer in a frock coat and with
side-whiskers. The few questions he asked in the first week revealed
that he had a soft, rather sweet voice, and was more inclined to speak
in a whisper than a shout. All these things seriously upset our
calculations, and considerably disappointed the hopes of all fervid
sketch-writers.

It was on June 13th, 1890, that he first broke his parliamentary silence
by a speech on the compensation clauses. He supported Mr. Acland’s
amendment for diverting Mr. Goschen’s grant from liquor compensation to
technical education.

It was by no means the speech of a fanatical Druid. It was a
soft-spoken, skilful piece of debating expressed in excellent idiomatic
English. It was full of swift debating thrusts and sharp-edged jests. It
was in this speech that he described Lord Randolph Churchill and Joseph
Chamberlain as “political contortionists who can perform the great feat
of planting their feet in one direction and setting their faces in
another.” Here was just the kind of humour that the House of Commons
loves. It came well within the line of that traditional parliamentary
wit which has to be appreciated even by its victims.

In fine, Mr. Lloyd George’s maiden speech seemed a good start for a
promising parliamentary career. It was approved by Mr. Gladstone,
praised by Sir William Harcourt, and cheered by the House itself.

For the moment the young Welsh victor was a conspicuous figure. He stood
in the limelight. He received from many quarters those purple favours
which have turned the heads of so many young members fresh from a
by-election. For this return, coming after several defeats of other
candidates, was a notable event in the close and desperate partisan
warfare of those years.

It was an event, indeed, deemed worthy of special attention from the
veteran leader of the Liberal hosts, Mr. Gladstone smiled on Wales. On
May 29th Mr. Lloyd George was invited to Hawarden with a party of Welsh
constituents, who sang hymns and folk-songs on that historic lawn. The
young recruit was introduced to the Grand Old Man, who honoured him with
a special oration. “The Carnarvon Boroughs,” he said in his stately way,
“are a formidable place for the Liberal Party to fight. Penrhyn Castle
is an important centre. But truth, justice, and freedom are greater than
Penrhyn Castle!” Mr. Gladstone was no doubt thinking of little more than
his beloved cause of Ireland; but the words echoed through Wales with a
meaning that perhaps Mr. Gladstone himself little dreamed of.

Thus David Lloyd George was initiated into the sanctities of the Liberal
party. But he was not always to prove an easy and obedient acolyte.



For the House of Commons had not yet had any taste of Mr. Lloyd George’s
rebellious humours. The real test of this quality was yet to come.

It came on August 13th of this year (1890) when he let himself go with a
touch of his own native daring on some of the items of the Estimates. He
selected them from among those decorative payments which are far too
easily granted by an assembly always inclined to be kind to the great
and prosperous. One of the items was a payment of £439 on the
installation of Prince Henry of Prussia as a Knight of the Garter. “What
service,” asked Mr. Lloyd George boldly, “has Prince Henry of Prussia
ever rendered to this country? He has not yet rendered any service to
his own country, to say nothing of service to Great Britain.”

Then he passed to an item of £2,769—“equipage money” to the
Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. “The Lord-Lieutenant,” said Mr. Lloyd
George, “is simply a man in buttons who wears silk stockings and has a
coat-of-arms on his carriage.” At this he was called severely to order
by the Chairman, but that did not prevent him from a ruthless comparison
of this expenditure with the recent report of a Sweating Committee and
the terrible revelations of poverty contained in that document.

Here the House of Commons had a touch of the real Lloyd George whom they
were to get to know so well in the future. It was for this that he had
come to Westminster; not for conventional party speeches, but for plain
homely utterance on the pomps and conventions and extravagances of the
great world. Here we get a first hint of his mission: a difficult and
even cruel mission—to tell the comfortable and wealthy that they were
living on the poor—to tell the decorative that they must be decorative
no longer, but must either be useful or come down from their high
places. He knew that such talk was not going to be popular in the House
of Commons, but he was looking to another quarter for approval. Writing
in his diary the day before delivering the speech on Prince Henry of
Prussia’s Garter he made the following significant entry:

                     “My audience is the country.”

It was to the country, indeed, that he was already making his chief
appeal. His biggest efforts of this year were made outside the House of
Commons. The first was made on May 7th at the Metropolitan Tabernacle,
where the Liberal Party appeared in full force to support Welsh
Disestablishment. He prepared his speech with the utmost care. He sent
notes of it down to his uncle at Criccieth and received the comments and
criticisms of the “Esgob”—the “Bishop”—as he loved to call Richard
Lloyd.

Mr. Lloyd George was perhaps a little humanly disappointed when he
discovered that, graded by party officialism, he had been given the
lowest place in the list of speakers at the Tabernacle. But this was
soon forgotten when he once got into his stride. Although the audience
had been dismally thinned by a succession of dreary orations, they sat
out his speech to the end. He had intended to go on for only five or ten
minutes: but the cheering and laughter of his audience carried him on
for twenty-five. This was the very thing—here was a man to whom Welsh
Disestablishment was an actual life issue, and not a mere new item in a
party programme. When at last he sat down, the audience seemed
surprised. Like a wise man, he left them unsatisfied, and the result was
that the public soon demanded more.

After this success he was deluged with requests for speeches in every
part of England. But wisely he accepted few. He decided to stick closely
to his House of Commons work, and there is no sounder course for any
young Member of Parliament. The result was that at the end of this first
session of 1890 he had already secured a good parliamentary footing.

It may be taken that the transition to Parliament from North Wales was
by no means an easy domestic revolution for a struggling young
provincial solicitor who had only just begun to earn an income.

Politics did not come to him, indeed, with such a crushing burden as it
brings to many young men. The total expenses of this, his first
election, were little more than £200. He definitely refused the offer of
his political friends to raise a fund to cover his election expenses.
But he accepted gratefully the unpaid help of several friendly lawyers
at Bangor and Carnarvon as his election agents. In his later elections
the Liberal Association of the Boroughs covered his expenses. The
labourer is worthy of his hire; and Mr. Lloyd George had wisely accepted
the offer. To that arrangement the Association adhered until the time
when he entered a Ministry (1906)—thus creating one of the finest ties
that can exist between a constituency and its member. Here, at any rate,
was a member who was a public servant and not a public almoner.

But in spite of that great public aid the entrance of David Lloyd George
into Parliament proved a great and growing strain on the young couple.
Their eldest child Dick[34] was already fifteen months old when Mr.
Lloyd George came into Parliament. The growing practice at Portmadoc had
to be left during the Session to his brother, Mr. William George, whose
splendid self-sacrifice and high public spirit have always fortified and
entrenched the private fortunes of his elder brother. While profits
diminished, new expenses grew. A domicile had to be secured in London.
Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd George settled down first (1890) in a flat in Gray’s
Inn, then (1891) in the Temple, and, later on, for six years (1893-9)
Palace Mansions, Kensington. There they set up a simple house, always
open to their many friends. For from the beginning Mr. Lloyd George was
always the most hospitable of men.

For the first year or two of his parliamentary life he continued to
practice in North Wales during the recess and to live during the autumn
months at Criccieth with Mr. and Mrs. Owen, his parents-in-law.[35]

On these returns to his native soil he continued to use his legal
position for those daring assertions of popular right which had become
his passion. At this time, indeed, occurred one of the boldest of these
incidents, when he faced Mr. Casson, the very lawyer to whom he had been
articled. That able provincial attorney had concentrated in his hands
all those secular offices which combine to make a genuine social
tyranny. He was at once Clerk to the Justices and agent to the Tremadoc
estate, which practically covered the whole district. As agent to the
estate, he had allowed some of the houses in Portmadoc to fall into
grave disrepair. At last the thing became a scandal. The Urban District
Council had to take action; and they instructed Mr. William George.

Complaint was in vain; it was soon necessary to prosecute. But the
summons against Mr. Casson the agent could only be issued by Mr. Casson
the Clerk of the justices: and Mr. Casson the Clerk of the Justices
refused to issue it. He seemed safely protected by his own loyalty to
himself.

Not an unusual incident in our happy countryside, in England as well as
in Wales; but Mr. David Lloyd George there and then determined that it
should not occur again in Portmadoc.

Mr. William George reported the situation to his brother, who said,
“Leave this to me.” Next day he went into court. He began by challenging
the bench. For one cause or another he was able to disqualify all the
magistrates except a schoolmaster and a bank manager, men of open minds.
To them Mr. Lloyd George then began to denounce Mr. Casson with
merciless vigour for a whole hour. He lashed him ruthlessly for his
misuse of his powers. He demanded that he should sit where every other
culprit had to sit—in the dock.

Mr. Casson did not remain quiet under these lashes. He protested and
interrupted for a time, but was at last quelled by Mr. Lloyd George’s
attack. Then he subsided into silence until the magistrates sternly
ordered the issue of the necessary summonses. The result was that the
dangerously crumbling walls complained of by the Urban Council were put
in a state of safety for the public.

When Mr. Lloyd George opened this scene the court was almost empty; but
in a few minutes the public outside had seemed to get wind of what was
happening. Long before the attack ended the court was crowded with
people who made no attempt to conceal their approval. To this day
Portmadoc will tell you that Mr. Lloyd George never did a more necessary
piece of work, or did it more thoroughly, than on this notable day.

It is not remarkable that, feeling these powers growing within him, he
should have thought seriously at this time of being called to the
English Bar. His friend Samuel Evans urged this on him. He put his name
down. But at that point some rare strain of diffidence held him
back—some instinctive shrinking. At any rate, he never carried the
matter further; but went on attempting to combine with his parliamentary
duties the conduct of his solicitor’s practice at Portmadoc.

But he could not go on permanently with this double strain. More and
more the public demanded speeches from him in the autumns; and he had
less and less time for work at Portmadoc. In May 1897 he sent for his
friend Arthur Rhys Roberts, a solicitor who was practising at Newport in
South Wales. He asked him to join him in starting an office in London.
They took rooms in 13, Walbrook, E.C.,[36] where they opened with no
prospects except the vague promises of friends; and for the first three
years David Lloyd George gave a great deal of time to this venture. He
went to the office every morning and to the House in the afternoons. He
worked hard for the firm. He wrote all important letters; he conducted
all important interviews—often at the House of Commons. He was still a
partner at Criccieth, and thus for a time he maintained a double
position in the law—the partner in two firms. But Criccieth counted
less and less, and gradually passed entirely into the hands of his
brother.

He earned a fair income; but it was a hard life, and he had to
supplement it with journalistic work for Welsh papers and for the
_Manchester Guardian_. He was quite a vigorous writer in those days. The
burden was heavy. But he had beside him the great courage and thrift of
his wife, and behind him the high and splendid spirit of his “Uncle
Lloyd.”

His life in those early days was full and serene, crowded with work and
play. The children began to fill his quiver—Dick, Mair, Olwen,
Gwilym—those young voices that speak with our enemies in the gate. He
loved children; and he loved life. He was already surrounded with
friends, and especially with that bright band of young Welshmen who were
gathering to Westminster—Tom Ellis, Herbert Lewis, Frank Edwards, Sam
Evans, Llewellyn Williams. So girt, he ever took life “with a frolic
welcome.”

His was a spirit welded of laughter and tears, moulded for great
adventures. He learnt even in those early days the great art of varying
grave with gay. But then, as now, the gay never took the place first. It
was always there as a servant rather than master—a foil to grave
endeavour; a background to serious purposes.

He had, of course, those little weaknesses that require the forgiveness
of affection. He could always, when he wished, write letters with the
best—especially when letters were really required for business or
affairs. But he would not write the small letters, or answer the small
letters. He was not very precise over social engagements. He was always
more faithful to his humble friends than to the great and fashionable;
and he sometimes forgot Gilbert’s great discovery—that even Belgrave
Square has a heart behind its stucco.

Behind all the colour and zest of his young, eager life there was always
that same quality of courage that knit his character like an iron
girder. He had a serene confidence in his own star. He did not know the
word “impossible.” The greater the obstacle the greater his security of
success. It was this note that dominated his thought and speech.

But, after all, it was at those gatherings of his friends, when the
pipes were lit and the laughter rang free, that the true Lloyd George
was to be seen and heard—the Lloyd George who has since won the hearts
of nations. Those were wonderful meetings of young souls at that little
flat in Kensington. How that symphony of laughter and speech rings
across the years, the echo of those grave debates of youth in which,
though we knew it not, opinions were moulding and a will forming which,
in the coming time, were to fashion and shake the world!

-----

[34] Now Major Richard Lloyd George.

[35] At first on the farm, and later in Criccieth. Mr. Owen built there
two semi-detached houses, Llys Owen and Brynawel, and there the Owens
and the Lloyd Georges lived for some years next door to one another.

[36] In 1900 they shifted to 63, Queen Victoria Street, E.C., which is
now the office of the firm of Rhyn Roberts & Co., as it has been called
since Mr. Lloyd George severed his connection with it after taking
Government office.



                             CHAPTER  VIII


                            PITCHED BATTLES

             “Though it appear a little out of fashion,
             There is much care and valour in this Welshman.”
       SHAKESPEARE’S _Henry V_, Act I, Sc. iv.

DAVID LLOYD GEORGE had gone to Parliament as a Welsh Nationalist; and,
as the months passed, it became clear that the task of moulding and
defending the new national cause in Wales would absorb his main
energies.

It was not a popular task at Westminster, where it cut right across the
party divisions. It was not even yet wholly an easy task in Wales, where
the old spirit of feudalism had many strongholds and was still “an
unconscionable time in dying.”

Throughout the following years (1892-7) David Lloyd George had to fight
a double battle—at Westminster and in Wales. At Westminster he took the
lead of a small group of Welsh members—often only four—who greatly
dared to put the cause of Wales before the cause of party—never an easy
task in a House where the party system is the very oxygen of the
political atmosphere. On all great public questions that arose in those
years—tithes, free schooling, local option, clergy discipline—he
steadily and daringly pursued the national course and built up a
national policy.

The influence that kept him straight on this course came ever from his
own native soil. For he was in daily touch with that faithful little
family group—those four loyal souls—his uncle, his brother, his
sister, and his mother—who kept for him, while he battled in London,
the fires burning on the home hearth, helped his wife by looking after
the children in moments of stress, and steadily aided him with counsel
and inspiration. David wrote to that little family party a daily record
of his doings; and day by day Uncle Lloyd wrote to his “_Di_” long
letters, partly in Welsh, partly in English, advising him on every
question that arose, always taking the bold side, always bringing his
nephew back to the goals of his pilgrimage—faith and fatherland. “Land
of our Fathers” was the key-phrase in Uncle Lloyd’s politics; and, amid
the stress and distraction of Westminster, his boy was never allowed,
for a single day, to miss hearing that clear call from the Eagle
mountains.

Here was the source of his strength in the struggles that now lay before
him, calling for the utmost exercise of will and decision. For, if the
Welsh cause was to be kept to the front, it was necessary to fight
continually against the submerging influence of the party machines.

The most remarkable among these contests of the early nineties was
undoubtedly that memorable fight undertaken by Mr. Lloyd George and a
small band of Welsh fellow-members against Mr. Gladstone in the zenith
of his power and frame over the Clergy Discipline Bill.

The Bill seemed a very innocent and reasonable measure. It aimed at
strengthening the control of the Anglican Bishops—always weak
enough—over their clergy. To Englishmen reasonable enough; but not so
to Welshmen, to whom the very word “Bishop” was almost as hateful a
sound as to the Presbyterian Scotch. Not until the Bishops released
their hold on Wales would they consent to give them a stronger hold over
their own clergy.

Now the Bill happened to be a very special favourite of Mr. Gladstone,
who still loved his Church with a mighty love, and Mr. Gladstone was at
that moment a very formidable opponent. It is difficult now to realise
the power of his authority at that moment. The Liberals who had remained
faithful to him regarded him with a loyalty that amounted to a passion.
To dispute his word would seem to them the nearest secular approach to
heresy or sacrilege. It was that spirit that Mr. Lloyd George dared to
defy.

It was a sight for the gods to see those young Welshmen, night after
night, facing the Grand Old Man. There he sat, almost alone on the Front
Opposition Bench, battling against those eager young members. He took
them very seriously. He argued with them, pleaded with them, rebuked
them. Mr. Lloyd George thoroughly enjoyed the experience. “Ah! But he is
a great debater!” he would say. But one thing he never forgot—the Grand
Old Man’s eye. He has often said that to face that eye in anger was one
of the most trying experiences in his parliamentary life. Years after,
when some of us were discussing the points of likeness between the Grand
Old Man and that gallant grandson who so splendidly gave his life for
his country, Mr. Lloyd George suddenly burst out: “Ah! But he has not
got the Old Man’s terrible eye!”

Mr. Gladstone pursued the matter to the end. He took a seat on the Grand
Committee that was to consider the Bill. He and Mr. Lloyd George fought
the matter out. It was only towards the end that Mr. Gladstone realised
one day that his own speeches were prolonging the fight; and then the
Old Man would sit glaring at the impudent youngsters in speechless
anger.

But Mr. Gladstone bore no grudges against a good fighter who stood up
for his own honest faith; and some years afterwards, when he met Mr.
Lloyd George at Sir Edward Watkin’s house on the slopes of Snowdon, he
made a special point of singling him out for special friendly speech.

Such revolts did not make Mr. Lloyd George more popular with the
orthodox English Liberals. But things were to become worse before they
became better. In the years 1892-5 came that great and prolonged
contention between the Welsh members and the English machine over the
position of Welsh Disestablishment among the Liberal fighting measures.
In that contention Mr. Lloyd George took a leading part.

Welsh Disestablishment in Wales, ever since 1868, had taken the same
position and grown to the same power as the Home Rule Movement in
Ireland. The Welsh was a Nationalist movement in a religious dress. But
English Liberalism had been chilly towards this movement, and treated it
with scant favour. Mr. Gladstone opposed it in 1870, and it was only in
1891 that he first supported it, and allowed it a place in the famous
Newcastle Programme. But so greatly was the Liberal Party absorbed in
the Home Rule struggle that in 1892-3 the Welsh cause slipped back and
the Liberals showed a definite tendency to shelve it.

It was at that moment that that small group of young Welshmen again
stepped forward and definitely demanded that Welsh Disestablishment
should be carried through the House of Commons and sent up to the House
of Lords.

Mr. Lloyd George was the leader of this revolt; and for those two years
he conducted it with a ruthless persistence which galled and embittered
the Liberals, wearied by the great fatigues of the Home Rule struggle.
For it was precisely in 1893, just after the great disappointment of the
rejection of the Home Rule Bill by the House of Lords, that he roused
the whole of Wales to demand the production of the Welsh
Disestablishment Bill.

There followed one of those intense sectional struggles which in our
party system are largely veiled from public view, but are none the less
bitter for that.

Those of us English Liberals who were actual spectators of the battle
certainly regarded Mr. Lloyd George as far from reasonable. We were
looking at the matter from the angle of English Liberalism. His was the
angle of Welsh Nationalism. Those angles sometimes crossed.

Mr. Gladstone resigned on March 1st, 1894; and Mr. Lloyd George
instantly demanded of the new Government that the Welsh Disestablishment
Bill should be carried through the Commons in 1894, unless they were
prepared immediately to take up the struggle with the Lords, in which
case he was prepared to forego the claim of Wales based on the Newcastle
Resolution to legislative attention immediately after the Home Rule
Bill.

The harassed Liberals—sensitive from weakening vitality—struggled on
their bed of torture. Sir William Harcourt, the new leader in the
Commons, at first refused. Mr. Lloyd George pursued his offensive with a
fierce attack at Holywell. Then came Mr. Asquith with a vague speech at
Plymouth; and at last on April 26th, 1894, the Disestablishment Bill was
introduced. Again came delay. But the revolt went steadily forward; and
the unhappy Government, with its dwindling majority, squirmed like some
victim under the mediæval torture of the _peine forte et dure_.

At the opening of the Session of 1895 the Rosebery Government were
perforce obliged to push the Disestablishment Bill forward. It was
carried by a majority of 44 on April 1st, 1895. But yielding brought no
peace. The Government was forced to pass the Bill through Committee; and
during that stage Mr. Lloyd George and his friends fiercely pressed
certain nationalist amendments which the Government reluctantly
accepted. These convulsions proved too much for a sick Ministry. On
August 11th, 1895, while the Welshmen were away in Wales devising new
measures of torture, the Rosebery Administration fell over the “cordite
vote.”

Mr. Lloyd George was fiercely attacked by orthodox Liberals for his
conduct in this affair. He was roundly accused of hastening the downfall
of the Government. He answered by saying that the Government was already
doomed from internal dissensions.

But in Wales his attitude was greeted with acclaim; and in the General
Election that followed, he was able to defeat Mr. Ellis Nanney once more
with a majority practically identical with that of 1892.[37]

The reason was clear. The Welsh now cared more for their own causes than
for the causes of the Liberal Party. The spirit of nationalism had
spread from Ireland to Wales. They cared nothing for the Rosebery
Government. They did not believe that the Commons could any longer
legislate—not until the Lords were fought and crushed. What they were
looking to was that the future claims of Wales should be pegged out as
clearly as the claims of Ireland.

It was for that spirit that Mr. Lloyd George stood now in Wales.



Not that, even in Wales, the victory of Welsh nationalism was achieved
without a struggle. During these years (1893-7) parallel with his
activities at Westminster, David Lloyd George was engaged in a great
campaign within Wales itself. It was a campaign for unity and
concentration.

He found in 1892 the political energies of Wales divided between a
number of purely party organisations, precisely after the fashion of
England. Parliament Street had carved up the Welsh counties in the same
spirit and method as Canterbury had carved up the Welsh dioceses. There
were the North Wales Federation and the South Wales Federation, and a
number of other similar bodies, with all the various staffs and
camp-followers who find their meat and malt in local distinctions and
differences. The worst of it was that these local divisions often blazed
up into national divergences on points of policy.

On the other hand, there were simultaneously growing up among the
younger generation of Wales a vast number of common national
organisations and societies, literary, social, and political. There was
the same ferment that we have of late years seen in Ireland—the ferment
of a new national growth, shown in language, literature, and even in
costume. There was the Cymru Fydd (“Wales of the Future”), the
Cymmrodorion, and, above all, the revived Eisteddfod, that remarkable
annual Welsh festival of poetry and song which seems to combine the
spirit of classical Greece and of Celtic Britain.

Mr. Lloyd George aspired to bring into Welsh politics some of the
strength and hope of this new national rebirth.

His definite aim, in the long series of great orations which he
delivered on this subject between 1889 and 1896, was to bring patriotism
to the help of Welsh politics in place of party—

    “The spirit of patriotism has been like the genie of Arabian
    fable. It has burst asunder the prison doors and given freedom
    to them that were oppressed. It has transformed the wilderness
    into a garden and the hovel into a home.”[38]

It was his aim that the same spirit should transform Wales.

A simple aim, it would seem. But no sooner did he set finger on the
various political Arks that had been set up for worship in the different
competing capitals of Wales than he found himself faced with the
fiercest hostility. Among his bitterest opponents was one of his own
followers in the House, Mr. D. A. Thomas (afterwards Lord Rhondda). Mr.
Thomas set himself up as the champion of the South Wales Federation; and
he succeeded in maintaining the cause of local independence.

So tense and prolonged was the struggle that Mr. Lloyd George was
content in the end to achieve his purposes in another way, by way of a
Welsh National Council. “A rose by any other name will smell as
sweet”—that is an important thing to remember in politics. Mr. Lloyd
George has never forgotten it.

Here, in Wales, was evidently a case of nationalism only slowly
struggling into consciousness, with many forces still to contend
against. But if we take a long survey, and cast our eyes over the last
half-century (1867-1920) how great is the contrast! Then (1867) there
was a Wales almost entirely subject to its feudal chiefs, scarcely
daring to assert its own language or nationality. Now (1920) there is a
Wales returning an almost unbroken national party, and a majority of
Welsh-speaking members.

In this great change David Lloyd George played a leading part.



The division between Welsh Nationalism and British Liberalism did not
last long. British Liberalism, essentially in sympathy with Nationalism,
soon forgave Mr. Lloyd George. Welsh Nationalism, always essentially
Liberal, soon made its peace again with Liberalism.

It was during the struggles of 1896-9 that the reconciliation came. Then
in the great parliamentary strife over the Agricultural Rates Bill and
the Voluntary Schools Bill, Mr. Lloyd George first showed his mettle as
a leader of parliamentary guerillas. Nay, more. At the moment when
British Liberalism was bereft of leadership he gave it a lead. That was
the great point.

Mr. Lloyd George’s great fight against the Agricultural Rates Bill in
1896 marked, indeed, his first great advance towards an assured
parliamentary position. It was the first of the measures put forward by
our Agrarians for the special relief of agriculture from the misfortunes
which had befallen them in the seventies and the eighties. A small
affair as compared with later proposals; but Mr. Lloyd George conceived
against it an implacable hatred. It was not the relief that he hated;
but he argued that under our land system the money would all go finally
into the pockets of the landlords. He believed this sincerely; and he
fought a great fight against the whole proposal.

The struggle went on through the early months of the Session of 1896.
The Unionists at first took it lightly; then they grew angry. Here, it
seemed, was a man who must really be reckoned with. This little Welsh
attorney, this chapel-trained Nonconformist, actually seemed to know a
thing or two about the sacred land system of these islands. He could not
be ignored. His pertinacity and resourcefulness seemed to be
inexhaustible. The fight went on from day to day, and there seemed no
end.

On May 21st the Government moved and the Chairman accepted the “block”
closure on the vital clause of the Bill—Clause four.

When the Chairman called the House to go into the division lobbies it
was seen that a little group of members were sitting still on their
seats, refusing to move. They were Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Herbert
Lewis, backed by a little group of sympathetic Irishmen—Mr. John
Dillon, Dr. Tanner, and Mr. Donald Sullivan—and by one Radical—Sir
John Brunner.

“I must request honourable members to proceed to the division lobbies,”
said the Chairman.

“I decline to go out under the circumstances,” said Mr. Lloyd George,
speaking with his hat on, as in duty bound.

It was a new event. The Chairman was puzzled what to do. So he called
the House back, summoned the Speaker—then Mr. Gully—from his repose,
and reported to him what had happened.

“Do I understand,” said the Speaker sternly to Mr. Lloyd George, “that
you refuse to clear the House?”

Mr. Lloyd George was quite unshaken by all this awful panoply of
parliamentary terrorism.

“That is so, sir,” said he; “as a protest, I declined to go out.”

Then came the turn of that valiant and faithful soul—the Fidus Achates
of our Æneas—Mr. Herbert Lewis. Did he too—so quiet and
dutiful—refuse to go out?

“I regard this Bill, sir, as legalised robbery,” he said with a sudden
outburst of honest vehemence.

After that there was nothing more to be said. The sacrilegious word had
been spoken, and it was time for the high-priests of the temple to act.
So the Leader of the House moved the suspension of these wicked men—the
House voted the suspension by 209 to 58—and the Speaker called on them
to withdraw. Mr. Lloyd George cheerfully rose to obey.

“For how long, sir?” he asked the Speaker, with the spirit of a
schoolboy making sure of his holiday.

“For a week,” said the Speaker; and they all withdrew.[39]

But the week was to be well used. The rebel went off immediately into
Wales and was received with acclamation. The grey veterans of the Welsh
Party in the House had shaken their heads. But the Welsh people knew
better. They realised the value of a dramatic protest.

There were others who knew better even in the House of Commons. Sir
William Harcourt, always a great parliamentary leader, recognised in a
moment that there was stuff in this new fighter. “My little Welsh
attorney,” he said to me once, “is worth the pack of them.”

“My audience is the country”—that was still the clue to all “Mr. Lloyd
George’s parliamentary actions. He and Mr. Herbert Lewis “stumped”
through Wales, rousing the people. That week’s holiday bade fair to cost
the Government dear.

The English people were not far behind the Welsh in their applause. He
was now fighting a battle in which not Wales only but the whole country
was concerned. Invitations to speak showered in from all over England.

It is, indeed, from this period (1896-7) that we must date a very
important and vital development in Mr. Lloyd George’s career. The
guerilla warfare which he opened in this year was carried on by him over
the Voluntary Schools Bill of 1897 and the Tithes Bill of 1899. But from
a “guerilla” he was gradually developing into a leader of Parliament.
Instead of his following the Front Bench, it was the Front Bench that
began to follow him!

For it was a moment of deplorable strife and weakness in the Liberal
leadership. Lord Rosebery had resigned over Armenia in 1896, and both
Sir William Harcourt and Mr. Morley resigned over Fashoda in 1898. The
throne was constantly being vacated; and Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman,
who succeeded to the purple, seemed at that time only a “stop-gap,” with
Mr. Asquith as the real and only successor.

The country was weary of these personal issues; and they turned with
refreshment to the little warrior below the gangway who, at any rate,
seemed to care for the cause more than for himself. During those years
it was he who checked the Tory ascendancy; and it was largely owing to
his vigour and vehemence that in 1897-8 the tide began to turn in the
country and the by-elections began to go against the Government—a
landslide that was only stopped by the outbreak of the South African War
in 1899.

In 1896-7, then, came the critical new departure in the career of Mr.
Lloyd George. Up to 1895 he had seemed to be a Welsh Nationalist, pure
and simple—that and nothing more. It looked then, indeed, as if he
might become the Parnell of Wales—a Parnell of a different kind both in
speech and character, but like him in his sole devotion to a national
cause—a Parnell in the sense of a leader of a national revolt.

Mr. Lloyd George gave to Wales the opening call. But Wales was not ready
for such a complete break with the old order. She was too deeply
committed by sympathy and conviction, both political and religious, to
the British Liberal allegiance. The feud was healed.

The Welsh Party in the House flinched from electing the rebel as their
Chairman. So they left England to share his services. They allowed him
the freedom of a wider and more splendid career. They refused to adopt
his policy of an independent Welsh Party; so they threw him into a
larger contest.[40]

He still continued, after 1895, to push the Welsh National cause—he has
never ceased to push it. In the new House his enthusiasm was directed to
“Home Rule all Round”; but he found few supporters.

He began more and more to merge the cause of Wales in the larger cause
of Britain. He began to believe that the Nonconformists of Britain were
in much the same case as the Nonconformists of Wales. Thus from being a
Welsh Nationalist only he became a Nationalist on a larger scale—a
Nationalist of Britain.

Wales practically gave him to England.

-----

[37] 194 votes as against 196 in 1892, when he defeated Sir John
Puleston, the popular Tory champion.

[38] October 1894.

[39] These details are based on contemporary impressions and verified
from Hansard.

[40] At a Welsh Party meeting on May 19th, 1899, an “independence”
resolution moved by Mr. Lloyd George was definitely shelved.



                              CHAPTER  IX


                              SOUTH AFRICA

               “God defend the right!”

WHEN the South African War broke out in early October, 1899, Mr. Lloyd
George was touring in Western Canada. The mutterings of the coming storm
had already reached him in the distant regions of the Rocky Mountains,
and that swift political instinct of his had warned him of grave events.
He turned in his tracks, abandoned his holiday, and made for home.[41]
While crossing the Atlantic he had abundant time to meditate on the
great issue between the South African Republics and the British Empire.

By the time he arrived in England he had already a very strong
impression that a great wrong was being perpetrated. But before uttering
any decisive word in public he made a very careful study of the many
State Papers which set forth the case on either side in that momentous
strife, especially the minutes of the negotiations between President
Kruger and Lord Milner at Bloemfontein. For it has always been the habit
of Mr. Lloyd George to study his documents in politics with fully as
much care as a good judge preparing for the courts.

We all know the conclusion he reached in regard to the Boer War.[42] He
took the view, on the facts of the case, that the war was by no means
inevitable. He held strongly throughout the following years that the war
was the result of bad statesmanship. He did not deny the wrongs of the
Uitlanders; but he believed that the results of the war could have been
achieved by the patient pursuit of peaceful diplomacy. This view has
certainly been strengthened since those days by that very remarkable
book, _The Autobiography of Sir William Butler_.[43]

Throughout the most bitter period of the controversy that followed Mr.
Lloyd George always admitted that there were two sides to the case. He
absolutely refused to join in the utter damnation of those Liberals,
such as Mr. Asquith and Sir Edward Grey, who supported the war. “We take
a different view of the facts,” was his way of putting it; and perhaps
this view explains why he refused to make the quarrel over the Boer War
a dividing issue within the Liberal Party. There were extremists on both
sides who wanted to part company; and there were pro-Boers who even
rejoiced when that strange creation, the Liberal League, came into
being. Mr. Lloyd George was not one of these. Sir Edward Grey on the
side of the war Liberals, and Mr. Lloyd George on the side of the peace
Liberals, did their utmost to prevent a permanent split; and they
succeeded. When the war was over the two branches of the party were able
to come together, and found that they still agreed on the main issues of
domestic politics.

We can now see a little more clearly why it was that Mr. Lloyd George
refused to found a separate party on the basis of his opposition to the
Boer War. It was not merely his practical perception that the South
African War was an issue that would pass: it was also that he was in no
sense a “peace at any price” man. Although he found himself in the
company of the pacifists, he never wholly belonged to that faith. He has
always been conscious that the ultimate support of power and freedom
must be force—force guided by right, but still force.[44]

His passionate sympathy with wars of freedom is in itself evidence on
this side. His greatest heroes abroad are men like Garibaldi, and at
home those great Welsh patriots and princes who maintained the forlorn
fight of his own little nation against Saxon and Norman—men like
Glendwyr and Llewellyn; fighters like De Wet often reminded him of those
indomitable Welsh guerillas. He used to point to the great Norman
castles along the coasts of North Wales and the Welsh borders as the
“block-houses” which the conquerors had to build to control his own
people.

Not, indeed, that he ever maintained the view that a little nation was a
law unto itself. His support of the Boer cause was not due merely to his
belief in little nations.

Order has to be maintained in the world, and little nations cannot be
allowed to run amuck. That was why his opposition to the war was mild at
first and grew stronger as time went on. He felt that the Boers had made
a grave mistake in issuing their Ultimatum. As long as the war was on
our part a war of resistance to the Boer invasion his criticisms were
restrained by that fact. But in his view that phase ended with the
capture of Bloemfontein and the British claim to annex.

From that time forward (1900) Mr. Lloyd George opposed the war tooth and
nail. It was after that date that he determined to enter upon a campaign
against the war throughout the length and breadth of Great Britain. Many
of his parliamentary friends refused to join; but Mr. Lloyd George went
straight on and faced the music in every part of the kingdom.

Since John Bright’s great fight against the Crimean War nothing of the
kind had been seen in England. It is no light thing to meet the
war-passion full front.

But none of these fears held back Mr. Lloyd George at this great moment.
He went everywhere and faced hostile crowds in the very heart of the war
country. He faced a violent mob at Glasgow; he defied Mr. Chamberlain’s
own followers at Birmingham; he narrowly escaped death in one of his own
Boroughs—Bangor.

Whatever men might think of his views, no one could deny his courage. It
was no easy campaign to conduct. The charge of treason was always in the
air. “Do you wish the Boers to win?” shouted a heckler after one of his
most eloquent defences of the Dutch Republicans. He was silent for a
moment, then he said, slowly and impressively: “God defend the right!”

He has often been severely criticised both then and since for consenting
to put on a constable’s coat and uniform in order to escape from the
Town Hall at Birmingham. An armed mob had possession of the hall itself.
They had pinned him and his friends into a back room: they threatened
and partly intended to achieve both his death and theirs. It is
contended that he was to wait meekly for his doom.

Such criticism is surely the very extravagance of blame. If an unarmed
public man faced with a mob so organised cannot resort to a “ruse of
war” to save both his friends and himself, then surely the bully will
rule the world. As a matter of fact, the Chief Constable of Birmingham
found it difficult enough to persuade Mr. Lloyd George to put on the
uniform; and it was only when he had convinced him that his friends too
were in danger that he reluctantly assented. But if he had actually
himself asked for the uniform he would surely have been fully justified.



To achieve an honourable peace—that was the object of his great
campaign in 1901 and 1902; and undoubtedly he played a great part in an
achievement which saved British South Africa. It is true he had beside
him that brave and honest man, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, who helped
as far as it was possible for the official chief of a party deeply
divided by the issue. It is also fair to say that Lord Rosebery played a
great and honourable part in the final settlement. But all the risk was
taken by Mr. Lloyd George—at the time when every phrase and word meant
danger.

It is a curious fact that, when the Boers finally agreed to peace, Mr.
Lloyd George seemed for the moment to lose his interest in them. He
afterwards met and made great friends with General Botha and General
Smuts; and he has since taken General Smuts into his War Cabinet. But I
think he had at the time a sentimental sympathy with General De Wet in
his “no surrender” policy. His reason was with General Botha; but his
heart was with the men in the Back Veldt.

His interest did not revive until that occasion when Sir Henry
Campbell-Bannerman persuaded the Cabinet of 1906 to make the “clean cut”
by giving self-government to the annexed States. Of the speech which “C.
B.” then made to the Cabinet, Mr. Lloyd George always afterwards spoke
with a sincere and passionate admiration. He felt that it was the
undoing of a great wrong.

All through the time of the Boer War (1899-1902), Mr. Lloyd George would
spend his Sundays in that simple little house by the side of Wandsworth
Common—2, Routh Road. There he could escape from the tumult and
turmoil. On those Sunday afternoons he would often walk over Wandsworth
and Chapham Commons, and he would play and sing with his children as if
no great shadow overhung the country. He was especially fond of singing
hymns on those Sunday afternoons. He would always join with tremendous
gusto; and although his voice was untrained, he was certainly a very
hearty singer. But his greatest joy was when the children brought a book
of Welsh hymns and Welsh folk-songs. He would sing these with a
thrilling delight which made him really for the moment a singer of
power.

Then he would come back to discuss the situation; for he was never tired
of discussion. He would talk over every detail of the war; he would
follow it out with the greatest precision on large-scale maps. He
developed a most uncanny military skill; and he would prophesy with the
most remarkable astuteness the next move of the Generals on either side.
He knew every battle and skirmish; and, though he had never been to
South Africa, he seemed even to know the lie of the ground. He appeared
to know to what spot a column was going to move before it got there. He
had the same instinctive military perception with which Botha himself
was gifted. I remember De Wet once saying in conversation, “The only
military training I ever had was the same as that of Mr. Lloyd
George—parliamentary tactics.” May it not be that there is some
intimate relation between the tactics of Parliament and the
battle-field? Cromwell was a Member of Parliament before he was a
soldier; is it not possible that, if opportunity had afforded, Mr. Lloyd
George might have become a successful leader of armies?[45]

One afternoon especially comes back to my mind—hot summer afternoon
when we sat in the garden of the Wandsworth house and listened to Miss
Emily Hobhouse as she read to us her diary of her life in the
concentration camps. She had come hot-foot from South Africa with these
bare daily records of her experiences; and her idea was to work them up
into a book. Mr. Lloyd George gave an instant opinion: “No, publish it
as it stands!” was his pronouncement; and so the diary was published
with its fearful record of daily horror. Simultaneously with its
publication Mr. Lloyd George arranged to move the adjournment of the
House of Commons, and the double event blew up the whole policy of the
concentration camps.

Thus did he ultimately redeem the British name from the charge of
barbarism.

In the midst of the struggle Mr. Lloyd George determined that he must
have a London daily newspaper on his side. Committees had been formed
and subscription lists started, but little progress had been made. At
last he concluded that this was not a case for founding a new journal.
What was wanted was to buy up an established Liberal paper. A whisper of
trouble in the _Daily News_ office gave the compass-bearings for this
venture. Imperialism was not suiting the _Daily News_ readers; the
proprietors were willing to sell. But a hundred thousand pounds were
wanted for the purchase. Mr. Lloyd George determined to raise the money.
For once in his life he wrote two very careful letters—one to Mr.
George Cadbury and the other to Mr. Thomasson. He placed before them the
issues in very clear and searching language. Those two generous and
large-hearted men replied by offering £25,000 each; and the battle was
practically won.

He read me those letters at the time—we were dining at Gatti’s—and he
read them over the coffee and cigars. All I can say is that the letters
were fully worth the money they brought to his cause.

It was not very pleasant for the “prize crew” to take the places of old
colleagues like Sir Edward Cook and Mr. Saxon Mills, both of whom from
their own point of view had honestly and patriotically maintained their
faith. Nor was the struggle easy for the new proprietors. I remember
consoling Mr. George Cadbury by pointing out that he saved at least as
many lives as he lost pounds sterling; and with that reflection that
excellent man was more than satisfied.

But the personal crises through which journalists and proprietors had to
pass during that time were dust in the balance compared with what Mr.
Lloyd George and his family had to endure. His professional work in the
City came almost entirely to a stand. His office was boycotted; and one
day a lump of coal was thrown through the window. Towards the end of the
war things got so bad that he had to contemplate breaking up his home.
“They shan’t starve me,” he said to his wife one day, “even if I have to
send you all to Criccieth and live in a garret myself.” Peace happily
came before this event; but at every turn in the struggle he had to look
ruin in the face. His boy Richard[46] had such a bad time at school in
London that they found it necessary to transfer him to Portmadoc County
School when the facts were drawn from the reticent boy.

Throughout these troubles he was as considerate of those around him as
he was regardless of his own interests. Mr. Arthur Rhys Roberts, his
partner in the city firm, has always given to Mr. Lloyd George his
devotion and loyalty; but he is the first to claim that Mr. Lloyd George
has earned it. At the most critical moment of the struggle, when
threatening notices were coming with every post, old clients vanishing
like melting snow, and companies discarding their services, Mr. Lloyd
George came to Mr. Roberts. “What are your views?” he said to him. “I
don’t mind smashing up my own business, but I have my qualms about
injuring you. Tell me what I shall do to protect you.” Mr. Roberts,
feeling that Mr. Lloyd George was risking everything, refused to claim
any immunity; but these simple touches of consideration explain the
devotion which Mr. Lloyd George has so often inspired in those who have
worked for him.

Down in his own constituency he seemed to have sacrificed everything.
They burnt him in effigy in three of his Boroughs—at Criccieth, Nevin,
and Pwllheli. When he went to Bangor all his friends warned him of the
grave risks he was running. But he insisted on speaking there in the
Penrhyn Hall. The mob broke every window. He refused protection, and
walked openly through the crowd out of the hall. In the High Street he
was struck on the head with a bludgeon and only saved by his hat. He
staggered, half stunned, into a café in the High Street, and there he
was besieged for hours by a raging mob. On the advice of the police, he
climbed out at the back of the house and got away in a cab that was
brought round to him. The crowd waited until two o’clock in the morning
in the hope of being able to “finish” him.

All through the fearful episode Mrs. Lloyd George shared her husband’s
danger, and was stoned in her motor-car as she was waiting for him.

At last he paid a visit to Nevin, his own special Borough, where as a
rule the people worshipped him. But there at first his only friend was a
lame old shoe-maker. The people did not attack him, but they held
absolutely aloof. When he held a meeting, they refused at first to come
into the hall. Nothing daunted, he spoke quietly, and at length, on
every subject under the sun except the Boer War. As they heard him
through the door talking about their favourite subjects people slowly
crept in, man by man, and gradually filled the hall. Then, when he found
himself with a good audience in front of him, he really approached the
subject. Gently and tentatively he addressed them in their own Welsh
language, and it is very, very difficult for a Welsh audience not to
listen to him in that melodious tongue. But though they listened they
showed no enthusiasm; he felt that he was not moving them at all. Then
suddenly he changed his tack. Facing them in his grimmest way he said to
them sternly:

    “See here now—five years ago you handed me a strip of blue
    paper to give to the Speaker as your accredited representative.
    If I never again represent these boroughs in the House of
    Commons I shall at least have the satisfaction of handing back
    to you that blue paper with no single stain of human blood upon
    it.”

The effect was electrical. The whole audience rose to their feet with a
shout. He had won them back to his allegiance.

It is a curious historical fact that in another great struggle another
great Celtic orator, fighting a lone fight against an unjust war-passion
in these islands, uttered very much the same proud boast. When Mr.
Edmund Burke sent to the Sheriffs of the City of Bristol in 1777 that
famous letter on the affairs of America he wrote:

    “If you and I find our talents not of the great and ruling kind,
    our conduct, at least, is conformable to our faculties. No man’s
    life pays the forfeit of our rashness. No desolate widow weeps
    tears of blood over our ignorance.”

“A conscientious man would be cautious how he dealt in blood.” Comparing
the two passages, Mr. Lloyd George’s words are a curious unconscious
echo of Edmund Burke’s—showing how, under similar stress, great minds
will ever leap to the same expression.



Throughout all these storms Mr. Lloyd George always showed that steady,
clear-headed shrewdness which is perhaps his supreme characteristic.

Never was this more conspicuously shown than in his contest with Mr.
Chamberlain over the connection with Kynochs. Here was difficult,
dangerous ground, where he had to tread delicately. On one occasion, in
that attack, he was constrained to make use of some figures published in
a newspaper. Shortly before the debate, he sent to his partner an urgent
request that he should verify his figures at Somerset House. A clerk was
sent along, and after careful checking it was discovered that there was
an error of no mean dimensions—an excessive 0 in one of the statements
of share-holdings. At the last possible moment the error was telephoned
to him at the House of Commons.

As Mr. Lloyd George waded his way through the figures in the press
report, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, sitting on the Treasury Bench, leaned
forward, waiting to pounce. He, too, knew of the error, and he was
intending to use it for his assailant’s destruction. He well knew the
cost of one such slip in the House of Commons.

But when Mr. Lloyd George came to the figure, he paused, and passed it
by. Mr. Chamberlain leaned back in his seat pale to the lips,
disappointed and baffled. He had met his match.

The climax in this crisis in Mr. Lloyd George’s career came when Mr.
Chamberlain, in September 1900, suddenly dissolved Parliament. In the
famous Khaki Election that followed certainly Mr. Chamberlain seemed as
if he might look with security to one great triumph, and that was the
final political extinction of Mr. Lloyd George. It was surely improbable
that a constituency which had just burnt him in effigy would return him
to Parliament. But if Mr. Chamberlain staked much on that throw it only
shows that he did not know Wales.

I happened to be with Mr. Lloyd George through that election. It was a
very astonishing affair. When he first came down to Carnarvon he seemed
to have few friends in the Boroughs. The people were sullen, if not
hostile. Then he began talking to them in their own language; and it was
curious to watch, in meeting after meeting, all their old tribal loyalty
gradually coming back to him. He moved from town to town, slowly and
cautiously recapturing their affections. He left no stone unturned. In
private he calculated his chances with all the close shrewdness of a
business man. Daily he reckoned up the voting probabilities in his
pocketbook. In public he worked indefatigably. He had against him a
retired military officer, Colonel Platt, chosen doubtless for the khaki
suggestiveness of his title. All the feudal powers of Wales put forth a
supreme effort to destroy their life-long terror.

We all know how it ended. Mr. Lloyd George was returned to Parliament on
Saturday, October 6th, 1900, with the largest majority he had yet
achieved—296. Some of the inflammable material which had been bought
for burning him in effigy at Carnarvon was actually used in the
manufacture of the torches which lit up his triumphal procession. The
same crowd which had been ready to destroy him a few months before led
him home on the night of the poll with a pomp and enthusiasm fit for a
king returning from his wars. A few months ago they had stoned him; a
few weeks ago they were still against him: but now with silver tongue he
had won back their hearts, and his people were with him again.

Outside his own house, Mr. Lloyd George stood up in his carriage and
bade them sing that great anthem of Wales, “The Land of our Fathers.”
The darkness above us gave to the scene a ghostly majesty; the earnest,
melancholy harmonies breathed an undying hope; the sea of resolute faces
gave a sense of vast, indefinable strength. The great hymn ended, and
then in perfect quiet the great multitude dispersed.

That last scene gave a clue to his hold over his people. At the critical
moment he had recalled their minds from adventures abroad to the thought
of their own dear land at home. On the very edge of abandoning him they
had recoiled. They had remembered him as their own Welsh leader; and
their loyalty had gone back to him.

It marked a great step in his career. For it proved to the whole world
that he had behind him a people that would support him in his direst
need. With such a support behind him a man can serenely face the future.

-----

[41] A letter from British Columbia on September 18th, 1899, records his
horror, and his resolution to return (_Du Parcq._ ii. 216).

[42] His first public utterance was on October 27th, just before the
House rose.

[43] _Sir William Butler: An Autobiography._ By Lieut.-General Sir W. F.
Butler, G.C.B. (London. Constable & Co., Ltd. 1911.)

[44] He made a remarkable speech before the war at Manchester, in
January 1899, defending the use of force in cases of defence.

[45] See the article by Mr. Herbert Sidebotham in _The Atlantic Monthly_
for November 1919, in which he discusses the question.

[46] Now (1920) Major Richard Lloyd George. Both Mr. Lloyd George’s sons
fought in the war, and both became majors.



                               CHAPTER  X


                       FOR WALES AND FOR ENGLAND

    “No poor man can afford to be ignorant; leave that to the
    rich.”—_Mr. Lloyd George at Hartley_ (1913).

MR. LLOYD GEORGE was not to remain idle long. In 1902 the Conservative
wing of the Unionist combination once again asserted itself. The war was
over. The Unionists found themselves with that great affair wound up and
the whole world before them. It was a tempting position. They were still
in supreme command of a Parliament which had five years to run. The
House of Lords was their obedient servant. They could practically pass
what Bills they liked. It was almost too much strain on human nature to
expect that they should not pass some of the Bills that they really
wanted.

True, there had been certain promises made during the General Election
of 1900 which were rather difficult to explain. Various Unionist leaders
had indiscreetly laid it down that that Election was for the war and the
war alone. But the Government seemed content to rely on the humane view
once put forward by an M.P. victorious through the strength of many
promises—that promises made in the heat of an Election do not really
count. So in 1902 they took the bit in their mouths and boldly brought
in a Bill throwing the Voluntary Schools on to the rates. It was the
very policy which had been openly declared impossible from the front
Conservative bench in 1896, and it was known to be extremely distasteful
to Mr. Chamberlain.

Mr. Lloyd George took a leading part in the parliamentary opposition to
this measure. He once more let “all out” as a guerilla fighter. There he
was always supreme. His knowledge of the law made him extraordinarily
resourceful in the invention and discovery of amendments; while he
displayed a skill equally astonishing as an agile draftsman. Night after
night he turned up fresh and smiling; always calm and moderate, serenely
persuasive, and, to his enemies, distressingly cool. It seemed an
outrage to speak of such a humane fighter as an obstructionist; and yet
there is no doubt that few of the most savage of that tribe succeeded so
well in delaying the progress of Bills.

Now, as in 1896, he became once more the heart and soul of the
Opposition. The Government found themselves compelled to accept a great
many of his amendments, and in this way very much weakened their Bill.
Mr. Balfour found him a shrewd and agile opponent worthy of his steel.

This time, of course, he was not fighting alone. He was supported with
the full power of the Front Opposition Bench, now ably led by Sir Henry
Campbell-Bannerman with Mr. Asquith as chief lieutenant. But Mr. Lloyd
George always contributed something peculiarly his own. To the heavy
thunder of the Front Bench guns he added the fret and jar of machine-gun
fire, galling the flanks of the Government forces, driving them from
their chosen positions, often annihilating their best offensives.

There is no doubt that his opposition to the Education Bill played an
effective part in weakening Mr. Balfour’s Government, and considerably
improved the new Act when it came to be applied to the schools of the
country.

But his real triumph came after the Bill had passed through Parliament.
On the main objection of principle to that measure he agreed with the
Nonconformists of England; but he did not see eye to eye with them in
the policy to be employed to resist the application of the Bill. He was
never a “Passive Resister.” The English problem, indeed, was different.
The English Nonconformists had no certain control of the English County
Councils. But in Wales Mr. Lloyd George had long ago ensured his hold
over those bodies, and he had deftly amended the Bill so that they
should have a decisive control over the administration of the Act.

He now laid before the County Councils of Wales a very ingenious scheme
of resistance, destined to be far more effective than the heroic but
vain martyrdoms of the English Nonconformists.

In January 1903 he issued to the people of Wales an Address embodying
his policy.[47] It was in appearance a law-abiding policy, with the
careful intention of avoiding any element of offence to legality. It was
ingeniously based on provisions introduced into the Bill in the course
of the long parliamentary fight.

It was laid down in the new Act, for instance, that all schools must be
passed as efficiently equipped before they received rate-aid from the
Councils. That was a provision already existing in regard to the
Parliamentary Grant; but always more honoured in the breach than in the
observance.

Mr. Lloyd George proposed that this provision of the law should be
carried out. He suggested that all schools should be inspected and
surveyed by the County Councils before rate-aid was contemplated; and
that only those which were passed should be capable of receiving it. Mr.
Lloyd George knew enough of the condition of these schools to be sure
that few would pass any honest scrutiny. But none could deny the
reasonableness of this request. “The sectarian schools,” he said in his
Address, “should be properly cleansed and clothed before they are
allowed to associate on equal terms with more decently clad
institutions.” It seemed a fair and proper condition.

That was the first stage. The second was that rate aid was then to be
given only to those schools that would accept genuine public control by
the Councils and would suspend religious tests for teachers. Otherwise,
nothing was to be handed to the schools except the Parliamentary Grants.

Meanwhile, it was characteristic of Mr. Lloyd George that it was part of
his policy always to hold out the olive branch as an alternative to the
sword. He suggested to the Councils that rate-aid should be given to any
schools where the managers would accept the plan of “facilities” for
sectarian teaching on colonial lines—the sects, that is to say, to
teach after school hours. This was a plan which had always attracted
him. It seemed to him to combine equity with the least possible
interference with education. It was the part of his proposals which
roused least enthusiasm in Wales on either side.

But, though fighting fiercely, he never at any moment gave up the hope
of peace. All through the hottest moments of this strife, through
1903-4-5, he kept the door open for a settlement. He struck up a
remarkable friendship with that large-hearted man, Dr. Edwards, the
Bishop of St. Asaph,[48] and largely through the efforts of these two
there were frequent meetings and conferences—at Llandrindod and in
London—but all to no effect. It always happened that just when peace
seemed in sight the quarrel broke out afresh. The real fact was, of
course, that the two sides never desired the same object or meant the
same things.

“My advice is—let us capture the enemy’s artillery and turn his guns
against him.” That was the heart of Mr. Lloyd George’s policy of
resistance to the new Act. His idea was to defeat the spirit of the Act
by obeying the letter.

It was no easy task to swing Wales into line on this policy. Some
authorities wanted to go further and defy the Act altogether. Some—a
very few—wanted to carry it out. Many individuals craved for the prison
martyrdom of the English Nonconformists. There is fascination as well as
courage in suffering for a cause.

But Mr. Lloyd George preached his doctrine north and south, east and
west. In the spring of 1904 the triennial election for the County
Councils was due. His advice was—to make this policy the test of those
elections. If the electors decided in his favour, well and good—if not,
then they must bow to democratic control and carry out the Act. At no
point did he encourage the idea of personal individual resistance.

The elections came; and the results surpassed his most sanguine
expectations. In every one of the twenty-eight counties the supporters
of his “no rate” policy were returned with a strong majority. In many
cases the supporters of the Act had been almost annihilated. In
Carnarvonshire itself they were reduced to a minority of six. In
Merionethshire there were fifty-two supporters of Mr. Lloyd George’s
policy as against three opponents. Even in Brecon, where the Church was
at its strongest, thirty-nine members out of sixty were in favour of his
policy.

Such were the events which completely paralysed the exaction of the new
Voluntary Rate throughout Wales.

The Government decided to coerce Wales. In April 1904 they brought
forward a measure called the Defaulting Authorities Bill, but instantly
nicknamed the Welsh Coercion Bill. This Bill provided that, where a
Welsh County Council refused rate-aid to a Voluntary School, the
Treasury should have the right to pay the money direct to the Church
Schools. They were to deduct it from the Parliamentary Grant, thus
compelling the County Councils to make up out of the rates the loss to
their own “provided” schools.

It was an ingenious proposal; but it reckoned without the spirit of
Wales under the leadership of Mr. Lloyd George.

The Bill did not pass through the House until the close of the Session
of 1904. The “Kangaroo” Closure was called for by Mr. Balfour and
granted by Mr. Lowther from the Chair. There was a scene of passion.
Once more (as in 1896) Mr. Lloyd George refused to leave the House. Mr.
Lowther brought to bear that invincible good-humour of his, and Mr.
Asquith suggested another and a better way. In the result, the whole
Liberal Party, headed by Mr. Asquith, accompanied Mr. Lloyd George and
his Welshmen in a solemn exodus from the House. Such incidents were not
likely to make Wales more conciliatory.

In October Mr. Lloyd George definitely raised the flag of defiance
against this Coercion Act.

He persuaded a gathering of 600 representatives of Education
Authorities, assembled at Cardiff, to agree on a refusal to surrender.

In the memorable speech he made on this occasion he carried the war into
the enemy’s country. He accused these law-makers of lawlessness on their
side. He pointed out to them that for years the Board of Education had
broken the law on behalf of Voluntary Schools. They had not enforced the
efficiency imposed by law. “They broke the law in order not to levy a
rate.” Very well. Wales would not levy a rate until the law was obeyed.
That was their position. He boldly maintained that the law was on the
side of Wales; and thus most wisely did he avoid that perilous
identification of his policy with the idea and habit of lawlessness
which has needlessly injured so many good causes.

He defied coercion. If the Defaulting Act were enforced and the rate-aid
deducted from the Parliamentary Grant, he boldly advised that the Welsh
Councils should close their schools. It would be a better thing that the
children should be brought up to reverence freedom of conscience than
that they should learn even the three R’s. Besides, they could provide
buildings where they could teach them that freedom of conscience was a
greater thing even than knowledge.

Once more, courage won the day. It was not going to be an easy thing to
dispute Mr. Lloyd George’s reading of the law in those High Courts which
know nothing of politics. Only a very few Welsh Authorities got out of
hand, and, going ahead of Mr. Lloyd George’s astute advice, rendered
themselves liable to prosecution.[49]

But even then the Government did not venture to act. They had not enough
public opinion behind them. From 1904 to 1906 there was no moment in the
history of that divided, tempest-tossed Government when they could
safely have entered upon a strife so perilous and so doubtful. So Mr.
Lloyd George was left in Wales still unassailed and triumphant until the
General Election of 1906 swept away the Government and practically
killed the Coercion Act.



Meanwhile, during those years David Lloyd George had been all the time
steadily adding to his reputation as a speaker and debater both in the
House of Commons and in the country. There, after all, we always come
back to his supreme political weapon—the power of public speech. Born
in those village debates within the bootmaker’s shop and the smithy at
Llanystumdwy, that power had been sharpened and developed on the village
greens and in the town halls of Wales, trained to finer uses on the
public platforms of England, and quickened by the quick thrust and parry
in parliamentary debate. It had passed through the fire of stern combat
during the South African struggle, and now it had emerged in swift, keen
sword of combat, at once supple and strong.

That weapon he had used in all the great parliamentary fights of those
years, when Mr. Balfour was carrying on, like the great Arthur of old,
the last great combat for that pleasant, serene, feudal England which
was already so sorely wounded by the hunters.

Feudalism seemed to win for the time. The Bills became Acts of
Parliament—the Schools Bill, even the Licensing Bill. Mr. Balfour,
himself a supreme master of the parliamentary arts, seemed to survive.
But all the time David Lloyd George was inflicting mortal wounds, until
at last, like the old defeated royalist in the Civil Wars, Mr. Arthur
Balfour gracefully yielded his sword. He was actually the first, in that
generous way of his, who recommended to Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman
that, in whatever Cabinet he might be called upon to form, Mr. Lloyd
George must in any case be a Minister.

It was in 1903 that a great diversion occurred in the development of
this drama. Striking across the orbit of both the great political
parties, with some of the strength and ruthlessness of his old Radical
days, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain put forward his famous Tariff Reform
proposals.

One of the first results of that event was to divert all political
energy for the moment from Bills to debate. Both in Parliament and on
the platform from 1903 to 1906 the energies of public men were mainly
absorbed in that great titanic controversy—so absorbing to the British
mind—between Free Trade and Protection.

Mr. Lloyd George shared this diversion with all the others. He was
called from progressive tasks to the essentially conservative business
of defending the existing economic order. He did it well. He proved
himself a faithful Free Trader. But this was not principally and
specifically his especial task. In this field Mr. Asquith took the lead,
and Mr. Lloyd George was always his faithful “junior.”

But Mr. Lloyd George’s defence of Free Trade soon began to develop a
character of its own. His tactics gradually began to take on a note of
attack. His defensive became an aggressive.

He had recognised, from the opening of the struggle, that the strength
of Mr. Chamberlain’s case lay in his frank recognition of the grim,
shameful facts that lay beneath the smooth surface of English life. He
realised that Mr. Chamberlain was the first great statesman to recognise
fearlessly the existence of that England which so few statesmen had yet
recognised—the England of the poor. Mr. Chamberlain, in fact, had
brought “Darkest England” into the political landscape.

As the campaign went on Mr. Chamberlain grew bolder and bolder along
these lines. He contended that tariffs, and tariffs alone, would provide
the money for Old Age Pensions. He hinted at even vaster boons which
were coming to England if she would only turn her back on that sour and
pinchbeck old lady—Free Trade.

Mr. Lloyd George perceived at once the danger of this attack. He, at any
rate, knew the “deep sighing of the poor.” He realised the black abyss
which lay below the surface of England’s wealth. He feared the appeal to
the hungry mouths of our neglected masses.

From that day forward he set out to prove that Free Trade also could
remedy poverty—aye! and remedy it all the more easily because it
brought wealth in its train. The great need was that that wealth should
bear its due burden. That was to be his cure for the trouble.

At that time his phrasing was large and general. He had not yet worked
out his later plans. Earlier he had served on the Rothschild Pensions
Committee, and he had thrown all his energies into that inquiry. He was
ever studying the problems of the land. But he kept a mind open to
details. In that year (1904-5) he was storing impulse and collecting
knowledge, preparing for the great moment that lay ahead of him.

That moment was now to come.

In December 1905 Mr. Balfour resigned, and Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman
immediately undertook to form a Ministry.

It was already clear that Mr. Lloyd George must be a member of the new
Cabinet. Sir Henry offered him the Presidency of the Board of Trade, and
he accepted it. To the public the appointment came as a surprise. It
seemed the last post for that brilliant parliamentary free-lance, that
gay leader of forlorn hopes.

They were to find that, behind that flashing exterior, there was a
cooler personality, well fitted for the control of the calmer and
shrewder side of our national life.

-----

[47] “Address to the people of Wales,” January 17th, 1903.

[48] Cousin of Sir Frank Edwards, M.P., one of the most faithful of the
Welsh Nationalists, but himself an Anglican.

[49] Carnarvonshire and Merionethshire.



                              CHAPTER  XI
                               (1905-1908)


                               A MINISTER

    “If they take part in public life, the effect is never
    indifferent. They either appear like ministers of divine
    vengeance, and their course through the world is marked by
    desolation and oppression, by poverty and servitude, or they are
    the guardian angels of the country they inhabit, busy to avert
    even the most distant evil, and to maintain and procure peace,
    plenty, and the greatest of human blessings,
    liberty.”—BOLINGBROKE in _The Patriot King_ on his “Chosen
    Men.”

THE Department which fell to the control of Mr. Lloyd George on the
formation of the 1905 Liberal Administration presented no easy or simple
task. The Board of Trade stood at a moment which comes to every great
office of State—a moment when it may either increase or decrease,
gather power or lose it. Its official name gave little clue to the
distracting combination of powers varying from complete control at one
end to vague influence at the other. British Departments are like
wild-flowers—they grow and spread without plan or scheme, just as the
chance caprice of Parliament or some fugitive Ministry may decide. It is
often just a throw of the dice as to what new powers or functions may be
laid upon them.

The Board of Trade had withered under the shadow of the great fiscal
deadlock of the previous three years (1903-6). Poised between two
theories of commerce, it had lingered in the “doldrums,” like a ship
waiting for a wind.

Thus there awaited in the pigeon-holes of the office a great number of
untouched and unfinished projects, loose ends of legislation, belated
steps towards giving method and authority to the powers of that great
Department.

For the Board of Trade reflected in every branch of its administrative
powers the spirit of the age in which it had grown up—the timid,
tentative, apologetic touch of the nineteenth-century administrator. The
scope of its powers, indeed, bulked vast and tremendous—extending from
bankrupt firms at one end to shipping, railways, and labour at the
other; but over all these branches of national life its sway was mild
and illusive. The very Consuls who control our trade abroad were
appointed and controlled by another Department.[50]

The Labour Department, founded in a spasm of progress, was still mainly
advisory. British railways had to be supplicated rather than controlled.
The great shipping interests had discovered new sea-ways through
obsolete laws.

Mr. Lloyd George soon realised the opportunity that lay to his hand. The
time had come to give to the Board of Trade a new grasp and stretch of
authority. New laws must be passed. But also, and even more important,
there must be a new spirit in the administration of the laws that
existed.

He did not act in a hurry. He spent his first weeks in a thorough study
of the work of the Board. He appeared little in Parliament. He took the
sensible course of first learning from the able officials of the Board
the general outlines of its functions and problems.

Then, after some months, he began to legislate; but, before bringing in
his Bills, he developed what was then a new system of preparation and
anticipation.

It had been too often the custom of Ministers in such Departments as the
Board of Trade to frame Bills without consulting the interests
concerned. Here was the truly “bureaucratic” spirit of the olden
days—to assume that the Civil Service must of necessity know better
than the public about their own business—to enforce on great private
interests measures as to which they had never been asked their opinions,
to wait for the inevitable complaints and grievances until it was too
late to remedy them without public confessions of ignorance and folly.
Such methods have been responsible for many bad laws and for many
parliamentary disasters.

Mr. Lloyd George changed all that. Take the first question in which he
decided to legislate—the control of merchant shipping. Here he found
things in a very bad mess. The British merchant sailor was still far
behind most British land-workers both in comfort and in wages. While
fabulous fortunes were being made by shipowners, sailors were still
badly fed, badly housed, irregularly paid, often cheated of their pay
altogether. The result was that the more prosperous classes of British
wage-earners were refusing to go to sea or leaving the sea as soon as
possible. Our gigantic merchant fleet, the pride of the British Empire,
was already half manned by foreign seamen, whose ignorance of the
English language often put English ships and lives in grievous peril.

Many efforts had been made to remedy these things—one by Mr.
Chamberlain, still remembered at the Board of Trade as the best
administrator up to that time. Mr. Lloyd George proposed to carry Mr.
Chamberlain’s efforts to completion.

What had defeated all efforts up to the present moment was the powerful
resistance of the shipowners in the House of Commons, where the rights
of the many too often escheat to the bold and flagrant championship of
the few.

Mr. Lloyd George determined to call the shipowners together and to
consult them before he introduced his Bill into the House. But, if he
was to consult the shipowners, he must also consult the sailors. So he
ended by consulting both interests outside the House; and this sensible
method proved so successful in the case of shipping that it soon became
his favourite method in preparing all his Bills, and has now been
adopted by many Ministers as the obvious and necessary preliminary to
legislation.

In the Merchant Shipping Act of 1906, indeed, he carried this process a
step further. Not only did he, by agreement, establish for the British
sailor a new charter of rights,[51] but he also effected a new
load-waterline agreement with foreign Governments. Thereby he
established a new precedent for international legislation.

The working of the famous “Load-line”—so dramatically secured by that
fervent and determined man, Mr. Samuel Plimsoll, a generation
before—had undoubtedly saved thousands of innocent lives. It had given
the seamen a new guarantee of security. There was always the fact that a
ship could not be weighted down below a certain depth. But meanwhile a
new evil had arisen. Foreign ships, without the British “Load-line,”
were using British ports to snatch British trade. Deeply laden
“foreigners” could afford to carry goods at lower freights; and Great
Britain was penalised for her humanity.

Mr. Lloyd George determined to stop this. He compromised the
“Load-line”—raising it slightly for British ships, but enforcing this
modified line on all ships that came to British ports. There were
protests from foreign Powers. Mr. Lloyd George proceeded to negotiate.
He bargained with the right of entry to British ports, and finally he
came to an agreement with most of the great seafaring nations which
enforced the new “Load-line” on all ships trading to Great Britain.

Such was the first of the new measures which came from the Board of
Trade under his presidency and passed through the House of Commons in
October of 1906. Now for the first time piloting his own measures from
the Treasury Bench, Mr. Lloyd George showed new parliamentary powers
that astonished the critics. The wiseacres had shaken their heads. “Too
much of a rebel to govern!” they had said. “So accustomed to
obstruction, that he will obstruct himself!” said others, scoffing. But
they were wrong. He developed new powers of adroit persuasiveness that
surprised lookers-on. He was patient and conciliatory. He could be firm
when necessary; but at other times he seemed all open-mindedness. He had
won his way very often just when every one else thought that he had lost
it. He knew when to sacrifice details in order to win principles.

Now that the Board of Trade found that they had secured a good
law-maker, the progressive officials who distinguish that Department
pressed on him other tasks. There was, for instance, the question of the
law of patents, crying for consolidation and amendment. There, too,
legislation was long overdue.

Consolidation was easy. But, in looking into the state of the law, Mr.
Lloyd George soon discovered that there was one glaring British
grievance which no Minister had yet dared to touch. Mr. Lloyd George
refused to be paralysed by the terrorism of the Protection controversy.
He has never admitted the view that Free Trade means discrimination
against your own country.

And yet that was how the existing patent law worked.

For he found that a custom had grown up by which foreign firms would
employ a British citizen to take out a British patent with the
deliberate intention to work it abroad. In that case it could not be
worked in Great Britain. For there was actually nothing in British law
to prevent this British privilege from becoming a direct cause of loss
to British trade.

This seemed to him intolerable. Accordingly, he introduced into the
Patents Bill which he brought into the House in 1907 the following
clause:[52]

    “At any time, not less than four years after the date of a
    patent, and not less than one year after the passing of this
    Act, any person may apply to the Comptroller for the revocation
    of the patent on the ground that the patented article or process
    is manufactured or carried on exclusively or mainly outside the
    United Kingdom.”

Looking back on this clause now, with all the excellent results that
have flowed from it,[53] it is clear that it represented the merest
justice to the British trader. The Tariff Reformers congratulated Mr.
Lloyd George on conversion; the Free Traders reproached him for
desertion. Neither had any leg to stand on. The mere fact of granting
patents is, in a sense, a form of protection for the patentee. But to
ask that a nation should grant so great a privilege in order that it
should be used against its own citizens is surely the very ecstasy of
“freedom.”

Then, just before leaving the Board of Trade, he finally settled up the
Port of London by buying out the Dock Companies. There again he arranged
the terms of purchase by bargaining before he brought in his Bill.

One company stood out. He went straight on without that company. It was
awkward; but it would have been fatal to show weakness. He was just
about to move the Second Reading of the Bill, leaving that company out,
when the announcement of its agreement to his terms was brought to him
in his room at the House of Commons before he went in to the Committee.
Thus a problem was settled which had defied several Governments and
paralysed London as a port.

“Not an ideal way of legislating,” it will be said. Certainly not. Nor
was then our Parliament an ideal legislative machine.

In a speech made at Liverpool on May 24th, 1906, Mr. Lloyd George
described how the menace of the Lords then threw its shadow over all
Liberal policy. He told how, in framing every Bill, the Cabinet, even
before the Bill was drafted, had to take the attitude of the Upper
Chamber into consideration.

This was, in fact, still his own governing consideration in these Board
of Trade measures. He was soon to show that he was quite ready to fight
the Lords when it seemed to him a necessary stroke of high policy. But
he did not believe in half-defiances. So he modelled these Board of
Trade Bills to pass by agreement.



But, after all, it was not in law-making so much as in administration
that he was destined to make his highest reputation at the Board of
Trade. It was not only that he sent into every tentacle of the great
organism a new vigour and intensity of purpose; it was also that he
showed in a very high degree a genius for conciliation in great labour
disputes.

It was in the late autumn of 1907 that there came to him the great test
of the threatened Railway Strike. He had just achieved in October a very
surprising triumph of peace-making at the Welsh Convention summoned at
Cardiff to denounce him for some supposed weakening on Welsh
Disestablishment. They were just preparing to sacrifice him with his own
borrowed weapons when he appeared in the midst of them, claimed to
speak, and won them over to spare him.

But all Englishmen always took it for granted that Mr. Lloyd George
could manage Welshmen. English railwaymen and English railway directors
seemed a very different affair. For both parties seemed very resolute;
and the powers of the Board of Trade seemed remarkably weak.

But the crisis was too grave to consider legal powers. The country was
faced with a paralysis of transport. Such an event might prove a
national danger.

Mr. Lloyd George swiftly acted for the nation. With no power to enforce
his summons, he boldly called directors and men to the Board of Trade to
discuss the situation. There he held them for days, prolonging the
discussion by every resource of persuasion until the moods of both
parties were cooled to a more reasonable temperature. Then he made his
proposal—the famous Conciliation Boards—and he won both parties to
agreement.

Those who, like myself, saw much of him from day to day during that
struggle could not but be amazed at his resourcefulness and persistence.
He appeared never to contemplate the possibility of a breakdown. He
seemed one of that rare band of whom the Roman poet said—“They can
because they think they can.” It was impossible to dream of failure in
his presence. Infected by his magic faith, weak men grew strong and
sceptics radiated with faith. He appeared one of those of whom, in a
famous poem, a great English singer has said[54]—

                  “Languor is not in your heart,
                  Weakness is not in your word,
                  Weariness not on your brow.
                  Ye alight in our van! at your voice,
                  Panic, despair, flee away.”

Here was a tangle of time-worn hatreds: the men were suspicious and
resentful, the directors dogged and prejudiced. How bring together human
beings so divided? How bridge such a gulf?

Well, first he brought into the conferences those men who stood between
the quarrelling parties—the railway managers. Here he found a
remarkable body of Englishmen—alert, resourceful, self-made,
unprejudiced.

How often he used to praise those railway managers! Ten years after, in
a still greater emergency, his mind went back to those men; and in the
gravest crisis of the Great War he called them in to aid the
hard-pressed British lines in France.



What is it that has made Mr. Lloyd George so great a conciliator?

It is not merely his power of using speech for purposes of persuasion.
“Speakers attack too much,” he often used to say. “They ought to aim at
persuasion.” That has always been his own central aim in the use of
speech.

There is also in him an even greater power—the power of making two
conflicting parties see one another’s point of view. That is partly
because they learn to see it through his eyes. It is like some
arrangement of looking-glasses in which men see one another’s faces at a
new and more attractive angle. There, again, he works on a theory. “Men
quarrel too much,” I have heard him say. “They become slaves to words
and phrases. They miss the reality.”

It was such beliefs and perceptions that have so often made him
persevere in peace-making when all others have given up hope.

In this case of the Railway Strike of 1907 it earned him the universal
applause of the nation, voiced by King Edward, who always entertained a
keen and subtle admiration for good peace-making. For a few brief months
Mr. Lloyd George was the hero of the nation. He seemed almost a case for
the warning—“Beware when all men speak well of thee!”



But in the career of this man of storm it is always fated that no
peaceful interval lasts long. On November 6th he settled the railway
strike; on November 30th he lost his eldest daughter Mair, the apple of
his eye. While still bowed with that bitter grief, in December he was
called to stop a threatened strike in the cotton trade. He is wont to
say that it was the only thing that saved him. But there was clearly to
be no peace for him.

Then, four months later, in April 1908, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman,
broken by work and domestic sorrow, resigned the Premiership, and Mr.
Asquith stepped into his place. Mr. John (now Lord) Morley was offered
the Chancellorship of the Exchequer, but he refused it, and that high
post was now allotted to Mr. Lloyd George.

-----

[50] The Foreign Office, which still (1920) appoints them.

[51] A fixed standard of food and ship accommodation, a certificated
cook on board ship, a guarantee that distressed seamen should be looked
after and abandoned seamen paid, a restriction on the scandalous
practices of overloading and under-manning, and on the employment of
foreign sailors.

[52] Clause 27, Patents Act of 1907.

[53] Many patents are now being worked in England which were previously
worked abroad.

[54] Matthew Arnold in “Rugby Chapel.”



                              CHAPTER  XII


                             A GERMAN TOUR

    “In small, truckling States, a timely compromise with power has
    often been the means, and the only means, of drawling out their
    puny existence: but a great State is too much envied, too much
    dreaded to find safety in humiliation. To be secure, it must be
    respected. Power, and eminence, and consideration, are things
    not to be begged. They must be commanded.”—EDMUND BURKE,
    _Letter I on A Regicide Peace_.

IN the late summer of 1908, at the end of the parliamentary session, Mr.
Lloyd George traversed Germany from west to east and from south to
north. It was a very thorough and systematic motor-tour. He was the
travelling guest of Mr. (now Sir) Charles Henry,[55] a Member of
Parliament of great public spirit and strong Liberal views, who invited
me also to accompany the party. It was a journey of profound interest
for us all. The object of the tour was to investigate the German system
of National Insurance. Parliament had just passed the Old Age Pensions
Act; and Mr. Lloyd George had already publicly promised to round off the
British pension system by a general scheme of national insurance. Before
drafting the actual Bills he wished to make a complete study of that
very comprehensive system which had been operating in Germany since
1893. The German Government gave us access to all their Central State
Insurance Offices, and gave us facilities for interviewing all their
leading Insurance civil servants. We visited most of the largest towns
of the German Empire, and had conversations with employers and
workmen—Socialists and trade unionists—as well as with officials.
Never was a statesman’s holiday spent in a more thorough investigation
of a great problem of the lives of the people.

We started the motor-tour in France. We trained to Amiens, where the
motor met us, and travelled on the great northern French national roads
through the very region where so much of the fighting has taken place
during the last three years—through Compiègne, Soissons, along the
valley of the Aisne to Rheims, where we visited the Cathedral—that
great masterpiece of Gothic architecture which has since suffered such
sacrilegious injury. Thence we travelled south by Châlons-sur-Marne,
following the river valley by Vitry and Bar-le-Duc. We crossed the Meuse
and passed through Nancy, that most lovely of valley frontier towns,
which has since so bravely borne such fierce enemy attacks. Nancy looked
very peaceful on that August day when we passed through her pretty
streets and pressed on towards the Vosges Mountains, hoping to reach
Strassburg that evening.

At that point we made a happy miscalculation in our time; and we were
benighted in a little French village just on the edge of the frontier at
the very summit of the Vosges. We found that we could get supper and
beds at one of those clean little _auberges_ which are scarcely ever
lacking in the smallest French village. As we supped on the excellent
meal of _bouillon_ and cutlets improvised by the ready hostess, she
stood and talked to us. She spoke to us of the memories of 1870-71, when
the tide of war had so swiftly passed by that little village. She was a
school-child at that time, and she had missed two years of her
schooling. For the Germans had remained in occupation of that part of
the country on the Vosges frontier for fully a year after the end of the
war. The withdrawal of the army took place, Department by Department, as
the indemnity was paid; and this Department was the last to be
evacuated. Before the war she was living well within France; at the end
she found herself on the edge of the new frontier.

We asked her how she managed to make an inn pay at such a spot. “Oh,
quite easily,” she said. “We are kept going by the people of French
birth who come up on Sundays from Alsace!” “Why?” “Oh, just to feel the
joy of living for a day on French soil!”

Next day we motored down to Strassburg, climbed the towers, and saw the
marks of the German shells fired nearly forty years before, and spent a
pleasant afternoon in the picturesque streets of that ancient town. As
far as man could do it Alsace had been painted black, white and red with
Teuton colours. Nowhere in the streets of Strassburg did we observe any
sign or notice in any language but German. Everywhere were German
soldiers, and in the evening we attended a concert of massed German
bands at which the music was purely Teuton, and Teuton of the most
patriotic kind. But the people seemed to us to listen with a certain
strange dull indifference to all this brazen wooing; and beneath the
surface we seemed to hear the whisper of a coming storm. Next day,
motoring across the country, we had occasion to ask the way from an
Alsatian peasant. The question was asked in German, but one of the party
slipped in with French. The peasant’s face instantly lighted up. “Ah! do
the gentlemen speak in French?” he said. “Ah! I prefer to speak in that
language myself.” So little had all the arts of suppression succeeded in
crushing the spirit of that race.

At Stuttgart we were witnesses of a strange event, which comes now back
to memory with a significance which was then hidden. Count Zeppelin was
then experimenting with his airships, and one of those new miracles had
been advertised to start on a voyage from a spot near Stuttgart. The
whole town had flooded out in a vast multitude to see the airship make a
start; but at the critical moment there arose a hurricane of wind. The
ship was torn from its moorings and fell in utter wreckage and confusion
in the midst of the crowd. We arrived on the scene just after this had
happened, and met the people returning from witnessing the disaster.
What was notable about that multitude was the passion of grief which at
that moment was sweeping over them. It was as if they had all suffered
some acute personal loss. Men and women were gesticulating, some were
almost weeping; all their faces were troubled and perplexed. As the
people coming from the city met those returning we could hear
exclamations of sorrow and almost of anguish. “Ah!” they cried, “is the
airship down? What a horrible calamity!” We heard afterwards that the
crowd surrounding the airship had just sung that famous national hymn,
“Deutschland über alles.” They had been worked up to ecstasy when the
airship crashed.

So we motored through that land in that happy peace time, little
foreboding all the great calamities that were to break from that
storm-centre on to an unsuspecting world.

Bethmann-Hollweg was at that time “Home Secretary,” a vigorous, amiable
Minister of the official kind, sincerely keen on social reforms; a
Junker of the better type. He treated Mr. Lloyd George with great
courtesy. He returned from his holiday, and specially entertained him
and his party in the famous restaurant at the Zoological Gardens at
Berlin. He invited many eminent members of the German Civil Service to
meet us. Every one was very gracious and polite—almost too polite for
comfort. After dinner we went into a large reception-room, and there we
remained standing all the evening talking and looking at one another.
Towards the end of the evening we began to feel very fatigued. I
ventured to ask one of the German officials whether it would be the
correct thing to sit down. “Oh!” he said. “We have all been waiting for
you to sit down! We, too, are very tired!”

In the middle of this rivalry in fatigue, they brought round great
glasses of foaming beer in Prussian fashion. Mr. Lloyd George, who is
almost a teetotaler, looked at the glasses with a scared expression.
Then suddenly his face grew resolute. “We must show that Great Britain
is not to be left behind!”

Bethmann-Hollweg did not talk politics until towards the end of dinner.
The conversation drifted to King Edward’s visit to the Russian Czar at
Réval. That visit had caused a great ferment in Germany, and grave
suspicions of British intentions. Bethmann-Hollweg voiced those
suspicions in the frankest manner. “You are trying to encircle us!” he
cried to Mr. Lloyd George. “You and France and Russia are attempting to
strangle us!”

Mr. Lloyd George assured him of the friendliness of Great Britain
towards all the great Powers; but for the moment he refused to be
appeased. He thumped the table with his hand. “The Prussian Government
has only to lift a finger,” he cried, “and every living Prussian will
die for the Fatherland!”

Mr. Lloyd George listened to all this with his characteristic calmness
and good-humour. “But what about the other Germans?” he put in at this
point.

A shadow passed over the face of the Prussian Minister.

“Oh! they?” he said with a gesture. “They, too, will come along!”

But this was only a flash. On the whole, Bethmann-Hollweg was very
friendly; and the facts of his family life showed him Anglophile. He had
sent his son to an English University; and admiration for English
education was, curiously enough, just at that moment almost as much a
fashion in Germany as admiration for German education in England. When
we were lunching with a judge at Frankfort Mr. Lloyd George discovered
that the daughter of the house had actually been at school along with
his own daughter at the famous English girls’ school near
Brighton—Roedean.

Of course, it is always foolish to imagine that social courtesies
seriously affect the grave pursuit of national interests in any country.
But they produce a friendly atmosphere; and he would be a criminal who,
with all the causes of difference and conflict in the world, did not
always try to improve the human atmosphere.

The people of Hamburg were remarkably friendly to us. The merchants
trading with England gave us an especially enthusiastic reception. They
feasted us at a banquet at which sat the Hamburg Prussian Minister—for
Berlin keeps a Ministry in the “Free Towns” as a last relic of their
former independence.

It was on the occasion of that banquet that Mr. Lloyd George threw out
the idea of regulating armaments by a Plimsoll “Load-line” fixed
according to population. It is strange to-day to remember with what
enthusiasm that suggestion was received by the Hamburg merchants.

The authorities of Hamburg provided a launch to take us into every
corner of their famous port, so as to show us all the power and pride of
their new creation—with all its marvellous up-to-date devices for
handling ships and cargoes, its wonderful new docks and elevators, its
ingenious and multifarious resources for expediting sea-traffic. It was
good to see that port; if only to realise the wisdom of the King’s
advice to us at home—“Wake up, Britain!”



It is difficult to exaggerate the part played by the personality of the
Kaiser in German imperial politics at that moment. If one probed any
great German question to the bottom, one always came back to that fact.
Take the question of the Navy—that vital Anglo-German problem of the
early century. The Army chiefs were, I think, quite ready to contemplate
a naval “deal,” if only to keep England out of the land-wars of the
Continent. The Social Democrats, of course, were more than willing; they
were anti-naval as well as anti-militarist. But to the Kaiser the Navy
was always prime favourite; it was his toy, his darling dream, his
cherished ambition. His sincerest belief and hopes were expressed in the
phrase, “Our future lies on the ocean.” He stimulated the popular zeal
for the Navy in every possible way. The Nord Deutsche Lloyd Liners had
elaborate pictures comparing the respective navies, and showing the
smallness of the German in comparison with ours; the great German Navy
League was constantly pushed forward; and no Minister could long remain
in power who did not sympathise with this cult. The curious thing was
that the German populations along the sea-board were not half so
enthusiastic for the Navy as the inland populations, who seemed
enthusiastic in proportion to their ignorance of the sea.

Many Germans used to put down the Kaiser’s passion for the Navy to his
English blood. He was a very enthusiastic yachtsman; and, as most
yachtsmen are Englishmen, that threw him into constant relations of
intimacy with English sailor-men. The English yachtsmen on the North Sea
found him almost excessive in his friendliness. I remember an instance
given to me by a famous English yachtsman, fond of cruising in northern
waters. A German torpedo-boat had accidentally one evening broken the
bowsprit of his yacht. During the night, while the owner was asleep, a
body of carpenters came on board of the English yacht and mended the
bowsprit. In the morning, after breakfast, the Kaiser arrived himself.
He had sent the carpenters. “Well!” he said, “how do you like your new
bowsprit?” Then he looked at it whimsically. “When you go back to
England,” he said, “tell them it was ‘made in Germany’!”

And yet at that very time this friendliness towards English
yachtsmen—of which this was only one example—was not preventing the
Kaiser from regarding the British naval power with a haunting jealousy
that led him into the constant intrigues against England, of which we
gain a glimpse in the secret correspondence discovered in the palace of
the Russian Czar.

The Kaiser, indeed, was at that time always a great trouble to all the
diplomats. He was like a perpetual cracker explosively zig-zagging about
in all the Foreign Offices of Europe. Nobody ever knew what he would do
or say—to whom he would talk, and with whom he would correspond. He had
a touch of freakish irresponsibility. “I always knew that Willy would
come to no good,” sighed an English Princess of the old school; and she
seemed to have an eye for character. After Agadir, he calmly protested
that the British Government had no right to object, as he had told some
one of his intentions when he was visiting the British Court! His
telegram to President Wilson seems to show that he carried this view of
the British Constitution right up to the eve of the Great War.

“He is a bad neighbour,” said an official of the British Foreign Office
at that time; and that really seemed to sum it up.

His constant changes of mood made German foreign policy very difficult
to forecast, and I do not think that any one can claim to have foreseen
the future.



The German officials told me that they had never had a visitor with a
quicker mind than Mr. Lloyd George. After a long day spent in the
Central Insurance Office at Berlin, the men who went round with us were
very enthusiastic. “He grasps the system more rapidly than any student
we have ever had.” Mr. Lloyd George, indeed, made a very exhaustive
study of the German system. But in his Act he improved upon it and added
to it in many important respects.[56]

It was a strange visit, curious to look back upon at this distance of
time. Our days were filled with the insistent calls of a great social
inquiry. But we could not ignore another aspect. After all, there was a
greater problem darkening the air than insurance against individual
sickness and unemployment. What about insurance against another and
greater human sickness—the sickness of war? The thought of that kept
recurring, like a secondary theme in some piece of music.



The impressions gained during this tour (1908) partly account, no doubt,
for the firmness of Mr. Lloyd George’s language in that famous City
speech with which, after consultation with Sir Edward Grey, he faced the
German Agadir threat in 1911. He himself always contended at the time
that that speech saved Europe from war. A firm, clear, real attitude—an
attitude that would convince Germany that we meant what we said—that is
what he always in those days advocated. He argued that here was the most
positive realistic Power in the world—with no regard for sentimentalism
or even humanity where the interests of Germany were concerned. Very
well; let us treat them as they treated us. Let them know definitely
where we stood. Let our language to them be plain and frank. They would
respect us all the more for it.

He was very fiercely attacked for this speech by the pacifists at the
time, both in public and private. He made a characteristic reply to
their pin-pricks. “Perhaps it would have been better if I had not made
the speech! There would have been war, and the Prussian bully would have
got the thrashing he deserves!”

Then, as since, nothing irritated and angered him more than the attitude
of Germany to France. “It is simply persecution!” he used to say. “The
world cannot be carried on along these lines!”

So he had already a dim perception of the great issue which was so soon
to divide the world.



Between 1908 and 1914 came that “Turtle Dove” period (1912-1914) during
which Germany wooed us. Never had Germany been more friendly to Great
Britain than she was in the spring of that fatal year, 1914; never had
our relations been more smooth; never had her protestations of affection
been more numerous. The change from 1911 was almost startling.

Perhaps it ought to have startled us more. It is so easy to be sages
after the accomplished fact. But it is not often that the architects of
suspicion build wisely; their day comes once in a while, and they
rejoice exceedingly. It is, perhaps, the worst crime of Germany that she
has strengthened that sinister creed of doubt, and lowered faith between
man and man.

-----

[55] Died January, 1920.

[56] He raised the level of the sick benefit; he added several new
benefits; and he paid the doctors better.



                             CHAPTER  XIII


                             CIVIL STRIFES

    “It gives me a serious concern to see such a Spirit of
    Dissention in the Country; not only as it destroys Virtue and
    Common Sense, and renders us in a manner Barbarians towards one
    another, but as it perpetuates our Animosities, widens our
    Breaches, and transmits our present Passions and Prejudices to
    our Posterity. For my own Part, I am sometimes afraid that I
    discover the Seeds of a Civil War in these our Divisions; and
    therefore cannot but bewail as in their first Principles the
    Miseries and Calamities of our Children.”—ADDISON in the
    _Spectator_, July 25th, 1711.

DURING his foreign tour in 1908 Mr. Lloyd George always carried with him
a small pocketbook, in which he jotted down ideas and suggestions as
they came to him in thought or talk. These were jottings for that great
Budget of which he already perceived the necessity.

For when he took over the Treasury in April 1908, he found British
finance at the parting of the ways. Old Age Pensions had just been
promised; a Bill was already drafted on non-tributory lines. He quite
approved. But no provision had been made in the Budget of 1908 to pay
for this great social boon.[57]

Here was a great opportunity for the Tariff Reform cause, at that time
still languishing from the staggering blow of 1906. It was up to Free
Trade to show that it could meet the coming deficit.

We all know how Mr. Lloyd George faced that crisis at the Exchequer—by
what audacious drafts on the great reserves of our national wealth—by
what determined levies on the luxuries of all classes. The Budget of
1909 is still one of the landmarks of English history. Its rejection by
the Lords and its final triumph in the first General Election of 1910
are thrice told tales.

How did Mr. Lloyd George bear himself through the stress of these
tremendous evils?

He did not spare himself. He bore the burden of the midnight sitting as
well as of the day labour. He revolutionised the habits of the Treasury.

He had now left his private house and come to live in Downing Street.
His life was practically lived in public. It was at about this time that
he instituted his famous habit of breakfast parties at which the affairs
of the nation were discussed. Strenuous gatherings were these, opening
with merry chaff, but soon passing to earnest debate and discussion over
coffee and bacon—debates always human and thrilling, enlivened by the
swift jest and epigram of the host, always one of the best of talkers.
But he never allowed these talks to drift into triviality. He always
directed them to moulding and shaping policy. He compelled his guests to
face vital decisions.

Great gatherings! Where the best of the nation met, not with idle gossip
or silly scandal, but with high converse and swift, eager discourse,
ever touched with hope and light!

He could not have lived this strenuous life without some relaxation. He
found it, like so many other busy moderns, in golf. It was shortly after
the opening of the twentieth century that he took to this game, and
found in it his physical salvation. Up to 1900 he had never been robust.
Often he had long periods of ill-health. But the steady tramps round
those wonderful courses that now surround London made a great change.
Golf has given him a tough physique, equal to resisting great strains.

Those of us who, during 1909, worked in the “Budget League” to help
forward this great cause saw something of the energy and resourcefulness
which went to achieve the hardly won victory of the first 1910 General
Election.

One of our methods was to cover England with posters. I remember one
glorious poster of an ermined and coroneted duke. We were very proud of
it. But it passed through great troubles. Mr. Winston Churchill
protested against it because it was too much like his cousin, the Duke
of Marlborough. So we changed the face and darkened the colouring. The
result was that the new duke came out precisely like our splendid and
energetic chief, Sir Henry Norman, M.P.!

All this poster business was very expensive. We spent till we were
exhausted; we swamped the Budget Protest League in paste. But, however
much money we spent, we got more money. We only had to send across to
Downing Street. Mr. Lloyd George seemed to have the key to the treasures
of Golconda. He had the amazing gift of being able to persuade
millionaires to subscribe in order to be taxed.

The Liberal Cabinet, as a whole, refused to believe that the Lords would
throw out the Budget; and it was steadily set about through the summer
of 1909 that Mr. Balfour and Lord Lansdowne were in favour of passing
it. But Mr. Lloyd George persisted in believing the contrary. “They will
throw it out all right!” he would always say cheerfully enough; and the
only shadow that would pass over his face would come when some one would
half convince him to the contrary. I believe that up to September there
was some real doubt. But then the Tariff Reform League came into the
fight; the first flush of the Budget popularity seemed to pass; our
street-corner orators were met by rivals—often hired Socialists; and
the “Die-hards” grew more powerful. The Lords determined to face the
great risk. They threw out the Budget in November; Mr. Asquith was
forced to dissolve; and in January 1910 came the General Election.

The Lords nearly won. The Liberals emerged with a diminished majority of
124 as compared with the 1906 majority of 354, meaning a loss of 115
seats, and a turn-over of 230 votes.

For a moment this fall in the majority shook the constancy even of that
strong Cabinet. There was talk of resignation. Even Mr. Lloyd George was
bitten for a moment by the idea of substituting House of Lords Reform
for the policy of the Parliament Bill.

In a few weeks they steadied. They found that if they were disappointed,
the other side were more so. The Lords had staked all; the Tariff
Reformers had assured a win. The Opposition was as much “down” as the
Government.

It was fated that a tragic event should give sudden pause to this
rending strife. Just when the first shadow of civil war was falling
across the nation, on May 6th, 1910, King Edward died. The presence of
death brought a calmer mood; men saw realities for a moment, and shrank
from the edge of the abyss. They were like travellers from whose path
the mist suddenly clears, and lo! they find themselves stumbling along
the edge of a precipice.

Mr. Lloyd George made a suggestion to the new King which was taken up
and resulted in the remarkable conference of party leaders which lasted
from June to November 1910. It was a pause of halcyon calm in the midst
of storm.

Mr. Lloyd George was a member of that conference; he was always among
those who took a sanguine view of its prospects; and he has always
infinitely regretted its failure. He took a long view. He foresaw the
civil perils that lay ahead of the country. He was ready to come to a
large and comprehensive settlement. He knew that a settlement could not
mean a victory for either side. He was ready to accept that view; and
there were those on the other side—especially one, Mr. Arthur
Balfour—who were large enough to accept it also.

But neither of the great parties, organised for combat and victory,
could be brought to the height of so great a treaty. The secrecy of the
conference had been perhaps all too faithfully observed. There had been
no “spade-work” in preparing the parties for a self-denying ordinance so
sweeping. The “Snakes” they say, “committed suicide to save themselves
from slaughter.” But in this case both parties still hoped for life and
victory.

So, in November 1910, the conflict was resumed; and in December there
took place the second General Election—this time, by agreement between
the Prime Minister and the King, a test Election on the Veto Bill. The
decision of January was practically repeated; and Mr. Lloyd George,
again leaving his electioneering chances in Carnarvonshire to his local
friends, was returned by a second sweeping majority.[58]

The second Election proved too much even for the strength of Mr. Lloyd
George. After speaking up in Scotland with a strong fever actually on
him, he was struck with a touch of serious throat trouble. His voice was
threatened. After many efforts to go on, he finally accepted the verdict
of seclusion, and spent a prolonged rest in a spacious, restful mansion
behind the Sussex downs, lent to him by Mr. (afterwards Sir Arthur)
Markham. He grew to a genuine love of this peaceful life; and when he
returned to the turmoil, it was with a certain reluctance.

Driven back on reading as his sole diversion, he rambled widely through
literature and read a great deal of history.

But his chief occupation during these months was the preparation of the
famous Insurance Bill of 1911.

All who saw much of Mr. Lloyd George at that time knew that that measure
was inspired by nothing less than a profound compassion for the sick and
the suffering—a passion sobered by reflection, but still burning with
an intense fire behind all his cool and calculated moves.

He was moved by a spirit best expressed in Blake’s golden verse:

               “I will not cease from mental strife,
                 Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
               Till we have built Jerusalem
                 In England’s green and pleasant land.”

Before drafting the Bill he took a prolonged and careful survey of the
condition of the people: in Mr. Charles Booth’s books, in the Poor Law
Commission Reports, and from every possible source of the written and
spoken word. He was appalled; and he expected every one else to be
appalled. Carried forward by his own emotion, he did not perhaps realise
the power of familiarity, the force of usage, the strength of vested
interest.

He was greatly surprised and disappointed by the attitude of the
doctors. He had always held the medical profession in the highest
admiration[59]; and perhaps he expected more from them than any
organised profession could supply. He had been so absorbed by
conferences with the Friendly Societies that he perhaps did not
sufficiently realise the importance of constant consultations with the
doctors in the preparation of his schemes.

He was also sincerely surprised at the attitude of the well-to-do
classes. He had imagined that the enforcement of contributions would
disarm their hostility. As it was, he lost on both sides; though he
never regretted his decision in favour of contributions. With all his
sympathy—perhaps because of it—he entertained a great horror of a
pauperised working-class.

Here, too, he had to face a revolt of the timid within his own party.
There arose in the autumn of 1911 the same cry for
“postponement”—always the first step to abandonment. He resisted it
steadily; pushed forward his Bill, this time with the help of the
strongest closures; and in December the House of Lords, perhaps
chastened by events, allowed the Insurance Act to pass into law.

So ended the first stage of that great scheme of social reform with
which he designed to change the face of England. Insurance against
sickness and kindred ills was combined with an Act for insurance against
unemployment; and for the first time in our history labour was backed by
security.

Then, in 1912, amid the distractions of the growing crisis in Ireland,
Mr. Lloyd George proceeded to approach the greatest of all fastnesses of
privilege—the English Land Laws. Here was a more formidable enterprise
than any he had yet undertaken. He had to carry out his own
inquiries—for it had been proved by experience that the tenants of
English land were in too precarious a position to venture an open
disclosure of their wrongs to an open Commission. He appointed an able
Land Committee, of which Mr.(now Sir) Arthur Acland became the Chairman.
That Committee carried out its work with great courage and ability, and
published two books which are still classical summaries of the main
features of our land system, stated with fairness and thoroughness.[60]
In a series of great speeches, Mr. Lloyd George in 1912 and 1913
announced his intention of making legislative proposals and carrying out
the conclusions of this Committee.

But, in the meantime, across this great endeavour, there had arisen a
hue and cry which had given new hope to the friends of the existing
order. The great controversy of the Marconi shares seems now very far
away. The whole case fabricated against Mr. Lloyd George in those days
seem very ridiculous now. The perspective has changed very much since
one of the great English political parties could deliberately set out to
ruin a political opponent on account of one act of carelessness.[61]

But it does not do to throw stones. Party strife is an ugly business at
best; and he would be a bold man who should say that, in similar
circumstances the Liberal Party would have shown a spirit very much
better. In this matter of rushing readily to false accusations we have
all sinned pretty deeply in our public life. Suspicion is the peculiar
vice of democracies; and he would be bold who should say that the real
scandal of the Marconi affair—the scandal of accusation so poisoned and
exaggerated as to amount to calumny adopted as a policy and a
cause—will not occur again.

Mr. Lloyd George suffered very much through this affair. For the moment
it achieved its object of holding up his whole activities in furthering
his Land Campaign. But at last the fever of the assault died away, and
men began to return to the light of common reason, and to see the thing
in its real proportions. Then there succeeded in the public mind a fit
of remorse which worked in Mr. Lloyd George’s favour; and both in London
and in Wales he was banqueted and acclaimed. For, if the victims survive
the rigours of the “ordeal by torture,” then the populace applauds.

From another campaign of the same sort at an earlier date (1908) Mr.
Lloyd George had emerged victorious in the Courts with damages of
£1,000, which enabled him to adorn his native village of Llanystumdwy
with a very handsome Institute, where all his fellow villagers can now
read the newspapers and enjoy the advantages of a well-chosen library.
So out of evil sometimes good proceeds.

In 1914 Mr. Lloyd George resumed the preparations for his Land Bills. It
was his intention to introduce them into the House of Commons during the
Session of this year, thus placing them before the country with a view
of the General Election already looming ahead.

But across all these designs there came, in June and July 1914, a flood
of reverberating events—the Ulster crisis, the officers’ revolt, the
gun-running, first of Larne and then of Dublin. Like other Ministers,
Mr. Lloyd George was absorbed in a situation which threatened instant
civil war.

Then once more, across the threat of civil war, came the even greater
menace of an even vaster peril—world-war.



In the tremendous crisis that followed Mr. Lloyd George took the middle
course. He was not for war against Germany at all costs. On Saturday,
August 2nd, he was inclined to vote for peace; and if, necessary, to
resign for peace.

On that day—as he has told the world—the biggest financiers in the
City, including the Governor of the Bank of England, came to him, as
Chancellor of the Exchequer, and urged that peace should be preserved,
and that we should stand aside from the strifes of Europe. On Monday it
was known that Germany had invaded Belgium. At once all these men swung
over to the side of war.

Mr. Lloyd George himself, separately and independently, followed the
same course. Eager as he had been in the past for peace, he had no
hesitation from the moment that Germany invaded Belgium.

We had pledged our word; and we must keep it.

On Monday he was for war.

He had definitely chosen his part.

-----

[57] Old Age Pensions were then estimated to cost £9,000,000, but were
found to cost £13,000,000 (now (1920) £28,000,000). There was also the
new Dreadnoughts, and so forth. The deficit for 1909 thus amounted to
£16,000,000 even in prospect.

[58] His majorities in the Carnarvon Boroughs have been rising on the
whole steadily since the first election in 1890. In 1892 he defeated Sir
John Puleston by 196, as against 18 in 1890. In 1895 he again defeated
Mr. Nanney by 194. In 1900 he defeated Colonel Platt by 296. In 1906 he
won by 1,224; January 1910 by 1,078; in December by 1,208.

[59] There is a remarkable and eloquent passage on the doctor’s work in
the Limehouse speech.

[60] _The Land. The Report of the Land Inquiry Committee_, Vol. I.
Rural, and Vol. II, Urban. (Hodder & Stoughton, 1913.)

[61] It is a strange fact that nothing worse was ever distinctly charged
against him by his worst foes, although much was insinuated.



                              CHAPTER  XIV


                               A WAR MAN

          “O Statesmen, guard us, guard the eye, the soul
          Of Europe, keep our noble England whole.”
                                          TENNYSON.

FROM the moment that war was declared (August 4th, 1914), Mr. Lloyd
George put aside all his doubts and hesitations. The perplexities of the
previous week passed away like so many clouds from a summer sky. He
became from that instant a war man, intent on nothing but achieving
victory.

“I can understand a man opposing a war,” he used to say, “but I cannot
understand his waging a war with half a heart.” In regard to the
attitude of various friends in political life, he would always express a
certain whimsical tenderness for those who were entirely opposed to the
war. “Ah,” he would say, “I was in that position once myself, and I know
how difficult it is!” Wholly wrong as he thought them, dangerous as he
thought their activities to the country, he could not shake off a
certain admiration for their courage. But the men for whom he had no
tolerance were those who waged the war with a backward glance over their
shoulder all the time at the lost vision of peace. That seemed to him a
confusing and weakening attitude. Peace was to be achieved, of course;
that must always be the very aim of war; but once war began peace could
only be retrieved across the gulf of war itself. That being the
situation, he saw nothing for it but to bend the whole energies of the
State to the sole purpose of conducting the war with the utmost power.

He realised at once that Great Britain was up against the most terrible
danger that had ever faced it in the whole course of its existence. He
knew Germany; he had a thorough understanding of German efficiency.
Especially did he grasp the full strength and power given to the German
Government by the patriotism of the German people. In entering upon this
mighty enterprise, he approached the matter with the utmost gravity and
seriousness. I never saw him so grave-minded as he was during those
first months of the war. We rallied him one morning at breakfast for
refusing to laugh at some jest. “The times are very serious,” he said,
and once more he seemed lost in his own thoughts again. He used to
describe the moment when the Western world paused from peace to war as
the most solemn and awful in his whole life. “We sat waiting for Big Ben
to strike the hour when the ultimatum expired. We all fell quite silent.
As the great blows of the hammer sounded on the bell we seemed to be
passing into another world.”

From the very first he took Lord Kitchener’s view of the seriousness and
probable length of the war. He was not a war “pessimist.” He would not
accept that phrase. “I look at the facts,” he would say, “I merely
refuse to live in dreamland.” When people used to come to him in that
bouncingly cheerful mood which patriots tried to cultivate in those
days, he used to look at them gravely and say, “Have you read all the
bulletins?” And then he would go on: “Have you read the bulletins on
both sides?” Or to another he would say, “Have you looked at the maps?”
For he always saw the war as a whole: he grasped it in the East as well
as in the West. It was not that he was particularly disturbed by
untoward incidents; he rarely discussed any such incident. It was the
proportions of the vast forces at issue which filled his mind and
imagination.

There were several consoling theories popular during the first year of
the war for which he had little taste. There was the idea, preached in
many powerful quarters, that German man-power would soon be exhausted.
Mr. Lloyd George was an open sceptic on that point. It was not merely
that the Germanic Powers had far more men than most English people
realised at that time; it was also his fixed imaginative feeling that
the resisting power of a country does not ultimately depend on numbers.
It was the spirit of Germany that he feared—ruthless to others,
merciless to itself. In a public speech he expressed that once as the
“potato-bread” spirit.

Then there was the theory that Germany would soon be starved into
submission. There again his imagination came to his help. “How do you
know?” he would say. “How can you tell at what point a nation will cry
for mercy? That does not depend upon the amount of food; it depends upon
the spirit of the nation. History shows that there is little limit to
what some nations will endure before they surrender.”

The practical upshot of all this was that he could see no alternative to
a clear and clean military victory. The only reason, in fact, why he
combated such theories as “attrition” and “hunger-surrender” was that he
regarded them as excuses unconsciously put forward to avoid the strain
and stress necessary for that achievement. He saw men at that period
cultivating optimism as a means of concealing from themselves the stark
realities. He saw others preferring short views to long preparations. He
perceived that too many were seeking for any or every other means of a
softer outlet; and yet, to his mind, the sole chance of obtaining a
satisfactory close to the war lay along the iron road of victory. It was
in that way that he came to regard the people he met as too sanguine;
for that reason he set himself to preach a more sombre view.

So much did this view afterwards prevail that it is difficult to recall
now those amazingly cheerful forecasts so popular during the first six
months of the war. Public opinion soon recovered from the first shock of
the retreat from Mons. There were even a considerable body of people who
persuaded themselves to regard that valorous series of rear-guard
actions as a crowning victory. When, on September 9th, 1914, the Germans
stopped their advance and began to retire to the line of the Marne,
there were some who talked as if the war were already ended.

This was not by any means entirely the fault of the public, for a strict
censorship had concealed from us in Great Britain that gigantic defeat
of the Russians at the end of August known now as the battle of
Tannenberg. There the Russian General Samsonoff had been drawn on to the
lakes of East Prussia by Hindenburg, and a second Cannæ had been
achieved. A vast number of Russians had been killed and captured; 90,000
had been taken prisoners, and no less than 516 guns captured.[62]

All these things were known to Mr. Lloyd George; and he did not possess
the faculty, somewhat common in high places, of persuading himself that
an inconvenient fact must necessarily be untrue. Nor was he so bemused
by the censorship as to believe that you could make an unpleasant fact
untrue simply by keeping it secret. He knew by the beginning of
September that the theory of the Russian “steam-roller” must be set
aside. He had realised already that the main effort would now lie with
England. That was what gave so much sobriety to his outlook.

As the last months of 1914 passed by, the situation as a whole certainly
did not improve. The Russian invasion of Eastern Prussia was definitely
stayed. There were indeed certain compensations. In September the
Russians seized Eastern Galicia and the Bukovina. In those months the
Serbians, with heroic valour, three times drove back the invading
Austrians from their little country. But it became obvious that the
Russians, however daring in combat, lacked the generalship required for
reaping the fruits of their successes. At the beginning of October
Germany came to the help of Austria, and there was a great rally of the
Austro-German forces. The Russians were driven out of Western Galicia,
and in October a large part of Western Poland was seized by the Germans.
In November there was another spasmodic recovery of the Russians; but
again in later November they were driven back to within forty miles of
Warsaw, and the opening of 1915 saw Russia practically on the defensive.

The meaning of all these events to Mr. Lloyd George was, that if we were
to achieve victory we must prepare for a very great and prolonged
effort; and he determined to set himself to the task of tuning the
country up to the pitch of the highest endeavour.

It must be remembered that at this time he was still Chancellor of the
Exchequer, and therefore not directly concerned with war matters. All
his arguments and interventions both in war policy and foreign policy
were liable to be regarded, according to the prevailing traditions of
our Cabinet rule, as trespasses from the straight and narrow path of
direct responsibility.

Still, he felt it his duty, as a citizen and a Minister, to run all the
risks of personal misunderstanding that might arise from honest and
vigorous expressions of his own mind. For, rightly or wrongly, he took a
very serious view of the situation at the end of 1914. He felt his
responsibility all the heavier for the knowledge which he possessed. The
British public were looking only at the splendid achievements of our
armies in the West. What they did not see was the heavy thundercloud in
the East—the great German armies gathering themselves for a mighty,
tigerish spring on to some of the fairest provinces of our great Eastern
Ally.

Here was the loss side to this account—the achievements in the East of
those German divisions which had been withdrawn from the advance on
Paris, and had left their diminished armies to fall back on the Marne.

Mr. Lloyd George refused to regard those defeats of the Russian armies
as inevitable. He would never consent to be a fatalist. He represented
the vigorous energy of the Western man—eager and insistent to strive
against the shocks of fortune.

Frankly he was not content with the measures taken to grip the
situation. He did not feel that any military plans were being considered
adequate to face the perils that threatened us. He was unhappy and
dissatisfied with the plans he knew of; he felt little confidence that
others would be devised more fit to avert these perils.

It was at this time that he first suggested day-to-day sittings of the
War Committee for the conduct of the war. It was the first appearance of
that proposal for a small War Cabinet which afterwards developed so
stormily from the stress and travail of the war. Not before three years
of trying the old bottles was the new wine to find a vessel fit for its
feverish ferment.

During the Christmas holidays Mr. Lloyd George carefully surveyed the
situation. With the opening of 1915 this is how he saw it.

Russia was in danger of a blow at the heart. In the West the military
situation had reached a deadlock[63]; and it was not yet physically
possible that the armies at this time raised by us should drive back the
German invader in any time that then seemed reasonable from the North of
France and Belgium. On those lines the war seemed certain to last a very
long time, though not even he at that time cast his eyes beyond the
historic three years fixed by Lord Kitchener. He wished, at all possible
costs, to avoid a long war.

Looking across Europe, he asked himself—Was there not some alternative
way? Some road to a quicker ending of this world-agony?

He found it in the Near East, at that point where the Teuton power
touched the Danube, and was still at that time held back by the heroic
resistance of the Serbians.

The plan that framed itself in his mind was to combine the Balkan
States—to revive the Federation—to send a great British army to their
help, and attack with these combined forces—perhaps amounting to
1,000,000 men—the Eastern flank of the Central Powers.

This great scheme must not be confused with the subsequent expeditions
to Gallipoli and Salonika. It was something far larger in conception,
and far more splendid in grasp and sweep of action.

It was a proposal for employing the new British armies, before they were
wearied by being set to the tasks that break men, for fortifying our
Allies, and for snatching success before the watching neutrals of the
Near East—Bulgaria, Greece, and Rumania—were divided and distracted by
doubt and failure.

It was also an essential part of his larger hope that such an effort
would relieve the pressure on Russia and finally perhaps draw off the
bulk of the German armies from the West to the help of Austria.

In his view the plan entailed far less risk than shaped itself in the
minds of the timid. A visit to the Western front had impressed him with
the feeling that this was not then the easiest place for a successful
assault on the Central Powers. Here you would meet them just at the
point where they had the greatest mastery over their defensive. The
West, it seemed to him, was the proper place for a persistent,
concentrated, and even vigilant defensive. But at that time the spot for
a more prosperous offensive had, in the view strongly impressed upon him
by observation, to be sought elsewhere.

His policy was to make the Western line impregnable; but, with the
forces that could be spared beyond that necessary effort, to prepare and
execute a great strategical diversion along the line of the Danube,
striking into territory inhabited by men sympathetic to the Western
Allies, and supporting our own weaker Allies among the Balkan States. In
this way he hoped to save Serbia, to prevent the German “break-through”
to the East, and in the end to divert the great German hosts from their
assaults on Great Britain and Russia.

Such was the “Near Eastern idea” in its large scope and purpose. Those
who held it were necessarily opposed to the earlier frontal assaults in
the West, chivalrously and splendidly undertaken before we had an
unquestionable superiority in numbers and guns. Like Botha in South
Africa at the later stage of the Boer War—like every great general when
he is outnumbered and out-gunned—they were seeking a “way round.” It
was a very big “way round”—by Durazzo or Salonika—but the point is
that it seemed at the time the only possible way round.

We must remember that the submarine menace had not yet developed, that
Bulgaria had not yet declared war, that we were still as much masters of
the Mediterranean as ever in our long history. Austria had not yet
stiffened her army with German troops, and Russia was still uninvaded.
All these were governing facts in this great scheme.

It was characteristic of his buoyant faith that he firmly believed that
the appearance of a great British army in the Balkans would surely bring
in both the Rumanians and the Greeks to our aid. In his view those
nations were at the moment hypnotised by the fate of Belgium.

They genuinely feared the military power and terror of Germany. What
they wanted was a convincing proof of our land strength. They knew us as
a naval power; but that was not enough for this war. Here was this new
thing—our growing military potency. Very well, let us display this side
of our strength to the world. Let us land our new armies in the Near
East.



Such was the large design, boldly schemed and boldly started, which he
set before his political and military colleagues in the early months of
1915. He firmly believed that it would inspire our arms with a new force
and vigour. It would give our young soldiers a new hope. It would
confuse and embarrass the German defence. It would present them for the
first time in this campaign with that dash of the sudden, secret, and
unexpected which was so often their own special way. It would knock away
the German props by threatening her Allies; and it would build up new
props for us by heartening ours. Such were the broad and daring ideas
which underlay his thoughts.

We know that this great scheme did not prevail at the time, although
pale ghosts of it lingered on and haunted the stricken fields of war.
The flesh and substance of the plan evaporated in the atmosphere of
doubt. Between all the Allies and the Chancelleries of the Allies, in
the chilling alleys and by-ways of debate and diplomacy, this great
enterprise lost “the name of action.” It was “sicklied o’er with the
pale cast of thought.” Tradition, convention, convenience—all combined
to strangle it.

We cannot say now how it would have prospered. The fortunes of war are
always, after all, on the knees of the gods. No mortal can command
success; we can only deserve it.

Such opportunities do not occur twice. The Near Eastern vision faded.
The country set itself grimly to solve by direct methods the problem of
the West. How heroically, how tenaciously the British race would set its
teeth into that endeavour perhaps no one could then quite foresee; but,
casting our minds back over these bloodstained years, the question
cannot but again recur—Might there not have been a shorter road?

-----

[62] See the full account in Ludendorff’s _War Memories_ (vol. i. pp.
41-72).

[63] See the remarkable survey of the military situation in January
1915, contained on page 19 of the Dardanelles Commission’s First Report
(Cd. 8490). That survey confirms Mr. Lloyd George’s views at that time.



                              CHAPTER  XV


                             EAST OR WEST?

                “For East is East, and West is West,
                And never the twain shall meet.”
                        RUDYARD KIPLING.

IT is characteristic of Mr. Lloyd George that, when his mind once seizes
hold of an idea, he is wholly possessed with it until either he can
bring it to accomplishment or he is fully convinced of its
impracticability. It was so with regard to this great scheme of
outflanking the Central Powers by an attack from the Near East. The more
he reflected upon it the more there seemed to lie in this plan one great
chance of bringing a speedy decision to the war. But, for better or for
worse, the reinforcements were now being directed to the Western Front;
and the policy of the Western Allies was more and more concentrated on
that sphere of offence and defence—France, from absorption in her
immediate danger, and Great Britain for her instinctive military
preference for campaigning nearer to her sacred seas.

Out-voted in that larger proposal, Mr. Lloyd George now fell back on a
smaller design. The cautious diplomacy of the Allies had shrunk from the
large, bold strokes necessary for combining the Balkan States as an
eastern wing of our offensive against the Central Powers; their military
chiefs had hesitated to supply the means. Never at that stage did the
Governments of the Allies fully realise the full proportionate value of
the Balkan States in the vast scheme of the great European struggle.

But it was soon clear that, if the Western Powers were inclined to leave
the Balkan States to themselves, the Central Powers had no such
intention. Quite early in the war Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Winston
Churchill scented the danger of German intrigue in the Balkans, and the
vast lure of that easy “corridor” to the East offered by the
trans-Balkan railway system. In September 1914 they induced the Foreign
Office to send the Buxton brothers to Sofia; and the proposals which
those delegates brought back in January 1915 played an important part in
the negotiations of February.[64]

Some time before the end of January 1915, indeed, the British Government
got to know that Germany was already preparing a large army for the
invasion of Serbia. Mr. Lloyd George instantly realised the gravity and
urgency of this peril. It was largely due to his initiative that a note
was sent to Greece and Rumania, urging those states to come to the
assistance of Serbia.

No note was sent to Bulgaria. It was already dimly realised that this
State was being drawn into the far-flung net of the Central Powers. The
“Prussia of the Balkans” presented too rich a field to be left
unharvested by the needy gleaners of Germany. The anxious and
hard-pressed diplomats of Berlin, seeking eagerly for friends in a world
growing more and more hostile, were already tapping at the doors of
Sofia, offering golden and honeyed gifts to a State which had fed too
long on the east wind.

Rumours of these approaches grew so strong and convincing that Mr. Lloyd
George was moved by them to take fresh action along his old lines. It
was now no longer a question of a great offensive with a gigantic army
on the Near Eastern flank of the enemy. Fate does not repeat her
opportunities; and the chances of that great diversion were already
slipping away. It was now rather a question whether we should be in time
even to save our smaller friends in the Near East—whether we should be
able to prevent this threatened gigantic “sortie” of the Central Powers
from the siege of the Entente Allies. Already, in January, Mr. Lloyd
George saw, in that flashing way of his, all the tragic possibilities
that might flow from a German “break-through” in the Balkans. Already he
foresaw the fearful and disastrous fate of a conquered Serbia.

With this tragedy ever clearly in his mind’s eye, Mr. Lloyd George left
no stone unturned to avert it. In the middle of January he succeeded in
persuading his colleagues to offer a whole army corps to Greece on
condition that she would agree to join us in the war. Lord Kitchener
agreed to spare the troops, and approved the wording of the offer. But
it was necessary to obtain the approval of the Allies.

France was not for the moment happy at the idea of sending troops to the
Near East. There came from across the Channel a breath of acute anxiety,
the anxiety of an invaded and ravaged country.

The result was that the official note was held back and somewhat
modified. The military offer of help to Greece and Serbia began to
become vaguer. The army corps began to become a little ghostly. We can
see the great plan still further dwindling into shadows.

Then, on January 26th, a new development occurred. M. Venizelos sent to
London the Greek reply to the first note of the Allies, asking for help
on behalf of Serbia. The reply was that, on certain conditions, Greece
agreed to join in the war on the side of the Allies. If those conditions
were fulfilled, then Greece—so the answer ran—was willing to give its
assistance to Serbia, and to place the whole of its resources at the
service of a “just and liberal cause.”

But the chief of the conditions was that Bulgaria should come in as well
on the Allied side. If not, then Rumania must come in and Bulgaria
remain neutral.[65]

So far, so good. It now remained to persuade France.

On February 5th there was to be held in Paris one of those Allied
Conferences on policy and strategy which have been held periodically
throughout the war.

These Conferences were, indeed, originally Mr. Lloyd George’s own
special and favourite plan for bringing the Allies into a better
sympathy of mind and purpose; and he had always promoted them with zeal
and enthusiasm, which grew with his friendship for M. Albert Thomas. On
this occasion—February 5th, 1915—he had been selected to go over
himself to Paris as the British delegate.

He proposed that M. Venizelos should come from Greece and meet him in
Paris. But the domestic crisis in Greece was now passing into a stage
far too acute for M. Venizelos to leave Athens. That eminent man was
making his last effort to work with King Constantine.

Mr. Lloyd George went to Paris and won his case. That gallant nation,
anxious to help the weak, and threatened even in the midst of her own
agony, consented to join in the expedition. The French Cabinet were
willing to send a French division to work with the British division to
which Lord Kitchener had already agreed.

Returning to London, he informed the British military authorities, who
in their turn offered to “go one better,” and to spare two British
divisions.

Mr. Lloyd George was now all eager for instant action.

He urged that the new Joint Note, offering military aid, should be sent
at once. He brushed aside for the moment the idea of arriving at a
general Balkan agreement on the lines of the proposals brought back by
the Buxtons from Sofia. The Bulgarian suggestion that Serbia should make
a considerable surrender of territory seemed to him impossible for
Serbia after their recent struggles and sufferings. He had already a
very deep perception that Bulgaria was hardening against the Entente. He
saw definite evidence of it in Germany’s known willingness to lend her
money. It did not seem to him conceivable that Germany should be
advancing money to Bulgaria without some assurance as to Bulgaria’s
action in certain contingencies. The Germans were not such fools.

Besides, Rumania seemed to him now less friendly. All the more need,
then, for prompt and energetic action to clinch the friendliness of our
most probable ally, Greece.

He felt very acutely at this moment the evil and harm of a dilatory
policy. It was on his mind all the time that, if they failed to act in
time to save Serbia, their responsibility would be a terrible one. Even
days seemed to him to count in the great issues that lay before them.

It was a great design, greatly urged. It is impossible to say now
whether it would have fulfilled the hopes of its chief sponsor. He had
won over to his side all the chief forces in the West. The expedition
that was about to start would have probably forestalled and averted that
ill-starred enterprise of the Dardanelles-Gallipoli attack which opened
on February 25th.

But just on the eve of fruition other forces intervened. While Mr. Lloyd
George had been working in the West of Europe, the Central Powers had
been busy in the Near East. On January 26th had come the conditional
Greek offer to intervene in the war. On February 6th came their definite
refusal.

The crash came suddenly. Russia had just promised 10,000 men towards the
new Balkan enterprise. Then, at that moment of apparent success, M.
Venizelos suddenly informed the British Minister at Athens that Greece
had decided not to join the Allies in the war.

The refusal was abruptly worded, and the grounds given were very
definite. They were that Greece found herself unable to obtain the
conditions laid down in the reply of January 26th. One of those
conditions was that Bulgaria should either join Greece in declaring war,
or should promise neutrality. She had refused to do either. Another
condition had been that Rumania should join. But Rumania, still
hesitating between the two belligerent groups, would give no decided
answer. It was at that moment the fear of Greece that, if she sent an
army northwards to the help of Serbia, then Bulgaria would move to the
south, seize Kavalla, and would strike westwards into Macedonia to drive
a wedge between Greece and Serbia. In such a case it seemed more than
possible that Greece would be crushed.

It is fair also to say that Bulgaria’s refusal of a promise of
neutrality was for Greece an ominous and formidable fact. It is
inevitable that Greece should have been looking rather at her resentful
neighbour than at those larger aims of European interest which filled
the policies of the Western Powers; it was natural and human that their
first and possessing fear should be lest the work of the war of 1913
should be undone. For in that terrible war the price of victory had been
appallingly high for so small a nation. No less than 30,000 Greek
soldiers had been killed within a few days in that tremendous onslaught
which had driven back the treacherous Bulgarian attack. Greece, with her
small supply of men, could not lightly contemplate the repetition of
such a sacrifice, or the loss of the gains which had been so fearfully
purchased.

Mr. Lloyd George did not give up hope. He knew enough to foresee, for
instance, that the new attack of Bulgaria was bound to come, and that
the most prudent course was to forestall it. It was at this moment that
the suggestion came from Greek sources,[66] that Mr. Lloyd George should
himself go out to the Balkans as a Commissioner to bring together the
Balkan States. Mr. Lloyd George himself consented; and Mr. Asquith
approved. But it was soon found that Mr. Lloyd George was wanted too
urgently at the centre to be spared for distant missions.

The Greek Government held to its refusal. The Greek General Staff had
pronounced strongly against Greek military intervention as long as
Bulgaria remained even neutral; and M. Venizelos had now grave cause to
believe that Bulgaria was pledged to the Central Powers. He hesitated to
bind himself with the Army and the Crown against him.

As for the Greek King Constantine, he was already drifting along that
fatal course which led ultimately to his exile. It was reported to the
British Government that he saw the German military Attaché every day,
while he refused to see the British Attaché at all.

Thus cut off for the moment from effective intervention on the Danube,
the British Government drifted towards that tremendous Dardanelles
enterprise[67] which took the place of the Serbian proposal. The first
bombardment of the Dardanelles forts (February 25th to 26th) seemed to
go prosperously; and at the opening of March Russia began to do well.
Once more there was a new twist in the designs of the Greek Crown
Government; and on March 6th the Crown Council assembled at Athens
offered the whole Greek fleet and one Greek division for co-operation in
the attack on the Dardanelles.

But already the curt refusal of the previous overtures had driven the
Allies to other designs; and the pro-Bulgarian influences in Russia were
now very strong. Bulgaria was now astutely offering to lend her armies
for an attack on Constantinople from the north-west while the fleets
were hammering at the Straits. The old Russian Court Government, always
fearful of Greek designs on Constantinople, leaned towards Bulgaria,
and, now that a choice seemed possible, preferred Bulgarian help to
Greek.

As far as we can peer through the mists of Balkan intrigue, the success
of the earlier bombardments of the Dardanelles outer forts swung
Bulgaria for the time away from her Teutonic bearings. She was for the
moment inclined to join the Entente, if only from fear of the
consequences.[68] Whether she had signed an agreement with Germany or
not, does not seem to have troubled the statesmen at Sofia, and
certainly not the King.[69] The sanctity of a treaty would probably not
have affected the policy of a country already strongly bitten with the
virus of Prussia’s world-politics. Bulgaria was, in fact, during that
time making offers to both sides; she was, in vulgar language, waiting
to see “how the cat jumped.” For the moment, therefore, she became
“pro-Entente.” But immediately that the failure of the Dardanelles
attack became apparent she swung back into the Teutonic orbit. The
diplomatic situation was, as Lord Grey fairly claimed,[70] “overshadowed
by the military.”



Deeply disappointed with Greece, Mr. Lloyd George now held aloof from
her overtures, and was inclined, for the moment, to hope something even
from the Bulgarian alternative. During the spring and summer of 1915 the
Russian campaign diverted the German resources for a while from the
meditated attack on Serbia. The position along the Danube became less
threatening. It became the German design to throw back Russia from
Galicia and Poland before she entered upon her great Near Eastern
enterprise. The result was a temporary lull for Serbia.

The British Government hoped to avail herself of this lull to bring
together the Balkan States. Bulgaria assumed a willingness to join the
Allies on the condition of certain large concessions of territory from
Greece and Serbia. M. Venizelos even went so far as to imperil his
position in Greece by suggesting consent. Mr. Lloyd George was now more
hopeful of bringing together the old Balkan Federation on these lines.
His general idea was that the Allies should occupy the zone of Macedonia
as disputed between Serbia and Bulgaria, on condition that if they could
secure Bosnia and Herzegovina for Serbia in the final settlement they
should then hand the disputed territory over to Bulgaria.

But the sacrifices of the Serbian people in the previous three years had
been too great for the Serbian Government to be able to bring them to
agree to so large a concession. The Serbians were still filled with the
glow of their triple repulse of Austria; and for the moment the new
danger seemed to have drawn off. The great European thunderstorm was now
echoing far away in the mountains of Carpathia and the plains of Poland.
It was difficult for the Serbians to realise at that moment that a time
would come when security would be cheap at a great price.

In April there came another twist in the devious track of Balkan
intrigue. M. Venizelos had tendered his first resignation, and
Constantine was entering upon his first effort to build up an absolute
monarchy in Athens. On April 15th the Crown Council made a sudden offer
to bring Greece into the war on the side of the Allies. The Allies
gravely suspected the honesty of this offer. They knew that Greece was
already hand in glove with Germany; and there were strong reasons to
believe that the Royalist Government could not be entrusted with Allied
secrets. In any case, the Allies sent no reply; and it was not until
Venizelos regained power that they resumed friendly negotiations with
the Greek Government.

All through this time Mr. Lloyd George himself was resolute against
having any dealings whatever with the King’s party in Greece. He took
the strong line that the Allies, as guarantors of the Greek
constitution, should refuse to negotiate with any Government which
existed in contradiction to the elementary principles of democratic
constitutionalism.[71]

At long last (1917) this policy prevailed. That ancient and historic
torch-bearer of freedom, Greece, swung round to our side. She ended by
resisting the despotisms of the North as she resisted the despotisms of
the East in olden days. King Constantine went into exile. M. Venizelos
became the ruler at Athens. He threw the sword of Greece into the
trembling scales of the great European struggle, and helped to decide
the issue.

The end justified the hope to which Mr. Lloyd George clung through the
darkest hours of Royal Greek apostasy.

But who shall say what might have happened if he had not, through the
black years of 1915 and 1916, kept alive in Western Europe the
flickering sparks of faith in Greece?

-----

[64] On Sunday, August 26th, 1917, at Athens, M. Venizelos revealed the
details of an earlier entente between Greece and the Allies, planned by
him before the battle of the Marne. It was frustrated by King
Constantine. The Greek White Paper since published fully confirms this.

[65] These were the main points. The actual conditions were very
complex:

    (_a_) That England should endeavour to bring about the
    collaboration of Bulgaria with Greece, in which case Greece
    would withdraw her opposition to Serbia ceding part of Macedonia
    to Bulgaria.

    (_b_) If this condition could not be obtained, then the Powers
    should obtain the co-operation of Rumania, and the neutrality of
    Bulgaria.

    (_c_) If not, then Greece must be assisted by a substantial
    British contingent, or a joint British and French contingent.

[66] This suggestion actually came from Sir John Stavridi, the Greek
Consul-General.

[67] See the Dardanelles Report _passim_, 1917, Cd. 8490.

[68] See Dardanelles Commission First Report, p. 39. “It can scarcely be
doubted that, had it not been for the Dardanelles Expedition, Bulgaria
would have joined the Central Powers at a far earlier date than was
actually the case. Mr. Asquith was strongly of this opinion in the
extracts quoted from his evidence. ‘Yes, I am certain of it,’ he said to
the Chairman.’” (Page 40.)

[69] The Greek White Book has revealed that an understanding existed
between Bulgaria, the Central Powers, and Turkey ever since August,
1914.

[70] Extract from his evidence in the Dardanelles Report.

[71] The treachery revealed by the Greek White Paper has since shown the
wisdom of this attitude. King Constantine, it is now known, was in close
and constant communication with the German Emperor.



                              CHAPTER  XVI


                                 SERBIA

    “We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in
    vain.”—ABRAHAM LINCOLN, 1863.

MR. LLOYD GEORGE now turned from the disappointments and tragedies of
the Near East to look more closely into the situation at home.

The opening of 1915 was a season of hope in Great Britain. The great
effort to force the Dardanelles filled the public mind with visions.
That attempt was then most lyrically applauded by those who afterwards
rushed to denounce it. The whole outlook was magically irradiated with
the mirage of that golden promise.

Here was a quick cure for all our troubles.

Men dreamt of a speedy blow that would cut off the Central Powers from
Turkey, and open to Russia an easy door to the West.

They thought little at that moment, and knew less, of the blows which
Germany was preparing for Russia.

The story of the Dardanelles expedition has been fully told.[72] We all
know the origin and history of that expedition, and can apportion with
some fairness the proper spheres of blame and praise. Mr. Lloyd George
took little active personal part in the planning and preparations for
it, though he was a member of the War Council, and later in June, became
a member of the Dardanelles Committee.[73] His own proposal had been
frustrated by events. Here was an alternative, hatched by other brains,
inspired by other hopes. It was a serious thing to oppose it outright.
His attitude from the beginning was one of suspended judgment.

“Whatever you do, do thoroughly; if you do it at all, put your full
strength into it”—that may be summed up as his constantly reiterated
counsel in regard to the Dardanelles.

If this advice had been adopted perhaps even that ill-starred enterprise
might have met with better fortune.

But meanwhile, on other fields of war a situation was developing even
more menacing to Europe as a whole. The great Teutonic attack on Russia
began to develop with terrible success in the early spring; and Mr.
Lloyd George took from the first a most serious view of this tremendous
onslaught.

In the middle of February vast new armies of Germans, prepared in the
winter, advanced to the invasion of Courland, Poland, and Galicia. The
Russian armies still in Eastern Prussia had been speedily driven back
across the frontier in wholesale defeat; and the northern German armies
began to advance on to Russian soil. In the centre of Eastern Europe the
Germans advanced victoriously to within fifty miles of Warsaw before
they met with a serious check. In the south the Austrians drove the
Russians from Bukovina. The whole German-Austrian line was advanced
throughout the length of Europe, from the Baltic Sea to the Carpathian
Mountains; and the hosts of the Central Empires were preparing for that
great dramatic thrust which in May drove the Russians clean out of
Galicia.



Such was the situation which British statesmen had now to face. It was
impossible to regard it with indifference.

Mr. Lloyd George refused to be deceived by any rosy hopes either in East
or West. His own view was that a firm grasp of reality was the first
step to success. Unless they looked facts in the face, they could not
grapple with them.

He came to be regarded as the Cassandra of the war; but, as Lord Morley
once remarked, the worst thing about Cassandra was that she proved to be
in the right!



Surveying the prospects of the great war in Europe as a whole, Mr. Lloyd
George was seriously concerned about several vital matters.

The most important of these was that, comparing the available military
man-power on both sides in this great contest, the Entente Allies were
at that moment hopelessly outnumbered.

Germany and Austria at that moment had under arms or preparing to be
armed—according to the intelligence supplied to the Government—no less
than 8,700,000 men. Turkey had 500,000; she was soon, indeed, to supply
a far greater number of her population as mercenaries to Germany.

On the other hand were France, Great Britain, Russia, and Serbia. Italy
had not yet come into the war; and America was still afar off. The
trouble with Russia was that, though she had such an immense population,
she had many exemptions and few rifles. France was always doing her very
best; but her census figures spoke for themselves. Great Britain was
doing wonders with her voluntary system. But the question now for the
first time faced him full front—Would our voluntary system suffice to
keep up our armies, much less to supply the still greater armies that
might be required for victory?

He still, at that moment, clung to the voluntary system. He thought that
the necessary men could be still obtained by the voluntary system if it
were properly applied. His own idea at that moment was that the best
method of obtaining these men along voluntary lines was to follow the
quota system. He was in favour of letting each county and town know
clearly what was the proper proportion of men for them to supply for the
national need, and then to leave the rest to local pressure and local
patriotism. He firmly believed that if, for instance, it was officially
announced that a particular county ought to supply, say, 10,000 men, and
if that county had hitherto supplied 6,000, the remaining 4,000 would be
forced to come in by the strength of local pride.

That scheme was never really tried. For some reason or other, there were
forces at work against the territorial system of recruiting ever since
the beginning of the war; and thus one of the greatest springs of
national energy remained untapped.

It was also his opinion that at that time the Dominions would send far
larger forces of men if they were fully informed about the real facts of
the situation, instead of being fed by news from agencies whose chief
motive seemed to be to feed the popular vanity. That sensible policy was
afterwards so strongly urged by Dominion statesmen that it was to some
small extent adopted.

Such were broadly Mr. Lloyd George’s views and feelings in February,
1915. He was still leaning to the Eastern field of war and looking out
anxiously for any chance of resuming his Eastern plan if Greece should
become more friendly or Bulgaria repent of her Teutonic affections. But
in the British scheme of war the plan of breaking through in the West
had now resumed its hold on military minds; and in March the new armies
made their first great attempt in the attack known as the battle of
Neuve Chapelle. The valour and heroism of our troops in that splendid
effort broke against the tangled defences of the German hosts; and in
April and March our armies were once more fighting for their bare
existence in the second battle of Ypres. In May came Dunajec, the
smashing climax to the onslaught of the Germans on the Russians in
Galicia.

Tremendously occupied as he was through the spring and summer with the
great national effort to supply our armies with adequate munitions, Mr.
Lloyd George was never blind or indifferent to the general trend of what
followed.

Events began to succeed one another with fearful rapidity. In May and
June the Russians were cleared out of Galicia. Then began that great
rush forward of the central German armies which swept over fortress
after fortress “like castles of sand,” and submerged all the fairest
towns of Western Central Russia.[74]

To these disasters there were, indeed, compensations in other fields of
war. On May 23rd Italy declared war against Austria. In July Botha
conquered South-West Africa. In the West the British and French troops
still held on against the overwhelming forces of Germany attempting to
snatch the Channel coast with every devilish device of gas and flame.

But, on the whole, the balance was against the Allies. The fact that
stared Mr. Lloyd George in the face, wherever he looked at the fields of
war, was that the Allied armies were outnumbered by the stupendous and
unexpected man-power of Central Europe.

It was this fact that led him in this autumn to give to the public the
first intimation that he, hitherto a convinced voluntaryist, was now
being converted, against his will, to compulsory military service. The
intimation was given in the preface written to a collection of his early
war speeches.[75]

In the burning words of that remarkable address to the nation he
communicated the views which he had slowly formed from a close and
prolonged study of the facts throughout the summer:

    “I know what we are doing: our exertions are undoubtedly
    immense. But can we do more, either in men or material? Nothing
    but our best and utmost can pull us through. Are we now
    straining every nerve to make up for lost time? Are we getting
    all the men we shall want to put into the fighting line next
    year to enable us even to hold our own? Does every man who can
    help, whether by fighting or by providing material, understand
    clearly that ruin awaits remissness?”

Then came the dramatic climax:

    “If the nation hesitates, when the need is clear, to take the
    necessary steps to call forth its manhood to defend honour and
    existence; if vital decisions are postponed until too late; if
    we neglect to make ready for all probable eventualities; if, in
    fact, we give ground for the accusation that we are slouching
    into disaster as if we were walking along the ordinary paths of
    peace without an enemy in sight—then I can see no hope. But if
    we sacrifice all we own, and all we like for our native land; if
    our preparations are characterised by grip, resolution, and a
    prompt readiness in every sphere—then victory is assured.”

The meaning of this appeal was obvious. “To call forth its manhood,”
could only mean conscription for the war; and it was to that policy,
indeed, that Mr. Lloyd George had been driven by what seemed to him the
inevitable logic of the terrible events in the fields of war. In no
other way, indeed, did he think that the effort could be sustained.

There was no man who had thrown himself more vigorously into the
volunteer recruiting campaign; there was no man who had more sincerely
believed in it. His speech to the young men at the City Temple on
November 10th, 1914, is a splendid expression of that appeal. It is
still the best attempt to argue with that extreme pacifist spirit which
he has always treated with respect—with that imaginative sympathy which
understands while it condemns.[76]

But now he had come—reluctantly but irrevocably—with the terrible
honesty of a man up against facts—to the conclusion that the voluntary
system would not suffice against this tornado. “You cannot haggle with
an earthquake.” Here was a thing that transcended all theories—a
convulsion of nature itself.

Having reached this conclusion, he never veered. He stood by silent
through all the experiments of those days—the “Derby scheme,” the
quarrel between the married and the single, the “starring” and
“unstarring”—until slowly the whole of the Ministry swung round to his
point of view. Assailed by old friends with a hurricane of
abuse—maligned and misinterpreted by men who season peace with
venom—he yet held on steadily to his view. There are many things one
has to dare and endure for country and fatherland. Perhaps the hardest
thing of all in this country is to profess a change of opinion.

“They say—let them say.” He paid little attention to these assaults.
More terrible things were absorbing his attention.

The failure of the purely naval attack on the Dardanelles on March 18th
(1915) had been followed by the military preparations and landing on
April 25th, and the subsequent great military offensive on the heights
of Gallipoli. By the end of July that offensive had failed. At this
point in the development of events—at the end of July—Mr. Lloyd George
now definitely again urged on his colleagues in the Government to
consider once more the plan of going to the assistance of Serbia as
alternative to going further forward with the Gallipoli attack. At this
time he was very busy with his munition campaign in the country. But on
the few occasions when he was able to take part in the deliberations of
the Dardanelles Committee his attitude always was—the Germans are going
to break through Serbia as soon as they can; so either make certain of
getting to Constantinople quickly, or consider whether you ought not to
go to the assistance of Serbia with all the strength you can command.
The forces on Gallipoli were obviously the nearest available for such a
rescue. The alternative adopted of a renewed attack on Gallipoli by way
of Suvla Bay in August only resulted in a more tragic and wasteful
failure.

His forebodings in regard to Serbia were destined to be very quickly
fulfilled, for in October (1915) began that dastardly combined attack on
Serbia which Mr. Lloyd George had foreseen since the beginning of the
year. The Germans had now finished for the moment with Russia. With
deadly method they turned to their next victim; and now the Bulgarians
from the south and the Teutons from the north closed on that unhappy
little country.

Mr. Lloyd George witnessed this assault with an anguish of soul
inevitable to one born and bred in a little nation himself. Even at this
last hour he did his utmost to rescue Serbia from her fate. He racked
his brains to devise some method of saving Serbia. He pressed the
military authorities with a vehemence inconvenient in a world of steady
routine and disciplined ideas. He agitated, argued, pleaded.

But by this time the facts were too strong even for him. Between us and
Serbia lay a Royalist Greece now indifferent if not actually hostile,
coldly resolved to abandon her pledged word. Rumania was still
hesitating and fearful. Russia was for the moment exhausted. No help was
near enough to hand to save the doomed victim.

So the British Government were compelled to stand by helpless while the
very nation on whose account the war broke out was conquered and
outraged, her armies scattered, her population enslaved, and her
children scattered like sheep through the mountains.[77] No more tragic
chapter is recorded in the annals of Europe.

But the mischief did not end there. Not only did the conquest of Serbia
give to Germany the great link with the East for which she yearned, but
it completely destroyed all our remaining chances of success on
Gallipoli. The very enterprise which had already taken the place of the
Serbian expedition became futile from the moment of the Serbian
disaster. In the beginning of October the Turks had been running so
seriously short of ammunition that success for our arms seemed near at
hand. By the end of the month they were fully replenished. The
enterprise became plainly impossible from the moment that Germany,
having now, by the conquest of Serbia and the coming in of Bulgaria,
achieved a direct route to Constantinople, could pour through as much
ammunition and as many big guns as the Turks required for their
defence.[78]

On December 19th began the withdrawal from that fatal peninsula, and on
January 8th of the following year not a single British soldier remained
on those bloodstained shores.

Is it not possible that the more chivalrous and vigorous action on
behalf of Serbia for which Mr. Lloyd George had so importunately pressed
might have been also the best policy for the prosperity of the Allies in
the war as a whole?

-----

[72] In two Reports, 1917—Cd. 8490 6^{d} and Cmd. 371, 2^{s} (Part II).
The second, dealing with the military operations, is very sensational,
and has not received enough attention.

[73] The Dardanelles Committee, which took over the control of the war
from the War Council on June 7th, 1915, consisted of eleven members of
the Coalition Government. The War Council were all Liberals. That was
superseded on November 3rd, 1915, by the War Committee, consisting of
seven Ministers. Mr. Lloyd George was a member of all these Committees.

[74] Swallowing up Warsaw on August 4th, Ivangorod on August 5th,
Siedlce on August 12th, Kovno on August 17th, Novo-Georgievsk on August
19th, Brest-Litovsk on August 25th, and Grodno on September 2nd.

[75] _Through Terror to Triumph._ Arranged by F. L. Stevenson, B.A.
(Lond.) (Hodder & Stoughton.)

[76] “To precipitate ideals is to retard their advent. . . . The surest
method of establishing the reign of peace on earth is by making the way
of the transgressor of the peace of nations too hard for the rulers of
men to tread.”

[77] Some 30,000 Serbian boys were sent across the mountains to the sea
to escape from the invader. Less than half reached the sea.

[78] See Lord Kitchener’s final telegram of November 22nd, 1915, which
decided the War Cabinet to evacuate (p. 57 of Pt. II, the Final Report
of the Dardanelles Commission).



                             CHAPTER  XVII


                               MUNITIONS

    “Like a rickety, clumsy machine, with a pin loose here, and a
    tooth broken there, and a makeshift somewhere else, in which the
    force of Hercules may be exhausted in a needless friction, and
    obscure hitches before the hands are got to move, so is our
    Executive, with the Treasury, the Horse Guards, the War
    Department, the Medical Department, all out of gear, but all
    required to move together before a result can be obtained. He
    will be stronger than Hercules who can get out of it the
    movement we require”—Colonel Lefroy’s letter to Miss Florence
    Nightingale, Sir Edward Cook’s _Life of Miss Florence
    Nightingale_, vol. i. pp. 322-3.

FROM the early days of the war Mr. Lloyd George had perceived that there
were two great difficulties ahead of us—men and the arming of men—and
that perhaps the greater of the two was the arming.[79] For the first
year, at any rate, the question of men seemed to present little
difficulty. England’s manhood came flocking to the banner of Lord
Kitchener. The great multitudes of free citizens who freely poured into
the recruiting offices after the retreat from Mons, will always be one
of the most splendid episodes in our history. The patience and
valour—the good-humour and endurance—of those first armies of
“Kitcheners” will always add an imperishable glory to the name of him
who summoned them.

So far, indeed, “nought shall make us rue.” England rested true to
herself and her great cause.

But it was not enough to gather the legions. It was necessary also to
arm them. Here it soon became clear that we were up against a new
portent. The stupendous war equipment of the German armies, both in guns
and in munitions, has since become a commonplace; at that time it was a
wonder and a surprise. The War Office went into the war still thinking
in terms of the Boer War, when machine-guns were a new miracle and
shrapnel was the last word in shells. They found themselves faced with
an army in which machine-guns had become a multitudinous commonplace and
shrapnel was already the humble servant of the high-explosive shell.

This was clearly, from the first, a struggle of machinery. It was not an
old-fashioned war. It was a war monstrously new—a fight against a
people immensely modern and scientific, as high in skill as they were
low in ruth, armed cap-à-pie with every device of destruction, sharpened
to the finest edge on the whetstone of prepared war.

All this has since become a commonplace; it is Mr. Lloyd George’s
distinction that he perceived it clearly in the autumn of 1914. Then in
the Cabinet he already insisted on the need for increased armaments. He
preached in season and out of season the need for guns; and in the
autumn of 1914 the Cabinet Committee, of which he was a member, forced
the War Office to order 4,000 guns instead of 600 for the following year
(1915).

But as the weeks passed a situation began to arise which threw even this
provision into the shade of inadequacy. It became clear that we had to
help in the munitioning of our Allies. There was France—early in the
war she lost her richest industrial districts. With splendid promptitude
she had organised her factories for the making of guns, shells, and
rifles. But she required to be supplied with the raw materials now
lacking to her.

A far graver need was soon to arise in Russia. The German victories of
1915 placed Germany in possession of 70 per cent of the Russian
steel-producing area. Her millions from that time required arming, not
merely for victory, but also, it soon became clear, even for
defence.[80]

To meet this colossal situation Great Britain was but poorly provided.
The Navy absorbed for her great needs the principal national engineering
resources of the country. The only British military machine of
munition-supply at the opening of the war was the Ordnance Department of
the War Office. Nothing could exceed the devotion and zeal of the men at
the head of that office. But it was hopelessly under-equipped for so
great a call. It was wanting in staff, resources, and ideas. It was
perilously detached from our great civilian industries. It found itself
faced with unparalleled difficulties of material and labour. For with
the opening of the war we were cut off from some of our most important
raw ingredients for explosives; and the very fervour of our first great
recruiting campaign, too little directed and restricted, denuded the
possible workshops of war.

There were many crises in this situation. One of the gravest occurred in
the late autumn of 1914, when we were faced with a complete inability to
supply the army with explosives for the making of mines. How that
situation was met by a group of civil servants and public men, and its
first acuteness lessened by the formation of an Explosives Committee in
the Board of Trade under Lord Moulton has already been revealed by Lord
Moulton himself.[81] It is one of the great stories of the war.

But no such departmental devices could long suffice to meet the terrific
call of the situation as a whole. As the weeks passed, it gradually
became clear to Mr. Lloyd George that, if we were to be saved, a
tremendous and radical change was required. This was nothing less than
the calling to our aid in this war all those great manufacturing
resources of the nation which had given us our ascendancy in peace.

The manufacturers, indeed, were quite willing to come. They needed no
call. They were eager to help. They already clamoured at the door.

But the soldier is not suited by the traditions of his calling to work
easily with the civilian. That very virtue of iron discipline which is
the habit of war militated against the free play of mind essential to a
new development of industry. There is a story of a great business man
from the North of England who, after being summoned to the War Office
for the transaction of business, was kept waiting for two hours, and
then told that the officer in command had gone off for his lunch. He is
said to have picked up his hat and said decisively: “Tell the General
that if he wants me again he must send a battalion to fetch me.” It was
a fair reminder that there are limits to the power of mere military
discipline.

Those who lived in the centre of things during the spring of 1915 will
remember the flood of such narratives—many of them told to the House of
Commons[82]—which came from the mouths of indignant and offended
manufacturers. Offers were rejected which afterwards proved essential.
Orders were given and then forgotten. Machinery was set up and then not
used. There was devotion and zeal; but there was no adequate
organisation to meet the demands of the present, and no proper foresight
as to the needs of the future.

Lord Kitchener, indeed, had a deserved reputation for organising
capacity; but that eminent man was hopelessly overwhelmed. It was the
fault of those who expected too much of him—who first spoke of him as a
god and finally treated him as a dog. Reluctantly giving up Egypt for
the War Office, Lord Kitchener found himself in control of a ship
unmanned. The splendid military staff gathered at the War Office had
been scattered to all the fields of war. He found himself very much
alone. He felt compelled to act as his own Chief of Staff, his own
organiser of recruiting, his own controller of supplies. Among his great
gifts he did not possess that of easy and swift delegation. He saw that
the War Office required to be built up afresh; but he did not feel equal
to building it up during a great war. The result was that he took too
much on himself, and most lamentably diminished his own splendid utility
in the process.

Such a method was certain to lead to neglect and delay in some of the
chief functions of war. All were delayed and many were neglected. But
where delay and neglect met in most disastrous combinations was in this
matter of the supply of the munitions of war.

So grave did this defect become that it threatened our cause before long
with irretrievable disaster. It was only a great effort of the whole
nation, combined in one common impulse of energy, that saved the cause.

In that effort Mr. Lloyd George took a great and leading part.



His plea for guns in the autumn of 1914 was followed up by a visit to
France, where he was enabled to obtain insight into the great effort of
industrial reorganisation which had enabled France to rearm after the
loss of the North, and the shock of the German invasion. He returned
with a full report on this achievement, due to the great energy and
splendid public spirit of that great Frenchman, M. Albert Thomas.

Mr. Lloyd George proposed to the Cabinet that Great Britain should
follow in the steps of France. Mr. Asquith was quite willing; and a
Cabinet Committee was set up with advisory powers to work out the
details. The Committee sat at the War Office with Lord Kitchener in the
chair. The matter was fully discussed. The War Office appeared to agree
to adopt the French scheme. Weeks passed. Then it was discovered that
little or no action had been taken. It was clear that it was the
executive arm which was at fault.

The winter months passed, and there was little quickening of energy.
Hundreds of thousands of the Kitchener recruits were without clothes,
arms, rifles, or guns. Rumours and murmurs began to come from the front
of the tremendous British losses from superior German guns.

In February a new danger became instantly vital. The news came from the
East of Europe of the definite breakdown of the Russian armaments. Their
gigantic armies threatened to become unarmed mobs.

In the West things were little better. During February and March fuller
details began to reach London—of one British machine-gun against ten
German; of four British shells against forty German. The suppression of
the free and independent War Correspondent had cast a veil of silence
over the realities of the war. The truth was struggling to come through;
and not all the efforts of all the censors could entirely suffocate and
strangle it. But it meant that any zealous Minister had to fight hard
against a lethal atmosphere of secrecy that soon bred ignorance.

Against this atmosphere Mr. Lloyd George persistently battled; and in
the early weeks of April he made a fresh appeal for further speeding up.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Asquith) agreed. On April 13th (1915) he
appointed a strong Munitions Committee, known as the Treasury Committee,
consisting of Ministers, civil servants and experts, with Mr. Lloyd
George in the chair.[83]

That Committee had no executive powers. It could only co-ordinate
departments, and make suggestions. It was no more than a departmental
Committee; but, in spite of this shortcoming it was able to give
valuable advice, much of which was acted upon. It supplied new ideas. It
was often able to meet special emergencies.

But from the very beginning this Committee suffered from one grave,
paralysing defect: it could obtain no full or comprehensive view of the
needs and demands of the war. Perhaps the chiefs of the War Office did
not know themselves. In the hurry and bustle of war perhaps it is not
incredible they had no leisure to take the larger and longer view. But
in a long war that view was indispensable to action. The result of that
ignorance, therefore, was fatal to this Committee. It never knew enough
to act or decide with effect. Lord Kitchener may have had his reasons;
but the fact stands out that he refrained from arming this important
Munitions Committee of April and May, 1915, with the full knowledge
necessary for real power.

At this point an astonishing thing occurred. The Western Army took the
matter into their own hands.

There are many things that fighting men will endure—incredible
tortures, surpassing those of the early martyrs. But there is one thing
which always tries them beyond the limit: that is to be hit without the
power of hitting back—to be shelled without being able to shell. Such
was now (in April and May, 1915) the intolerable situation of the men
under General French’s command in France.[84] They decided that it was
not their duty to accept this cruel fate without some effort to find a
cure.

They found their applications misunderstood, ignored, postponed. They
realised that Ministers were not allowed to know the truth. They
gathered from his public utterance at Newcastle on April 20th[85] that
the truth was being concealed even from the Prime Minister (Mr. Asquith)
himself. They perceived that the public were blind-folded. They
determined to take steps to open their eyes.

With this design and object, the Headquarters Staff in France invited
certain famous journalists and publicists to the front to witness for
themselves the results of the lack of proper shells in the attack on the
Aubers ridge.[86] Most of those visitors found themselves helpless in
the grip of a double censorship—in France and in England. One of them,
however, the famous military correspondent of the _Times_,[87] wrote his
despatch on the spot and sent it through the censorship of the field of
battle, severe indeed, but on this occasion, perhaps, a little more
friendly. In this way, and thanks to the historic prestige of the great
organ which published it, there appeared in the _Times_ of May 14th,
1915, that famous message from the front, “mutilated and twice
censored,”[88] which itself proved so powerful a petard.

“The want of an unlimited supply of high explosive was a fatal bar to
our success”—that was the verdict of the _Times_ correspondent; and it
was confirmed by every observer and every soldier at the front,
including the soldier members of the House of Commons. Once the word was
uttered in public, the floodgates were opened. It was in vain that the
Government tried to stem the torrent of evidence. Lord Kitchener rose on
May 18th to make a statement in the House of Lords; but in that speech
he showed that strange habit of the unexpected which baulked even his
friends. For, instead of denying, he practically admitted the
indictment, and for the first time stated in public what seemed to
contradict the Newcastle utterance of the Prime Minister—that there had
been “undoubtedly considerable delay in producing the material.”

This was indeed a mild way of stating the true facts. These continued
now to pour through from the front with all the indecency of truth
emancipated. The order-paper of the House of Commons began to bristle
with questions and threats of debate; and it was only on the plea of
public emergency that the Government postponed crisis.

On the following day Mr. Lloyd George received information which more
than confirmed the statement of the _Times_ correspondent. He realised
with amazement that the Munitions Committee had been kept in ignorance
of essentials; that the mainspring had been missing from the watch. He
determined to resign from a function so void of power; and on May 19th
he wrote a letter announcing his decision, and giving his grave and
weighty reasons. He refused to remain chairman of a Committee which had
no real executive power.

The situation now moved rapidly.

On the afternoon of that day (May 19th) Mr. Asquith announced to the
House of Commons that the Liberal Government which had been in power
since 1910 had ceased to exist, and that he proposed to reconstruct the
Government “on a broader personal and political basis.” In other words,
he had decided for Coalition.

It was a wise and prudent decision. The Opposition had full grasp of the
situation at the front. They had not yet manœuvred for battle, but there
was already forming in the minds of their leaders the conviction that
they could no longer accept the responsibility of a silence which would
inevitably spell complicity. If they were to continue silent they must
share the government. The only alternative was the open scandal of a
bitter party struggle, not without the possibility of grave injury to
national interests.

But a Coalition Government alone was not enough. It was necessary to
have some guarantee that the general calamitous shortage of
munitions[89] should not continue. It is not the habit of England to
send her youth unarmed to face her enemies. At all costs this grievous
peril must cease.

But it was already clear to all parties that the War Office was far too
heavily burdened to continue bearing this responsibility. There must be
a division of function. Lord Kitchener must be left to raise the armies.
Another office must take over the duty of arming and equipping them.
From this conviction arose the idea of a new Department—the Ministry of
Munitions—for which Mr. Lloyd George was already, by the unanimous
voice of public opinion, declared elect.

So on May 25th, 1915, after seven years as Chancellor of the Exchequer,
Mr. Lloyd George closed the door of the Treasury behind him and became
the first British Minister of Munitions. It was a great adventure. He
was leaving behind him the secure vantage of an old historic Department.
He was entering upon a region unexplored, without map or compass,
without precedent or guide.

-----

[79] “What we stint in materials we squander in life; that is the one
great lesson of munitions.”—Mr. Lloyd George in the House of Commons,
December 21st, 1915.

[80] The evidence in the Sukhomikoff trial has now brought out the
immensity of this shortcoming, not then fully divulged to the British
Government by the Russian governing power.

[81] See his evidence in the Mond libel action.

[82] See Debate of April 22nd, 1915. Mr. Bonar Law gave some striking
instances.

[83] Among the other members of that Committee were Mr. Balfour, Mr.
Montagu, Mr. George Booth, Sir Herbert Llewellyn Smith, Admiral Tudor,
and General Von Donop. Mr. Lloyd George made on April 22nd, 1915, a
statement in the House of Commons as to the work achieved by this
Committee.

[84] See his statement to the _Journal_ correspondent in September 1917.

[85] “I saw a statement the other day that the operations, not only of
our Army, but of our Allies were being crippled, or at any rate
hampered, by our failure to provide the necessary ammunition. There is
not a word of truth in that statement.” (Loud cheers.) _Times_ report.

[86] See the full account in Lord French’s “1914.” His statements have
not in substance been affected by the controversies which have raged
round this book.

[87] Lieutenant-Colonel Charles A’Court Repington, C.M.G.

[88] See the _Times_ leading article. But on May 18th Mr. Asquith said
in the House of Commons that the despatch was censored in France and Mr.
Tennant added that it never came before the British Censorship. The open
official chagrin at its emergence into print is one of the most
significant features of the whole episode.

[89] Of all munitions, not only explosives. It proved subsequently that
the chief want was big guns for the high-explosive shells and that the
smaller guns were better suited with shrapnel.



                             CHAPTER  XVIII


                     THE NEW MINISTRY OF MUNITIONS

             “Now all the youth of England is on fire,
             And silken dalliance in the wardrobe lies;
             Now thrive the armourers, and honour’s thought
             Reigns solely in the breast of every man.”
               _Henry V_, Prologue to Act II.

THE little group of men whom Mr. Lloyd George assembled round him at No.
6, Whitehall Gardens, during the Whit-week of 1915, certainly seemed to
have no easy task before them. A new Ministry had been founded, and a
Bill to define its functions was being drawn up. But the Ministry
possessed neither buildings nor staff, neither furniture nor office
paper. It stepped forth into the world bare as a new-born babe.[90]

Even when its functions had been defined by Act of Parliament there
always hung about this enterprise an atmosphere of indefinable
adventure. Its relations to other Departments, and especially to the War
Office, were never precisely defined. It was always the parvenu of
Ministries. Throughout the crises of 1915 and 1916 it carried with it
the spirit of Esau, its hand against every man and every man’s hand
against it.

After all, that was precisely the kind of office for which Mr. Lloyd
George was best fitted. He was ever impatient of precedents; here was a
case where he had to make his own precedents. He always loved
trespassing. Here was an office where every movement was practically a
raid on the ground sacred to some other Department.

He was never in the least troubled by the restrictions of the situation.
He soon found out one vital fact—that our supply of shells had sunk to
75,000. But he rapidly grasped that there were many other things
required for success besides shells. There were, for instance, guns to
fire them from—big guns such as were entirely lacking at that time. In
June of 1915, finding that he still could obtain no sure or certain idea
of what was needed at the front, he travelled to Boulogne, and met a
little party of officers, many of them French, in a small café. The
party consisted partly of Generals, and partly of regimental officers.
He listened to all; for he wanted to know what was wanted in the
firing-line as much as what was thought to be wanted at Headquarters. He
closely questioned the French artillerists as to the number of guns they
were using. General Du Cane[91] was there from our Headquarters’ Staff;
and he brought with him a full report of what guns were required
according to their views.

Mr. Lloyd George began to realise that the need for big guns was the
centre of the situation.

After his cross-examination was over, Mr. Lloyd George turned to General
Du Cane:

“Don’t you think you had better go back and revise your estimates?”

General Du Cane promptly agreed—he had himself been converted. He went
back to Headquarters.

At midday there was a break in these urgent talks. M. Albert Thomas
suggested that in the afternoon they ought to have a formal meeting to
go into the whole subject.

“I am sorry,” said Mr. Lloyd George, “but I must get back to England.”

“Go back already?”

“Yes, already—there is not a moment to be lost. These big guns must be
ordered.”

He went back. A revived estimate of the munition requirements in France
was sent to Whitehall. Mr. Lloyd George increased that estimate. He sent
it across to Lord Kitchener. The great man, willing but doubtful of our
resources, sent it back with a comment: “That will take three
years.”[92]

Mr. Lloyd George then called together all the heads of the armament
firms. He laid the scheme before them. They viewed it with grave doubts.
They produced laborious estimates—discussed—consulted their chiefs.

Mr. Lloyd George put aside all the papers.

“Gentlemen,” he said, “this has to be done if the country is to be
saved. You will do it!”

There was nothing more to be said. They went away to do it; and they did
it.

The high officials responsible for financial control were a little
disturbed at his way of conducting business. Later on, yet more guns
were ordered, and official protests from other Departments were carried
up to the highest quarters. But before a decision could be reached the
orders had been given out, and the great guns—the guns that saved
France and England—were on the way.[93]

That was characteristic of his way of using the new machinery of the new
Ministry.



How this new Department of State was gradually built up; how picked men
from all over the country, and from the Civil Service, were gathered to
the side of the new Minister; how buildings were secured from day to day
for the work of administration; how excessive hours were worked and
excessive risks were run by old as well as young, and women as well as
men,—this story has already been largely told in the Parliamentary
statements of the Munition Ministers,[94] and it is one of the most
romantic and thrilling chapters in the history of the war.

There are one or two features in the history of this movement which
especially illustrate the characteristics of Mr. Lloyd George and his
power of appeal to the public.

The first of these was the rally of the business men of England in
response to his call. The British commercial classes were not, in the
period before the war, particularly attached to Mr. Lloyd George. They
had some “bones to pick” with him. But it must be said, to their eternal
credit, that when they realised the need of their country the old
hatchet was at once put underground. They came in hundreds to help him.
Many of them came without price, leaving their own factories and
workshops, putting aside their chance of personal profit, and content to
live on such salaries as their business could afford them. It is true
that many of them have risen to high honour in this service. It is well
that it should be so.

Happily there is sufficient soul of good in things to justify sacrifice
and even to reward it. It is no ill thing that many of these men have
risen to high honour and blazoned their names on the roll of England’s
noblest servants.

But it was not only the commercial men that came forward voluntarily to
answer the call. The Civil Servants also volunteered from all branches
of the Service to undertake increased responsibility without additional
gain. It was laid down from the beginning that none of those Civil
Servants who came into the Munition Service should receive extra pay for
extra work. Second division clerks raised to higher posts still
continued to receive the old salaries; so great was the eagerness to
save the country that men worked overtime without complaint, and there
were in those early days many men who came suspiciously near to working
night shifts as well as day.

It was precisely the combination of the best Civil Servants with the
best commercial men that gave to the Ministry of Munitions such a
marvellous touch of efficiency. Manufacturers coming up from the
provinces were now pleasantly surprised to find a new swiftness of
despatch in the conduct of their business. Every one brought into touch
with the Ministry of Munitions found a new spirit which seemed to give a
new hope for the government of this country. There was a certain thrill
about the most common affairs within those walls. Every servant of the
Ministry, down to the very boys and girls who carried the messages,
seemed to feel that they were called to a high task for a great end. It
was in this spirit that this great effort was undertaken and sustained
throughout the years that followed. At the same time the country as a
whole found itself provided at last with a capable machinery for using
its services. Not only was the centre quickened and sharpened to new
uses, but the whole of the United Kingdom was mapped out and in every
district there sat a Committee who formed a careful estimate of the
resources of that area.[95]

On the basis of that estimate there now began to grow up, as if by
magic, that vast network of new war factories which saved the armies in
France. The factories grew up chiefly near the iron and coal which
provided the raw material of munitions and handy to the great supplies
of skilled labour.[96]

But no adjustment could avoid a great upheaval of social life. For it
was part of this great change that a vast mass of labour must be
transferred from the industries of peace to the industries of war.

It was also part of the great stress of this crisis that the State must
be sure of its labour and that it must be able to draw from that labour
the utmost power of effort, sustained and continued through a prolonged
period of time.

Here lay the necessity for a new War Labour policy, difficult and
delicate to justify and administer, but indispensable for the safety of
the country.

It was clearly impossible to guarantee the adequate war output of this
vast aggregate of factories and workshops on the basis of the old peace
conditions—with an uncertain supply of skilled labour shifting about
from shop to shop along the ordinary channels of demand and supply. The
habit of “stealing” labour by the offer of higher wages had already
grown to so high a point in the early days of the war that the Munitions
Committee had had to issue an order under the Defence of the Realm Act
making it an offence to “entice.”[97] Thus the peace freedom of movement
had already been suspended. But now it was necessary to carry the
restrictions further and to guarantee to the nation at war a hold on its
workmen similar in kind, though not in degree, to the hold on its
soldiers.

Mr. Lloyd George characteristically wished to make the bold appeal, and
to say to the workmen: “Submit to the same discipline as your sons in
the trenches. Place yourselves under the same law, with this only
difference—that you are better-paid men.”[98] But this proposal, when
laid before the leaders of the Trade Unions, met with fierce opposition.
The “conscription of labour,” as it was called, was denounced as a “new
slavery.” Some degree of national consent to such a measure was plainly
necessary. So that proposal was dropped, and the Ministry of Munitions
set out to search for a new policy.

The policy finally agreed upon took shape in the first Munitions Act and
the subsequent amending measures. Round those measures a great strife
afterwards arose, and it may be worth while to say something as to their
origin and justification.

It was absolutely necessary, if the armies were to be properly supplied
with the immense mass of munitions required, that the workers should
both consent to the limitation of their freedom of movement and should
also suspend a number of those limitations and conditions of toil which
had been won in the course of the long conflict between Capital and
Labour.

It was desirable to come to a bargain; and with that view the Trade
Unions were consulted at every point. If the Government must trust
Labour, Labour must also trust the Government. Labour must have
assurance that a temporary suspension of conditions should not prejudice
the position in time of peace. That assurance had been already given,
and was now formally embodied in the Munitions Act.[99]

On these broad lines had grown up this Concordat, which, with all its
frictions and inevitable misunderstandings, still carried the country
through the moments of gravest peril. The liberty of Labour was gravely
restricted; but the great and sufficient reward for such a sacrifice to
every patriotic workman always was the knowledge that brave lives were
being saved and brave hearts sustained at the front. Another important
thing was that the country was being saved also.

Certainly the restrictions were very formidable. No workman or workwoman
could leave their employment in the war factory without a special
“leaving certificate.” All rules or customs restricting labour were
suspended; no strikes were allowed; and all questions of wages and hours
were to be settled by compulsory arbitration. To administer these rules
Munition Tribunals were set up in every district; and they had powers of
inflicting heavy fines. Such provisions must depend largely on the good
faith and good-will of employers; and there must always be some who will
not “play the game.” Hence the chronic movements of revolt—the rise of
the shop stewards, the engineers’ strike, the war-weariness of so many
industrial districts in the summer of 1917.

In the autumn of 1917 Mr. Winston Churchill, the new Minister of
Munitions, found it possible to suspend the leaving certificate and to
slacken some of these conditions. But there could be no doubt as to
their necessity up to that time.

The sole and sufficient excuse for these grave restrictions of liberty
was always the war, and the war alone. War is a terrible master; and
wherever he raises his head, few escape his tyranny. All that can be
said is that, with all their troubles, the sufferings of the men in the
workshops were as grains in the balance against the sufferings of the
men in the trenches.

But, even so, the work of the men alone was not enough to meet the need.
Other sources of labour must be tapped. It was now necessary to call in
the women to the aid of the men.

Mr. Lloyd George ventured on a bold appeal. He asked the women to come
from their pleasures and their comforts; he asked them to save the lives
of their brothers, their sweethearts, and their husbands. They came in
multitudes. They filled the ranks, and they filled the shells.[100] They
silenced their sourest critics, even in their own sex. They worked by
day and they worked by night. They earned for themselves a new position
in the State. They showed that women could be patriots themselves, as
well as the wives and mothers of patriots. Not easily will England
forget those splendid women of 1915-18.

As for Mr. Lloyd George himself, he worked as hard as any one in the
ranks of this new Labour Army. He was here, there, and everywhere. All
through the summer of 1915 he travelled over the country, appealing,
stimulating, and even when necessary rebuking. He visited all the
industrial centres. He spoke straight to the English working classes;
and it was only their worst friends who resented his honesty. He told
them to suspend their peace weaknesses in this supreme hour; and he told
them, as John Stuart Mill told them once before, where their chief
weakness lay. He set up a Drink Control Board, as well as Munition
Tribunals; and all that was best and most loyal among the artisans
acquiesced. _Ça ira_; the plan worked; the machine began to do its duty.

Nothing was left undone. To fill up the ranks, unskilled men were
trained to do the work of skilled. The Board of Trade organised a
special army of Munition Volunteers. In the autumn of 1915 there was a
great effort, in conjunction with the War Office, to bring back from the
front some thousands[101] of those numerous munition workers,
iron-workers, and miners who had been allowed to recruit in the first
fine flush of the recruiting enthusiasm in 1914.

Mr. Lloyd George gave his whole mind to this one question—the making of
war material. He had, as we have seen, found the Army with only 75,000
shells in hand in June, 1915; when he left the Ministry in June, 1916,
he had provided shells in millions. He himself mastered the technique of
shell-making and gun-making; he visited the factories and studied the
machinery; he listened to every complaint from the soldiers at the
front; he investigated every defect.

The real secret, indeed, of his work was that he kept in touch with the
armies at the Western Front, constantly visiting them, studying their
needs on the spot, listening to the actual fighting men. Above all he
studied the German inventions. After a short while, thanks to the
labours of our young scientists from the Universities, he was able to
provide our soldiers with gas-masks that enabled them to face unshaken
the worst deviltry of the enemy, and with gas that was a fit reply to
theirs. He provided our men with flame-throwers which made them a fair
match when they faced the flame-throwers of the Teuton.

I remember his taking me, one day in 1915, to see his little collection
of these horrible devices in the basement of the old Metropole Hotel. He
showed me the model shells, mounting by slow gradations to a giant’s
height. He lingered halfway along this row of shells. He put his hand on
one. “When I started the Ministry,” he said, “our shells went only as
high as this. The German shells went to the top of the range. Was that
fair to our soldiers?” It was a vivid illustration of what they were
achieving.

So this gigantic new organisation was built up, and gradually brought
its full weight into the struggle. Its functions were constantly
enlarging. By proved fitness to rule over one city this new Ministry
soon achieved the right to rule over ten. From supplying it took to
making, from making it took to designing, and to designing after its own
ideas. The great net-work of its new factories gradually spread over the
land. Greatly daring, it built; it housed; it fed. From a servant it
became a master. In August, 1915, it took over from the War Office the
Royal Factory at Woolwich; and so it became the supreme war-maker of the
nation.

Meanwhile, the soldiers at the front grew more confident and serene.
They felt the support of the great working nation behind them. They grew
more confident of supremacy. They knew that even the women-kind were
“doing their bit.” In each great battle, as the shells swept over their
heads, they felt a new power at work in their favour.[102] They “went
over the top” with the knowledge that the mailed fist of Prussia was to
be met with the iron hammer of England.

To this new feeling and the confidence born of it we may largely
attribute the great victories of the Somme, the storming of the Vimy
Ridge, and the smashing onslaught on Messines.



Many Englishmen, great and small, have a right to share in the glory of
this great work. We must not forget those men who, before the great
central crisis arose, battled alone against a sea of errors and failings
in high places—great civil servants like Sir Hubert Llewellyn Smith, or
great public servants like Lord Moulton. Such men do not labour in the
limelight. We must remember their services.

Nor must we forget loyal political helpers like Dr. Addison, Mr. Lloyd
George’s first lieutenant at the Ministry, and Mr. Montagu, his
successor.

But, when all is said and done, the man who did the deed was Mr. Lloyd
George. Without his resolution and decision England would have fared
badly in that dark hour. It was he who designed, directed, and completed
this noble and stupendous endeavour. It was he who carried it through.
It was he who, when others failed, armed and strengthened our armies. It
is scarcely too much to say that it was he who, under Providence, saved
England.

-----

[90] See Dr. Addison’s description (House of Commons, June 28th, 1917):
“There was to be one aim, and one aim only—to obtain the goods and make
delivery of them to the Army. No other interests and no considerations
of leisure were to be entertained.”

[91] Lieutenant-General Sir John Philip Du Cane, Major-General R.A.,
G.H.Q., 1915. Afterwards British representative with Marshal Foch.

[92] Similarly, to Lord French he said eight years (_Journal_ interview,
Sept. 1917).

[93] Mr. Montagu, in the House of Commons, on August 16th, 1916, said
openly that “Mr. Lloyd George ordered far more guns than were thought by
the War Office to be necessary, and yet received new requirements
showing that he had not ordered enough.”

[94] Mr. Lloyd George’s statement of December 21st, 1915, Mr. Montagu’s
statement of August 16th, 1916, and Dr. Addison’s statement of June
28th, 1917.

[95] Twelve areas: England and Wales, 8; Scotland, 2; Ireland, 2; 40
local Munition Committees in the engineering centres consisting of local
business men. (Mr. Lloyd George, December 21st, 1915.)

[96] Within a year the labour employed on munitions had gone up from
1,635,000 to 2,250,000, and there were 32 national shell factories, 12
for projectiles, 6 for cartridges, etc. (Mr. Montagu, August 1915.)

[97] There had also been in March an agreement between the Government
and the Trade Unions called the Treasury Agreement, and administered by
a Labour Advisory Committee. The general line of that agreement was an
understanding to suspend restrictive Trade Union practices in return for
a promise to tax excess profits.

[98] He put this appeal very strongly in a speech to the engineers at
Cardiff on June 11th, 1915.

[99] Clause 20 of the main Act: “This Act shall have effect only so long
as the Office of Minister of Munitions and the Ministry of Munitions
exist.”

[100] At Woolwich alone the number of women workers rose from 125 to
25,000.

[101] 40,000 soldiers were brought back. In addition, there are 38,000
War Munition Volunteers, and 30,000 Army Reserve Munition Workers. (Dr.
Addison’s speech.)

[102] By August 1916 the high-explosive shells had been increased by 66
per cent.; there had been a 14-fold increase of machine-guns; and a
33-fold increase of bombs. Every month saw as many great guns
manufactured as existed at the beginning of the war. (Mr. Montagu,
August 1916.)



                              CHAPTER  XIX


                              PREMIERSHIP

           “Not once or twice in our rough island-story,
           The path of duty was the way to glory.”
                                        TENNYSON.

THIS great revival in the supply of munitions to Great Britain and her
Allies began, early in 1916, to show its effects on the fortunes of the
war.

There were some things that could not be retrieved—Serbia, Bulgaria,
Kut. On the Western fields of war there was a steady stiffening, and the
1915 peril of collapse gradually passed away. During the spring of 1916
guns and shells were accumulated in great masses for a summer attack.

The new Military Service Act, too, now began to come into action; a
steady supply of young men began to fill up the gaps in the armies at
the front.

What could be done by men and munitions was being done; and at any rate
it was no longer possible for the commanders and men to feel that they
were not being properly supported by the civilians at home.

It was not only in regard to the British armies that this great uplift
of power took place. The Russians, too, now found themselves being
supplied with streams of guns and shells from Great Britain; and
Brusiloff began to prepare for his great thrust forward.

Thus events moved forward to those great battles of July and August,
1916, when, by sheer force of gun-power, we captured positions thought
to be impregnable, and brought about the dramatic withdrawal of the
German armies towards the French frontiers in the spring of 1917.



But, in the meantime, Mr. Lloyd George himself had been called away to
other and higher tasks. He is one of those men whom Nature seems to have
marked out as pioneers; and there seems to be almost a law by which,
when such men have accomplished one great task, another sphere calls for
them. At the Ministry of Munitions he had now done his work—that work
of starting, inspiring, and organising which is peculiarly his. Other
men could now take up the task and keep it going; they could run the
engine once it was devised and set running; happily, there are many such
men in the world.

It was fated that a tragic event should make it necessary that Mr. Lloyd
George should now himself move forward.

On June 5th, 1916, Lord Kitchener, always the head and forefront of
England’s military effort, the great Captain of those legions to whom he
gave his own name, met an untimely end in H.M.S. _Hampshire_, off the
western coast of Scotland. The splendid cruiser which carried his
fortunes was met by a fierce gale; but his mission to Russia was urgent,
and he was not the man to delay. The ship altered its course to the lee
side of the Shetland Islands, and there it met with a mine cast adrift
by the storm, and quickly foundered. Lord Kitchener was last seen on the
quarter-deck meeting death as calmly as he had faced life.

Mr. Lloyd George was called to take Lord Kitchener’s place, and passed
in June, 1916, from the Ministry of Munitions to the War Office. The
effect of this change was to increase his power of control over the war,
and at the same time to deepen his responsibility.

He did not stay long enough in the War Office to obtain complete grip of
the administrative machine, or to introduce the reforms which were so
desirable in that office. But this period of power was marked by some of
those bold and sweeping strokes which are so characteristic. In the
autumn of 1916, on one of his periodical visits to the Western Front, he
realised that the Army was on the eve of a tragical breakdown of
communications. The French roads were becoming worn out with the strain
of the heavy transport traffic. We had not enjoyed that immense relief
from the structure of small railways which was common to our Allies and
our enemies. He also grasped the fact that the fortunes of all future
“offensives” were going to depend on swift and decisive concentrations
of guns, shells, and men, only possible by means of railways. The
railways then at our disposal in France were quite insufficient to carry
the burden of vast armies as well as the local life of the countryside.
He insisted, against great opposition, both from officials and Press, on
placing the railways under the control of railway men. He persuaded Sir
Douglas Haig to make Sir Eric Geddes a General at Headquarters in charge
of transportation. Later on, Sir Eric Geddes was given charge of all
transportations in the United Kingdom, as well as in the British zone in
France; and he imposed on the British civilian population those
restrictions of traffic which have been so cheerfully borne. All this
made a huge difference, both in the smooth working of the army machine
in France, and in the organisation of those swift, sudden springs
forward which played so great a part in the final victory.

But greater events were soon to claim his attention.

He had not yet obtained full grip of the machinery at the War Office
when there loomed up in the East another of those great tragedies of the
little nations, which, like Stations of the Cross, marked the stages of
this world-agony.

Rumania had always felt strong sympathy with the cause of the Entente
Allies. In spite of various cross-currents, the tide of her feelings had
set very steadily towards the cause of the Western democracies. But she
had hitherto been restrained by a very wise prudence from rushing into a
struggle with powerful Empires close at hand.

But now fortune seemed to be swinging over to the democracies. The Somme
and Verdun seemed to be the obverse and the reverse sides of the same
victorious shield. The Italians were moving forward. The Russians were
sanguine, and pressed Rumania for her assistance.

So the Rumanian Government, on August 27th, took the great decision and
declared war on Austria.

All the world knows the episodes in that tragic story—the premature
Rumanian advance into Transylvania, the sudden, treacherous attack in
the rear from Bulgaria—the quick, smashing blows of the gathered German
armies—the passing of that fearful harrow of war over that beautiful,
romantic land.

No one saw this coming cloud more rapidly than Mr. Lloyd George. Early
in September he read through the designs of the German commanders. With
his uncanny eye for a military situation, he seemed to know what
Hindenburg was going to do before he did it. He noticed a weakening in
the attack on Verdun. He realised in a moment that Bulgaria would not be
moving if she were not sure of German help. He saw straight into the
heart of the German eastern ambitions, and he realised that here they
had an opportunity which on no account would they pass by.

He was full of a feverish desire to avert the blow, even at the eleventh
hour. Could not anything still be done? There was Italy—she was at the
doors of the East—there was Russia. Was it nothing to them who passed
by—this crucifixion of a little nation? There was always something
especially poignant in his emotions over these tragedies. He was not a
man suited to the part of sitting by and doing nothing.

But Rumania was already beyond the reach of our help. When Serbia was
lost, Rumania was cut off also from British aid. The British Fleet, as
Lord Salisbury once shrewdly remarked, cannot operate in the Balkans.
Russia, the only possible rescuer, proved a broken reed. She was already
paralysed by the sleeping sickness of internal treachery.

So Rumania went under. But the event had a reverberating influence on
Mr. Lloyd George’s mind. It brought him to a decision which he had long
been meditating.

He could no longer go on being responsible for these repeated failures
without a supreme effort to make them cease.

He had for a long time past gravely doubted whether he would not be more
capable of helping in the conduct of the war if he left the Government.
He had often been on the verge of resigning—on munitions, on
conscription, on the Serbian failure. He had a growing conviction that
the only hope of winning the war was through the nation; and he wanted
to guide and to inform the nation. He longed to be “unmuzzled”—to speak
out what he knew, to speak for himself alone.

But it had always happened that before he took action his policy had
won; and then it became practically impossible for him to resign.
Ministers cannot resign on delay alone. Yet these constant delays were
piling up against us a constantly accumulating debt. Or, as with the
proud Roman and the ancient Sibyl, the reward was diminishing while the
price was not less.

The Rumanian disaster brought Mr. Lloyd George to the parting of the
ways. He must either reform the Government to better uses, or he must
gain his freedom—on that issue he was clear.

Reflecting deeply on the mode and method of reform, he saw but one way
out—a smaller and more efficient body, wholly devoted to the direction
of the war. That had been his view for a long time past—and every event
had confirmed it. What was wanted was unified, unsleeping control.

He decided at last to place this view definitely and decisively before
Mr. Asquith, the Prime Minister.

He did so in a long conversation on the morning of Friday, December 1st,
1916.



This was the first phase in a crisis into which Mr. Lloyd George entered
with the utmost reluctance. He was sincerely attached to Mr. Asquith. He
had that regard for him which is often based on an entire difference of
temperament. He fully recognised the greatness of those qualities which
have given Mr. Asquith so strong a hold on the esteem and affections of
his countrymen. He wished to continue the working partnership. He made
in the course of these negotiations every conceivable suggestion which
could make the changed conditions tolerable to the proper pride and
self-respect of a man who had deserved so well of the nation.

But on the fundamental necessity for a change in the organisation for
control of the war, he remained throughout as firm as adamant. There
could be no compromise on that point. There are certain questions on
which no man can compromise. One is the safety and honour of his own
country.

He regarded that as involved in his proposal to reform the machinery of
war-control.

He had come to the conclusion that a smaller and stronger authority was
absolutely necessary for the prosperous conduct of the war. He also
held, with equal strength of conviction, that no man could bear at the
same time the double burden of parliamentary leadership and of the
day-by-day task of Chairmanship of the new War Council, with its
entirely full and detailed responsibility for the conduct of the war.
Mr. Asquith was universally acknowledged as the supreme parliamentary
leader of his generation. He was a great national figure-head. It seemed
a fair and reasonable proposal that he should continue to lead the
Commons and the country, and should allow one of his colleagues to
become the Chairman of the new War Authority. Mr. Lloyd George did not
name himself as Chairman of that body. Mr. Asquith first named him. But
it soon became quite clear to both that he was the only fit and proper
man to carry out his own scheme.

Mr. Lloyd George, as we all know, laid these views in writing before the
Prime Minister, and discussed them with him very fully during the two
following days.[103] He laid them in memoranda and in conversations. As
the talk went on the new proposal varied now and again in detail, but it
remained always the same in essence. Mr. Lloyd George never disputed the
supreme control of the Prime Minister: he even agreed to the final
control of the Cabinet—for he had not yet ventured so far as to propose
a supreme War Cabinet.

It is quite clear that Mr. Lloyd George’s proposal startled and alarmed
Mr. Asquith. That great man is above all things a constitutionalist;
profoundly impassioned for the traditions of English freedom. Trained up
in parliamentary habits, it seemed abhorrent to him that any function of
supreme control in affairs should be divorced from that fount and centre
of power. It was not for his own personal position, we may be sure, that
he resisted Mr. Lloyd George’s proposals. They clashed with all that was
deepest in his nature. The heir and successor of Pym, Selden, and Pitt
could not lightly acquiesce in any derogation to the authority of
Parliament or Cabinet.

What Mr. Asquith did not see was that new needs call for new measures;
and that the needs of a war such as this, unprecedented in extent and
violence, may also necessitate remedies without precedent on the
parchments of the English statute-books.

At one stage Mr. Asquith appears to have agreed with Mr. Lloyd George,
and Mr. Lloyd George was for some time (on Saturday, December 2nd) under
the impression that the matter was settled on the general lines of his
policy. He did not fight for details. He was willing to discuss the
membership of the Committee; but he remained firm on the principle. He
had already determined to resign rather than fail to carry it out.[104]
But at that moment there seemed no necessity for such a step.

At this stage, however, there stepped into the arena those busy friends
who, since the days of Job, have never been a man’s best counsellors.
Energy breeds foes; and there were men who were inclined to ask the old
question: “Who is this man that he should rule over us?” These men held
up the arms of Mr. Asquith in his resistance to the policy laid down by
Mr. Lloyd George.

On the other side there were also friends—friends of the Press,
certainly not inspired by any amiable feelings towards Mr. Asquith. They
belonged to a section which had always stood honestly and boldly for a
more active prosecution of the war. It was certainly not the fault of
Mr. Lloyd George that this Press had espoused his cause in all his great
efforts for the nation; and it was preposterous to expect that he should
reject their help. A member of a Coalition Ministry has no right to keep
up old party prejudices in his dealings with the Press; and it has
always been the role of Mr. Lloyd George to be accessible to the Press
on both sides. It had happened, indeed, that only a few weeks before Mr.
Lloyd George had had a sharp passage of arms with Lord Northcliffe over
the question of communications on the Western Front; and certainly there
was no working alliance between them. There was nothing more than a
fortuitous temporary agreement in regard to the conduct of the war.

On Monday, December 4th, there appeared in the _Times_ an article giving
a very clear and accurate summary of the negotiations, supported by a
“leader” rejoicing over the discomfiture of Mr. Asquith.[105] It is the
inveterate habit of British statesmen to listen with sensitive ears to
the oracles from Printing House Square; and Mr. Asquith was no exception
to this rule. He treated this blow as a thunderbolt. He immediately, on
the morning of Monday, December 4th, wrote to Mr. Lloyd George plainly
intimating that if this was to be the sort of view taken of his
agreement he could not go on.

When he received this letter Mr. Lloyd George had not seen the _Times_
article. He knew nothing about it. He certainly did not inspire it. He
was as surprised as Mr. Asquith when he read it. But he has always taken
a tolerant view as to the activities of a democratic Press. He wrote
back to Mr. Asquith a friendly letter deprecating any attention to press
attacks of which he had himself had to endure so many, and strongly
urging Mr. Asquith not to play into the hands of the _Times_. He—Mr.
Lloyd George—wanted an agreement. The _Times_ did not.

But it was too late. Mr. Asquith’s friends urged him to act and not to
submit to what seemed to him a deliberate attempt to destroy his
personal prestige. So on the afternoon he resigned and ended his
Government. He acted with absolute correctness. He received authority
from the King at once to form a new Government; and he wrote at once to
Mr. Lloyd George. He could, in his view, start now afresh, unhampered by
the negotiations of Saturday and Sunday.

His first condition was that he himself, as Prime Minister, must be
Chairman of the new War Committee.

The former plan was thus now definitely rejected, and a clear challenge
was thrown down to Mr. Lloyd George—not a personal challenge, but a
challenge of principle. For Mr. Asquith sincerely and honestly held that
his was the proper way to control the conduct of the war.

It was, indeed, now for Mr. Lloyd George to decide, not whether he
should resign—for he was no longer Minister—but whether he should join
the new Ministry on these terms, which clashed absolutely with his own
plans. It was plainly impossible that he should do so.

So, still with regret but always quite decisively, on December 5th he
placed his office at the disposal of Mr. Asquith in the formation of his
new Ministry.

He parted from Mr. Asquith with every expression of personal regret, and
offered his complete support of the new Government for the prosecution
of the war.

After that events moved rapidly. On the Sunday (December 3rd) the Tory
rank and file had met and decided not to follow Mr. Lloyd George. But
Mr. Bonar Law made it clear that in that case they could not count on
his leadership. He and his friends in the old Ministry refused to join
the new Ministry. That made it impossible for Mr. Asquith to succeed.

The next step was for the King to send for Mr. Bonar Law. But the old
Liberals, the Labour Party, and the Irish Nationalists refused to serve
under his Premiership. He did not possess a parliamentary majority. It
was useless for Mr. Bonar Law to take office with a minority following
in the House of Commons.

Mr. Lloyd George, indeed, urged Mr. Bonar Law to make the attempt, and
offered to serve under him.

The King, with a splendid desire for reconciliation, called a conference
at Buckingham Palace, and tried to form a new Coalition Ministry of all
parties under Mr. Bonar Law. But the thing was impossible. Asquith and
his friends stood out; Mr. Asquith refused the Woolsack. He was
contending for what seemed to him a definite issue of parliamentary
control, and we can scarcely blame him for refusing to be spirited off
the arena of political conflict, or relegated to a gilded cage.

It only remained for the King to send for Mr. Lloyd George, for he was
now the only possible Premier. It was clearly his duty to accept the
call. It was not easy for him to form a Ministry. The rank and file of
the Tories, still shadowed by Budget memories, shrank at first from the
idea of serving under so fervent a Radical; but Mr. Bonar Law was
determined to submit all political divisions to the supreme issue of the
war; and most of the powerful men of the party followed his patriotic
lead. Many of the leading Liberal ex-Ministers plainly intimated,
through various channels, public and private, that they were anxious to
stand aside[106]; but most of the capable young men willingly came
along, recognising that at this crisis there was a greater thing
involved than personal loyalty. The Labour Party at first stood aloof.
There were long conferences at the War Office. But at last Mr. Lloyd
George won them over by large and frank concessions both in policy and
share of office.



Such is a simple narrative of the events which made Mr. Lloyd George
Premier. Of course there were mean and unworthy insinuations—of course
there were men who saw, in this great and dramatic clash of ideas,
nothing but the mean and sordid conflict of personal ambitions, or the
still more squalid combat of rival journals. There will always be men
with their eyes fixed on the ground when great signs are appearing in
the heavens.

But to those who have followed this story the event will seem to be
inevitable. At the given moment Mr. Lloyd George took the post of
leadership, but he only took that post because for at least a year he
had already been the leader. Great wars always have electric effects.
For the ruling of such thunder-storms there is required a certain
temperament of storm. The plain fact is that Mr. Lloyd George possessed
that temperament—and sooner or later he must have been called to direct
the thunderbolts.



When he really had the power to shape the machine of war after his own
ideas, Mr. Lloyd George put aside half-measures. He boldly shaped a new
instrument of Government—the War Cabinet as we afterwards knew it. That
Cabinet was a small body of experienced administrators, united by the
one tie of zeal for their country, who gave their whole energies
entirely to the conduct of the war. Except for brief holidays, they sat
daily, and sometimes twice a day. Minutes were kept of their
proceedings, although their speeches were not reported. When any
Department was concerned, the Minister affected attended himself, and
took part in the consultations. Thus the Foreign Minister was there when
there was a discussion of foreign affairs, the Chancellor of the
Exchequer on finance, and so on. The result was that the departmental
chiefs were more free for their own administrative work, and less
worried with the problems of other Departments. On the other hand, there
grew up a new Civil Service attached to the War Cabinet, and a more
active machinery for keeping the offices in touch.

It was confessedly a great experiment—but experiments are necessary for
war. It was certain that that other instrument, the old Cabinet—already
showing signs of weakness in days of peace—had broken down in war; for
every revelation, from the Dardanelles to Mesopotamia, spoke eloquently
of the failure, not so much of the men, as of that machine. It met too
rarely: its proceedings were too cumbrous; there was a lack of
concentration; there was a constant scattering and diversion of
energies.

There is no room here for vain regrets over the past. There is no space
left for old party feuds—and certainly not for personal issues. Both of
these men are great, distinguished figures, divided only by small
shadows of honest difference. Those shadows will pass; in the light of
greater events they will appear trifles; and the common need will knit
us together. The resolution for unity must prevail.

-----

[103] See the correspondence published in Appendix B.

[104] He had taken rooms at St. James’s Court.

[105] “The conversion has been swift, but Mr. Asquith has never been
slow to note political tendencies when they become inevitable.”—Leading
article, _Times_, December 4th, 1916.

[106] Mr. Herbert Samuel was offered office, and refused. Mr. Montagu
finally joined as Secretary for Ireland.



                              CHAPTER  XX


                          THE SAVING OF ITALY

        “Many hot inroads
    They make into Italy.”
                          _Antony and Cleopatra_, Act I, Sc. iv.

AT the opening of the year 1917 the general situation of the World-war
in Europe offered fair promise for the cause of the Entente Allies. On
the Western front the immense latent resources of the British Empire
were now coming effectively into play and were creating an opportunity
for a really serious and formidable offensive. Tremendously reinforced
in men and munitions through the powers of the Munitions and Military
Service Acts, our gigantic armies inspired every observer with
immeasurable hopes of victory. The soldiers themselves were full of that
and fresh sanguine spirit in which the valour of the British race has
always expressed itself. France was now recovering from the grievous
losses of men endured in the first two years of the war; and the new
Generals, men of the younger school like Nivelle and Pétain, were
looking forward with no less confidence than ourselves to the results of
a new Western aggressive on a larger and more effective scale.

But the Western front was only a portion of that far-flung line of
embattled hosts who were holding back the great Teutonic armies from
desolating the fairest regions of Western and Southern Europe. Far away
across the snowy barriers of the Alps and beyond the interval of neutral
Switzerland the Italian armies lay in caves and trenches stretched from
the eastern frontier of the Swiss Canton Ticino right across the eastern
Alps down to the shores of the Adriatic Sea. On the west of this
hazardous line the Italians still held the Austrian armies to the edges
of the main Alpine ridge. On the east they had pressed them in a series
of heroic onslaughts through the mountains and across the deep valley of
the rushing Isonzo. They had captured the high and coveted city of
Gorizia, and they were threatening the suburbs of Trieste. They seemed
on the eve of momentous conquests. But the very achievements of their
heroic valour, so splendid to the outward eye, concealed a perilous and
precarious military position.

“No one,” said Mr. Lloyd George later on at Paris, “can look at these
frontier mountains without a thrill of respect for the gallantry that
has stormed them in face of the entrenched legions of Austria.”
Certainly no one who, like the present writer, has escaladed those peaks
in days of peace. There are no greater episodes in this war than those
of that titanic, gigantesque conflict amid the mighty jagged precipices
and the deep gloomy abysses of the Eastern Alps.[107]

But the greater the effort, the greater the exhaustion. It is written
large in letters of fire and blood across the history of the World-war
that any excess of human loss is in itself one of the gravest of
military perils. Italy poured out her blood without stint. Alone among
the Allied nations she possessed one organised party—the official
Socialists—genuinely opposed to the war. Taking advantage of this
weakness, the Germans had made a special effort to weaken her home
front. The great industrial centres of the north of Italy—Turin and
Milan—had been the objective of perhaps the most sustained effort of
German peace propaganda. The missionaries of this strange crusade had
crossed the Alps by every mountain path and had mixed themselves among
the armies, scattering their poisoned leaflets among the tired troops.
Thus every preparation had been made for an easier assault. Like
Hannibal when he crossed the Alps in a greater campaign, they had melted
the rocks with vinegar.

The military position, indeed, was not so strong as it looked. The right
wing of the Italian army was lunging forward victoriously, while the
centre and left were still entangled in the mountains. These things were
not clear to observers in the west of Europe; but there were English
visitors with the Italian armies who became uneasily aware of them.

In the absence of any unified control it was impossible to take any
effective steps to avert the coming danger. The British military chiefs
had their views about the position of the Italian army; many Italians
themselves had their views. But though these views were platonically
interchanged there was no machinery by which they could be compared and
collated, or produce any real effect on the course of the campaign. In
other words, there was no central power of vision or action—no active
organism that was responsible for the war as a whole, right from the
North Sea to the Adriatic. As Mr. Lloyd George afterwards pointed out in
the House of Commons, “there was a sort of feeling that that front was
not our business.”[108]

This did not, indeed, prevent Mr. Lloyd George from using such
opportunities as presented themselves for urging his views. In January
of that year (1917) there was an important Conference at Rome between
the Allied Premiers and Generals; and at that Conference the whole
European situation was surveyed in one of the most candid and exhaustive
discussions that had taken place up to that time. These conversations
extended over the whole ground, from the political relations between
Italy and her neighbouring Allies to the question of the proper strategy
for the Italian frontier. Mr. Lloyd George boldly placed before that
Conference his own views as to the proper campaign to be adopted in the
war between Italy and Austria. He pointed out the grave dangers to which
Italy was exposed; and his own characteristic remedy was a reinforced
aggressive across the Eastern Alps into the plains of Austria. That
proposal afterwards tentatively put forward in his Paris speech received
much foolish ridicule from English critics. If those critics would
follow the advice of the late Lord Salisbury, and study large maps, they
would observe that the most vulnerable flank of the Central Powers was
to be found precisely through that very Alpine door north of Trieste
round which the battle was then raging. While Berlin is remote from the
Teutonic frontiers, Vienna is dangerously exposed to attack from the
south and east, and every student of European wars knows that the great
captains of war, like Napoleon, have always availed themselves of that
fact.

This proposal was a revival in a more modest form of Mr. Lloyd George’s
earlier scheme for seeking a military decision on the Eastern front; and
subsequently in his Paris speech he stoutly maintained that if there had
been in January 1917 a proper unified machinery for military debate and
execution the history of that year (1917) might have been
different.[109]

But at that time both the Premiers of the Allied nations and the
Generals of the Allied armies were fighting the war in water-tight
compartments. It was not yet realised that the Italian front was
actually a back door to the West. It required more startling events to
convince the Allies that if either side broke through the line at any
point, East or West, the whole line would be in peril. Until those
events occurred there was not enough political or military driving power
behind any proposal for unified control.

So throughout those months from August to October 1917 the military
control was practically left to each set of military chiefs in his own
section of the war. The communications and consultations between them
were casual and uncertain; and naturally each set played for their own
hand. For, other things being equal, the first duty of a soldier is the
care of his own army. In our country it seemed the wisest course for the
War Cabinet to leave all important military decisions to the military
chiefs. The previous Government, indeed, had fortified the Generals with
an Order in Council which practically gave them strategic control. It
was considered best for the time being to fall in with that arrangement.
There was, indeed, no alternative. “Never,” as Mr. Lloyd George said
afterwards in the House of Commons, “never in the whole history of war
in this country have soldiers got more consistent and more substantial
backing from politicians than they have had this year (1917). . . . No
soldiers in any war have had their strategical dispositions less
interfered with by politicians. There has not been a single battalion,
or a single gun, moved this year except with the advice of the General
Staff—not one. There has not been a single attack ordered in any part
of the battle-field by British troops except on the advice of the
General Staff—not one. There has not been a single attack not ordered.
The whole campaign of the year has been the result of the advice of
soldiers.”

If the sole control of war by military authority was to be put to a
decisive test, the campaign of 1917 supplied a crucial instance.

The vital need revealed by that test on the Eastern front was unity of
control. But the same need was even earlier revealed on the West also.

There the year opened with smiling auspices. The retreat of the Germans
from the Somme Valley and the final abandonment of the Verdun attack
seemed to give the greatest hope for a successful Allied move forward
against the foe. As at Waterloo, the moment seemed to have come to cry
“Up Guards and at them!” Nor can it be said that there was any
hesitation or lack of utmost heroism in the attack when it was
delivered. On the contrary those attacks of 1917 displayed British and
French valour at their highest point. But the want of co-operative
effort and unified control led to a great reduction of war profits in
the final balance-sheet of the year’s efforts.

Sir Douglas Haig has frankly taken the world into his confidence as to
the incidents of divided counsel. In his published despatches on those
great events he has spoken freely. Sir Douglas Haig himself, a discreet
and moderate man, had entertained the highest hopes, and had even gone
so far as to express them through public channels. He was sanguine of a
complete break-through. General Nivelle, the French Commander-in-Chief,
was almost equally hopeful. It is no small gain to great armies when
their chieftains start out with such high expectations.

Whether those expectations would have been fulfilled if the efforts of
the British and French armies had been backed by unified control it is
now impossible to say. But it is quite certain that the want of unity
placed every obstacle in the way of victory. There were, indeed, shadows
of control—scattered, intermittent efforts to bring the great armies
into some form of combined action. But these efforts lacked authority or
decision. There was a military conference of Allied Generals at the end
of 1916; there was even an agreement to make a combined attack in
Flanders. But the decisions of that conference do not seem to have
carried with them any permanent effect on the Allied war councils.
Probably the swift movement of events made a mockery of such long-laid
schemes. At any rate, we have the fact that General Nivelle made a
separate attack in Champagne in the spring of the year, with the result
that our armies had to delay their advance until that great effort was
brought to a decision.

General Nivelle aimed at a great mark. He, too, aspired to break the
German lines. He succeeded in part, but at a cost of life too great for
France at that moment. General Nivelle had to pay the price. He ceased
to be Commander-in-Chief of the French armies. His place was taken by
General Pétain, with the understanding that he should adopt a less
aggressive policy. The result was that the British attack was delayed,
and when it took place was undertaken alone. It achieved great objects,
but not so great as had been hoped. The August fighting round Lens—the
September onslaughts of Haig’s armies east and north of Ypres, the
assault of Passchendaele—all these battles displayed the valour of
British, Canadian, and Australian troops at their highest point.

But there was no break-through. At the critical moment the British
armies were checked by the mud and rain of the Flanders autumn. Heroism
was literally choked in slime. The cold and gloom of winter descended on
those splendid British stormers before their great task could be
achieved.

Such were the fruits of divided control.

It was fated that there should blaze out a sign in the heavens even more
startlingly blood-red before the forces of national and army
particularism could be safely and successfully defied.

On October 24th (1917) the Italian eastern front was suddenly shaken by
a hammer-blow from the German central command. A new army under the
redoubtable Mackensen, secretly assembled behind the screen of the
mountain ridges, took over the attack from the nerveless Austrians.[110]
This German force made a sudden assault under cover of mist against a
weak point in the Italian line. They attacked and penetrated the Second
Italian Army in the neighbourhood of Tolmino on the Upper Isonzo. Only
one Italian regiment gave way, probably weakened by enemy influences.
But at such a critical point one was enough. It was like a small hole in
a great dyke. The flood of German invasion swept in, and soon began to
submerge the plain of Venetia. During the following week the
Austro-German armies advanced by forced marches from the north-east and
captured Cividale and Udine. The heroic Third Italian Army, conquerors
of Gorizia, held on to the line of the Isonzo for a time. But they were
taken in the rear, and it was necessary to command a retreat. Those
brave regiments—the Alpini and the Bersaglieri—suddenly fell back,
many of them preferring annihilation to retirement. The whole host
rallied on the line of the Tagliamento; but in the terrible confusion of
the great surprise the Italians lost 300,000 men and 2,000 guns.

Italy was now faced with a fearful peril. It was already clear that the
line of the Tagliamento could not be held; it was uncertain whether any
other line could be held. For if the Germans and Austrians could attain
mastery of the Alps to the north every one of those river lines of
Venetia would be outflanked; the whole northern plain of Italy would be
invaded; the exquisite prize of Venice and the great industrial cities
of Turin and Milan would fall as victims to the spear of the enemy.
Southern Italy would be cut off from the Western Allies; and, indeed,
the whole peninsula would be in danger, and with it our own naval hold
on the Mediterranean Sea. None of the Western Allies could be
indifferent to the threat of such calamities.

Mr. Lloyd George determined in a moment that Britain could not stand by
indifferent. He resolved at once that he would not be responsible for a
repetition of the calamities which had overwhelmed Serbia and Rumania.
The year 1917 should not close as 1915 and 1916 had closed—with the
head of a kingdom on a charger presented to the German Herod.

But it was necessary to act instantly. There was not a moment to be
lost. Mr. Lloyd George decided to go to Italy; and he resolved to go
armed with new powers of central control for the conduct of the war. He
had made up his mind that it was at last necessary to relieve the
Generals of their divided responsibilities by establishing a definite
organism of central control.

Before starting for Italy he prepared and passed through the British
Cabinet a document drawing up in a series of resolutions the
constitution of a new central council for the conduct of the war. With
that in his pocket he started to meet the Allied Premiers and Generals
at the little seaside town of Rapallo, a gem to the east of Genoa on the
Italian Riviera.

At that meeting he passed the resolutions contained in that document
almost without an alteration, so ready were the French and Italians now
to consent to any scheme for increasing the power of central
decision.[111]

That was the first step in setting up the Versailles Council.

From Rapallo Mr. Lloyd George proceeded to Turin and Milan, everywhere
encouraging the Italians and promising them speedy aid. He went as far
as Peschiera, where he met the young Italian King, whose heroic devotion
to his armies has rightly earned him the fervent love of true Italy. Mr.
Lloyd George discussed fully with him all the details of the assistance
that should be sent. Then with all speed he proceeded to organise and
expedite the arrival of British and French reinforcements. Within a few
days French and British infantry and artillery were speeding through the
Monte Cenis tunnel to Italy.

For the moment, indeed, there was no need to bring the new powers of the
Rapallo Conference into force. It was, at any rate, clear to every mind
at this crisis that the whole front was one. It was apparent to any one
who glanced at the map of Europe that the conquest of Italy by Germany
would shake the whole Allied combination. It was obvious to the French,
at any rate, that it might bring Germany to the back door of France.

Faced with such possibilities, British and French Generals vied with one
another in helping Italy. What divisions could be spared from the
Western front were spared. The young men of Western Europe marched
through the vineyards and maize-fields of those beautiful plains of
Northern Italy in the waning autumn to the help of the Italian armies
now pressed back to the Piave. The coming of this help put new heart
into the Italians. As our British boys advanced through the little white
villages between Milan and the front they were greeted as crusaders.
They were met by cascades of flowers from the joyful villagers, now
recovering from the terror of a cruel invasion. For it was known by the
Italians that the Germans were sending even Turkish and Bulgarian
soldiery to the invasion of the fair Italian provinces.

So sustained and fortified—with such a sense of comradeship behind and
beside them—the Italian regiments rallied. Along the line of the Piave
they put up that splendid resistance which redeemed the name of Italy
and inspired their people with a new strength and unity. To the north,
among the mountains, they were helped by French and English battalions,
thus forging between the peoples of Italy and Western Europe new links
imperishable and without price.

Certainly so far the principle of unified control was justified by its
results.

-----

[107] Signor Philippo Philippi has brought from this phase of the war a
wonderful photographic record which will make its glories lasting.

[108] November 20th, 1917. In the same speech Mr. Lloyd George
delicately expressed the fact that we were aware of the Italian peril
but unable to find any effective expression for our views.

[109] “I should like to be able to read to you the statement submitted
to the Conference in Rome in January (1917) about the perils and
possibilities of the Italian front this year, so that you might judge it
in the light of subsequent events. I feel confident that nothing could
more convincingly demonstrate the opportunities which the Allies have
lost through lack of combined thought and action” (November 12th, 1917).

[110] Ludendorff’s _War Memories_, Vol. II, pp. 497-99. He reveals that
the attack was undertaken to prevent the collapse of Austria Hungary.

[111] “In substance it was the document prepared here, discussed line by
line in the Cabinet, and which I had in my pocket after the last Cabinet
meeting which was held a few hours before I left” (November 20th, 1917.
Mr. Lloyd George’s speech in the House of Commons).



                              CHAPTER  XXI


                         THE VERSAILLES COUNCIL

          “Besides, he says, there are two councils held;
          And that may be determined at the one
          Which may make him and you to rue at the other.”
      SHAKESPEARE’S _Richard III_, Act III, Sc. ii.

ITALY was saved for the time; but if it was to be saved for all time,
and if other dangers were to be averted, it was not enough to pass
resolutions at Allied Conferences. The proceedings at Rapallo must be
followed up by more effective action.

Mr. Lloyd George has always the instinct in his heart that no public
purpose can be thoroughly achieved without the help of the peoples
concerned. He is above all things a “crowd-compeller.” It was now his
imperious instinct that he should appeal from a secret conference to the
great peoples of Western Europe. It was his powerful conviction that he
must take them into his counsel as to the reasons for a new
centralisation of war-control—in short, that he must appeal over the
heads of the Governments to the nations.

If the new Versailles Council was to be anything more than an Aulic
assembly, forcibly-feeble, strenuously impotent, it was necessary to
rally behind it all the great democratic forces of the Western world. It
was urgent to give it a new authority derived directly from the peoples.
If this was to be achieved the peoples must be given a franker
explanation of the strategy of the war, of the reasons for failure, and
the motives for a new policy.

These are the reasons why, quite deliberately, on the way home from
Rapallo, on November 12th, 1917, Mr. Lloyd George made that remarkable
speech at Paris which was perhaps the frankest utterance of the
war.[112]

This Paris speech fluttered all the dovecots of Europe, and some of the
eagles’ nests as well. It seemed to come as a caprice, a child of sudden
impulse, from the brain of the British Premier. And yet the speech was
most carefully prepared; a copy of it was sent to the War Cabinet in
time for correction in case of need; it was handed over for
interpretation before being uttered.[113]

There was nothing sudden about it. For the speech represented the slowly
matured results of two years of observation, the fruits of prolonged
meditation on the events of the war.

The step towards unity which was the central point of the speech
represented his profoundest conviction on the strategy of the war.

Ever since the beginning of the war, indeed, Mr. Lloyd George had been
an international as well as a patriot. As in the war itself, so in the
Alliances, he was always against half-measures. If we were to be true
Allies of France and Russia—or later on of Italy and the United
States—then we must always work with them hand in hand, take close
counsel with them as friends, act always together, not as separate
States but as parts of one common organisation; the real beginning of a
new “League of Nations.” From the very outset he had no use for national
sectarianism; he could not understand the idea of a tepid alliance, a
Laodicean friendship, timorous of mutual help, suspicious of common
counsel, feeble in reciprocal aid.

His reading of history had taught him that this kind of suspicion,
especially strong in island countries, had been the sleeping sickness,
the wasting paralysis, of all former mixed European Alliances. It was
just this same aloofness, this same separatist pursuit of national aims,
that robbed Marlborough of the fruits of his victories. It was precisely
the same want of common planning that melted all Pitt’s alliances like
wax before the fire of Napoleon’s energy. In more recent days, it was
the similar want of understanding between the British and French
Generals that prolonged the Crimean War.

Now he determined to strike while the iron was white hot. The fire
burned, and he spake with his tongue. While the events in Italy were
still fresh in the memory of Europe he pointed the lesson in vivid and
biting language. It was certainly the first time that such a speech had
been uttered at such a half-private function—an official luncheon of
the Premiers arranged to give him an interval of relaxation in his
journey back to England. No wonder the orthodox were alarmed.

Frankly and roughly, like a man in a hurry who has no time for honeyed
speech, Mr. Lloyd George gave to the world his own innermost reasons for
pressing forward the machinery of central control.

For the Versailles Council was to be a real and not a shadow control. He
made it clear that he intended it to possess a genuine authority over
the national military staffs. Even so, his proposals did not go so far
as America and France desired; for France already wished for a
Generalissimo, and the United States, being too far from the war even to
aim at exercising control, were frankly willing to delegate the entire
military power to the men on the spot.

But, even so, Mr. Lloyd George’s plan contained the heart of the matter.
Every one engaged in the controversy was aware that, once the germ of
unified control was established, it would grow. No local control could
compete with it. On that main principle Mr. Lloyd George was quite clear
and definite. He stated outright that he would not stay in office unless
his plan was adopted. “Personally,” he said, referring to the Rapallo
decision, “I had made up my mind that, unless some change were effected,
I could no longer remain responsible for a war direction doomed to
disaster for the lack of unity.”

Mr. Lloyd George was far too old a bird to have any doubt as to what
troubles this speech would bring on his head. He was speaking, as he
himself said, “with perhaps brutal frankness at the risk of
misconception here and elsewhere,”—perhaps even, he admitted, at the
risk of encouraging the enemy.

He knew all that. But he also knew that there are times when such risks
have to be taken. There are moments when an electric shock is necessary
if men are to be really aroused to the duty of change. Eyesight, they
say, is sometimes restored by a flash of sudden light. The same method
may remove blindness of other kinds.

The new Council, he said, had already started work. It must have the
support of public opinion if it was to have any genuine power. There
must be a new central strength to resist sectional and national
influences. What they wanted for victory was not sham unity, but
real.[114]

The Paris speech was followed by an outcry even greater perhaps than Mr.
Lloyd George had expected. The clamours of offended tradition and
convention filled the air of London, especially of the London clubs. The
uproar lasted for a full week, and then it found voice in the House of
Commons, where Mr. Lloyd George was subjected to a kind of impeachment
by Mr. Asquith and the Opposition leaders.

“This animal is wicked,” wrote the French fabulist; “it defends itself.”
Such seems to be the feeling behind much of the fury provoked by Mr.
Lloyd George on such occasions. Such events must be taken with
tranquillity. The mutual play of criticism and defence goes to form the
strength of our public life, and Mr. Lloyd George is the last man to
appeal for mercy. Speaking this time in the House of Commons on November
19th he apologised for nothing. He manfully stood his ground in defence
of the policy of the Versailles Council.

He revealed the important fact that Lord Kitchener was the first
war-chief who proposed closer co-operation between the Allies. Lord
Kitchener made that suggestion as far back as January 1915. It was then
far more difficult to carry out. But the disasters of 1917 had made it
easier.

He made even a more startling revelation. It was that the same proposal
had been made in July of that very year (1917), not by the statesmen,
but by the soldiers at a meeting of the Commanders-in-Chief at which Sir
William Robertson, General Cadorna, and General Foch had been all
present. So it was not true, as suggested in so many quarters, that this
was a case of civilians forcing an idea of their own upon reluctant
soldiers.

Then Mr. Lloyd George passed to that spirited personal defence of his
Paris speech which has since become famous. It was, in many respects, an
apology which extended to his whole career. It was an explanation of his
own favourite political methods.

Briefly put, it was that he deliberately made a disagreeable speech in
order to arouse public opinion. It was not enough to pass resolutions.
What he wanted was public support. To obtain that he had resolutely and
in cold blood set out to give a shock to the public mind.

    “It is not easy to rouse public opinion. I may know nothing
    about military strategy, but I do know something of political
    strategy. To get public opinion interested in a proposal and to
    convince the public of the desirability of it is an essential
    part of political strategy. That is why I did it. And it has
    done it.”

Here is a precise statement of his favourite method—the method which he
has constantly used from the moment of his early defiance of the
magistrates in North Wales right up to that famous interview of the
“Knock-out Blow.” It may be called the application to politics of the
military method of the “Counter-attack.”

The proof of the pudding is, after all, in the eating. The result, for
instance, of these two speeches—the Paris speech and the Commons
defence—was so to familiarise and popularise the idea of central
military control that we now read them with some surprise at their
moderation. We feel some astonishment that such apologies should have
had to be uttered for a system of unified control which afterwards
became a commonplace of Allied strategy. The hammer-blows of fate proved
even more effective than the power of words in the House of Commons. But
we must remember that at the moment Mr. Lloyd George was beating up
against the wind. He had great forces working against him both within
Parliament and without. He had to face a remarkable alliance between
military professional pride, national feeling, and party tactics. The
triumph of these speeches is that such forces have proved so powerless
in the upshot against the overwhelming case for unity of control.

But the struggle was now only transferred from the debating-chamber to
the council-room. There Mr. Lloyd George was met with a very resolute
opposition from a body of military opinion supported by a very able and
pugnacious Press. The military opinion, at any rate, was as honest as it
was stubborn. The power of great national traditions was linked to the
strength of professional feeling. It was hard and painful to come into
conflict with men like Sir William Robertson. But the issue had to be
fought through; and no Government would have been worth its salt which
allowed a great political and international issue to be decided by
military opinion. Mr. Lloyd George was fighting for one of the oldest
principles of the British Constitution when he asserted the final
supremacy of civilian control.

Yet it was not remarkable that the debate on this issue should have
puzzled the minds of many honest men. For it raised the old
question—should not matters of war be left entirely to the soldiers?
Those who maintain that view seemed to have a very strong weight of
common sense on their side. For how should civilians know anything of
war?

                                A simple child,
                    That lightly draws its breath,
                    And feels its life in every limb,
                    What should it know of death?

And is not the civilian a mere child in the fiery matters of war?

In any ordinary war it would seem to be the right policy for statesmen
to hand purely military matters to the soldiers and keep negotiations
for themselves. The business of the statesman would appear to be to
stand by as a possible peace-maker; although there have been wars which
have been not only skilfully conducted but also wisely concluded by
soldiers. Lord Kitchener, for instance, was never greater than in the
negotiations which ended the Boer War.

But this World-war was already seen to be no ordinary war. If the
European side of the war alone had been confined to Flanders, then, as
in the wars of Marlborough, both strategy and statesmanship might have
been left to the same man; although in that conspicuous case it was the
civilian statesman who had to intervene before peace could be achieved.
But, with operations confined and aims defined, the part of the
civilians often lightly limited to the choice of generals and the
provision of armies.

Here, however, was a war in which operations could not be confined nor
aims defined. Here was a struggle already (1917) limited to no country
and to no continent; carried on in three elements—earth, sea, and
air—a conflict enveloping a planet.

In Europe alone the battle-front stretched across the whole Continent
from west to east; and Palestine and Mesopotamia belonged to the same
front as Belgium.[115]

Such a war has multitudinous aspects. It has its politics as well as its
strategy; its tactics of the council-room as well as its tactics of the
field. Military decisions have often to be based on political
considerations; the movements of armies are decided by the relations of
the Allied countries. Even strategy itself is revolutionised; for in
such a war strategy stakes many new forms—there is the strategy of the
air as well as the strategy of the earth; the strategy of the sea as
well as the strategy of air. There is the strategy of continents as well
as the strategy of countries. But all through the one distinguishing
feature of the whole war was that nowhere in any aspect could strategy
be wholly divorced from statesmanship.

The Germans recognised this fact throughout. The direction of their
attacks—east or west—was often decided by political motives. War
offensives were mingled with peace offensives, and the art of Machiavel
added to the art of Napoleon. The hell’s broth at Berlin was cunningly
brewed of the mingled herbs of war and peace. Perhaps it would have been
as well if sometimes we had given to them the flattery which consists in
imitation.

But in Great Britain there has always been a cruder division between the
soldier and the politician. Just as the soldier is suppressed during
times of peace so the statesman is allowed little say during times of
war. We have yet to learn from our enemies that war is a form of
politics, and that neither of the two activities of the State can be
wholly divided from the other. The cry of “Hands off the war!” uttered
to the statesman is equivalent to a cry of dismissal.

Mr. Lloyd George, at any rate, was not at all willing to accept this
impotent conclusion. He was clear that if the soldiers were to conduct
the whole strategy of the war they must be responsible for the politics
of the war also. The only conclusion of that logic was a military
dictatorship. But, to do them justice, none of the honest soldiers who
contended with him nursed ambitions of that kind. The only end to the
argument, therefore, was certain to be a vindication of the civil power.
To win the war, the soldier and the statesman must work hand in hand.
That was the sound and safe line of policy along which Mr. Lloyd George
steadily worked.

He tried his best to win over those eminent soldiers who honestly held
the other view and opposed the Versailles Council on principle. Sir
William Robertson was offered the high position of British
representative in the Council. From reasons which did him nothing but
credit—reasons of honest conviction—he refused the position and took
instead the Eastern Command. Another soldier, Sir Frederick Maurice
(Director of Military Operations on the Army Council) carried his
opposition further on retirement from the Council. He wrote a letter to
the Press openly disputing the accuracy of certain statements made by
the Prime Minister in the House of Commons. Mr. Lloyd George offered a
Court of Judges to try the case; but, on Mr. Asquith preferring a
Committee of the House of Commons, Mr. Lloyd George decided to vindicate
his own accuracy before the House of Commons itself. The result of his
defence was that he obtained an overwhelming majority as a vote of
confidence in himself and his Government. But it was necessary for the
Army Council to vindicate discipline; and Sir Frederick Maurice was
retired on half-pay.

Painful as this incident was to all who had regard for an honourable and
high-minded soldier, it was a necessary and salutary assertion of
civilian control over military.

British opinion, at any rate, steadily supported Mr. Lloyd George.
Events at the front soon bore out only too clearly the soundness of his
views. It was noted that in the battle of St. Quentin the German armies
stuck at the link between the British and the French forces with the
sure instinct that there they would find the weakest point. The moral
was only too obvious. Control must not be less united, but more. Without
a protest from any responsible quarter in Great Britain the famous
Frenchman, General Foch, was in 1918 appointed Generalissimo on the
Western front.

Thus the policy of Rapallo triumphed, and the unity of control was
attained.

-----

[112] See his House of Commons defence (November 19th).

“But I was afraid of this. Here was a beautifully drafted document in
which you had concerned a considerable number of men, including a
distinguished soldier—for a member of the General Staff was one who was
most helpful to me in drafting the document—prepared, carried by the
Allies at two or three conferences. Nothing happens, simply an
announcement in the papers that at least we had found some means of
co-ordination. There has been too much of that. I made up my mind to
take risks....”

[113] “I considered it carefully.... If that speech was wrong I cannot
plead any impulse. I cannot plead that it was something I said in the
heat of the moment. I had considered it, and I did so for a deliberate
purpose.” (House of Commons Defence, November 19th).

[114] Paris speech. _Times_, November 13th, 1917. See report in _The
Great Crusade_, pp. 151-62 (Hodder & Stoughton 1918).

[115] “We have gone on talking of the Eastern front and the Western
front, and the Italian front, and the Salonika front, and the Egyptian
front, and the Mesopotamia front, forgetting that there is but one front
with many flanks; that with these colossal armies the battle-field is
continental” (Mr. Lloyd George at Paris, November 12th).



                             CHAPTER  XXII


                                VICTORY

          “O God! Thy arm was here;
  And not to us, but to Thy arm alone,
  Ascribe we all.”
                          SHAKESPEARE’S _Henry V_, Act IV, Sc. viii.

THE last year of the Great War was undoubtedly the most critical and
momentous year in the modern history of these islands. By an amazing
combination of events, Western Europe was subject to a sudden revival of
extreme peril exceeding in violence the menace of 1914. Looking back
from the security of the present time (1920) it is easy to underrate the
threat of that great attack by the Central Powers: and, indeed, in our
present discussions there is an almost perilous oblivion of the dangers
through which we have passed. But those who study the memoirs of the
German War Leaders, which have poured out since the close of the
war,[116] will realise the complete confidence of the German General
Staff in the victory which seemed to lie ahead of them, as the natural
climax to the series of smashing blows which they had delivered to their
enemies during the two previous years (1916-17).

General Ludendorff finds the chief reason for the German defeat in the
war spirit which had been aroused in England under the leadership of Mr.
Lloyd George, and in France by the inspiration of M. Clemenceau. Neither
of those leaders would admit that they alone could have achieved so
great a triumph for liberty over the menace of militarism. It was the
spirit of the peoples of France and Great Britain that really achieved
resounding victory—the peoples who shrank from no sacrifice and faced
every trial rather than accept defeat. I have in my memory the spectacle
of a regiment of boys of eighteen and nineteen—London boys, freshly
plucked from the counter and the van—whom I met one evening, at the
height of the crisis in the spring of 1918, marching to be entrained
from Norfolk to Northern France. “Shall we win the war?” shouted one
half of them, and the other half replied with an echoing shout—“Yes!”
Those youths had been cut off from all leave and were being plunged into
the firing-line at a few hours’ notice. They went singing to almost
certain death. They were the fit crusaders of a race that never
contemplated defeat; and no man who had such a people behind him could
vainly boast of his own single achievements.

Yet leadership counts for much, and vainly do the masses struggle if
those at the top weaken and faint. There is no greater misfortune that
can befall a race than failure of valour and resolution in high places.
It was because Mr. Lloyd George kept, in the utmost stress of those
events, his courage undimmed and his spirit unshaken, that he has
rightly earned so large a part in the credit of victory.

Another scene comes back to me from those dark days. I was standing in
front of one of the large-scale maps at Downing Street, noting the point
reached by the German legions in one of those tremendous and determined
efforts to drive us into the sea during the April of 1918. There was the
sound of a step behind us, and suddenly we turned to find the Prime
Minister also observing the map with a close and concentrated gaze. We
knew that things were serious, and that there were influences at the
centre in favour of withdrawing our armies from France. But of all the
company he was the serenest. “Serious? Yes!” he said. “But by no means
desperate. Look here!” and he pointed to the north of Calais. “We can
flood that area if necessary. Then, if they drive us south of Calais, we
can still hold on. France is a large place, and it has many ports.
Retire from France? No, we will stand by our Allies to the last!” And he
went away singing, as undismayed as those boys whom I had seen marching
to France. A worthy leader of a worthy nation!

On another day I remember him describing to me a visit he had paid to
the fighting line at the most critical moment of that great peril. He
spoke with flashing eyes. “We motored,” he said, “from the coast right
up to the fighting front, and we did not meet a single British soldier
in flight. Not one had turned his back to the enemy, not one!” Yet
during that time the German guns were enfilading our trenches lined with
English boys, and the chance of survival in that defence without death
or injury had been reduced almost to the point of zero.

What was the cause of this last and most perilous phase? It was the
collapse of Russia, produced by the Bolshevist _coup d’état_ in
Petrograd on November 7th, 1917. On that day, Lenin achieved the purpose
for which the Germans had given him his passports into Russia. He
destroyed Kerensky, who combined revolution with national war, and he
substituted a policy of international peace combined with civil war.
Both edges of that policy were sharpened to the destruction of Russia as
a war power, and on December 20th Mr. Lloyd George warned the House of
Commons that the collapse of Russia, following on the Italian defeat,
would require a new and still greater output of man-power by Great
Britain. A Bill for that purpose was introduced into the House of
Commons on January 14th, abolishing almost the last exemptions from
military service. Events in Russia moved swiftly. On November 21st the
Bolshevists made to the Germans a definite proposal for armistice, and
peace negotiations began at Brest-Litovsk on December 2nd. The
Bolshevists twice broke up the Constituent Assembly at Petrograd by
force of arms. The Germans put forward peace terms of such severity that
even the Bolshevists were dismayed, and Trotsky attempted to declare
peace without signing the treaty. Thereupon the Germans advanced their
armies into Russia, meeting with no resistance, and occupying Minsk in
the north and Kieff in the south. Powerless in the face of this
invasion, the Bolshevists signed the peace treaty on March 2nd,
surrendering Lithuania, Finland, the Ukraine, Poland, and the Baltic
Provinces, promising demobilisation of their armies and internment of
their ships. Russia was out of the war. On March 5th the Germans
followed this up by signing peace with Rumania, and on March 6th they
signed peace with Finland. Their great armies in the East of Europe were
now free to work their will on the West.

Ludendorff has told us that even then there was some debate among the
German military chiefs between the policy of defence in the West and the
policy of attack. But Mr. Lloyd George saw clearly that the Germans
would be obliged to attack. They were compelled by the logic of the
blockade. With all her feverish triumphs in the East of Europe, Germany
was, at that moment, in a parlous plight. She was in the position of a
besieged city. She had either to break out or to surrender. The fearful
ravage which she perpetrated in Rumania and the Ukraine, and in the
western provinces of Russia also, were really the measure of her need.
Food and materials were more necessary for her at that moment than
military triumphs, and she hastened to cash all her victories into
material produce of one kind or another. Like a hungry tiger, she
devoured her prey. But there were other beasts afoot in Eastern Europe
at the same time, and we know now that the division of the loot caused
extreme bitterness between Germany and Austria-Hungary, and that the
resentment of the Ukraine forced Germany to keep troops in the East of
Europe which might have struck the decisive blow in the West. Such is
the Nemesis of greed.

But still Germany could realise immediately over 2,000,000 new fighting
men for the grand sortie now planned on the Western Front, and
Ludendorff has told us how quickly and strenuously he trained the troops
for this gigantic effort. The blow came on March 21st, against the Third
and Fourth British Armies between the Scarpe and the Oise. Forty German
divisions attacked, and on the second day, the 22nd, there was a
break-through west of St. Quentin. On the following days the British
line had to withdraw nearly fifteen miles, back to the line of the
Somme, losing prisoners all the way, but inflicting very heavy losses on
the attacking division. The British line was broken, but not the British
Army. During the following days the German divisions steadily poured
through the gap, crossing the Somme, capturing Albert and Mezières, some
90,000 British prisoners, and over 1,300 guns.

The peril opened by this event both to France and the British Empire
lasted for four months, and during that period there was scarcely a day
on which the strain was relaxed. Colossal issues were at stake, and
among the chief was whether the British Empire should survive. Mr. Lloyd
George rose to the height of the crisis at once, and kept on the summit
until the close. Day by day he never relaxed his energy or his courage.
He did not abate, in those dark days, one jot of heart or hope. There
was no resource or reserve of national strength which he did not bring
to bear. There was no device that he left untried. It is easy to speak
of the hurricane and storm when you have reached harbour, but there is
little doubt that, unless we had had a good captain on the bridge, the
great ship “British Empire” would have foundered.

He envisaged the problem in two ways—strategy and numbers. He saw the
Allied Forces faced by overwhelming myriads of Teuton troops, combined
under one central command. To resist this assault he was more than ever
of the opinion that the defenders also must be placed under one command,
and he carried his faith to the full logic of his conclusion. In April
he agreed to the appointment of General Foch as supreme Commander of the
Allied Forces. It was a step involving great risks and great faith.
Fortunately Sir Douglas (now Lord) Haig agreed with Mr. Lloyd George,
and played the game to the full, like the great soldier he was.
Otherwise the thing could not have been done. The trial came for the
British when, as the crisis deepened, Marshal Foch began to exercise his
full powers, and to withdraw from the direction of the coast great
British forces which had been placed there in reserve for the protection
of the British line and the security of the Channel.

Like all great commanders, Foch himself had to take risks and to meet
the German concentrations by great concentrations on his own side. For
this purpose he had to wield full power over both British and French
Armies, and he exercised it to the full in the great battles of that
summer. It was an anxious time for the British Government. But Mr. Lloyd
George had taken the full measure of Foch as a soldier: he fully
believed in him, and he went to the whole extent of his faith. A working
arrangement was come to by which Mr. Lloyd George went over to meet
Clemenceau and Foch at Paris periodically, and the supreme conduct of
the war was now in the hands of these three men. So far for the strategy
which governed the great battles of that summer.

Then for numbers. Mr. Lloyd George saw in a moment that, unless drastic
and exceptional measures were taken the Allied Forces would simply be
snowed under by the hosts of the enemy. To meet this danger the natural
counter-measure was to throw across the Channel all the troops in
England sufficiently trained to go into the shock of battle. For this
purpose he was obliged to suspend all the usual age limits from active
foreign service and to send across the Channel the great army of youths
enlisted under the Conscription Act, and hitherto prepared only for home
defence. These great forces streamed across in the months of April, May,
and June, and did something to fill up the gaps in the line. But as the
weeks went by Mr. Lloyd George perceived that the British reinforcements
alone would be unequal to the great task. The Germans were still
straining every nerve, and they were fighting against time. Our
Government could not precisely tell how many reserves the Germans still
possessed, or how many men they could spare from their Eastern Front.
The Germans were working on the calculation that the Americans could not
come across till 1919 or 1920, and their submarines were operating
feverishly to keep up the alarm on the Atlantic Ocean. The Americans
themselves were too far removed from the scene of danger to realise at
once the greatness of the emergency. But they only required the S.O.S.
signal. Mr. Lloyd George determined to give it.

One morning that spring he made up his mind.

“We have to get 500,000 Americans over in four months, at the rate of
125,000 a month. How can that be done?” That was the problem as he saw
it and as he expressed it. He began to send a series of telegrams to
President Wilson through Lord Reading, explaining to Mr. Wilson the
peril and the need of instant help. President Wilson immediately grasped
the crisis. Mr. Lloyd George organised the Navy and the Merchant Service
for the work of transport on the British side of the Atlantic, and
President Wilson did the same on his side. So began that great Armada of
help from the New World. The American divisions poured across the
Atlantic, overcrowded on their transports, packed almost to suffocation,
but willing to suffer all things in the great crusade on which they were
bent. The Americans, indeed, did far better than the British Government
had expected. They sent a million men. It was a magnificent performance,
and must ever be remembered to the credit of that great nation.

Then President Wilson and Mr. Lloyd George, acting together, went one
step further. When the American troops arrived many of them were
instantly brigaded with the British and French forces, and so they
learnt with the greatest rapidity possible all the craft and ruses
necessary for modern warfare. They did their utmost to acquire in a few
months all those new arts of destruction which it had taken Europe years
to evolve. To achieve this, for the time they gave up America’s great
dream of a national army. But, after all, the greatest fact of all was
their arrival.

Meanwhile, during these weeks of suspense and endeavour the German
armies had struck again and again in the last desperate campaign for
victory. Through April, May, and June the issue still hung in the
balance.

The second great attack on April 4th, when twenty German divisions,
advancing towards Amiens, attempted to divide the British Armies from
the French. That attack came very near to success. We all know how the
Germans arrived at positions from which they could bombard Amiens and
paralyse the communications, and it is blazed on the records of fame how
the armies of the British Empire—men from Australia and Canada—held
the line at Villers-Brettoneux, and by their invincible blending of
defence and attack kept the assailing German divisions from achieving
their purpose.

A few days later a new attack developed, this time farther north, west
of Lille. From the British point of view this was the most menacing
attack of all. It was a determined attempt to drive the British armies
into the sea. On April 10th Armentières was occupied and the
bloodstained Ridge of Messines crossed. On the 15th Bailleul was taken,
and on the 25th the attack came to a climax with the capture of Kemmel
Hill under the eyes of the German Emperor. Yet the Germans could not
gain the decision they require. The British troops gave ground, but
always fought on. The line bent, but it did not break.

But, as the weeks went on, the British Government replied in stern deeds
which the whole British people supported. Not only did the younger men
stream across the Channel, but the older men lined up to take their
places. It was on March 9th that Mr. Lloyd George introduced that last
and tremendous Military Service Act, raising the age to fifty, with a
reserve possibility of fifty-five, and threatening to extend
conscription to Ireland. Such extreme measures became in the result
unnecessary: but partly because the British people showed that they were
possible.

Ludendorff has described to us the gradual waning of his hopes[117] in
face of the unbroken resolution of the British people under Mr. Lloyd
George, the swift dying off in the fire of battle of all their best
troops, and the failing of human morale which took place under the
stress of those costly onslaughts. There is no more dramatic story in
history than his account of the way in which the revolutionary poison
which the Germans had inoculated into Russia by the sending of Lenin
returned back into the German Army and gradually destroyed by its
discipline and undermined its desire for victory.[118] But there is
another side to that story. Ludendorff describes, without apparently
understanding the significance of his narrative, the way in which his
troops, when they had captured a position, would spend the precious
minutes in overhauling and devouring the stores of food which they
found.[119] He seems to regard that as merely a sign of the weakening of
military discipline. But the plain fact is that hunger has no respect
for discipline; and it was hunger that was eating at the vitals of the
German nation—hunger and want of all the essentials of war. The
blockade was completing the work of our armies. For our prisoners found
that the Germans were lacking in the most elementary medical necessities
and that their transport had reached a point of decay which made it
almost impossible for them properly to feed and maintain their armies.

Ludendorff blames the German nation for not supporting the German Army,
but the fact is that this was not a war of armies, but a war of nations.
The German Army was still capable of great deeds, but the German nation
behind was stricken to the heart. Therefore, the strength of the Army,
which drew its vitality from the nation, was rapidly waning even in
those moments of victory.

With his instinctive insight for the real facts of the situation, Mr.
Lloyd George saw that even in the darkest hour here was the governing
issue—which nation could hold out the longest. So now he set himself,
with all his great powers, to hearten and encourage both the peoples and
the Armies in France and Great Britain. He kept travelling between
London and Paris, attending the meetings of the Versailles Council,
visiting the armies at the front, and exchanging cheerful messages
between the fighting men and the civilians. On the day Bailleul was
captured, April 15th, he boldly declared that we had lost “nothing
vital.” On May 3rd he returned from the Versailles Council with a
message from the troops to the nation at home—“Be of good cheer. We are
all right!”

But the crisis was by no means at an end. In May there came a third
German attack, this time towards Paris, and before it was broken it had
driven the British and French armies across the Aisne and the Marne and
had come within almost thirty miles of Paris. Those were anxious days.
But the lure of Paris was again to prove fatal to the German Army. Foch
withdrew his armies only to prepare for a fiercer spring. “My left is
driven back, and my right is driven back. I shall attack with my
centre!” was his famous utterance. The Germans were drawn perilously on,
until with a sudden smashing blow on July 18th Foch crumpled up the
right side of the phalanx which they were driving towards Paris.
Ludendorff tells us that, even after that unexpected defeat, the German
Staff still cherished hopes of victory towards the north, although, to
all outside observers, their aggressive powers seemed to be exhausted.

It was the attack on August 8th of the British and French troops
together, aided by an army of tanks, storming the German lines east of
Amiens, that came to Ludendorff as the final blow to his hopes. From
that time onward, until November, is one long story of unbroken victory
for the Allies. But it was victory dearly purchased by blood and
endurance; for the German armies retired sullenly and inflicted heavy
casualties.[120] We must not underrate the heroism of those months. It
is no small thing that the armies endured to the end. It is clear, from
the memoirs of the German chiefs, that they were still looking eagerly
for any sign of weakness, and that the smallest symptom of war-weariness
would have led to a renewal of German hopes. Mr. Lloyd George saw this
clearly, and never to the end did he give way to boasting. “The worst is
over,” he said at Manchester on September 12th, “but the end is not
yet.”

We know now from Ludendorff that suggestions for an armistice were made
by him to the German Government immediately after August 8th. But at
first the civilian power, under Count Hertling, the German Chancellor,
and his successor Hintze, was inclined to hold out. It was not until
after the smashing up of Bulgaria on September 16th, ending with its
surrender on the 30th, that Hintze resigned and gave place to Prince Max
of Baden. It was now the turn of the German military chiefs to resist
the civilians in their passion for surrender. For Ludendorff was in
favour of a final rally, whilst Prince Max was resolute to make peace.

It was to President Wilson that Prince Max made his overtures for an
armistice based on the Fourteen Points,[121] and the negotiations
continued all through October. No one who lived through those days will
forget the high, austere dignity of the American President’s replies,
which fell on the German Government and people with all the inexorable
force of impartial justice. He insisted that the Germans should leave
all invaded soil, that they should cease their barbarisms on land and
sea, and that the terms of Armistice must be such as to make a renewal
of hostilities impossible.[122]

President Wilson carried the correspondence with Prince Max as far as he
could without being in control of the armies, and then he telegraphed
the letters to the Governments of his Allies in Europe. Mr. Lloyd George
at once saw the practical peril of the new situation. It was that the
German military chiefs might use the Armistice for a recovery of
strength, and Ludendorff’s Memoirs show that he had full justification
for that fear.[123] He resolved at once that the only safe armistice
would be one of complete disarmament, and with that policy in his mind
he went to Paris to meet M. Clemenceau and Marshal Foch. There at
Versailles a full historic conference of all the Allies took place, and
lasted a fortnight. The European Allies modified President Wilson’s
terms on certain essential points. Great Britain excluded the control of
the seas from the sphere of negotiations, and France insisted on a wider
interpretation of President Wilson’s reparation demand. President Wilson
agreed to both these modifications.

Then the Versailles Council passed to their immediate practical
conditions. Marshal Foch insisted that the Germans must ask for an
Armistice in the ordinary military way from himself, the Allied
Commander. That being agreed, the terms were framed—and they were
pretty drastic terms. The German armies must retire across the Rhine and
must be demobilised. German guns and ships must be surrendered.[124] In
fact, Germany must be rendered incapable of resuming the war. Only on
those terms was an Armistice possible with an enemy who had given such
dire proofs of ill-faith.

Faced with these terrible terms, Ludendorff made a last effort to rally
Germany to a final war of defence. But he was too late. He himself had
fatally weakened the German fighting power when he suggested
negotiations in August. Then the civilians had protested. But now that
they had been converted to peace, nothing could make Germany face the
guns again. Their military strength suddenly collapsed. Turkey
surrendered on October 31st, and Austria-Hungary on November 4th. The
bell of doom had begun to toll.

On November 4th the German Government made a final effort to command
their fleet on to the high seas. But the fleet mutinied, and from that
mutiny a revolution began in Hamburg which soon spread over Germany. On
November 7th the British troops entered Valenciennes: on the 8th Prince
Max resigned and was succeeded by Herr Ebert. On the 9th the Kaiser
abdicated and fled into Holland. On that day the German envoys were
received by Foch at his headquarters and the new German Republic
accepted the terms of Armistice. On the morning of the 11th the
Canadians entered Mons, that little town where firing had opened more
than four years before, and precisely at 11 o’clock on that very morning
the Armistice began. There was a sudden stillness from the North Sea to
the frontier of Switzerland.

“Germany is doomed!” cried Mr. Lloyd George, speaking at the Mansion
House on November 9th; and he proved a true prophet.

The Allies had won the war. . . .

-----

[116] The Memoirs of Von Tirpitz and Falkenhayn, and last, but not
least, the frank and outspoken _War Memories_ of General Ludendorff.

[117] _War Memories_ (Hutchinson & Co., London), Vol. II, pp. 613-4 for
decline of morale, pp. 643-5 for effect of our propaganda.

[118] Vol. II, pp. 642-4, 767-9.

[119] Vol. II, p. 611.

[120] There were seven distinct great battles after August 8th—Bapaume,
Epehy, two battles of Cambrai, Courtrai, Selle, and Valenciennes.

[121] See Appendix D for the Fourteen Points.

[122] American Note of October 23rd, 1918.

[123] Page 721. The armistice terms were to permit a “resumption of
hostilities on our own borders.”

[124] Five thousand guns and 30,000 machine-guns, 5,000 locomotives, 22
big ships, and 50 destroyers.



                             CHAPTER  XXIII


                          THE PEACE CONFERENCE

   “War or peace, or both at once.”
                          SHAKESPEARE’S _Henry IV_, Act V, Sc. ii.

THE colossal strain of the last year of the Great War left both
Ministers and peoples of the conquering Allies in a state of profound
exhaustion. So near had been the peril of defeat that for a time it was
scarcely possible to realise the fact of victory. For the first two
weeks after the Armistice of November 11th, 1918, London, Paris, and New
York were given over to a delirium of rejoicing such as the world never
before witnessed. Mr. Lloyd George, speaking from the windows of Downing
Street on the day of the Armistice, told the people plainly that they
had a right to rejoice. He rejoiced with them.

But gradually, as the days passed, the world woke to the fact that the
Armistice was only the opening of a new phase in the crisis of change.
The Armistice terms imposed on Germany by the Allies had left her prone
and helpless. She could not resume the fighting. Both the Central
Empires were beaten and broken. The Emperors and the Kings were in
flight. But the world could not be left to live in a vacuum. Desolation
is not peace. Europe was like a shattered puzzle which had to be pieced
together again before humanity could resume its normal life. It was
urgent that a Conference should be summoned speedily both to make peace
and to settle the future governance of the world.

There were some necessary delays. President Wilson came swiftly to
Europe; but before attending the Conference he wished to consult the
Governments of the Allies and to visit their capitals. He arrived in
Paris on December 13th, and visited both Rome and London. His presence
was acclaimed everywhere by enthusiastic multitudes, possessed by a
great hope that the New World had truly come to redress the balance of
the Old.

There was also the British General Election, which Mr. Lloyd George
deemed necessary to confirm and strengthen his position at the
Conference as spokesman for Great Britain. No time was lost. The General
Election was announced immediately after the Armistice. Nominations were
taken on December 4th after a very brief election campaign; the polls
were held on one day, December 14th, under the new electoral
arrangements; and the results were declared on December 28th. The result
was an overwhelming vote for Mr. Lloyd George as the British
representative at the Conference, and as the mandatory of a strong and
decisive peace.[125]

There was some preliminary debate as to the city that should be chosen
for the Conference. President Wilson and Mr. Lloyd George were at first
disposed to choose a neutral capital; but the claims of France were
strong. She had borne the territorial brunt of the war. So it was agreed
that the Conference should meet in Paris at first, with the reservation
that they should afterwards shift to Geneva. But once the huge machine
of counsel was settled in Paris it was found impossible to move it. In
spite of the preponderant power thus given to the pressure of the French
Press, it is difficult to see now how any other capital could have been
chosen.

The burden of British responsibility was far too heavy for the Prime
Minister to bear alone. He decided to share it, as far as possible, with
his whole Ministry and Government; and the result was that the
fashioning of the Peace by Great Britain was far less of a personal
affair than in any other of the victorious countries. Mr. Lloyd George
took with him to Paris, as joint delegates, Mr. Bonar Law, Mr. Balfour,
Lord Milner, and Mr. Barnes. Mr. Bonar Law, being leader of the House of
Commons, was soon compelled to return to his duties in England; but he
flew over to Paris at every serious crisis in the discussions. Mr.
Balfour and Mr. Barnes remained all the time, and performed great
services. Lord Milner went over when colonial affairs required his
counsel and decision; and Mr. Montagu attended for Indian matters. But
Ministers from all Departments attended in Paris whenever their advice
was required; on critical occasions Mr. Lloyd George summoned meetings
of the War Cabinet so that his decisions might have the full weight of
the Coalition behind them.[126]

But besides the men of Great Britain the men of the Dominions were there
too. The whole weight of the British Empire was behind the decision of
the British Delegations. Each Dominion sent two delegates, one of whom
in every case was the Prime Minister. The British Empire Delegation sat
every day, and considered every big decision; their secretary was a
member of the Secretariat of the Peace Conference; powerful men like Mr.
Hughes, Mr. Robert Borden and General Botha had their say through this
channel; and thus the whole Empire was kept in touch. There was here the
beginning of a new Imperial organisation.

Behind all these leaders stood the great body of British officials;
cool, experienced, industrious, alert, no body of men in that great
crisis served their country better.

The first meeting of the Conference was held on January 18th, 1919, at
the Palace of Versailles, and was an impressive gathering of the
representatives of all the thirty Allied Nations who had taken part in
the defeat of Germany. But as soon as vital decisions were approached it
became obvious that it would be necessary to narrow the Council-chamber
and to throw a veil over their debates. There was much inflammable stuff
lying about, explosive national hopes and greeds, incredible aspirations
after greatness. There were Cæsars and Malvolios among the Powers, both
great and little. If the discussions had been published, great popular
emotions would have been roused, hatreds stimulated, passions excited.
The Conference might not have lasted a week. No sane advocate of “open
diplomacy” will ever exclude the right of private debate.

The world watched impatiently while the inner Council was gradually
narrowed from ten to five, from five to four, and finally, after Italy’s
withdrawal, from four to three. There was something of a sneer in the
adjective applied—“The Big Five,” “The Big Four,” and the “Big Three.”
And yet the narrowing of the number was absolutely necessary for
decision. Slow as decision was, it would have been far slower in a
larger Council. It was vital that those who debated should keep
confidence, and should be able to decide. With ten it was found that no
secrets could be kept. With four confidence was easier, and decisions
were possible.

The defects of this narrowing of the Council-chamber are painfully
obvious. The arguments which led to decisions were known only to a few.
Minutes were kept by the Secretary, Sir Maurice Hankey, and were
distributed to the ten, five, four or three. But the world outside was
fed on gossip, and mostly malicious gossip. The great concourse of able
writers who had journeyed to Paris from all countries looked up, but
could not be adequately fed. They became angry and irritated. They
spread their spleen against the Conference through a thousand conduits,
daily and weekly, and ultimately through a vast and growing literature
of discontent. It is notable that the books published about the
Conference since its close have been almost unanimous in their bitter
scorn and condemnation.[127]

The Peace Treaty emerged with few friends and many enemies. That is the
chief danger to its vitality and permanence.

At the foot of the Falls of Niagara there eddies a gigantic whirlpool
round which objects are driven in endless fury, the prey of conflicting
currents, tossed to and fro by buffeting waves, now hurled to the
surface and then sucked down into the depths by irresistible forces. In
that whirlpool guidance is nearly impossible. Man himself becomes a
helpless victim; only by yielding could he survive. Resistance to such
powers only increases the peril.

So it was at Paris in 1919. The Great War had been the Falls of Niagara;
the Conference was the whirlpool. In that tumult of waters it was a
miracle to survive at all, much less to achieve mastery. Not since
Phaethon strove to drive the horses of the sun had any human being faced
a greater task than the three men who emerged as the leaders in this
vast event—Mr. Lloyd George, President Wilson, and M. Clemenceau. No
man who has looked closely into their work will be inclined to judge
swiftly or harshly. It was a burden too great for human shoulders. After
six months of it Mr. Lloyd George returned to London whitened and lined,
looking to his friends as if ten years had been added to his age.

But he fared far better than his colleagues. President Wilson returned
to collapse into a grave illness. M. Clemenceau, the invincible “Tiger,”
the “Young old Man,” continues his intrepid existence—but now
retired—with a bullet in his back. Botha returned to South Africa to
die.

They all worked terribly hard, both by day and by night. They sat in
council for two and a half hours in the mornings and two and a half
hours again in the afternoons. They went out little into society. In the
evenings they read their piles of documents or saw important witnesses.

Yet no one was satisfied. What is the reason?

The chief reason is that the Conference worked throughout by process of
compromise: and compromise has no lovers. It was in the main a
compromise between three points of view—the French, the American, and
the British. Hateful to strenuous souls! To yield nothing and to gain
everything is to them the only statesmanship. But let us remember the
other side. The war was not won alone; the peace could not be made
alone. The armies had to combine for victory; the peace had to be
combined too. No Great Power could have a peace entirely of its own,
either in material gain or ideal aims.

The American aim, as shaped by their remarkable President and voiced in
his splendid oratory, was for a peace of final world-conciliation.[128]
He held up the “banner of the ideal.” The French aim was a peace of
security. The British aim lay somewhere between the two, a practical
peace combining conciliation and security, punishing Germany without
crushing it, improving the world but not seeking all at once to achieve
the Millennium.

Clemenceau was an honest nationalist. But he did not seek so much to
exalt France as to depress Germany. The idea of Foch was to stand guard
over Germany with a flaming sword. The aim of the French Chauvinists was
to break Germany up and disable her permanently. Clemenceau did not
share these extreme views. He rebuked Foch for the interview in which he
claimed that Germany should retire beyond the Rhine. He was too much of
a statesman to believe that a modern nation could be permanently
crushed. But he sought to weaken her to the ground for the next fifty
years; and then he hoped for security in the new Alliance with America
and Great Britain.

The part that Mr. Lloyd George played at Paris during those strenuous
months was often that of conciliator between these two points of
view—the French and the American. Such a conciliator was wanted: for
the clash could not be concealed. “President Wilson has Fourteen
Points,” mocked Clemenceau; “the good God was content with Ten.” “Every
morning,” he said on another occasion, “I repeat to myself—‘I believe
in the League of Nations!’”[129] It was difficult to achieve harmony
between such a spirit and the lofty faith and austere hopes of the great
Crusader from across the seas.

Here came in Mr. Lloyd George’s characteristic qualities—his genius for
compromise, his twinkling good humour, his amazing capacity for finding
a middle way between different points of view. Again and again, when
matters seemed at a deadlock—on the Saar Valley, the Polish Corridor,
or even the perplexing question of Fiume—Mr. Lloyd George achieved, or
nearly achieved, a settlement. It is scarcely too much to say that
without him the Conference would have inevitably broken down, and one of
the other two would have flung out of the Conference like Signor
Orlando.

But Mr. Lloyd George was not only a conciliator—not merely the middle
figure. He had a very definite view of his own as to the right peace to
aim at. He was the first to formulate a peace; the first to insist on a
decision. He was out for a peace stern but just. On Dantzig he took the
initiative for moderation. He insisted on a settlement that would not
create a new Baltic question. He was against Poland annexing a city of
Germans—against it also for the sake of Poland. “We must set up a
Poland that can live,” he would say. “If swollen by enemy populations
she will explode from within. Dantzig is outside the real orbit of
Poland. Make it International.” President Wilson supported him; M.
Clemenceau was persuaded; and Mr. Lloyd George got his way.

Poland had good friends at the Conference. Not only was it the policy of
France to aggrandise Poland as a substitute for Russia, but President
Wilson was enthusiastically pro-Polish. On the general issue Mr. Lloyd
George was entirely with them. He wished Poland to flourish as a
self-governing State, but not to enter on its existence by inflicting on
others the crime of Partition from which it had so deeply suffered
itself. For that reason, in the last stage, he took a strong solitary
line on the demand for a plebiscite that came from Silesia. The whole
British Cabinet supported him, and there again in the end he achieved
his purpose.

But on other matters the combination varied: Mr. Lloyd George sometimes
took a sterner line than the other two. He was always for the trial of
the Kaiser, as a supreme lesson to rulers. President Wilson opposed; M.
Clemenceau was indifferent; Venizelos was opposed. But Mr. Lloyd George
insisted, and persuaded them to agree to London as the place of trial.

On the Rhine question and the Saar Valley he supported President Wilson
in opposing the extreme French claims, and finally achieved the
compromise inserted in the Peace Treaty.[130] He opposed the French
proposals to separate the Rhine Provinces from Germany and occupy in
permanence the bridge-heads. He looked far ahead. “See here,” he said to
the French, “you will create another Alsace-Lorraine: you will give
Germany a great cause.”

He saw in such proposals the certain seeds of future wars, and wars to
which he could not summon the youth of Great Britain. For he kept
clearly in view that, under the League of Nations settlement, we, as a
contracting party, might be called upon (under Clause 10) to defend with
arms any detail of the settlement. It was always his aim to keep British
obligations within the limits of the powers of the British Empire.

He supported President Wilson in the difference with Italy over Fiume,
and Clemenceau supported both. But he always hoped to effect a
settlement by persuasion. When President Wilson had made up his mind to
issue an appeal to the Italian nation, Mr. Lloyd George persuaded him to
agree to a postponement of twenty-four hours. President Wilson kept
precisely to his promise. But it unfortunately happened that, just as
the twenty-four hours expired, delicate negotiations were proceeding
between Orlando and Mr. Lloyd George, and there were still hopes of a
settlement. The appeal was published in the afternoon papers of Paris,
and its immediate effects were to offend the Italian delegates, throw
them back on to the point of honour, and drive them out of the Peace
Conference. President Wilson acted with his usual high and simple
honesty; but in this case, at any rate, if the aim was peace, open
diplomacy did not score a conspicuous triumph.

In regard to Russia, there also Mr. Lloyd George always craved for a
settlement as part of the new peace of the world. This was not his
second, but his first thought. He started instantly after the Armistice
with the idea of a joint meeting between the Russian parties. His first
proposal was that they should meet at Paris; and this was laid before
the Allied Chiefs early in the Peace Conference, in a conversation held
at the French Foreign Office on Tuesday, January 21st, 1919.[131] The
French Premier objected to the presence of the Bolshevists of Paris as a
danger to French society. Mr. Lloyd George then proposed Salonika or
Lemnos, as easily accessible from Russia. It was as the afterthought of
an official that the island of Prinkipos was suggested; perhaps it was a
measure of the fear of Bolshevism already existing among the Governments
of Western Europe. The appeal to the Russian parties was issued as a
result of this meeting of January 21st. We all know how it failed. It
withered from sheer lack of support. The Bolshevists refused to stop
fighting. The Russian “loyalists,” already divided from the Bolshevist
rule by gulfs of hatred and terror, rejected the very idea of a meeting.
The French official class, always very powerful, was openly hostile, and
actively worked against the proposal. The propertied classes in Great
Britain, supported by a powerful Press, denounced and ridiculed the
whole policy. The time expired for the meeting; and the policy expired
too.

Then in February came the Bullitt Mission originally devised as a
“feeler” by Colonel House. Mr. Bullitt went to Russia and experienced
one of those astounding conversions which the leading Bolshevists, by
showing only their better side, seem capable of producing. The American
Delegation asked Mr. Lloyd George to see Mr. Bullitt; and, with his
usual accessibility, he invited the young American to breakfast. The
proposal brought by Mr. Bullitt was not an offer from the Bolshevists,
but the suggestion of an offer by the Allies—a very different
affair.[132] President Wilson himself refused to meet Mr. Bullitt, a
course which seems to gather some justification from Mr. Bullitt’s
subsequent proceedings in America. But the proposals embodied in the
Bolshevist memorandum were not such as, at this time at any rate, had
any chance of serious consideration. The mere proposal to take the whole
matter out of the hands of the Peace Conference was not calculated to
conciliate that body.[133]

Then in April came the Nansen episode, which turned out, in Mr.
Bullitt’s adroit hands, to be yet another effort to renew the peace
negotiations of February. The gulf still proved impassable. The Allies
would not authorise Nansen to undertake his intrepid and humane
adventure without the power to distribute food and control the Russian
railways: and the Bolshevists would on no account agree to that course.
Neither side trusted one another. A civil war was raging, and the issue
was still undecided. Neither side would give way; and once more the time
limit expired.[134]

Still eager to attain peace in Russia, and finding that the hope of
conciliation was vain, Mr. Lloyd George now swung over to the policy of
helping Admiral Koltchak and General Denikin on the condition of
obtaining democratic and constitutional guarantees. The guarantees were
given, and seemed favourable. Help was sent. But there was one point on
which the “White” Russians would make no concessions—the independence
of the Border States. We all know how since on that rock of adventures
of the “White” Russians have shipwrecked; and so the hopes of the Allies
have been disastrously thwarted. It seems at the present moment as if an
immense mass of human suffering might have been averted if the original
policy of Mr. Lloyd George in January-February of 1919 had received
reasonable and friendly consideration in London and in Paris.

In regard to the League of Nations, Mr. Lloyd George was never the prime
mover, but always a faithful follower of President Wilson. Thus it was
that Mr. Lloyd George never framed a scheme, but took the schemes of
others as the basis for his advice and counsel. He profoundly believed
in the League of Nations as the only way out for the human race. But he
had not a very deep faith in schemes or constitutions. His idea was
rather, in the good old British way, to evolve a League from the Peace
Conference. He had in mind the precedent of the Imperial Conference, and
he believed that periodical meetings of the Peace Conference, gradually
including nations at first excluded, would lead to a slow growth of
understanding between nations now too ardent for sovereignty to be
affected by any decisions from Paris or Geneva.

President Wilson brought to Paris a scheme which he had already worked
out. He had based it on the Phillimore Report amended by Colonel House,
and rewritten by himself.[135] He then read General Smuts’s remarkable
memorandum, and revised his scheme again. That scheme was considered at
an early meeting of the Conference and referred to a League of Nations
Committee. President Wilson himself sat on the Committee along with Mr.
Lansing, thus giving up to the creation of the Covenant a large part of
his great energies and genius. Lord Robert Cecil was placed on the
Committee as the British Representative by Mr. Balfour, and we know what
a great part he played. Lord Robert was in frequent consultation with
Mr. Lloyd George, who always kept in close touch with the drafting of
the Covenant, and made many suggestions. When the Covenant was in
danger, he supported President Wilson on his return from America in his
insistence that it should be made part of the Treaty. Still, Mr. Lloyd
George perhaps never shook off his instinctive feeling that there was an
element of unreality in the drafting of a set constitution for the
League. He doubted whether the intense patriotism created by the war
could at once be poured, glowing hot, into the mould of a new
international discipline. The action of Italy, and still more of the
United States itself, seems since to have given some confirmation to his
view.

Throughout all these discussions Mr. Lloyd George and President Wilson
remained close friends. They were really kindred spirits, with the
difference that Mr. Lloyd George had a longer experience of politics and
diplomacy in the _rusé_ old Europe. But both came from Puritan stock,
and the high idealism and noble integrity of President Wilson’s
character must have often recalled to Mr. Lloyd George that splendid
uncle who had taught and nurtured him. Of their relationships it may be
said, as of Carlyle and Sterling, that they always ended their
discussions friends—“except in opinion not disagreeing.”

No two honest men, indeed, could expect to agree on all the questions
raised at this multifarious Conference. Take the problems of the Near
East. There Mr. Lloyd George very strongly took the view that the Turks
had forfeited the right to rule over Christians. He was always disposed
to look to the great Prime Minister, Venizelos, as the prop of the
Alliance in the Eastern Mediterranean. That made him lean to the Greeks.
M. Clemenceau followed the traditional policy of the Quai D’Orsay in its
leniency towards the Turks. President Wilson, perhaps influenced by the
American professors of the Roberts College at Constantinople, was
disposed to advocate clemency to Bulgaria. This is an instance of minor
differences which never threatened cleavage, but harassed and delayed
the proceedings of the Conference. For Mr. Lloyd George was never
inclined to neglect the Near East. There was the home and cradle of
those little nations in whose destiny he so profoundly believed.

There were crises in the Conference when he boldly acknowledged that he
had been wrong. Such a moment came when, in April, he was challenged on
the Indemnity question by a mandatory telegram from 200 members of
Parliament. He returned and faced his critics with defiance. “A good
Peace,” he said, “is better than a good Press.” He had discovered in
Paris that it was vain to hope for the great indemnities from Germany
which Great Britain deserved, and for which he himself had hoped. He
faced Parliament with realities; and Parliament bowed to the facts.

Speaking broadly, Mr. Lloyd George and his colleagues followed
throughout a sound British tradition. Instinctively they were, in 1919,
pursuing in Paris the same policy that Wellington and Castlereagh
pursued during 1815 in the Congress of Vienna, and the Second Treaty of
Paris after the victory of Waterloo. Just as they prevented a triumphant
Prussia from crushing France, so Mr. Lloyd George and President Wilson
prevented a triumphant France from shattering Germany to atoms.[136]

On the human side, Mr. Lloyd George lived in Paris a simple and homely
life. He occupied a modest flat in the 23 Rue Nitot, near the Arc de
Triomphe, in the pleasant neighbourhood of the Champs Elysées. European
observers were surprised at the contrast between the daily life of the
British Prime Minister and the high state which surrounded the American
President, who occupied the Villa Murat over the way. But when they
criticised the posting of sentries both inside and outside the
President’s house, and when the French people objected to being
forbidden to walk on the American side of their own beloved Parisian
street, they perhaps forgot that President Wilson stood in the place of
Royalty as the sovereign head of the country for which he spoke.

The French, with their genius for affability, preferred the easy ways of
Mr. Lloyd George with his love for their café life and their
restaurants, and his general sociability. He was often received in the
cafés and theatres with an almost embarrassing friendliness and respect,
and sometimes the audience would rise and sing “God Save the King.” At
one café in the Champs Elysées the orchestra knew so well his passion
for the “Sambre et Meuse” march, that they would play it whenever he
entered without waiting for his request. He was, as ever, kindly to the
journalists, and would, whenever possible, take a cup of tea with them
at the Hotel Majestic—humorously renamed “Megantic,” after his
daughter. On Saturdays it was the pleasant custom of the British exiles
to hold dances at this hotel, and Mr. Lloyd George would often look in
and watch the dancing. He loved to see his youngest daughter Megan and
his son Gwylem enjoying themselves at these democratic dances, to which
only an Arctic prudery could find any objection. On Sundays he would
often go touring in his motor-car through the devastated areas of
France, in company with the general who commanded that part of the
battle-field. In this way he visited most of the Western Front and had
the chief battles reconstructed for him. He paid a special visit to
Verdun, penetrated the forts where the blood-stains are still on the
walls, and lunched in the Citadelle. All these things made him popular
in France.

On most week-days he refused to go out in the evenings, retiring early,
but not always to rest. He kept to his habit of holding his hospitable
and homely breakfasts. He would sometimes take a Sunday off for a
motor-drive to Fontainebleau with his friends. On such occasions he
would talk no politics, but would indulge that precious capacity of gay
and happy recreation which has so often been his salvation.

The negotiations, after long delay, ended with a final speed-up.
President Wilson, on his return from his visit to America in February,
insisted on the inclusion of the League of Nations in the Peace Treaty,
and there was a rapid process of redrafting. On May 6th the draft was
completed, and it was presented at Versailles to the German Foreign
Minister, Count Brockdorff-Rantzau on May 7th. There followed six weeks
of parley with Germany, which led to some important modifications in
regard to the Saar Valley, the Polish Corridor, and Silesia. During this
final crisis Mr. Lloyd George played the part of a bold and fearless
conciliator: and he tried in every permissible way to make the peace
possible for Germany’s acceptance. President Wilson, on the other hand,
hardened, and took the view that he was pledged to support the Treaty as
now framed. But Mr. Lloyd George gained some important points, and by
softening the terms certainly added to the hope of future peace in
Europe.

On June 22nd the German Assembly ratified the Treaty, and on June 29th
it was signed at Versailles by the German envoys. Mr. Lloyd George
returned to England and eloquently defended the Treaty before
Parliament, which unanimously ratified it on July 3rd.

As far as Great Britain was concerned, Mr. Lloyd George had now achieved
peace.

-----

[125] For further particulars of the election see Chapter XXIV.

[126] President Wilson brought with him four delegates, including
Secretary Lansing, Colonel House, and one Republican, Mr. Henry White.
M. Clemenceau was supported by General Foch, M. Pichon, M. Tardieu, and
M. Loucheur.

[127] See, for instance, Dr. Dillon’s very able book _The Peace
Conference_ (Hutchinson & Co: London), _Peace Making in Paris_, by
Sisley Huddleston (Fisher Unwin: London), _The Peace in the Making_, by
H. Wilson Harris (The Swarthmore Press: London), and _The Economic
Consequences of the Peace_, by John Maynard Keynes, C.B. (Macmillan &
Co., London.)

[128] See Appendix D.

[129] Some of these reported speeches are even more mordant, as for
instance—“President Wilson talks like the good Christ, but acts like
Lloyd George.”

[130] The Saar Valley was finally given to the League of Nations for
fifteen years, giving the French the output of the mines. At the close
of that period there is to be a plebiscite, but if the vote goes in
favour of Germany the mines must be bought back by Germany from France.

[131] See pp. 1240-2 of the Bullitt evidence: “Hearings before the
Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate,” vol. ii. The
minutes of the meeting are given. I give them in full in Appendix C in
order to show Mr. Lloyd George’s point of view at this time.

[132] See Mr. Bullitt’s statement to the Committee of Foreign Relations,
United States Senate. “The Soviets undertook to accept proposals if made
by the Allies not later than April 10th, 1919” (_Hearings before the
Committee on Foreign Relations_, vol. ii. p. 1248). The proposals were
not written down by the Bolshevists but conveyed through Mr. Bullitt,
who placed them on record.

[133] See Mr. Bullitt’s evidence, _Hearings Before the Committtee on_
_Foreign Relations, United States Senate_, vol. ii. p. 1246. Mr.
Bullitt’s account of the conditions prevailing in Russia did not, of
course, tally with other and more responsible evidence.

[134] See Mr. Bullitt’s evidence, _Hearings Before the Committee on
Foreign Relations, United States Senate_, vol. ii. pp. 1264-71, for full
details.

[135] See President Wilson’s first scheme in the Bullitt evidence. At
the end of it nothing remained but a few clauses (_Hearings before the
Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate_, vol. ii).

[136] In framing the Second Treaty of Paris signed on November 20th,
1815, it was with the utmost difficulty that Wellington and Castlereagh
prevented the Prussian and Austrian representatives from annexing
Alsace-Lorraine.



                             CHAPTER  XXIV


                             THE NEW WORLD

    “With malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness
    in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on
    to finish the work we are in: to bind up the nation’s wounds; to
    care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow
    and his orphan; to do all which may achieve and cherish a just
    and lasting peace, among ourselves and with all nations.”

                                  ABRAHAM LINCOLN, March 4th, 1865.

“I DON’T envy the men who have to govern the world after the war,” said
M. Clemenceau to Mr. Lloyd George on one occasion in Paris during the
Peace Conference. His instinct proved true. For indeed the world, both
abroad and in these islands, has proved far less tractable since the
guns have ceased to fire. There has been less killing, but more
quarrelling. Above all, there has been a great increase of civil
contention within the nations, from the extreme of civil savagery that
has swept over Russia to the more moderate party contentions which have
divided and weakened American effort, and which have, to some extent,
distracted this country.

From the very beginning Mr. Lloyd George foresaw these troubles, and
decisively made up his mind that, for his part, he would work to prolong
the national unity achieved during the war. Since November 11th, 1918,
he never swerved from his belief that the country could not afford the
margin of effort necessary for party contention. Unity has seemed to him
as necessary for recovery from the strife as it was for the strife
itself.

For, consider the situation as it presented itself to the statesmen on
the morrow of the Armistice. In every great belligerent European country
trade had been entirely dislocated by the strain of the war.
Ploughshares had literally been turned into swords. Vast workshops had
been diverted to war. Huge populations of men and women had been shifted
to munition centres. Now gigantic armies of soldiers and workers had to
be demobilised, and over the whole situation hung the peril of
unemployment. All the countries were exhausted, physically and mentally;
it is not too much to say they were suffering from a modified form of
shell-shock. In every great community there were suppressed labour
difficulties, the accumulation of grievances that had been held back
from expression during the four years of war. Then, underground in both
France and Great Britain, there were the fanatics of Bolshevism, working
like moles at the roots of society and ready to take advantage of every
possible emergency to forward their terrific designs. In England the
very police had been shaken in their discipline.

Against such dangers it seemed to Mr. Lloyd George that all reasonable
men should combine and follow the road midway between “the falsehood of
extremes.” He was himself sometimes tempted, in some moods, to agree
with the enemies who suggested that his work was done. Both for him and
M. Clemenceau the achievement of victory seemed to mark the fitting
consummation of their careers. But if such moods came, they soon passed.
For retirement was impossible. It was not a time when any patriot could
stand aside. The storm was coming, and it was necessary to ride it. The
thought of retirement never seriously presented itself to his active and
combative mind.

The first step was to secure a new mandate from the country for the work
that lay before him. So he decided on a General Election.[137]

He had every excuse for this step in the situation of Parliament at that
moment. The old Parliament which saw us through the war had lasted for
eight years, although its statutory existence had been limited by itself
to five years under the Parliament Act of 1911. Five times the War
Parliament prolonged its own life, a process quite justifiable during
the stress of that mighty struggle, but approaching almost to a scandal
once active fighting had ceased. That Parliament lived longer than any
of its forerunners in the past century, and, having been elected long
before the war, was notably in many respects out of touch and tune with
the war feeling of the country. Many of its members had been called upon
to resign by their constituents, and by their attitude during the war
had gravely belied the patriotic unity of the country. That was not all.
A great measure of suffrage reform, far and away the most extensive
since the Reform Act of 1831, had been passed into law in February,
1918. The new register had been completed by October 1st and contained
two and a half times as many electors as the register compiled before
the war. For the first time women had the vote, and the same right had
been extended to soldiers on active service, to sailors, merchantmen,
and fishermen on the sea, besides a vast population of new home voters.
These were the people who had won the war. It seemed only fair and just
that they should have a voice in the peace.

It has always been the fixed constitutional rule in this country that
when a new Reform Act has created a large class of new voters the old
Parliament becomes obsolete. That was the rule pursued in 1831, 1868,
and 1885, and there seemed the more and not the less reason why at this
crisis the country’s fate it should be pursued in 1918. Nor can we be in
any doubt that if Mr. Lloyd George had pursued the alternative policy of
prolonging the life of the old Parliament he would have been equally
blamed.

Mr. Lloyd George desired to carry through the General Election with as
little party contention as was possible, and therefore informal
approaches were made to the Independent Liberals during the autumn with
a view to bringing them back into the Coalition. Those negotiations
broke down, not on any material difference of political opinion, but
mainly on the question of the date of the General Election. Mr. Lloyd
George refused to adopt, as a governing political principle, this new
reluctance to appeal to a new electorate. With regret he found himself
compelled to agree to a division in the Liberal Party between those who
befriended the Government and those who opposed it, and it is notable
that he carried with him the great majority of the old party. Many of
the Coalition Liberals found, when they went down to their
constituencies, that their Liberal Associations supported them with a
practically unanimous vote. The provinces were less factious than the
London Clubs.

The Labour Party decided to leave the Coalition, to which they had
adhered since December, 1916, and to fight the election as a body
independent of all other parties. But even Labour did not leave the
Coalition as a whole party, for in the process they became divided into
several sections, and some of the ablest members of the Labour Party,
including Mr. G. N. Barnes and Mr. G. H. Roberts, remained with the
Government. The surprising lack of leadership in the Labour Party since
the General Election, in spite of their notable victories at the polls,
has been largely due to this division of forces, and to the fact that
several members, such as Mr. Clynes and Mr. Brace, now acting as
Independent leaders, were at heart in favour of remaining within the
Government. The Labour Party, like the Independent Liberals, have also
paid penalty for the spirit of faction.

Deserted by the bulk of the Labour Party, and by the old leaders of the
Liberal Party, Mr. Lloyd George had to form his Coalition out of the
combination of those Liberals who remained faithful to him, and the
undivided forces of the Unionist Party. He and Mr. Bonar Law issued a
joint manifesto, and letters passed between them which defined the
Coalition policy. It was necessarily a policy displeasing to both
extreme wings. For it is the essence of a coalition that nobody can get
all his own way. At home, as abroad, Mr. Lloyd George had to compromise.
For, after all, it is the first duty of a Coalition to coalesce. The
justification of such a policy of compromise on matters of grave civil
moment was indeed to be found only in the gravity of the civil
emergency. It was not from one party only that Mr. Lloyd George asked
the sacrifice, and it is not by one party only that he has since been
attacked.[138]

The General Election took place on December 14th and Mr. Lloyd George
was returned to power with a majority of 249 over all the independent
groups. For the 602 seats in Great Britain no less than 478 official
Coalition candidates were elected, while the suicidal policy of the Sinn
Feiners resulted in the practical elimination of the Irish Party as a
parliamentary force. Most of the leading Independent Liberals were
defeated, and the Coalition was returned with a powerful and
overwhelming mandate to carry out its stated policy both at home and
abroad.

Parliament met to take the oath on February 3rd, 1919, and was opened by
the King for business on Tuesday, February 11th. It was emphatically a
war-born Parliament, but there were also signs of the New World which
had emerged from the war. Only 365 of the old members had been
re-elected. Labour stood out as the strongest party in opposition, and
its parliamentary leaders took their places on the Front Opposition
Bench.[139] The opening took place under ominous signs of civil strife.
The unrest of labour, restrained by patriotic motives during the war,
had already broken out into open flame. A general strike on the
Underground Railways held London in a grip of paralysis, made harder by
a bitter February frost. Mr. Lloyd George attended Parliament before
going to the Peace Conference in order to utter a grave warning against
the dangers of those social strifes. “This trouble,” he said, “is
impeding peace; and peace is the first necessity.” He warned the country
against certain symptoms of anarchy new to British movements; and he had
grave reason for so doing. But, at the same time, his attitude towards
the real grievances of Labour was always sympathetic and open-minded.
His own life had taught him too well the reality of those fears which
enshroud the workman’s existence: the dread of unemployment; the
precariousness of wage; and, above all, that fearful evil of
over-crowding which had been so seriously aggravated by the war. He
promised full investigation, and within a few days he called together at
the Central Hall, Westminster, a Labour Conference between employers and
employed, to whom he addressed himself in an earnest and persuasive
speech. All through the labour troubles of this year Mr. Lloyd George
pursued the same consistent policy. He was firm against anarchy, and yet
open to reason in regard to all real complaints. He had his ears open to
the call of the new order. But he dreaded the complete smashup of the
old society before the new was ready, and the events in Russia faced him
as a glaring red light. But he stood firm against coercion and
repression as the only cure for unrest, and he saved his Government from
pursuing the policy which, after Waterloo, led to the tragic anti-climax
of Peterloo.

But there were many impatient men in the world in 1919, and the English
mind was apt to demand payment in immediate cash for all Mr. Lloyd
George’s sanguine perorations. The Tube Strike in London was followed
almost instantly by a great crisis in the mine-fields. The miners
rejected the first Cabinet offer, and instantly went to ballot on the
question of a general strike. The rank and file voted for the strike by
a majority of six to one.[140] The Government replied by offering a
Royal Commission, which the miners accepted after a candid debate
between them and Mr. Lloyd George, which was certainly a new development
of open diplomacy in civil affairs. Mr. Justice Sankey was appointed as
Chairman of the Commission, and, after a hot debate in the House of
Commons on February 25th, the Government promised that the Commission
should report on the question of wages and hours by March 20th. On those
conditions the miners agreed to appoint representatives to the Royal
Commission and to present evidence.

Promptly on March 20th Mr. Justice Sankey’s Commission reported,
recommending an increase of two shillings a day in wages and an
immediate seven-hour day, to be reduced to six hours in 1921. The
revelations before the Commission as to the housing and conditions of
labour among the mining population made it easy for the Government to
meet the miners. They instantly granted them both these concessions, and
the strike was postponed. But the question of nationalisation of the
mines was held over, to become a widening political issue between the
Government and Labour during the rest of the year.

The Labour crisis died down for the moment, and did not recur in an
acute form until later in the year (October) when the railwaymen, whose
needs had perhaps been too little regarded in the stress of the mining
crisis, precipitated a struggle by a sudden and almost universal strike.
For a few days the situation looked extremely grave, and there is no
doubt that there were extreme forces working on both sides in the
direction of civil war. But after a short period of natural impatience
with the conduct of the railwaymen, Mr. Lloyd George steadied himself
back to his old combination of firmness and concession. On the side of
the strikers, both the miners and transport workers were in favour of
moderation, and, in the end, the moderate forces won. The threatened
revolution was averted by a quite ordinary compromise on hours and
wages. The whole crisis ended with a friendly and even enthusiastic
meeting of both parties—a sort of “sing-song”—in the domestic
atmosphere of 10, Downing Street. It was a striking exhibition of Mr.
Lloyd George’s characteristic gifts of control and conciliation.

Like Columbus’s settlement with the egg, this performance seemed easy
enough when it was achieved. But we must remember that Mr. Lloyd George
stood between two forces both equally violent. On the one side there
were the Direct Actionists, the “parlour Bolshevists” of the trade
unions, fascinated by M. Sorrel’s[141] opiate dream of dominating the
modern State through its complex organisation of food and transport. The
thing seemed so easy: and it would have been easy if Mr. Lloyd George
had not, for months before the strike, prepared to prevent it. The
motor-lorries that supplied London with milk were not organised in a
day. They were part of a perfectly legitimate counter-stroke prepared by
the Government when they realised the extent of the plot to hold up the
national life. But on the extreme wing of the Government’s side there
was an equally violent section who cried, “Let’s fight it out to the
end! Let’s smash Trade Unionism! Now’s the time to put Labour in the
cart!”—elegant phrases, which we all heard in those days. To this
temper Mr. Lloyd George was vitally opposed. He was out to fight
Bolshevism and “Direct Actionism,” but not Trade Unionism. Happily, in
this middle policy he was met half-way by several far-sighted leaders of
trade unions, notably Mr. J. H. Thomas, who, while resolutely upholding
the rights of the railwaymen, refused to surrender to the
revolutionaries. On the Friday Mr. Lloyd George came to the conclusion
that he, too, must resist his own extremists and go half-way to meet the
trades union moderates. We all remember how, under this new policy of
conciliation, the terrors of that critical week passed away like mists
before the wind, and Sunday brought us a sudden and welcome peace. It
was the triumph of the middle point of view, the old method of British
common sense which refuses to burn the house in order to build it
better.

Mr. Lloyd George was now called to Paris for the great work of European
settlement, and the task of reconstruction was left to his Ministers at
home. From February to May Mr. Bonar Law led the House of Commons and
practically acted as Home Prime Minister. He began to develop the
programme of reconstruction promised by the Government at the time of
the General Election. On February 26th Mr. Shortt introduced a measure
to which Mr. Lloyd George had given a great deal of thought and
attention—the Ministry of Transport Bill, constituting a bold claim on
behalf of the State to supreme control of railways, canals, tramways,
roads, harbours, docks, and electric supply. On March 17th Sir Eric
Geddes ably defended the Bill and gained a second reading without a
division.

It was scarcely to be expected that so great a change should take place
without resistance from the vested interests asked to submit to control.
In the course of the discussions that ensued various claims of the State
had to be modified and some withdrawn, especially in regard to the docks
and roads. But in the end a powerful measure was passed on to the
Statute Book, and already, with the firmer grip over transport and
traffic which the Ministry of Transport is able to exercise, the country
is feeling the tremendous advantages of this measure. It is safe to say
that no Party Government could have carried so big a measure with so
little debate within a year of the ending of the war.

After Transport, Housing—a far more difficult question. The
difficulties and troubles which beset the Government throughout 1918 on
this critical question have become notorious to all men. Dr. Addison
took the first step by introducing, on April 7th, a Housing Bill which
was certainly stronger than any hitherto placed before Parliament. Mr.
Lloyd George, before going to Paris, had taken an active part in
pressing this measure. He had ruthlessly forced a peerage on Mr. Hayes
Fisher and had thus seriously shaken the old-time resistance of the
Local Government Board. The main policy of the new Housing Act, as Dr.
Addison framed and passed it through Parliament, was to throw the burden
of housing on to the local authorities. The local authorities have not
proved equal to the task. The strong wind which was blowing at the
centre had not yet reached Slocum-in-Pogis and Little Puddleworth. The
financial credit of the smaller local authorities was not equal to the
new burden, and they were not powerful enough to face the great vested
interests which control the raw material. Some of the great
municipalities acted with a larger mind, but the small towns and rural
districts held back. There was much talk and few houses. The result was
that at the end of the year the Government had to make a fresh appeal to
the private interests, adding a bait rising to £150 for every house
built. Certainly no good-will was absent either on the part of the
Government or the central departments. But this task of 1919 is handed
on to 1920, and may require a vaster combination of energy and good will
than has yet been brought to bear on it. What seemed to be wanted was
that Mr. Lloyd George should bring to bear on this question some of the
high patriotic enthusiasm which combined employers and workmen to face
the Munition crisis of 1915. He, took the first step in this process by
meeting the building trades in December, 1919.

After these greatest questions there came a series of minor measures to
round off the Government’s social policy. The Ministry of Health Bill,
introduced in February and passed during the Session, concentrated all
the authorities responsible for public health into one great department,
which will gradually function as a new centre for the preventive and
curative measures suggested by the advance of medical science. The Land
Acquisition Act, in spite of the criticism brought to bear on it, is
already of immense value in enabling the new housing authorities to
acquire land. It is now safe to say that the trouble of the land is the
least of the questions involved in the matter of housing. The Land
Settlement Act, passed to help place ex-soldiers on the land, quickened
and extended the facilities for acquiring land for settlers either on
small holdings or allotments. The Extension of Rents Act, passed in
March, prolonged to one year after the war the freedom from a rise in
rent granted to small householders, and the margin of rents covered by
the Act was considerably raised in the course of the debate.[142] The
Industrial Courts Act set up an industrial tribunal for the settlement
of disputes, and, providing good-will gathers round it, may, in the end,
give to us a good working substitute for compulsory arbitration. Towards
the end of the Session Parliament passed a bold measure granting yet a
further step in the extension of self-government to India, and in one
day it generously increased the grants to old age pensioners. Mr. Lloyd
George ended the Session by sketching in outline the bases of a new
Irish settlement. Not a bad record for a Parliament which has been
denounced in all the terms of the political vocabulary as reactionary,
illiberal, profiteering, and even corrupt!

Thus since the Armistice, in domestic crises as in foreign, Mr. Lloyd
George has continued to be for this country the central figure of hope
and hate. He keeps his old faculty of commanding the interest of men.
Now, as in the boyish scrimmages of his youth, his flying colours draw
others on. For the moment (1920) he strives for peace and unity in civil
endeavour. But that is not because his eye is dimmed or his combative
strength abated. He is by nature a partisan leader, and it has cost him
no small effort to continue in his present part. The defensive on two
fronts is not his characteristic role. His instinct is still for the
heart of the battle: there, at any rate, his spirit is not aged. If
party warfare should become once more the best thing for the country, he
will not shrink from enlisting again in that service. But events have
thrown on him the mantle of national leadership, and it is a great
responsibility to descend again into the party arena. That is not his
present reading of a statesman’s duty in these difficult days. His mind
is rather filled with another vision—the vision of a State deliberately
consenting to sink faction in the cause of a larger purpose—of a
community which, with all its passion for the healthy strife of party,
can tell when to forego that strife, and can scent the danger from afar.
It is the old vision of a house not divided against itself, but working
together all parties and all classes, for the common good. Is it to fade
into the light of common day? That is the question—the vital
question—before us all.

Perhaps the habit of party passion, the love of party contention, is too
deeply rooted in this island people. Perhaps the gulf between the
classes has already become too wide to be bridged. There are signs and
omens pointing that way. But, if so, let us not be too certain that this
party habit, because it is our habit, is necessarily a virtue. Remember
Rome and Carthage. Rome united, and Carthage divided. Rome stood, and
Carthage fell.

At any rate, here is this other vision—the vision of a Britain that
stands together, shoulder to shoulder, “foursquare to all the winds that
blow,” a Britain that does not wound itself, and therefore does not rue.
To “be of the same mind one towards another” may be a vain hope and a
dream that fades; but, at any rate, it is not ignoble.

It is for this faith that Mr. Lloyd George now stands before the world,
as a national leader of this great and victorious British folk, now
slowly groping its way out of the shadow of death into the way of peace.

-----

[137] See Chapter XXIII, second page.

[138] By a section in all parties. For instance, the _Morning Post_, the
_Daily News_, and the _Daily Herald_, are all equally vigorous in this
combined attack.

[139] Sixty-three Labour members were returned out of some 300
Candidates.

[140] For the strike 611,998; against, 104,997.

[141] The founder of the French Syndicalist movement. See his book
_Reflexions sur la Violence_.

[142] From £50 per annum to £70 in London, £60 in Scotland and £55 in
the counties.



                              CHAPTER  XXV


                                THE MAN

           “He, though thus endued with a sense
           And faculty of storm and turbulence,
           Is yet a Soul whose master-bias leans
           To home-felt pleasures and to gentle scenes.”
                WORDSWORTH’S _The Happy Warrior_.

THAT element of tranquillity which Mr. Lloyd George enjoys in his own
home—that “happy fireside clime” which to him is always truly—

                      “The pathos and sublime
                      Of human life”—

perhaps accounts for the serenity of his outlook on public life.

That serenity is never more conspicuous than in seasons of hurricane.
Like some ships, he rides steadiest in rough seas. When people around
him are most disturbed, he is often the most calm.

There is doubtless an element in his nature which rejoices in conflict
and storm. I remember once finding him in his private room at the House
of Commons when it was urgent to bring him word that Scotland Yard
reported the intention of certain persons to take his life. His response
was to strike up a verse of a great Welsh hymn which passed beyond my
scope of understanding; but it was clear, from the flash of the eye,
that it was a song of rejoicing. “Well,” I said, “aren’t you at all
disturbed?” “No,” he said, “with the world in storm I rejoice. I love
all this smashing of windows and tumult of nations. I remember the
saying of a great Welsh preacher: ‘Such disturbances of the world always
mean some great movement in the realms above’—a reflection on earth of
some heavenly strife. I believe that is true.” I did not attempt to
argue with this mood; but this sympathy with unrest explains much in his
career, and most of all his skill in riding through tempests and
mastering storms. For it is at such moments that he is at his best.
Nothing seems to frighten or appall him. When the hearts of others are
dismayed he is touched with a new emotion. It is a kind of exaltation,
which seems to work in some kind of harmony with that universal spirit
which rides the storm and works through the whirlwind.

It is these moods which have most confused his critics and distorted
their judgment of him. Those who know Mr. Lloyd George only on one side
of his nature have always expected to see him fall over some political
precipice. His zeal, in their opinion, would eat him up. He would just
run the hot course of so many furious political firebrands. Some rash
and hasty blunder would occur, and he would flare out into the darkness.

Yet this disaster has never occurred. And why? Because behind all those
flashes of spirit there has been a steady pursuing purpose; discreet,
cautious, shrewd. “Whenever Mr. Lloyd George seems most rash,” said to
me an old friend of his who has seen him in many situations, “I always
know that there is a cold, shrewd calculation behind it.”

It was a true judgment. For, with his great power of words, he combines
a tremendous sense of facts. If he finds himself on the wrong course, he
will often hark back. If he has erred in speech he will apologise. After
the most vehement attack he will make friends with his victim. It is
this combination of the slow qualities with the swift—of judgment with
daring, of mercy with rigour, of slow reflection with swift attack, of
the zeal of the Cambrian with the shrewdness of the Fleming—that marks
him off from so many of his race. For it is not so much the emphasis of
one quality as the combination of several contrasted qualities that goes
to make human greatness.

Like all great stalkers and trappers, Mr. Lloyd George is very difficult
to follow. He has often doubled on his tracks whilst his faithful
disciples are still walking straight into the danger. He talks so freely
and frankly that his paths seem to be those wherein wayfarers, though
fools, may not err. But with all that frankness he really keeps his own
counsel and forms his own decisions. That is why so many simple people
are so surprised—and sometimes even a little hurt—to find that, after
they have given him the very best of their advice, he has just gone on
his own way.

Mr. Lloyd George by no means despises the tactics of public appeal. If
necessary, he will use even the theatrical in order to impress the
public mind. Soon after the Birmingham riot, at the height of the Boer
War, his friends opened the _Daily Express_ to find that there was a
scheme afoot to do him violence at a meeting to be held in Bristol that
evening. They wired a warning to the organisers of the meeting at
Bristol. They need not have troubled; for whatever danger faced him was
of Mr. Lloyd George’s own fashioning. He had deliberately gone to the
office of the _Daily Express_, advertised the place of the meeting,
announced his intention to denounce the war, and practically challenged
them to kill him. The organisers at Bristol had done their best to
conceal the meeting. This was his way of correcting the discretion of
his own friends.

This was immediately after that reverberating event at Birmingham, when
he in fact nearly lost his life. Late on that stormy evening he rang me
up in the _Daily News_ office from Birmingham. He wished me to go and
inform his wife at Wandsworth that he was safe. “But,” I said, “what I
am to tell her? Where are you?” “That I cannot divulge,” he said in a
laughing voice. “At present I am a member of the Birmingham Police
Force”—and he gave me his number. Through the telephone I could hear
the tinkling of cups. “Well,” I said, “you are having a good supper.”
“Yes,” he said, “we are making merry, and the mob are making merry
outside. We are both happy!” It was perhaps characteristic of the
calmness of his domestic life that, on reaching Wandsworth late that
night, I found the house closed and the whole family fast asleep. Mrs.
Lloyd George happily had not heard of the danger through which he was
passing at Birmingham.

Then, as now, this habit of courage was always his supreme public
characteristic. “Of all qualities in public life,” he said to me once,
“courage is the rarest.” From the earliest episodes of his career, from
that day when he defied the Bench in North Wales, here—in his
courage—has always been the conscious centre of his power. He has
always believed that if you want to destroy a popular idol you must
learn to face it and to fight it—to put it to open shame—if necessary,
to insult it. Fear rules the minds of men; and against fear courage
alone prevails. This was always the moving faith at the back of all his
great campaigns, whether of peace or of war. It was with this weapon
that he has fought both Governments at home and Prussians abroad. It was
the element of policy that underlay that frank directness of speech
which offended the cultured classes of England so profoundly at the time
of his Budget campaign.

For he convinced himself that modern public speakers had got into the
habit of referring too politely to great national evils. He believed
that the most effective weapon to use against these evils was to revive
some of the lost frankness of our forefathers. His great aim was to
prove that it was safe to speak as plainly about a duke as about an
ordinary citizen. He had known in his young days how cowed men could be,
how fearful of shadows, how frightened by ghosts. The thing he had most
admired about Mr. Chamberlain was his plainness of speech. It was his
deliberate policy to revive that habit. Mr. Lloyd George’s oratory of
the year 1911 was the direct successor of Mr. Chamberlain’s during the
years between 1886 and 1893.

As to the abuse he encountered, he counted that as a political gain. He
was fond of the story of the workman who had heard a political agent
expressing terror at the fury of a certain class. “Bless my heart!” said
the workman, “we never thinks you mean business until they squeals.” So
it was with the avalanches of calumny which fell upon Mr. Lloyd George
between 1911 and 1914. He knew that it was the penalty of challenging
the powers in high places. It showed that his proposals really “meant
business.” “Their abuse,” says Sir Fretful Plagiary in _The Critic_, “is
the best panegyric.” So Mr. Lloyd George ploughed the road to fame
through the abuse of those years.

Yet all the time he suffered. He has a heart very sensitive to the
affections of the people. He was puzzled at the way men hated him. It
was not the danger of it he minded; for he would scarcely allow the
Scotland Yard men to protect him. It was the pain of it. He frankly
hates dislike; his nature craves the sun; he is at his best among
friends. “I cannot imagine why they detest me so,” he said one day
during that time. “I seem to be the best hated man in England.” The
reply was obvious. “If one half of England hates you too much, then
surely the other half loves you too absurdly.” He was instantly all
smiles. “That is perfectly true,” he cried—and put the melancholy
thoughts aside.

During the struggle over the Licensing Bill of 1908 he received numerous
postcards written in what was intended to be blood, but looked
suspiciously like red ink. These documents generally threatened him with
instant death, probably combined with torture—“something lingering,
with boiling oil.” They came, or professed to come, from enraged
publicans fearful for their livelihood. These postcards got curiously on
his nerves. “I don’t mind so much being killed,” he said one day, “but I
should hate being killed by a publican.” There seemed to him something
curiously unsatisfactory in such a way of going out.

But in general he has taken little heed of threats. It was only with
great difficulty that the Attorney-General could persuade him to
sanction a prosecution in the famous case of the poisoned arrow
conspiracy. He was always in favour of leniency to the Suffragettes. It
is not merely that he hates excessive punishment. His haunting sense of
humour seems to be offended by the idea that he is taking up so much
room in the world. He dislikes the attendance of detectives almost as
much as Mr. Gladstone did. “Can you possibly tell me where Mr. Lloyd
George is going?” was the frequent cry of those unhappy followers of Mr.
Lloyd George to his friends in those perilous days of civil strife. “He
is always giving us the slip,” was their complaint. Sitting one day on
one of those little green chairs in the Green Park for which the
Londoner pays his obol—a favourite seat of his in those days of
peace—at the end of a long talk he sighed and looked grave. He inclined
his head towards a shabby-looking individual who was smoking a pipe and
sitting not far off under a tree reading a newspaper with apparent
indifference to the whole world around him. “There is my guardian
angel!” said Mr. Lloyd George.

It is not only in facing hostile audiences that he has displayed his
courage. He has never hesitated to tell his friends the truth. He has
that gift of leadership which consists of making followers do something
which they do not want to do. He has put aside all fear of those great
influences which overshadow English public life—birth, money, prestige,
caste. He represents in high places a new freedom from all those
bogies—almost the realisation of Robbie Burns’s dream:

                     “For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
                       It’s coming yet for a’ that,
                     That man to man, the world o’er,
                       Shall brithers be for a’ that.”

Not in his most vehement Limehouse days did he say anything stronger
than the Scotch ploughman said in his famous song:

                  “Ye see yon birkie ca’d a lord,
                    Wha struts, an’ stares, an’ a’ that;
                  Tho’ hundreds worship at his word,
                    He’s but a coof for a’ that.”

Mr. Lloyd George, in fact, always tests man by what is in him; not by
the guinea stamp, or by the pedigree. Why should he not? Birth! What
birth can there be higher than that of a Welshman?—“The oldest race in
these islands.” Money? “I can always get money for a cause; there is no
difficulty about money.” That has always been his view; and who can
wonder that such should be the belief of a man who has made millionaires
subscribe for their own taxation!

Of prestige he is perhaps more fearful. He was tremendously impressed
with Oxford when he stayed in that town for some days on his visit to
the Palmerston Club during the Boer War. “I am glad I never came here,”
he said. “I should never have recovered from the influence of this
place; it would have been with me all my life.” He was indeed strongly
gripped by Oxford and its “dreaming towers.” After two days of it he
was, for the moment, half subdued. “Ah!” he said, “how the past holds
you here.” All of which shows what a mistake our forefathers made when
they excluded the Nonconformists from our ancient universities.

It is indeed quite a mistake to suppose that Mr. Lloyd George is dead to
the voices of the past. There is no greater delusion than to regard him
as an unlettered man. If the best education is to turn a boy loose in a
library, then he has enjoyed to the full that form of schooling. He
started life with the training of a lawyer, which he always claims to be
the best mental discipline to which a human mind can be subjected. Those
laborious explorations of French and the classics through which he
passed with his “Uncle Lloyd” as companion, were certainly not less
useful as a training than the fugitive crammings of the average
University undergraduate. At any rate, he learnt to read for himself;
and to absorb what he read. Since those early days he has been a wide
reader in all his spare time. He knows his English historians better
than most Englishmen. He can hold his own with most classical scholars
in discussions on ancient history. Perhaps, indeed, Rome holds him most
of all the countries. He knows his Mommsen well, and he spent the long
convalescence from the throat illness that came to him after the Budget
in reading some of the latest Italian historians of ancient Rome. He
emerged from that illness a formidable expert in later Roman history,
especially in the land laws of the Gracchi. In fact, he has most of the
outfit of the scholar except the scholar’s pride.

Parallels from history are dangerous; but they always haunt the mind of
a well-read imaginative man. Mr. Lloyd George is very fond of them. One
evening in 1908, when we were sitting in the Orangerie at Stuttgart, in
a pause of the German tour of that year, the conversation began to turn
on the possibilities of a war between Britain and Germany. The parallel
of Rome and Carthage came like a flash from Mr. Lloyd George; it brought
from him one of those far-reaching forecasts which, in other days, would
have earned him the mantle of a prophet. “There is the same commercial
rivalry,” he said, “the same sea jealousy, the same abiding quarrel
between the soldier and the merchant, the warrior and the shopkeeper,
the civilisation that has arrived and the civilisation that is still
struggling to arrive.” He paused, and then he added: “I wonder if we
shall be as unprepared as Carthage; I wonder if we shall be as torn by
faction?”

It is curious to look back now on that conversation, in that
comfortable, well-lighted garden—the pride of that old German
town—with the vault of stars above us, and the murmur of a great city
around us. We thought no more of it at the time. But now it comes back.

In his games, Mr. Lloyd George is a keen sportsman. Golfers, as a class,
have the seriousness of religious devotees. But no man could pursue the
little white ball round a course with a steadier concentration than Mr.
Lloyd George. No player could be keener on victory. “Golf is like life,”
he loves to say, “you never quite make up for losing a hole.” His game
has much improved in recent years; though he never claims to be a
champion. He has not again repeated the achievement of “holing out in
one.” That was at Cannes in the far-off, merry days before the Great
War. It had the beauty of the unexpected. He drove off: and lo and
behold! the ball disappeared. The caddies hunted everywhere; and it was
just being pronounced a “lost ball,” when a sharp youth looked into the
hole, and there the ball was quietly reposing!

It is usual on these occasions to present the caddy with a bottle of
whisky. Mr. Lloyd George gave the lad five francs; and of course there
were candid friends who said that the caddy had put the ball in the
hole. There are always critics, even on the golf-course.

His worst enemies cannot accuse Mr. Lloyd George of “side”; so there are
some who say that he has not enough. He is, in fact, the simplest of
men, fond of being surrounded with friends, and very faithful to the
humble friends of his youth. He is curiously unconscious of his own
position in the world. To one who congratulated him on his elevation to
the Premiership he merely replied, “Oh! I had forgotten that!” And I
believe that he had.

This simplicity makes him very thorough. He knows his own ignorance.
When he was Chancellor of the Exchequer he went to Somerset House and
went carefully through the whole system of the old land taxes and their
working. When he was guiding his Budget through the House of Commons he
had a daily meeting of the Treasury experts, with whom he discussed
every detail. That is always his method—to learn all he can from
others. He is a great listener, and learns rather by the ear than by the
eye.

He is very considerate for his secretaries and his staff; but he works
them hard. He has no place for “slackers.” When he first went to the
Treasury, he astounded that august Department by beginning work at ten
o’clock. They soon caught the habit, for later on they slaved for him in
a way that astonished the onlooker. He can make others work because he
works himself.

At one time he took a great interest in the organisation of the Civil
Service. On first becoming a Minister, he was astonished to discover the
rigidity of the division between the First and Second Classes of the
Civil Service. He wished the system to be more fluid. Once he was struck
by the ability of a certain civil servant, and he wished to place him in
a position of trust. “It is impossible!” was the reply; “he is only a
second division clerk.” Mr. Lloyd George looked up with a flash of
whimsical indignation. “Why!” he replied, “I am only a second division
clerk myself!”

Whenever one tries to discover the secret of his power over men, one
comes back to that supreme gift of his—the gift of the silver
tongue—the power of public speech. That is, after all, the thing that
has made him supreme over men. To hear him at his best one must hear him
on a public platform, addressing a great public audience. There are few
fireworks, no shouting, no declaiming. He opens easily, in a soft, quiet
voice: he always works up to his effects. There are “purple patches” now
and again; but the bulk of it seems almost conversational, and is often
broken by colloquial phases—“Can you hear at the back there?” “Ah!
well, you must listen if you want me to speak to you.” He is almost
always very soon on good terms with his audience; it is only by shouting
him down that his enemies can prevent that. He is never angry on a
public platform; he seems always quite at home, as if it was his real
natural element. He can be scathing at times—withering, scornful,
contemptuous. But that mood rarely lasts long. He generally returns
swiftly to his gentler moods—persuasion, appeal, emotion. He almost
always prepares a careful peroration, generally a memorised piece of
prose poetry, very often drawn from some great phase of nature—from the
hills or the sea. Then his speeches end on the high note; and his
audiences go home with a sense of having been uplifted.

There they are right—for it is precisely his power as a speaker to
uplift the hearts of men. He has his own moods. But from those he
carefully selects the very best, and gives them to the world. No public
man can do more.



[Illustration: MRS. LLOYD GEORGE]



[Illustration: DAVID LLOYD GEORGE AS A YOUNG MAN]



                             CHAPTER  XXVI


                          HIGHWAYS AND BYWAYS

                  “Jog, jog on, the foot-path way,
                  And merrily hent the stile-a:
                  A merry heart goes all the day,
                  Your sad tires in a mile-a.”
          Autolycus in SHAKESPEARE’S
_The Winter’s Tale_, Act IV, Sc. ii.

BUT, on the whole, it is the future rather than the past that rules the
mind of David Lloyd George.

To him the future has always been an unexplored miracle—ever in travail
with some new birth. To him, behind the veil of the coming time, there
always lies a possibility of some event such as the world has never
known—of some creation such as the world has never seen. He has moods
when he seems “fey” with his belief. “I am out to abolish slums,” he
cried one evening, in 1912, walking across London upon a winter’s night
beneath a starless sky. He meant it. His bitterest enemy could not have
laughed at that utterance if he had heard it.

In such moods he was at that time (1908-12) indeed “The little Brother
of the poor.” He was filled with a certain storming passion of pity, so
powerful that it seemed to destroy all obstacles—to bridge all
difficulties. All the accumulated memories of his own childhood—all the
recollections of the poor cottagers among whom he had been brought up,
all their sufferings and pains, all their oppressions and tragedies,
seemed to be moving behind him like some great tide and driving him on.
I remember his explaining once his own consciousness of the mark which
such an upbringing left on a man’s life. He was talking about the East
End Settlement movement, and of its attempt to bring the leisured
classes nearer to the workers. He was a little doubtful. “It is a gulf
which can never be bridged,” he said. “You people can never understand
what it is to be really hungry or out of work. The difference lies in
security. The poor man is always in danger, and he always knows it.”

It was such a knowledge that inspired him with his enthusiasm for Old
Age Pensions and for his Insurance Schemes. It was just this security
that he wanted to give to the life of the poor. And yet he has never
been a sentimentalist over their troubles. He looks at them, so to
speak, from the inside. The sentimentalism of the philanthropic middle
classes rather annoys him. What he always craves for the poor is
justice, and not charity. In the days of the Insurance Act he was
sincerely afraid of creating a dependent working class. He was surprised
when he received so little help in his contributory policy. “I will
never try to be good again,” he said laughingly one day. “They call me a
demagogue, and next time I will really be one.” Such was his chaff.

In conversation he first expressed the idea of social insurance by a
parallel from the Canadian farmer who insures his wheat against early
winter frosts. That was the image in which he expressed his sense of the
vast power of the modern State to build up a properly organised system
of individual security. Having once conceived this idea, the various
benefits came to him in waves of compassion—sickness, invalidity,
maternity, consumption. He worked all these benefits out from his own
experience of the sorrows of the poor. “I want to make the little
stranger welcome,” he said one day, talking about the maternity benefit.
“It is horrible to think that he should come trailing clouds of trouble
instead of ‘clouds of glory.’” The story of the consumptive benefits is
interesting. He had not felt the need of this benefit until one night he
read through a very powerful medical work describing the ravages of
consumption in modern Britain. The extent of the evil at once fully
dawned on him. He came down in the morning with his mind fully made up.
He went straight to the Treasury, called together his experts, told them
to put aside £1,500,000 to fight consumption,[143] and so created that
famous sanatorium benefit which is still proving only the first step
towards removing a gigantic evil.

He faced all these familiar troubles of modern life with a “divine
discontent” new to modern men. We all knew these things; but most of us
had become so familiar with them that our anger was blunted. Our
reforming temper had grown tired and stale. But this Welshman approached
the matter with some of the ardour of the revivalist. He would not
accept the ordinary excuses; he believed these evils to be curable.
Fresh from the Welsh hills, he flamed with a new surprise at the power
of poverty over modern civilisation. He showed some of the ingenuous
dismay of a surprised Gotama emerging from his garden. He realised that
private efforts had been tried and found inadequate. What he saw with a
flash was that the State alone could cope with the evils produced by the
State; the Government must become the parent and no longer the
stepmother of its own children.

Once he realised this idea he was eager to carry it into effect. He was
passing from one great effort to another—from the Insurance Act to the
Land Campaign—when the Great War burst upon him. Then the very elements
of civilisation had to be defended against an even greater peril.

It is recorded that the rebuilders of the Temple had to build every one
with “his sword girded by his side.”[144] There must have been times
when they had to lay down the trowel entirely and work with the sword
alone. Such a time came to Mr. Lloyd George in 1914; the trowel was only
laid down. Now it is being taken up again.

What struck the observer most in his achievements during those years
(1908-14) was his daring and originality. Plenty of clever English minds
had been working on these problems ever since 1886. But how little had
been done! How long we had had to wait for Pensions and Insurance! How
strangely academic and remote were all those University and West End
speculations on these problems! How quarrelsome were the
philanthropists! How divided were the English Labour leaders! Then from
outside came this zealous Welsh Crusader, and while all these people
were still talking he proceeded to act. When the world had recovered
from its surprise most of the persons concerned turned round and
attacked Mr. Lloyd George. However right he might be in his aim, there
was always sure to be something wrong with his methods. This attitude
frankly puzzled him. “Why! they talk as if I was trespassing,” he used
to say. “Is charity, then, a form of property? Is kindness a monopoly?”
The attitude of the doctors especially surprised him. “I have made a
discovery,” he said one day with a twinkle in his eye. “I have
discovered that disease is a vested interest!”

Throughout all these struggles over social reform Mr. Lloyd George
tempered his enthusiasm with a very even sense of political tactics. He
knew well that, to carry England with him, he must always have a great
political party at his back. There were times when this was not easy.
Neither of the great political party machines in this country is exactly
impassioned for new ideas. It is rather typical of the faithful party
man to view a new proposal with actual dislike. “Why not leave it all
alone?” is a common attitude with all parties.

Then there is the value of a grievance. There is even a type of party
man who actually regrets to see his cause succeed. “If we pass the Bill
we shall lose the cry!” you hear him say. “Mr. Lloyd George is passing
too many Acts of Parliament,” was the common complaint of the period
among the very faithful.

To this type of man the Budget of 1909-10 was rather a distracting
affair. They were always trying to “dilute” it. The Insurance Bill, too,
would certainly have been thrown over if Mr. Lloyd George had not staked
his fortunes on it; and, as to the Land Campaign, that was viewed with
open disfavour in the same quarters. For every party has its priesthood;
and in politics, as in religion, all priesthoods are conservative.

But, in spite of all this trouble within the party, Mr. Lloyd George was
always resolute not to quarrel with the machine. One of his fixed
principles was—“Keep the party machine on your side.” He was certainly
not a typical party man—far from it. He regarded the party as the
instrument and the cause as the end; whereas the typical party view is
that the cause is the instrument and the party the end. But he knew the
power of the machine; he often quoted Mr. Chamberlain as an instance
showing that in the end the machine won. “Mr. Chamberlain fought both of
the machines in turn,” he used to say, “and, in the end, both combined
against him and beat him.” Roosevelt was another case which impressed
him deeply. “Ah!” he commented, when that great man was beaten so
decisively in 1913, “Roosevelt ought not to have quarrelled with the
machine.”

On these grounds he has often accepted the second best in policy.

He has often allowed himself to be convinced against his will. After the
defeat of the Education Bill in 1906, for instance, he was as eager to
go back to the country as Mr. Gladstone after the Lords’ rejection of
Home Rule in 1893. Both these great fighters felt instinctively that a
party which accepts a defeat asks to be defeated again until it is
finally smashed. You cannot expect a country to vote for ever for a
party that accepts defeat as its proper portion. But in this case, as in
others, rather than quarrel with his party, he acquiesced in the
decision to go on.

Still, he was glad when the split with the Lords became irrevocable. It
happened that I had the fortune of announcing to him the resolution of
the Lords to throw out the Budget. It was down at Lord Renders beautiful
house near Guildford, where Mr. Lloyd George was staying for the last
time with that faithful Nestor of Welsh Liberalism. Mr. Lloyd George had
been very anxious. He knew that the wiser Unionist leaders in the Lords
had been in favour of accepting his Bill. He was afraid that the Lords
were going to refuse battle on grounds so favourable to their
assailants. When I told him the news his face shone. “The Lord,” he
cried, “has delivered them into our hands!”

In the same way, he has always been very slow to take the step of
resignation from high political office. How often have his
friends—generally a man’s worst advisers—urged him to resign over some
failure to gain his own way! But he well knows that there is nothing
more difficult in politics than the art of resigning opportunely. You
must have a great issue and you must have your people behind you. “You
cannot be always resigning,” was one of his favourite sayings during the
critical years of 1909-12. It is true that he often came near it, but he
would generally compromise the matter and pass on. He was equally
against Cabinets resigning in a hurry. After the second General Election
of 1910 there was a meeting when the Liberal Cabinet, wearied out with a
long struggle, was on the verge of resignation. Every member who spoke
at this fateful meeting had favoured resignation. Mr. Lloyd George felt
strongly opposed to it, but he was almost silenced by the unanimity of
his colleagues. At last he scribbled a line and threw it across to Mr.
Winston Churchill. “I feel strongly against resignation,” he wrote.
“What do you think?” Mr. Winston Churchill scribbled below: “If you feel
against it, speak against it.” Mr. Lloyd George spoke against it, and
spoke so persuasively that the idea of resignation was dropped.

Even on fundamental issues he would often accept personal defeat for the
time. He had to decide whether to go out into the wilderness or to work
with men to whom he was attached, and with whose ideas he broadly and
profoundly sympathised. When the draft of the new Home Rule Bill was
before the Cabinet in 1910 he moved to exclude Protestant Ulster. He
made the longest speech he had ever addressed to a Cabinet on that
issue. He prophesied what was certainly coming—the resistance of
Ulster; the refusal of Protestant England to join in coercing her; the
hesitation of the Government to carry out their Act. He was in favour of
telling the Irish Party straightaway that the Government of 1910 was not
strong enough to include Ulster in the Home Rule Bill. He would have
left the Irish Party to accept or reject the Bill as it would have then
stood. He himself believed that in such a case Ulster would come in
during the parliamentary discussions on the Bill. He was defeated in his
proposal. Being defeated, he loyally stood by the Cabinet and steadily
supported the Bill. It was not until long afterwards, when he himself
became Prime Minister and responsible for policy, that he revealed to
the world in that dramatic speech which drove the Irish Party out of the
House, the fact that he had always been in favour of the exclusion of
Ulster.

In literature and art Mr. Lloyd George does not pretend to be among the
elect. He gives himself no airs and has no pretensions. He is just
himself. He states, without parley, his own genuine opinions on books
and pictures; and, as that is the rarest habit in the world, it is
always interesting. Nine out of ten literary and artistic judgments are
reflections or echoes—repeated at second-hand from some bolder speaker,
or even vaguely salvaged from the dim abysses of memory. The most
refreshing thing in the world, therefore, is an honest, fresh, and
original judgment. It is characteristic of Mr. Lloyd George that he
never hesitates to give that in any company.

In literature he votes with both hands for Byron, perhaps because Byron
is the poet of liberty, and also because that great writer, with all his
faults, has the quality of daring. But he boldly contends that the Welsh
are among the greatest of modern poets; and he will recite their verses
at large, even to English friends, in order to confirm his claim.

In prose, he is devoted to George Meredith.

In music, he places Handel first among his heroes. There, again, in
great works like the _Messiah_, he seems to discover some quality of
sublimity which elates and inspires him.

But there, again, his living passion is really nationalist and based on
national affections. The only music that profoundly moves him—touches
his soul—is the music of the old Welsh hymns and folk-songs. Not long
ago he spoke up boldly for the music and literature of his own nation
before all the world.[145] There he voiced his own deepest conviction on
these matters. The music and songs of his own people strike the deepest
chord in his nature.

In religion his outlook always seems to be broadly Christian rather than
sectarian. Brought up in his uncle’s creed of the “Disciples of Christ,”
which is really an attempt to hark back to the purity of the early
Gospel teaching, he has an inherited hatred for dogmas. He is very fond
of such parables as those of the Good Samaritan, which he instinctively
regards as the best comment on the claims of priestcraft.

He has a profound interest in all forms of Christianity. There was a
time, many years ago, when he was fond of going the round of the
Churches. He would also listen in the old days with the closest interest
to the discourses of the Salvationist preachers on Wandsworth Common;
and he would often contribute to their collections, and talk to their
officers. And yet, at the other extreme, he has always had a curious
admiration for Roman Catholicism. He would sometimes argue that the
Methodist discipline in Wales was founded on the Catholic model. I
remember going with him into a London Catholic Church where he listened
with rapt attention to the chanting of the Latin psalms. There was
something in the roll of the language which penetrated and held him. But
he was always a great listener. He would never complain at the length of
a sermon. When at Brighton he would take his friends to listen to the
preaching of a young Nonconformist minister at whose feet he sat with
whole-hearted admiration. He would always argue that the standard of
preaching among the Nonconformists had steadily risen and was now higher
than among the Anglicans. He attributed that fact very largely to
post-graduate colleges like Mansfield. He was a great admirer of
Principal Fairbairn, and would listen to that great man’s hour-long
discourses without moving an eyelid.

Wit is his most sparkling characteristic; and there are few companies of
talkers among whom he is not the wittiest. His laugh will change the
mood of the gravest men, just as his smile has been known to affect the
attitude of immense multitudes. And yet wit is not his greatest gift. I
should place higher that power of insight into deep truths which he will
display in sympathetic company. Generally the theme of this insight will
be politics; and there is no subject which he is more swift to
illuminate with telling phrase. In these moods he will seem to be
looking at all parties, and even at himself, from the outside. It is an
extraordinary gift of detachment, literary and artistic in its nature,
and peculiarly rare in a party politician. It goes with a Celtic love of
whimsical paradox, like the talk of a man at his ease, a little
disturbing to the strait sect of the faithful party men.

But it will not always be politics that his mind plays on in this
manner. In moments of relaxation he will take a wider range. Sometimes
it will be this very subject of religion, which is never very far absent
from his thoughts. “Christianity,” he said to me once, “is like a
gold-mine. We are always imagining that it is exhausted, and that no
more gold can come out of it. Then humanity digs a little deeper, and it
always comes across a fresh seam.” He always seems to be digging a
little deeper himself.

His judgments of great men who came before are always just a little
inclined to severity, perhaps as a rebound from the snobbery of history.
Looking round at that great gallery of the Englishmen of Napoleonic days
which adorns the breakfast-room at 10, Downing Street—Pitt, Wellington,
Nelson, Fox, Burke—he said once: “None of them were very great—the
greatest of them all was the man in the little frame in the corner—the
man they honoured least—the Irishman, Edmund Burke.” Perhaps it was the
orator and the thinker in Burke that drew him. Or perhaps, even more,
the Celt.

But it would be unfair to take him too seriously in these judgments. He
is above all things a conversationalist in regard to all such matters.
It is only in politics that he would ask to be taken as an expert. There
he works very gravely and arduously. It is sometimes said that he does
not read much. When he can, indeed, he prefers, like many very busy men,
to acquire knowledge by the ear; and he likes to meet men who know, and
to learn from them. But he can read widely and deeply when he thinks it
necessary. He will read steadily through great Blue-books when he is
preparing a parliamentary case; and when he was preparing for the
Insurance Act he studied deeply and widely the whole literature of
English social conditions, and in the parliamentary debates he displayed
astonishing mastery.

He is a great newspaper reader. It is his habit to read practically the
chief daily newspapers in bed in the morning before he comes down to
breakfast; and it is somewhat disconcerting for his breakfast guests to
discover that he already knows all the news of the day. He never reads
either a newspaper or a letter at any meal. He talks and attends to his
guests, as every civilised host should do.

“He always speaks to me as if I were the only person in the world,” said
one who met him rarely, and was opposed to him in politics. That
utterance explains, perhaps, better than any other the secret of his
social power. He has a profound sense of equality, and will treat the
humblest human being as courteously as the highest. He is always very
popular with humble people who serve him, such as hall-porters or
maid-servants.

Not, indeed, that he suffers from that inverted snobbery which puts its
boots on drawing-room sofas and reserves its insolence for crowned
heads. It is well known that King George V and Mr. Lloyd George are
sincere friends, and bound by mutual respect and admiration. The
friendship began after the death of the King’s father, and has deepened
ever since. They have much in common—habits of arduous industry, the
love of home and family, the passion for simple things. In private he
constantly expresses his deep esteem and regard for the King as a man
and a father. He is thoroughly at home in that happy domestic atmosphere
of the present Court.

He is a splendid travelling companion; he loves the novelty and stimulus
of foreign touring. He likes the friendly open-air life of foreign
capitals; and he is never tired of exploring new cities. They come back
now as radiant memories—those travels over Europe which we took
together in earlier, peaceful days—in France and the Tyrol, over plains
and mountains, through villages and cities.

One experience comes vividly back. We were staying in a little Tyrolese
village named Vent. Some of us, being mountain climbers by election, had
set off at 3 a.m., the climber’s hour, to mount a high snow-peak, the
Similaun. We returned in the afternoon to find that Mr. Lloyd George had
disappeared from the inn.

He returned later and told us his experience. He had tired of his
reading, looked up at the glistening peaks and decided that he, too,
could and would climb mountains. He had taken his stick, set off alone,
and proceeded to attack the nearest peak, without ice-axe or guide. He
surmounted a rock-ridge, crossed a glacier, and reached a distant
height. None of us could comprehend how he managed to return alive.

There it is again, in small matters as in big—this note of daring, of
refusal to accept defeat, of assertive invincibility. It is the key-note
of his character. In every study of David Lloyd George it pursues you
everywhere and all the time.

There never was a time in human history when such a quality was more
needed. Frowning heights lie behind and in front of—roaring cataracts
of catastrophe—gleaming peaks of suffering and sacrifice—frozen
glaciers of death, seamed and crevassed with agony. May he help us to
win through!

-----

[143] As a capital sum for building, in addition to £1,000,000 a year
for maintenance out of the Insurance Fund. Even these sums have proved
quite inadequate.

[144] Nehemiah IV, 8.

[145] At the Welsh Eisteddfod of 1917.



                             CHAPTER  XXVII


                          THROUGH FOREIGN EYES

                             Praise enough
           To fill the ambition of a private man,
           That Chatham’s language was his mother tongue
           And Wolfe’s great name compatriot with his own.
                                          COWPER.

TRAVELLING about the world before the Great War, no one could fail to
notice that the name of Mr. Lloyd George had already become an ensign.
Men had begun to apply it to that particular type of statesman, becoming
happily less rare, who take risks on behalf of the “common people.” It
had become a way of classifying a statesman to speak of him as “Our
Lloyd George.” This was especially the case with little nations. In
Norway, for instance, during the winter of 1913-14, I found that that
remarkable social reformer, Mr. Castberg, was generally spoken of as the
“Norwegian Lloyd George”; and on meeting him I was surprised to find how
closely he was modelling his policy on that of the British statesman.
His chief aspiration was to meet Mr. Lloyd George and discuss with him
his own schemes for simplifying and enlarging Norwegian social insurance
and reforming their land system.

This was but one example of a very general tendency. There was another
remarkable fact. Those who met and talked with Socialists either in
France or in Germany during 1912-14, must have been astonished to
discover that, in speaking of Great Britain, their thoughts were
concerned not with any British Socialist leader, but almost always with
Mr. Lloyd George. The reason of this was simple, but illuminating.
European Socialism had for half a century been hand-cuffed to an
impracticable idealism. Here was a man who achieved things. He might be
an opportunist and a compromiser. Well, then, there was something to be
said for opportunism and compromise. For the great thing was that, while
all the idealists were still dreaming, this man was awake and
doing.[146]

Apart from the Socialists, there was one European statesman who, long
before the war, already realised Mr. Lloyd George as a possible European
force. That was the great Cretan Greek, M. Venizelos. The instinctive
mutual regard and respect of these two men is one of the most remarkable
things in latter-day politics. There was telepathy in it. Across the
length of Europe they seemed to have caught some message from one
another even before they were acquainted. It was Mr. Lloyd George who
especially urged on the Greek Government that M. Venizelos should come
to the London Conference of 1912. It was on that visit that they met at
the house of a friend and had a long conversation. They found much in
common—a common hope for the little nations, a common belief in the
unity and federation of the Balkan States as the one hope of the Near
East.

It was after this that M. Venizelos said to a friend—“Mr. Lloyd George
will save Europe.”



It was only gradually that Mr. Lloyd George emerged in Western Europe as
a commanding figure in the world war. It was the French who first among
European nations discovered him as a European. This was partly, no
doubt, from some instinctive sympathy between the Gaul and the Celt; for
very large numbers of Frenchmen—the Bretons—are actually still
Celtic—even Welsh—both in thought and language.

It was also that Mr. Lloyd George, in his great munitions campaign, took
so many ideas from the French and realised in a moment, across the gulf
of language, the extraordinary swiftness and power of the French mind,
their amazing courage and capacity in enterprise and organisation. We
have seen how, early in the war, he sat at the feet of the French
Socialist Minister, M. Albert Thomas; and how, at the Boulogne
Conference of June, 1915, he learned from the French gunners. It would
be foolish to pretend that Mr. Lloyd George talks French very well. But
he has learnt to understand their spoken language when it is uttered by
masters like M. Briand and M. Thomas.

But it was not till 1916 that Mr. Lloyd George stood out to the French
with a bright, particular light of his own. Amid the doubts and
hesitations of their own politicians they caught a glimpse of a man
across the Channel who dared to lead—who ventured to tell the people
the unpleasant truths, and to direct them to unpleasant duties.

    “A speaker full of free and generous inspiration,” says M.
    Georges Leygues in the _Evènement_ of July 7th, 1916, greeting
    his appointment to the Ministry of War, “he never fails in his
    perception of realities, and he goes straight to the fact.
    Passionate interpreter of the soul of his people, which he knows
    so well in all its phases—living incarnation of the ardent
    Welsh race, he enjoys a real ascendency over the masses. He can
    make them understand and accept the length of the effort
    necessary to shake that which most offends the proud people of
    the West—that boastful and brutal barrack-yard spirit under
    which the German military caste designed to bring the free mind
    of the world.”

In December, 1916, during the great ministerial crisis which led to the
Lloyd George Premiership, these French writers saw far more clearly than
the journalists of London what was at stake. In London, on both sides,
the writers and politicians were too much absorbed in the personal and
party issue—they regarded it too much as a conflict of newspaper
“combines.” In France, on the other hand, the journalists all realised
that the difference turned round great issues—great questions of method
in the conduct of the war. Here is what that great journal, _Le Temps_,
wrote on December 7th, 1917:

    “The English ministerial crisis is just a conflict, at an acute
    stage, of two principles and methods of government. One
    represents the normal maintenance of traditions, or rather of
    conventions, which have stood the proof of long
    administration—the ordinary march of the governmental machine.
    According to this view, that machine can give us its full value,
    if only all its wheels are strengthened without being modified.
    The other view holds that there must be new simplifications of
    the machinery. The driving power must be organised and
    concentrated in one control—and that a control of energy. The
    time of good intentions has passed. This is no longer an affair
    of ‘Wait and see.’ Mr. Lloyd George takes his stand clearly and
    simply on the side of decisive action.”

The _Temps_ was not alone. Philippe Millet, writing in _L’Œuvre_ on the
same day, showed that he had a glimpse of the same issue:

    “It is necessary to look beyond the conflict of persons. Then
    one discovers a practically unanimous desire to constitute at
    last a true War Government. What England has in her mind is the
    formation of a sort of Committee of Public Safety.”

England, he perceived, had become more revolutionary than France.

    “Conscription had made a greater change in England because it
    was in itself a revolution. Beginning later than ourselves, the
    English have taken on the habit of changing their political
    organisation at great speed and as fast as the war compels them;
    and their acquired pace is probably in this stage superior to
    ours. It is in England rather than in France that one sees at
    this moment the spirit of Carnot reviving.”

Here surely was a very profound political observation. With the same
keenness of insight M. Clemenceau, writing on July 1st, 1917, in
_L’Homme Enchaîné_, saw in Mr. Lloyd George a great political
experimentalist adapting his course always to the actual events of the
war:

    “The English Prime Minister is, above all things, a man of
    action—one of those who, under the active impulse of living
    thought, apply themselves to one task only—and that is to bring
    order and method into the plans and resolves which come to them
    from a rigorous scrutiny of realities.”

Other French journalists, still seeing these incidents more clearly from
across the water, rejoiced at the change on the broadest possible lines.
“The state of war,” wrote M. Gustave Téry, “demands that all
deliberations should be brief and decisions prompt. Now how can they
possibly be so, if all power is exercised by two dozen Ministers who
pass half their time in discussion and the other half in deploring their
impotence?” Gustave Hervé was even more outspoken in _La Victoire_
(December 7th, 1916):

    “Roughly the veils are torn aside in all the allied countries;
    and from Petrograd to Paris, from London to Rome, the whole
    world turns anxiously towards their Governments, crying, ‘We
    want leaders!’

    “Lloyd George has been the first in our great countries of the
    West to hear the cry of the people.”

M. Fitzmaurice, in the _Figaro_, foresaw how the crisis would end:

    “Perhaps he will not have the support of all his colleagues of
    to-day, some of whom are precisely those whose delays and
    decisions he was arraigning, and from whose hands he wished to
    take the War Council; but he will have with him all the men of
    action of all the parties who recognise in him a true leader
    because they have seen him at work and they know that they can
    count on him. He will have with him all the English people and
    all the Allies.”

The _Matin_ on the same day (December 7th) analysed the position as
follows:

    “In reality the conflict which divides the English political
    world is nothing new in the history of peoples. In moments of
    great gravity, even of less gravity than the present time, there
    has often been felt this imperious necessity to trust the
    management of affairs to men of energy. Even revolutions have
    arisen, in England itself, and several times, from the
    discontent created by Ministers who were excellent in moments of
    calm but feeble in serious crises.”

The _Journal_ wrote thus:

    “One element dominates the situation. It Is the preponderating
    position of Mr. Lloyd George. No Prime Minister could govern
    to-day without asking not so much for his collaboration as for
    his directions. Lloyd George is the soul of England at war, and
    the principal combative arm of Great Britain. Why keep him then
    in the second political place? The brain that conceives ought
    also to be the will that directs.”

It is, indeed, a remarkable proof of the interest taken by Frenchmen
to-day in the personality of Mr. Lloyd George that perhaps the best of
all the shorter sketches of his career has been written by M. Paul Louis
Hervier and published by that enterprising magazine, _Je Sais Tout_, in
its issue of April 15th, 1917.

To-day, indeed, it is scarcely too much to say that in France Mr. Lloyd
George is the best known and loved of all European statesmen—not even
excluding the statesmen of France itself.

Or turn to another splendid European Ally—Italy. There, too, Mr. Lloyd
George is well appreciated as a leader in the Entente Alliance. Here is
a passage from the _Secolo_ in December, 1916:

    Once more we see Lloyd George, the watchful, the innovator, the
    inaugurator of new ideas. He has known how, in the country
    classic for its individualism, to strengthen and enlarge the
    sphere of State action. His first political experiments from
    1906 to 1914 were all directed to destroy the _laissez-faire_
    system, and to substitute for it the direct and co-ordinated
    action of the State, especially when the action of the State
    attacked the privileges of the rich classes. To-day Lloyd George
    seeks to bring into being a veritable “War Socialism.”

The _Giornale d’Italia_ took the same line:

    In comparison with the preceding administration, the new
    Government is distinguished for its firmness of decision.
    England takes another step along the path of warlike
    evolution. . . . Lloyd George’s power is the power of a warrior,
    who is determined to subordinate every private interest, that
    the interest of the whole nation may prevail. . . . He voices
    the conscience of the whole British Empire, which fully realises
    that every barrier must be overturned, every obstacle overcome,
    that stands in the way of the development of those resources for
    war without which it is impossible to beat the enemy.

The _Idea Nazionale_ echoed the same view:

    There is a new feeling among the Governments of the Entente—a
    new determination to conquer “without the aid of time.” The old
    Governments were characterised by their conviction that time was
    a substantial ally. This constituted an element of weakness. The
    speech of Lloyd George, however, is an authentic interpretation
    of the signs of the times. . . .

In an interview with the _Morning Post_ in December, 1916, that
remarkable Italian, Signor Bissolato, expressed these views:

    “You ask me what I think of Lloyd George? That is tantamount to
    asking me what I think of England. It is rare in history that a
    nation has found itself as perfectly identified with one man as
    England is to-day with Lloyd George. The world, enemies and
    friends included, stands amazed by the energy Lloyd George
    displays in dealing with the huge difficulties that the war has
    raised. But few know that in the energy of this one man is
    apparent the energy of the whole English nation. What is
    particularly fortunate is his decisive arrival to power at this
    juncture. I say this because if a nation at such critical times
    as these does not find the man who is destined to lead it, it
    runs the danger of remaining like the giant who cannot find a
    weapon to fight with in a conflict which is to decide his
    fate. . . . England’s good fortune in having found Lloyd George
    is the good fortune of the whole Entente.”

Let us cross from Europe to our new and splendid Ally, the United
States. There the career of Mr. Lloyd George has always been followed
with the closest interest. There was a touch of enterprise—a salt
savour—about his Budget that took the fancy of a country always in love
with daring. The quick and observant journalists who watch affairs in
England on behalf of the American democracy were already warning their
people that Mr. Lloyd George was putting them out of date. In a very
remarkable sketch of Mr. Lloyd George’s land proposals sent to the
American Press in April of 1912 by Mr. James Creelman, he told them that
England was on the verge of a revolution that would make America look
old-fashioned.

    “These are stirring and epoch-making times in Old England.

    “The old and powerful order of things is about to pass away.”

And in his bright American way he depicted the English aristocracy
crying out:

    “Oh! for a way to get rid of the grey-eyed, smiling little Welsh
    demon who sits at the Imperial Treasury planning new taxes on
    wealth and land; who puts evil ideas of social justice into the
    head of the calm, keen, adroit Prime Minister and all the rest
    of the Cabinet, and who has bewitched the once humble and
    contented British people until they no longer reverence or
    respect orthodoxy or the nobility and upper classes!”

Mr. Lloyd George has always been fully as interesting to the leading men
of America. When they visit England, it is he whom they most desire to
see and to meet. President Wilson looks at the world with a slower,
calmer gaze, and arrives at his conclusions very much more gradually.

But President Roosevelt always held Mr. Lloyd George in a fierce
admiration, not unmingled with envy for his success in carrying with him
a militant democracy. Mr. Roosevelt wrote shortly before his death as
follows to a public man in his country:

    “Give my heartiest regards to Lloyd George. Do tell him I admire
    him immensely. I have always fundamentally agreed with his
    social programme, but I wish it supplemented by Lord Roberts’s
    external programme. Nevertheless, my agreement with him in
    programme is small compared with the fact that I so greatly
    admire the character he is now showing in this great crisis. It
    is often true that the only way to render great services is by
    willingness on the part of the statesman to lose his future, or,
    at any rate, his present position in political life, just
    exactly as the soldier may have to pay with his physical life in
    order to render service in battle.”

As to our own far-flung Empire, there never has been much doubt about
their views in regard to Mr. Lloyd George.

There are enough Welshmen in Canada to see to that Dominion. Sir Wilfrid
Laurier, in a letter of introduction written a year before his death,
wrote:

    “Mr. M. is one of your most ardent admirers; and if you do not
    know it let me tell you that their number in this country is
    legion.”

There he certainly spoke the truth.

Sir Richard Flavelle, the famous Canadian financier, was present in
London during the great financial crisis. On returning to Canada, in a
speech at Ottawa on September 26th, 1916, he spoke as follows:

    “During those days the men who met the Chancellor (Mr. Lloyd
    George) in Committee were struck with one or two personal
    characteristics. One of the noted ones was the man’s
    self-effacement. He sought for no glory for himself. He sought
    for no recognition for himself. One of the early evidences of
    the measure which he had taken of the situation was found, by
    the gentlemen who waited upon him, that Mr. Austen Chamberlain
    sat by his side. He crossed over to the other side of the House,
    and he said—‘I need your assistance.’”

Less expected than the praise of Canada is the admiration of India. Mr.
Lloyd George has never visited India, and he would not claim any special
knowledge of India. But India is the country of the poor man; and the
poor man all over the world has heard in his speeches a new call of
hope. To him Mr. Lloyd George seems a light in great darkness, the
glimmering of a new dawn. Writing before the war, the _Indian Patriot_
said:

    “Of all the statesmen at the head of affairs in England to-day
    no one exercises the imagination of India so much as Mr. Lloyd
    George. He is not known as ‘Mr.’ here, but has gone over to the
    ranks of greatness, and is called simply ‘Lloyd George.’ His
    force and his earnestness always appeal to the imagination. His
    speech is carefully read and treasured up. The cry of India
    is—‘When shall we have a Lloyd George over here?’ and the story
    of his pensions for the old, his insurance for the sick has
    become a legend from the West.

    “When will he come as our Viceroy?” is what a poor man asked the
    writer. And he was disappointed to be told that he may not come
    at all. ‘But then Mr. Lloyd George has many followers, and any
    one of them, trained as he is, may come!’ And here was
    consolation!”

“They all love him, and are ready to lay down life for him; and all
because he has done so much for the poor.” That is the verdict of India,
where kindness to the poor is a first call on all religions, and not a
pious aspiration controlled by the Poor Law.

Then there are the little “Neutrals.” They ought, by all the rules, to
have seen the best of the game. There is a remarkable article in the
_Journal de Genève_ of May 15th, 1917, which seems to embody the
judgment of the most cautious and level-headed of all the neutral
observers of the war:

    “Mr. Lloyd George has been called ‘the Prime Minister of
    Europe.’ There is truth in that utterance. Of all the statesmen
    who exercise to-day an influence over the destinies of the
    world, Mr. Lloyd George is the most attractive, the most
    personal, the most wilful, the most audacious. More than all the
    others, he sees the future and prepares for it.

    “He has two talents which complete his outfit. He knows how to
    will, and he knows how to speak.”

Finally, there is one tribute that comes from abroad to Mr. Lloyd George
which certainly ought not to be omitted from this survey:

Of all British statesmen, he was, during the war, the best abused in the
enemy Press.

-----

[146] A remarkable instance of this comes to hand. Prince Kropotkin, in
addressing the Moscow Conference (August 1917), told the Russian
Socialists that there was more Socialism in Mr. Lloyd George’s speeches
than in all their dreams.



                              APPENDIX  A


               PRINCIPAL DATES IN MR. LLOYD GEORGE’S LIFE

 Birth of David Lloyd George                   January 17, 1863.
 Death of his father                           June 7, 1864.
 Is taken to Llanystundwy                      August, 1864.
 Enters the village school                     1869.
 Passes Law Preliminary                        1877.
 Enters solicitor’s office at Portmadoc        1878.
 Family moves to Criccieth                     May 1880.
 Visits Houses of Parliament                   November 1881.
 Speech on Egyptian War at Portmadoc           November 1882.
 Passes Law Finals                             1884.
 Starts practice at Criccieth                  1884.
 Starts practice at Portmadoc                  1885.
 Speaks at Michael Davitt’s meeting            1886.
 Llanfrothen case                              1888.
 Marries Miss Maggie Owen                      January 24, 1888.
 Adopted as Liberal candidate in Carnarvon
   Boroughs                                    December 1888.
 Elected Alderman for Carnarvonshire County
   Council                                     1889.
 Returned M.P. at By-election (majority, 18)   April 10, 1890.
 Fight over Clergy Discipline Bill             1892.
 Second election (majority, 196)               July 8, 1892.
 Revolt over Welsh Disestablishment Bill       1895.
 Third election (General Election—majority,
   194)                                        1895.
 Opposes Agricultural Rating Bill              1896.
 Opposes Voluntary Schools Bill                1897.
 Opposes Tithes Bill                           1899.
 Speaks against South African War              October 27, 1899.
 Opposes South African War                     1900.
 Fourth election at Carnarvon Boroughs
   (majority, 296)                             October 6, 1900.
 Mobbed at Birmingham                          December 18, 1901.
 Fights Education Bill                         1902.
 Welsh Education Revolt                        1903.
 Defies Schools Coercion Act                   1904.
 President of the Board of Trade               1905.
 Fifth election at Carnarvon Boroughs
   (majority, 1224)                            1906.
 Settles Railway Strike                        1907.
 Becomes Chancellor of the Exchequer           April 12, 1908.
 Passes Old Age Pensions Act                   July 1908.
 Visits Germany                                August 1908.
 Introduces Budget                             April 29, 1909.
 Thrown out by Lords                           November, 1909.
 Sixth election at Carnarvon Boroughs
   (majority, 1,078)                           January 1910.
 Passes Budget                                 April 28, 1910.
 Becomes member of Party Conference            June-November 1910.
 Seventh election at Carnarvon Boroughs
   (majority, 1,208)                           December 1910.
 Introduces Insurance Bill                     May 4, 1911.
 Carries Insurance Bill                        December 1911.
 Land Campaign                                 1912-1913.
 Great War opens                               August 4, 1914.
 Becomes Premier                               December 1916.
 Armistice                                     November 11, 1918.
 General Election                              December 14, 1918.
 Peace Conference opens                        January 18, 1919.
 Peace ratified by Parliament                  July 21st, 1919.
 Peace ratified at Versailles                  January 10, 1920.



                              APPENDIX  B
                      THE CRISIS OF DECEMBER, 1916


      THE CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN MR. ASQUITH AND MR. LLOYD GEORGE

_Memorandum of Mr. Lloyd George to Prime Minister, December 1st, 1916._
                                            WAR OFFICE, WHITEHALL, S.W.

1. That the War Committee consist of three members—two of whom must be
the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Secretary of State for War, who
should have in their offices deputies capable of attending to and
deciding all departmental business—and a third Minister without
portfolio. One of the three to be Chairman.

2. That the War Committee shall have full powers, subject to the supreme
control of the Prime Minister, to direct all questions connected with
the war.

3. The Prime Minister, in his discretion, to have the power to refer any
question to the Cabinet.

4. Unless the Cabinet, in reference by the Prime Minister, reverses
decision of the War Cabinet, that decision to be carried out by the
Department concerned.

5. The War Committee to have the power to invite any Minister and to
summon the expert advisers and officers of any Department to its
meetings.

                                      10 DOWNING STREET, WHITEHALL, S.W.
                                            _January 1st, 1916._

    _Secret_
    MY DEAR LLOYD GEORGE,

        I have now had time to reflect on our conversation this
    morning, and to study your memorandum.

    Though I do not altogether share your dark estimate and forecast
    of the situation, actual and perspective, I am in complete
    agreement that we have reached a critical situation in the war,
    and that our methods of procedure, with the experience which we
    have gained during the last few months, call for reconsideration
    and revision.

    The two main defects of the War Committee, which has done
    excellent work, are:

        (1) That its numbers are too large.

        (2) That there is delay, evasion, and often obstruction
        on the part of the Departments in giving effect to its
        decisions.

    I might with good reason add (3) that it is often kept in
    ignorance by the Departments of information, essential and even
    vital, of a technical kind, upon the problems that come before
    it: and (4) that it is overcharged with duties, many of which
    might well be relegated to subordinate bodies.

    The result is that I am clearly of opinion that the War
    Committee should be reconstituted, and its relation to and
    authority over the Departments be more clearly defined and more
    effectively asserted.

    I come now to your specific proposals.

    In my opinion, whatever changes are made in the composition and
    functions of the War Committee, the Prime Minister must be its
    Chairman. He cannot be relegated to the position of an arbiter
    in the background or a referee to the Cabinet.

    In regard to its composition, I agree that the War Secretary and
    the First Lord of the Admiralty are necessary members. I am
    inclined to add to the same category the Minister of Munitions.
    There should be another member, either without portfolio or
    charged only with comparatively light departmental duties. One
    of the members should be appointed Vice-Chairman.

    I purposely do not in this letter discuss the delicate and
    difficult question of personnel.

    The Committee should, as far as possible, sit _de die diem_, and
    have full power to see that its decisions (subject to appeal to
    the Cabinet) are carried out promptly and effectively by the
    Departments.

    The reconstitution of the War Committee should be accompanied by
    the setting up of a Committee of National Organisation, to deal
    with the purely domestic side of war problems. It should have
    executive powers within its own domain.

    The Cabinet would in all cases have ultimate authority.

                                          Yours very sincerely,
                                               (Sd.) H. H. ASQUITH.

                                             10 DOWNING STREET, S.W.
                                                   _December 4th, 1916._

    _Secret_
    MY DEAR LLOYD GEORGE,

        Such productions as the first leading article in to-day’s
    _Times_, showing the infinite possibilities for misunderstanding
    and misrepresentation of such an arrangement as we considered
    yesterday, make me at least doubtful as to its feasibility.
    Unless the impression is at once corrected that I am being
    relegated to the position of an irresponsible spectator of the
    war, I cannot possibly go on.

    The suggested arrangement was to the following effect. The Prime
    Minister to have supreme and effective control of War Policy.

    The agenda of the War Committee will be submitted to him; its
    Chairman will report to him daily; he can direct it to consider
    particular topics or proposals; and all its conclusions will be
    subject to his approval or veto. He can, of course, at his own
    discretion attend meetings of the Committee.

                                               Yours sincerely,
                                               (Sd.) H. H. ASQUITH.

                                             WAR OFFICE, WHITEHALL, S.W.
                                                   _December 4th, 1916._

    MY DEAR PRIME MINISTER,

        I have not seen the _Times’_ article. But I hope you will
    not attach undue importance to these effusions. I have had these
    misrepresentations to put up with for months. Northcliffe
    frankly wants a smash. Derby and I do not. Northcliffe would
    like to make this and any other rearrangement under your
    Premiership impossible. Derby and I attach great importance to
    your retaining your present position—effectively. I cannot
    restrain, or, I fear, influence Northcliffe. I fully accept in
    letter and in spirit your summary of the suggested
    arrangement—subject, of course, to personnel.

                                                Ever sincerely,
                                             (Sd.) D. LLOYD GEORGE.

                                      10 DOWNING STREET, WHITEHALL, S.W.
                                            _December 4th, 1916_

    _Secret_
    MY DEAR LLOYD GEORGE,

          Thank you for your letter of this morning.

    The King gave me to-day authority to ask and accept the
    resignation of all my colleagues, and to form a new Government
    on such lines as I should submit to him. I start therefore with
    a clean slate.

    The first question which I have to consider is the constitution
    of the new War Committee.

    After full consideration of the matter in all its aspects, I
    have come decidedly to the conclusion that it is not possible
    that such a Committee could be made workable and effective
    without the Prime Minister as its Chairman. I quite agree that
    it will be necessary for him, in view of the other calls upon
    his time and energy, to delegate from time to time the
    Chairmanship to another Minister as representative and _locum
    tenens_; but (if he is to retain the authority, which
    corresponds to his responsibility as Prime Minister) he must
    continue to be, as he always has been, its permanent President.
    I am satisfied, on reflection, that any other arrangement (such
    as, for instance, the one which I indicated to you in my letter
    of to-day) would be found in experience impracticable and
    incompatible with the retention of the Prime Minister’s final
    and supreme control.

    The other question, which you have raised, relates to the
    personnel of the Committee. Here again, after deliberate
    consideration, I find myself unable to agree with some of your
    suggestions. I think we both agree that the First Lord of the
    Admiralty must, of necessity, be a member of the Committee.

    I cannot (as I told you yesterday) be a party to any suggestion
    that Mr. Balfour should be displaced. The technical side of the
    Board of Admiralty has been reconstituted, with Sir John
    Jellicoe as First Sea Lord. I believe Mr. Balfour to be, under
    existing conditions, the necessary head of the Board.

    I must add that Sir Edward Carson (for whom personally and in
    every other way I have the greatest regard) is not, from the
    only point of view which is significant to me (namely, the most
    effective prosecution of the war) the man best qualified among
    my colleagues present or past to be a member of the War
    Committee.

    I have only to say, in conclusion, that I am strongly of opinion
    that the War Committee (without any disparagement of the
    existing Committee, which in my judgment is a most efficient
    body, and has done and is doing invaluable work) ought to be
    reduced in number: so that it can sit more frequently, and
    overtake more easily the daily problems with which it has to
    deal. But in any reconstruction of the Committee, such as I
    have, and have for some time past had in view, the governing
    consideration to my mind is the special capacity of the men who
    are to sit on it for the work which it has to do.

    That is a question which I must reserve for myself to decide.

                                          Yours very sincerely,
                                               (Sd.) H. H. ASQUITH.
                                              _December 5th, 1916._

    MY DEAR PRIME MINISTER,

          I received your letter with some surprise.

    On Friday I made proposals which involved not merely your
    retention of the Premiership, but the supreme control of the
    war, whilst the executive functions, subject to that supreme
    control, were left to others. I thought you then received these
    suggestions favourably. In fact, you yourself proposed that I
    should be the Chairman of this Executive Committee, although, as
    you know, I never put forward that demand. On Saturday you wrote
    me a letter in which you completely went back on that
    proposition. You sent for me on Sunday, and put before me other
    proposals; these proposals you embodied in a letter written on
    Monday:

        “The Prime Minister to have supreme and effective
        control of war policy.

        “The agenda of the War Committee will be submitted to
        him; its Chairman will report to him daily; he can
        direct it to consider particular topics or proposals;
        and all its conclusions will be subject to his approval
        or veto. He can, of course, at his own discretion,
        attend meetings of the Committee.”

    These proposals safeguarded your position and power as Prime
    Minister in every particular. I immediately wrote you accepting
    them “in letter and in spirit.” It is true that on Sunday I
    expressed views as to the constitution of the Committee, but
    these were for discussion. To-day you have gone back on your own
    proposals.

    I have striven my utmost to cure the obvious defects of the War
    Committee without overthrowing the Government. As you are aware,
    on several occasions during the last two years I have deemed it
    my duty to express profound dissatisfaction with the
    Government’s method of conducting the war. Many a time, with the
    road to victory open in front of us, we have delayed and
    hesitated whilst the enemy were erecting barriers that finally
    checked the approach. There has been delay, hesitation, lack of
    forethought and vision. I have endeavoured repeatedly to warn
    the Government of the dangers, both verbally and in written
    memoranda and letters, which I crave your leave now to publish
    if my action is challenged; but I have either failed to secure
    decisions or I have secured them when it is too late to avert
    the evils. The latest illustration is our lamentable failure to
    give timely support to Roumania.

    I have more than once asked to be released from my
    responsibility for a policy with which I was in thorough
    disagreement, but at your urgent personal request, I remained in
    the Government. I realise that when the country is in the peril
    of a great war, Ministers have not the same freedom to resign on
    disagreement. At the same time I have always felt—and felt
    deeply—that I was in a false position, inasmuch as I could
    never defend in a whole-hearted manner the action of a
    Government of which I was a member. We have thrown away
    opportunity after opportunity, and I am convinced, after deep
    and anxious reflection, that it is my duty to leave the
    Government in order to inform the people of the real condition
    of affairs, and to give them an opportunity, before it is too
    late, to save their native land from a disaster which is
    inevitable if the present methods are longer persisted in. As
    all delay is fatal in war, I place my office without further
    parley at your disposal.

    It is with great personal regret that I have come to this
    conclusion. In spite of mean and unworthy insinuations to the
    contrary—insinuations which I fear are always inevitable in the
    case of men who hold prominent but not primary positions in any
    administration—I have felt a strong personal attachment to you
    as my Chief. As you yourself said on Sunday, we have acted
    together for ten years and never a quarrel, although we have had
    many a grave difference on questions of policy. You have treated
    me with great courtesy and kindness: for all that I thank you.
    Nothing would have induced me to part now except an overwhelming
    sense that the course of action which has been pursued has put
    the country—and not merely the country, but throughout the
    world, the principles for which you and I have always stood
    throughout our political lives—in the greatest peril that has
    ever overtaken them.

    As I am fully conscious of the importance of preserving national
    unity, I propose to give your Government complete support in the
    vigorous prosecution of the war; but unity without action is
    nothing but futile carnage, and I cannot be responsible for
    that. Vigour and vision are the supreme need of this hour.

                                               Yours sincerely,
                                             (Sd.) D. LLOYD GEORGE.

                                             10 DOWNING STREET, S.W.
                                                   _December 5th, 1916._

    _Private_
    MY DEAR LLOYD GEORGE,

          I need not tell you that I have read your letter of to-day
    with much regret.

    I do not comment upon it for the moment, except to say that I
    cannot wholly accept your account of what passed between us in
    regard to my connection with the War Committee.

    In particular, you have omitted to quote the first and most
    material part of my letter of yesterday.

                                          Yours very sincerely,
                                               (Sd.) H. H. ASQUITH.

    In the meantime, I feel sure that you will see the obvious
    necessity, in the public interest, of not publishing, at this
    moment, any part of our correspondence.

                                             WAR OFFICE, S.W.
                                                   _December 5th, 1916._

    MY DEAR PRIME MINISTER,

          I cannot announce my resignation without assigning the
    reason. Your request that I should not publish the
    correspondence that led up to and necessitated it places me
    therefore in an embarrassing and unfair position. I must give
    reasons for the grave step I have taken. If you forbid
    publication of the correspondence, do you object to my stating
    in another form my version of the causes that led to my
    resigning?

                                               Yours sincerely,
                                             (Sd.) D. LLOYD GEORGE.

    As to the first part of your letter, the publication of the
    letter would cover the whole ground.

                                             10 DOWNING STREET, S.W.
                                                   _December 5th, 1916._

    MY DEAR LLOYD GEORGE,

          It may make a difference to you (in reply to your last
    letter) if I tell you at once that I have tendered my
    resignation to the King. In any case, I should deprecate in the
    public interest the publication in its present form at this
    moment of your letter to me of this morning.

    Of course, I have neither the power nor the wish to prevent your
    stating in some other form the causes which led you to take the
    step which you have taken.

                                          Yours very sincerely,
                                               (Sd.) H. H. ASQUITH.



                              APPENDIX  C
                          THE PEACE CONFERENCE


              THE CRITICAL RUSSIAN DEBATE OF JANUARY, 1919

                        _Bullitt Exhibit No. 14_

McD. I.C. 114. Secretaries’ notes of a conversation held in M. Pichon’s
room, at the Quai D’Orsay, on Tuesday, January 21st, 1919, at 15 hours
(3 p.m.).

                               _Present:_

_United States of America._—President Wilson, Mr. R. Lansing, Mr. A. H.
Frazier, Colonel U. S. Grant, Mr. L. Harrison.

_British Empire._—The Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, the Right Hon. A. J.
Balfour, Lieut.-Col. Sir M. P. A. Hankey, K.C.B., Major A. M. Caccia,
M.V.O., Mr. E. Phipps.

_France._—M. Clemenceau, M. Pichon, M. Dutasta, H. Berthelot, Captain
A. Potier.

_Italy._—Signor Orlando, H. E. Baron Sonnino, Count Aldrovandi, Major
A. Jones.

_Japan._—Baron Makino, H. E. M. Matsui, M. Saburi.

_Interpreter._—Prof. P. J. Mantoux.

                         _Situation in Russia_

M. Clemenceau said they had met together to decide what could be done in
Russia under present circumstances.

President Wilson said that, in order to have something definite to
discuss, he wished to take advantage of a suggestion made by Mr. Lloyd
George, and to propose a modification of the British proposal. He wished
to suggest that the various organised groups in Russia should be asked
to send representatives, not to Paris, but to some other place, such as
Salonika, convenient of approach, there to meet such representatives as
might be appointed by the Allies, in order to see if they could draw up
a programme upon which agreement could be reached.

Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that the advantage of this would be that
they could be brought there from Russia through the Black Sea without
passing through other countries.

M. Sonnino said that some of the representatives of the various
Governments were already here in Paris, for example, M. Sazonoff. Why
should not these be heard?

President Wilson expressed the view that the various parties should not
be heard separately. It would be very desirable to get all these
representatives in one place, and still better, all in one room, in
order to obtain a close comparison of views.

Mr. Balfour said that a further objection to M. Sonnino’s plan was that
if M. Sazonoff was heard in Paris it would be difficult to hear the
others in Paris also, and M. Clemenceau objected strongly to having some
of these representatives in Paris.

M. Sonnino explained that all the Russian parties had some
representatives here, except the Soviets, whom they did not wish to
hear.

Mr. Lloyd George remarked that the Bolshevists were the very people some
of them wished to hear.

M. Sonnino continuing, said that they had heard M. Litvinoff’s
statements that morning.

(That was the statement that Litvinoff had made to Buckler, which the
President had read to the council of ten that morning.)

The Allies were now fighting against the Bolshevists, who were their
enemies, and therefore they were not obliged to hear them with the
others.

Mr. Balfour remarked that the essence of President Wilson’s proposal was
that the parties must all be heard at one and the same time.

Mr. Lloyd George expressed the view that the acceptance of M. Sonnino’s
proposals would amount to their hearing a string of people, all of whom
held the same opinion, and all of whom would strike the same note. But
they would not hear the people who at the present moment were actually
controlling European Russia. In deference to M. Clemenceau’s views they
had put forward this new proposal. He thought it would be quite safe to
bring the Bolshevist representatives to Salonika, or perhaps to Lemnos.
It was absolutely necessary to endeavour to make peace. The report read
by President Wilson that morning went to show that the Bolshevists were
not convinced of the error of their ways, but they apparently realised
the folly of their present methods. Therefore they were endeavouring to
come to terms.

President Wilson asked to be permitted to urge one aspect of the case.
As M. Sonnino had implied, they were all repelled by Bolshevism, and for
that reason they had placed armed men in opposition to them. One of the
things that was clear in the Russian situation was that, by opposing
Bolshevism with arms, they were in reality serving the cause of
Bolshevism. The Allies were making it possible for the Bolsheviks to
argue that Imperialistic and Capitalistic Governments were endeavouring
to exploit the country and to give the land back to the landlords, and
so bring about a reaction. If it could be shown that this was not true,
and that the Allies were prepared to deal with the rulers of Russia,
much of the moral force of this argument would disappear. The
allegations that the Allies were against the people, and wanted to
control their affairs, provided the argument which enabled them to raise
armies. If, on the other hand, the Allies could swallow their pride and
the natural repulsion which they felt for the Bolshevists, and see the
representatives of all organised groups in one place, he thought it
would bring about a marked reaction against Bolshevism.

M. Clemenceau said that in principle he did not favour conversation with
the Bolshevists, not because they were criminals, but because we would
be raising them to our level by saying that they were worthy of entering
into conversation with us. The Bolshevist danger was very great at the
present moment. It had invaded the Baltic provinces and Poland, and that
very morning they received bad news regarding its spread to Buda-Pesth
and Vienna. Italy, also, was in danger. The danger was probably greater
there than in France. If Bolshevism, after spreading to Germany, were to
traverse Austria and Hungary, and so reach Italy, Europe would be faced
with a very great danger. Therefore, something must be done against
Bolshevism. When listening to the document presented by President Wilson
that morning, he had been struck by the cleverness with which the
Bolshevists were attempting to lay a trap for the Allies. When the
Bolshevists first came into power, a breach was made with the Capitalist
Government on questions of principle, but now they offered funds and
concessions as a basis for treating with them. He need not say how
valueless their promises were, but, if they were listened to, the
Bolshevists would go back to their people and say, “We offered them
great principles of justice, and the Allies would have nothing to do
with us. Now we offer money, and they are ready to make peace.”

He admitted his remarks did not offer a solution. The great misfortune
was that the Allies were in need of a speedy solution. After four years
of war, and the losses and sufferings they had incurred, their
populations could stand no more. Russia also was in need of immediate
peace. But its necessary evolution must take time. The signing of the
world’s peace could not await Russia’s final avatar. Had time been
available, he would suggest waiting, for eventually sound men
representing common sense would come to the top. But when would that be?
He could make no forecast. Therefore they must press for an early
solution.

To sum up, had he been acting by himself, he would temporise and erect
barriers to prevent Bolshevism from spreading. But he was not alone, and
in the presence of his colleagues he felt compelled to make some
concession, as it was essential that there should not be even the
appearance of disagreement amongst them. The concession came easier
after hearing President Wilson’s suggestions. He thought they should
make a very clear and convincing appeal to all reasonable peoples,
emphatically stating that they did not wish in any way to interfere in
the internal affairs of Russia, and especially that they had no
intention of restoring Czardom. The object of the Allies being to hasten
the creation of a strong Government, they proposed to call together
representatives of all parties to a conference. He would beg President
Wilson to draft a paper, fully explaining the position of the Allies to
the whole world, including the Russians and the Germans.

Mr. Lloyd George agreed, and gave notice that he wished to withdraw his
own motion in favour of President Wilson’s.

Mr. Balfour said that he understood that all these people were to be
asked on an equality. On these terms he thought the Bolshevists would
refuse, and by their refusal they would put themselves in a very bad
position.

M. Sonnino said that he did not agree that the Bolshevists would not
come. He thought they would be the first to come, because they would be
eager to put themselves on an equality with the others. He would remind
his colleagues that, before the Peace of Brest-Litovsk was signed, the
Bolshevists promised all sorts of things, such as to refrain from
propaganda, but since that peace had been concluded they had broken all
their promises, their one idea being to spread revolution in all other
countries. His idea was to collect together all the anti-Bolshevist
parties, and help them to make a strong Government, provided they
pledged themselves not to serve the forces of reaction, and especially
not to touch the land question, thereby depriving the Bolshevists of
their strongest argument. Should they take these pledges, he would be
prepared to help them.

Mr. Lloyd George enquired how this help would be given.

M. Sonnino replied that help would be given with soldiers to a
reasonable degree or by supplying arms, food and money. For instance,
Poland asked for weapons, and munitions; the Ukraine asked for weapons.
All the Allies wanted was to establish a strong Government. The reason
that no strong Government at present existed was that no party could
risk taking the offensive against Bolshevism without the assistance of
the Allies. He would enquire how the parties of order could possibly
succeed without the assistance of the Allies. President Wilson had said
that they should put aside all pride in the matter. He would point out
that for Italy, and probably for France also, as M. Clemenceau had
stated, it was in reality a question of self-defence. He thought that
even a partial recognition of the Bolshevists would strengthen their
position, and, speaking for himself, he thought that Bolshevism was
already a serious danger in his country.

Mr. Lloyd George said he wished to put one or two practical questions to
M. Sonnino. The British Empire now had some 15,000 to 20,000 men in
Russia. M. de Scavenius had estimated that some 150,000 additional men
would be required, in order to keep the anti-Bolshevist Governments from
dissolution. And General Franchet d’Esperey also insisted on the
necessity of Allied assistance. Now Canada had decided to withdraw her
troops, because the Canadian soldiers would not agree to stay and fight
against the Russians. Similar trouble had also occurred amongst the
other Allied troops. And he felt certain that, if the British tried to
send any more troops there, there would be mutiny.

M. Sonnino suggested that volunteers might be called for.

Mr. Lloyd George, continuing, said that it would be impossible to raise
150,000 in that way. He asked, however, what contributions America,
Italy, and France would make towards the raising of this army.

President Wilson and M. Clemenceau each said none.

M. Orlando agreed that Italy could make no further contributions.

Mr. Lloyd George said that the Bolshevists had an army of 300,000 men,
who would, before long, be good soldiers, and to fight them at least
400,000 Russian soldiers would be required. Who would feed, equip, and
pay them? Would Italy, or America, or France do so? If they were unable
to do that, what would be the good of fighting Bolshevism? It could not
be crushed by speeches. He sincerely trusted that they would accept
President Wilson’s proposal as it now stood.

M. Orlando agreed that the question was a very difficult one for the
reasons that had been fully given. He agreed that Bolshevism constituted
a grave danger to all Europe. To prevent a contagious epidemic from
spreading, the sanitarians set up a _cordon sanitaire_. If similar
measures could be taken against Bolshevism, in order to prevent its
spreading, it might be overcome, since to isolate it meant vanquishing
it. Italy was now passing through a period of depression, due to war
weariness. But Bolshevists could never triumph there, unless they found
a favourable medium, such as might be produced either by a profound
patriotic disappointment in their expectations as to the rewards of the
war, or by an economic crisis. Either might lead to revolution, which
was equivalent to Bolshevism. Therefore, he would insist that all
possible measures should be taken to set up this cordon. Next, he
suggested the consideration of repressive measures. He thought two
methods were possible: either the use of physical force or the use of
moral force. He thought Mr. Lloyd George’s objection to the use of
physical force unanswerable. The occupation of Russia meant the
employment of troops for an indefinite period of time. This meant an
apparent prolongation of the war. There remained the use of moral force.
He agreed with M. Clemenceau that no country could continue in anarchy,
and that an end must eventually come; but they could not wait—they
could not proceed to make peace and ignore Russia. Therefore, Mr. Lloyd
George’s proposal, with the modifications introduced after careful
consideration by President Wilson and M. Clemenceau, gave a possible
solution. It did not involve entering into negotiations with the
Bolshevists; the proposal was merely an attempt to bring together all
the parties in Russia with a view to finding a way out of the present
difficulty. He was prepared, therefore, to support it.

President Wilson asked for the views of his Japanese colleagues.

Baron Makino said that after carefully considering the various points of
view put forward, he had no objections to make regarding the conclusions
reached. He thought that was the best solution under the circumstances.
He wished, however, to enquire what attitude would be taken by the
representatives of the Allied Powers if the Bolshevists accepted the
invitation to the meeting, and there insisted upon their principles. He
thought they should under no circumstances countenance Bolshevist ideas.
The conditions in Siberia east of the Baikal had greatly improved. The
objects which had necessitated the despatch of troops to that region had
been attained. Bolshevism was no longer aggressive, though it might
still persist in a latent form. In conclusion, he wished to support the
proposal before the meeting.

President Wilson expressed the view that the emissaries of the Allied
Powers should not be authorised to adopt any definite attitude towards
Bolshevism. They should merely report back to their Governments the
conditions found.

Mr. Lloyd George asked that that question be further considered. He
thought the emissaries of the Allied Powers should be able to establish
an agreement if they were able to find a solution. For instance, if they
succeeded in reaching an agreement on the subject of the organisation of
a Constituent Assembly, they should be authorised to accept such a
compromise without the delay of a reference to the Governments.

President Wilson suggested that the emissaries might be furnished with a
body of instructions.

Mr. Balfour expressed the view that abstention from hostile action
against their neighbours should be made a condition of their sending
representatives to this meeting.

President Wilson agreed.

M. Clemenceau suggested that the manifesto to the Russian parties should
be based solely on humanitarian grounds. They should say to the
Russians, “You are threatened by famine; we are prompted by humanitarian
feelings, we are making peace; we do not want people to die. We are
prepared to see what can be done to remove the menace of starvation.” He
thought the Russians would at once prick up their ears, and be prepared
to hear what the Allies had to say. They would add that food cannot be
sent unless peace and order were re-established. It should, in fact, be
made quite clear that the representatives of all parties would merely be
brought together for purely humane reasons.

Mr. Lloyd George said that in this connection he wished to invite
attention to a doubt expressed by certain of the delegates of the
British Dominions, namely, whether there would be enough food and credit
to go round, should an attempt be made to feed all Allied countries, and
enemy countries, and Russia also. The export of so much food would
inevitably have the effect of raising food prices in Allied countries,
and so create discontent and Bolshevism. As regards grain, Russia had
always been an exporting country, and there was evidence to show that
plenty of food at present existed in the Ukraine.

President Wilson said that his information was that enough food existed
in Russia, but either on account of its being hoarded or on account of
difficulties of transportation, it could not be made available.

It was agreed that President Wilson should draft a proclamation, for
consideration at the next meeting, inviting all organised parties in
Russia to attend a meeting to be held at some selected place such as
Salonika or Lemnos, in order to discuss with the representatives of the
Allied and Associated Great Powers the means of restoring order and
peace in Russia. Participation in the meeting should be conditional on a
cessation of hostilities.



                              APPENDIX  D


                         THE “FOURTEEN POINTS”

IN view of the fact that the Armistice negotiations started from the
acceptance of President Wilson’s Fourteen Points by the Germans, and
that the Peace Conference pivoted round those points as modified by the
Allies at the Versailles Council of October, 1918, it is of interest to
attach a full and complete version of the original Fourteen Points, as
set forth by President Wilson in his great speech of January 8th, 1918:

I. OPEN COVENANTS of peace openly arrived at, after which there shall be
no private international understandings of any kind, but diplomacy shall
proceed always frankly and in the public view.

II. ABSOLUTE FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION upon the seas outside the territorial
waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in
whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of
international covenants.

III. THE REMOVAL, SO FAR AS POSSIBLE, of all economic barriers, and the
establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations
consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance.

IV. Adequate guarantees given and taken that NATIONAL ARMAMENTS WILL BE
REDUCED TO THE LOWEST POINT consistent with domestic safety.

V. A free, open-minded, and absolutely IMPARTIAL ADJUSTMENT OF ALL
COLONIAL CLAIMS, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in
determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the
populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims
of the Government whose title is to be determined.

VI. =The evacuation of all Russian territory, and such a settlement
of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest
co-operation of the other nations= of the world in obtaining for
her an unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent
determination of her own political development and national policy, and
assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under
institutions of her own choosing; and more than a welcome assistance
also of every kind that she may need and may herself desire. The
treatment accorded to Russia by her sister nations in the months to come
will be the acid test of their good-will, of their comprehension of her
needs as distinguished from their own interests, and of their
intelligent and unselfish sympathy.

VII. =Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and
restored= without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she
enjoys in common with all other free nations. No other single act will
serve as this will serve to restore confidence among the nations in the
laws which they have themselves set and determined for the government of
their relations with one another. Without this healing act, the whole
structure and validity of international law is for ever impaired.

VIII. ALL FRENCH TERRITORY SHOULD BE FREED, and the invaded portions
restored, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in 1871 in the matter
of ALSACE-LORRAINE, which has unsettled the peace of the world for fifty
years, SHOULD BE RIGHTED in order that peace may once more be made
secure in the interests of all.

IX. A READJUSTMENT OF THE FRONTIERS OF ITALY should be effected along
clearly recognisable lines of nationality.

X. THE PEOPLES OF AUSTRIA-HUNGARY, whose place among the nations we wish
to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the first opportunity
of AUTONOMOUS DEVELOPMENT.

XI. Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated, occupied
territories restored, Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea,
and the relations of the several Balkan States to one another determined
by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance
and nationality, and international guarantees of the political and
economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan
States should be entered into.

XII. THE TURKISH PORTIONS of the present Ottoman Empire should be
ASSURED A SECURE SOVEREIGNTY, but the OTHER NATIONALITIES which are
under Turkish rule should be ASSURED AN UNDOUBTED SECURITY OF LIFE, and
an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development, and the
DARDANELLES should be PERMANENTLY OPENED as a free passage to the ships
and commerce of all nations under international guarantees.

XIII. =An Independent Polish State should be erected=, which
should include the territories inhabited by INDISPUTABLY POLISH
POPULATIONS, which should be assured a free and secure access to the
sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial
integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant.

XIV. A GENERAL ASSOCIATION OF NATIONS must be formed under specific
covenant for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political
independence and territorial integrity to great and small States alike.

NOTE.—Point II was practically cut out of the terms by the Versailles
Council. Note the comprehensiveness of Point XIII, which explains the
largeness of the Polish claims. Point XIV is the germ of the League of
Nations idea, and is carried out in the famous clause 10 of the Covenant
since rejected by the Senate of the United States.

Note that there is no mention of indemnities; but the Council of
Versailles opened the door by insisting on compensation to civilian
populations. The £5,000,000,000 claimed in the Treaty represents an
instalment of that claim which is estimated as likely to amount to
£8,000,000,000.



                                 INDEX


Acland, Sir Arthur, 81, 168
Addison, Dr., speech on Munitions, 218;
  Introduces Housing Bill, 314
Agadir Speech at Mansion House, 159
Agricultural Rates Bill (1896), 108
Aisne, the, 280
Albert, 274
American Army reinforcements, 1918, 276
Amiens, 151;
  German attempt to capture, 277, 281
Arabi Pasha, 48
Armentières, 278
Armistice, conditions of, 283;
  declared, 284
Arnold, Matthew, 50, 147
Asquith, Mr., and Welsh Disestablishment, 105;
  successor to Campbell-Bannerman, 112;
  and South African War, 115;
  in opposition (1902), 129, 134;
  and Tariff Reform, 136;
  Premier, 149;
  evidence on Bulgaria, 191;
  munition speech, Newcastle, 213;
  reconstruction of Government (1915), 214;
  interview of December 1916, 236;
  negotiations with Mr. Lloyd George, 237;
  downfall of Government, 242;
  refuses Woolsack, 242;
  and Maurice incident, 267
Athens, 184
Aubers Ridge, attack on, 214
Austria, strength in 1915, 198;
  Italy declares war on, 200;
  surrenders, 283

Bailleul 278
Balfour, Mr., weakening of his Government, 130, 133;
  Budget (1910), 164;
  and conference of 1910, 165;
  attends Peace Conference, 287, 299
Balkans, the, proposal to combine, 179, 181;
  German intrigue in, 184;
  suggestion to send Mr. Lloyd George, 196;
  attempt to bring together, 192
Bangor, part of constituency, 78;
  speech during South African War, 117, 123
Bar le Duc, 151
Barnes, Mr. G., attends Peace Conference, 287;
  remains in Government, 308
Berlin, 154;
  visit to Central Insurance Office, 158
Bethmann-Hollweg, Herr, entertained by, 154, 155
Birmingham, speech on South African War, 117, 322
Bissolati, Signor, _Morning Post_ interview, 353
Blunt, Mr. Wilfrid, 48
Board of Education, 134
Board of Trade, Mr. Lloyd George appointed President, 138;
  work at, 139
Bolshevists, _coup d’état_ (1917), 272;
  peace with Germany, 272;
  proposed Conference, 295
Bonar Law, Mr., unable to form Government, 242;
  attends Peace Conference, 287;
  acts as leader of Government, 313
Booth, Mr. Charles, 167
Borden, Sir R., and Peace Conference, 287
Botha, General, 118, 119, 180;
  conquers South-West Africa, 200;
  and Peace Conference, 287
Brace, Mr. W., leaves Coalition, 316
Brecon, 133
Breese, Jones and Casson, Messrs., solicitors, 41, 43, 54, 95
Brest-Litovsk, 200; peace negotiations, 272
Briand, M., 347
British Columbia, visit to, 114
Brockdorff-Rantzau, Herr, Treaty presented, 302
“Brutus,” pen-name (1880), 46
Budget (1890), compensation for licences, 88;
  Conference of Party Leaders, 165;
  (1909), 162;
  thrown out by Lords, 164, 337
Budget League, 163
Bukovina, invasion by Russians, 176;
  Russians driven from, 197
Bulgaria, divided in counsel, 179;
  Greek conditions of joining war, 186;
  refuges promise of neutrality, 189;
  pledged to Central Powers, 190;
  offers to lend troops, 191;
  President Wilson leans towards, 300
Bullitt, Mr. W. C., evidence before American Senate, 296;
  Mission to Russia, 296
Burial Act (1880), case at Llanfrothen, 66
Burke, Edmund, 124;
  Mr. Lloyd George’s opinion of, 342
Butler, Sir Wm., 115
Buxton, the Brothers, journey to Sofia, 184;
  proposals from Sofia, 187
Byron, Mr. Lloyd George’s admiration of, 339

Cadbury, Mr. George, 121
Cadorna, General, Conference July (1917), 262
Caine, Mr. W. S., 53
Camber-Williams, Canon, 25
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H., Premier, 112;
  self-government for South Africa, 118;
  in opposition, 129;
  Premier (1905), 138;
  resignation, 149
Cannes, 328
Carnarvon Boroughs, first aspirations to Parliament, 75;
  adopted candidate, 78;
  first election, 84
_Carnarvon and Denbigh Herald_, 50, 72, 80, 84
Carpathians, German advance in, 197
Castberg, Mr., Norwegian Prime Minister, 345
Castlereagh, Lord, 300
Casson, Mr., solicitor, 42, 95
Catechism, revolt against, 271
Cecil, Lord Robert, League of Nations Committee, 298
Central Powers, division amongst, 223
Châlons-sur-Marne, 151
Chamberlain, Mr. Joseph, Radical programme of, 53;
  defence of, 56;
  liquor compensation, 90;
  Kynoch debate, 125;
  Tariff Reform, 136;
  admiration of, 232;
  party machine and, 336
Champagne, attack in, 252
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Lloyd George appointed, 149
Churchill, Lord Randolph, 53, 90
Churchill, Mr. Winston, 163;
  Minister of Munitions, 226
City Temple, speech at, 202
Cividale, 253
Clemenceau, M., 270, 275;
  discussion of Armistice terms, 282;
  and Peace Conference, 288;
  leanings to Turkey, 300;
  after-war problems, 304;
  in _L’Homme Enchaîné_, 350
Clergy Discipline Bill, opposition to, 102
Clynes, Mr. J. R., leaves Coalition, 308
Coalition Government formed, 308
Coleridge, Chief Justice, Llanfrothen case, 68
Compiègne, 151
Conferences, Allied (1915), 186;
  Rome (1917), 248;
  Allied Generals (1916), 251;
  Rapallo (1917), 254
Congress of Vienna, 300
Conscription, conversion to, 200
Constantine, King, frustration of Entente, 184;
  unfriendly to British, 190;
  attempt to build up absolute monarchy, 193;
  exiled, 194
Cook, Sir Edward, 121
County Councils, creation of, 80
Courland, invaded by Russians, 196
Creelman, Mr. J., 354
Criccieth, 11, 41, 73, 95, 98, 123
Cromer, Lord, 48

_Daily News_, 85;
  transfer of, 121;
  attacks on Government, 309
Daniel, D. R., 76
Danube, proposed diversion along line of, 179
Dardanelles Report of Commission, 178;
  campaign opens, 190;
  in progress, 195;
  composition of committee, 196;
  failure of naval attack, 202;
  meetings of committee, 203
Davitt, Michael, 52-53
Derby Scheme, 202
Denikin, General, 297
De Wet, General, 116, 119
Dillon, John, 110
Disciples of Christ, religious sect 17, 340
Disestablishment, Welsh, resolution at meeting of National Council (1889),
  speech at Met. Tabernacle, 93;
  production of Bill (1893), 82;
  speech at Cardiff (1907), 146, 104;
  Defaulting Authorities Act (1904), 133
Downing Street, speech on Armistice Day, 285
Du Cane, Lieut.-Gen. Sir J. P., Munitions Conference (1915), 219
Dunajec, 199
Durazzo, 180

Eastern Prussia, Russian invasion of, 176
Eastern Galicia, Russian invasion of, 176
Ebert, Herr, appointed German Chancellor, 284
Education Bill (1902), opposition to, 129
Edwards, Sir Frank, 98, 132
Elections, parliamentary, (1885), 56;
  financial arrangements for, 94;
  (1900), 127;
  (1910), 164;
  (2nd 1910), 166;
  (1918), 286, 306, 309;
  figures, 328
Ellis, “Tom,” 60, 77, 98
Estimates, criticism of (1890), 92
European War, menace of, 170;
  declared, 171
Evans, David, schoolmaster of Llanystumdwy, 23, 38
Evans, Sir Samuel, 65, 97
Explosives Committee, formation of, 208
Extension of Rents Act, passed, 316

Fairbairn, Principal, 341
Falkenhayn, General, 269
Finland, surrendered to Germany, 292
Fitzmaurice, M., in _Figaro_, 351
Fiume, question at Peace Conference, 292
Flavelle, Sir Richard, 356
Foch, Marshal, Conference (July, 1917), 262;
  appointed Generalissimo, 268;
  exercises powers of disposition, 275;
  conditions of Armistice, 282
Fontainebleau, 302
Fourteen Points, President Wilson declares them, 282
Franchise, extension of, 307
French, Viscount, and shell crisis (1915), 213

Galicia, German preparations, 193;
  fighting in, 196
Gallipoli, 179;
  evacuation of, 205
Geddes, Sir Eric, appointed Director of Transport, France, 233;
  defends Transport Bill, 323
Gee, Thomas, and Anti-Tithe Campaign, 62, 83
George, Right Hon. D. Lloyd, for principal dates in life _see_ Appendix I.
  359
George, Gwilym Lloyd (son), 302
George, Mair Lloyd (daughter), 98;
  death of, 149
George, Mary (sister), 13, 18
George, Megan Lloyd (daughter), 302
George, Olwen Lloyd (daughter), 98
George, Richard Lloyd (son), 94, 100, 122
George, William (father), 13, 16
George, Mrs. William (mother), 13, 16, 18, 21, 36
George, William (brother), 18, 29, 55, 56, 94
German Navy League, 156
Germany, tour in, 150;
  relations with England (1908-14), 160;
  strength (in 1915), 197;
  advance (in March, 1918), 274;
  mutiny of Fleet, 284
Gladstone, Mr., Government of 1880, 51;
  in debate (1884), 53;
  letter at by-election (1890), 84;
  at Hawarden, 90;
  and Clergy Discipline Bill, 102;
  resignation of (1894), 104
Glasgow, speech at, during South African War, 117
Glyndwr, Owen, 69
Goffey, Thomas, 37
Gorizia, 246, 253
Gray’s Inn, first London home, 95
Greece, as neutral, 179;
  Entente frustrated by King, 184;
  agrees to join in war, 186;
  refuses, 197;
  offers troops and fleet for Dardanelles, 189;
  offers again to enter war, 192
Grey, Lord, and South African War, 115;
  evidence on Dardanelles, 200

Haig, F.-M. Lord, agreement with Foch, 275
Hamburg, visit to, 156
Handel, 339
Hankey, Sir M., at Peace Conference, 289
Harcourt, Sir Wm., approval of maiden speech, 91;
  leader of House of Commons, 105
Health Ministry Bill, introduced and passed 315
Henry, Sir Charles, 150
Henry of Prussia, Prince, criticism of estimates providing for and
  expenditure on, 92
Hertling, Count, resignation of, 273
Hervier, Paul Louis, in _Je Sais Tout_, 352
“Highgate,” 18, 36, 40
Hobhouse Miss E. and South African Concentration Camps, 120
Home Rule (1885-6), 52, 84, 103;
  speech to exclude Ulster (1910), 351;
  for Wales, 82, 101, 106
House, Colonel, 287;
  and Bullitt Mission, 296
House of Commons, suspension from, 111;
  scene over Defaulting Authorities Bill, 133
Housing Bill introduced and passed, 314
Hughes, Mr., at Peace Conference, 288

Indemnities, telegram from M.P.’s, 300
India, extension of self-government, 316
_Indian Patriot_, article in, 357
Industrial Courts Act passed, 316
Insurance, National, investigation of German system, 150;
  preparation of Bill, 167;
  passing of Bill, 168;
  inspiration of, 332
Ireland, conscription extended to, 279;
  outline of new proposals, 316
Isonzo, 246, 253
Italian Press, opinions of, 352
Italy, declares war on Austria, 200;
  situation (in 1917), 245;
  German advance (1917), 252;
  British reinforcements for, 255
Ivangorod, 200

Johnson, Dr., 50
Jones, “Bobby,” 20
Jones, J. R., of Ramoth, 17
Jones, Miss, niece of Richard Lloyd, 21
Jones, Michael of Bala, 59
Jones, Rev. Richard, Llanfrothen, 68
_Journal de Genève_, 358

Kaiser, the, part played in politics by (1908), 156;
  abdication of, 284
Kavalla, fear of Bulgarians seizing, 189
Kemmel, 278
Kerensky, M., destroyed by Lenin, 272
Kieff, 272
King Edward VII, 149;
  visit to Czar, 154;
  death of, 164
King George V, Conference of Party Leaders (1910), 164;
  formation of Government of Mr. Lloyd George, 242;
  friendship of, 343
Kitchener, Lord, view of length of war, 172, 178;
  troops for Greece, 185;
  at the War Office, 210;
  Munition Committee, 213;
  shell crisis (1915), 214;
  death, 232, 262, 265
Koltchak, Admiral, 297
Kovno, 200
Kropotkin, Prince, 346
Kruger, President, 114

Labour Conference, Central Hall, 309
Labour Party, joins Government, 243;
  leaves Coalition, 307;
  in opposition, 309
Land Acquisition Act passed, 316
Land, appointment of Committee of Inquiry, 168;
  preparation of Bills (1914), 170
Lansdowne, Lord, 163
Lansing, Mr., and Committee of League of Nations, 298
Laurier, Sir Wilfrid, 356
League of Nations, conception of scheme, 298
Lemnos, 295
Lenin, destroys Kerensky Government, 272, 279
Lens, 252
_Le Journal_, 351
_L’Œuvre_, 349
_Le Temps_, 349
Lewis, Mr. Herbert, 98, 110, 111
Leygues, Georges, in _Evènement_, 347
Licensing Act (1905), 136
Lithuania, surrendered to Germany, 272
Llanystumdwy, 11, 20, 23, 39, 42, 169
Llanfrothen, 66
Lloyd, Richard (uncle), 24, 31, 35, 39, 45, 72, 93, 101
Lloyd, David (grandfather), 20
Local Veto, resolution at meeting of National Liberal Federation, 81
London, first visit, 49;
  commencement of practice, 97
Loucheur, M., 287
Lowther, Right Hon. J. W., 133
Ludendorff, General, attack on Italy, 252, 270;
  waning of hopes of, 278;
  suggestion for armistice by, 281

Macedonia, Allies to occupy, 192
Maddocks, A., 41
Manchester, birthplace, 14;
  meeting of National Liberal Federation, 81;
  speech (1918), 281
_Manchester Guardian_, Mr. Lloyd George writes for, 98
Manisty, Mr. Justice, and Llanfrothen, 68
Marconi Controversy, 169
Markham, Sir Arthur, 166
Marlborough, the Duke of, 163
Marne, the, 280
Martineau, Henry, 14
Maurice, Major-General Sir F., Letter to Press and retirement, 267
Max of Baden, Prince, overtures to President Wilson, 282;
  resignation of, 284
Merchant Shipping Act (1906), 142
Meredith, George, admiration of, 339
Merionethshire, 133
Messines, 278
Metropolitan Tabernacle, speech on Welsh Disestablishment at, 26
Mezières, 274
Milan, 247, 253
Military control, effect of divided, 249;
  need for unification, 250;
  unity of command decided on, 254;
  speech at Paris on (1917), 258
Military Service Acts (1916), effect of, 231;
  (1917) introduced, 272;
  raising of age, 278
Millet, Philippe, 349
Milner, Lord, 114;
  attends Peace Conference, 287
Miners’ crisis, Sankey Commission appointed, 311
Minsk, 272
Mons, 175, 284
Montagu, Mr. E., Munition Statement (1916), 221, 224, 229;
  joins Government (1916), 243;
  attends Peace Conference, 287
Morley, Lord, 112, 149, 197
_Morning Post_, attacks on Government, 309;
  interview with Signor Bissolati, 353
Morvin House, Criccieth, 45, 55
Moulton, Lord, and Committee on Munitions, 230
Munitions, need for, 206;
  committee appointed, 213;
  Mr. Lloyd George becomes Minister of, 216;
  formation of Department, 218;
  trades unions and “leaving certificates,” 225;
  organisation of volunteer workers, 228
Mynydd Ednyfed, home of Mrs. Lloyd George, 69, 72

Nancy, 151
Nanney, Sir Ellis Hugh, opponent at election (1890), 83, 87, 105
Nantlle, Lake, prosecution of quarrymen for fishing, 64
Nansen, Dr., proposed Russian expedition, 297
Neuve Chapelle, 199
Nevin, speech on South African War, 123
Newcastle Programme (1891), 103
Newman, Cardinal, 50
Nivelle, General, 245;
  Champagne attack, 252;
  replaced by Pétain, 252
Norman, Sir Henry, 163
Northcliffe, Lord, and communications on, the Eastern Front, 240
_North Wales Observer_, article on Mr. Chamberlain, 51
Novo-Georgievsk, 200

Old Age Pensions, passing of Act, 150, 161;
  increase in, 316
Orlando, Signor, and question of Fiume, 294
Owen, D. Lloyd, 42
Owen, Rev. John, 72
Owen, Miss Maggie (Mrs. Lloyd George), 59;
  marriage of, 71
Owen, Mrs., of Dolgelly (Llanfrothen), 66
Owens, Rev. Owen, 25
Oxford, impressions of, 326

Palace Mansions, Kensington, second London home, 95
Paris, speech on unity of control at, 258;
  German attack towards, (1918), 280;
  social life during Peace Conference in, 300
Parry, John, and Anti-tithe Campaign, 62, 83
Passchendaele, 252
Patents Act, 144
Peace Conference, preliminaries, 286;
  first meeting, 288;
  correspondents at, 289;
  proposed Bolshevist Conference, 295
Peace Treaty, presented and ratified, 303
Pedigree of Mr. Lloyd George, 13
Pencaenewydd, place of marriage, 72
Penrhyn, 55
Pétain, General, 245
Phillimore Report, basis of League of Nations, 298
Philippi, Philippo, 246
Pichon, M., 287
Platt, Colonel, opponent at election (1900), 95
Poisoned arrow incident, 324
Portmadoc, 11, 41, 46, 55, 94, 96, 122;
  Debating Society, 47
Poland, surrendered to Germany, 273;
  question of Peace Conference, 292, 303
Port of London Act, 145
Prime Minister, Mr. Lloyd George sent for by the King, 242
Prinkipo, 295
Puleston, Sir John, opponent at second election, 105
Pwllheli, 14, 123

Queen Victoria, 80

Railway strikes, threat of (1907), 146;
  (1919), 311
Rapallo Conference, 254
Reinforcements, situation, March (1918), 276
Religious tendencies, 340
Rendel, Lord, 337
Repington, Lieut.-Colonel C. A’C., _Times_ shell despatch, 214
Rheims, 151
Ritchie, Lord, and creation of County Councils, 80
Roberts, A. Rhys, professional partner in London, 97, 122
Roberts, Mr. G. H., remains in Government, 308
Robertson, Sir Wm., Allied Conference (1917), 262;
  opposition to Versailles Council, 264;
  refuses position on Versailles Council, 267
Rome, Allied Conference (1917), 248
Roosevelt, President, 336, 355
Rosebery Government, fall of, 105;
  resignation, 112
“Rose Cottage,” boyhood home, 18
Rothschild Pensions Committee, 138
Routh Road, Wandsworth, London home, 119
Rue Nitot, residence in Paris during Peace Conference, 301
Rumania, 179, 184;
  Greek conditions of joining war, 186;
  less friendly, 188;
  success of Germans, 196;
  declares war, 235
Russia, situation, opening of (1915), 178;
  fearful of Greece, 191;
  diverts Germans from Serbia, 192;
  collapse, 272;
  proposed Bolshevist Conference, 295

Saar Valley, 292, 303
St. Asaph, Bishop of, 132
St. Quentin, 268, 275
Salisbury, Lord, 248
Salonika, 179, 180, 295
Samsonoff, General 175
Samuel, Mr. Herbert, refuses office, 243
Sanitorium benefit, creation, 333
Sankey Commission, inquiry into condition of miners, 311
Sarn Melltcyrn, debate with curate (1887), 62
_Sartor Resartus_, 46
Schools Act (1904-6), 136
Scotland Yard, 319
Scott, Sir Walter, 50
Serbia, question of saving, 187;
  Bosnia and Herzegovina to be given to, 192;
  plan to assist, 202
Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 41
Shortt, Mr., Transport Bill, 313
Sidebotham, Herbert, 120
Siedlce, 200
Silesia, Plébiscite, 293, 303
Smuts General, 119;
  Memo. on League of Nations, 298
Sofia, 187
Soissons, 151
Somerset House, investigation of system of working, 329
Sorel, M., 312
South African War, outbreak, 114;
  opposition to, 116, 117
Strassburg, 151
Stavridi, Sir John, suggests Mr. Lloyd George should go to the Balkans,
  190
Stuttgart, 153;
  conversation at, 327
Suffragettes, in favour of leniency, 325
Sullivan, Donald, 110
Swetenham, Mr. Q.C., M.P., Carnarvon Boroughs (1886), 77;
  death, 82

Tagliamento, 253
Tannenberg, 175
Tariff Reform, fight against (1903-6), 137
Tariff Reform League, 164
Tardieu, M., 287
Temple, The, London home, 95
Tennant, Mr. H. J., and shell crisis (1915), 214
Téry, Gustave, in _La Victoire_, 350
Thomas, M. Albert, friendship with, 187;
  rearming of France, 211;
  Munitions Conference, 220, 347
Thomas, Mr. D. A. (Lord Rhondda), 107
Thomas, Mr. J. H., and railway strike, 313
Thomasson, Mr. F., Transfer of _Daily News_, 121
Ticino, 246
_Times, The_, attack on Asquith Government (1916), 240
Tithes Bill (1899), 112
Transport Bill, introduced and passed, 313
Treasury, habits of work at, 329
Trevelyan, Sir George, 53
Trotsky, M., attempts to declare peace, 272
_Trumpet of Freedom_ (1888), 76
Tube strike, 309
Turkey, strength (in 1915), 198;
  surrenders, 283;
  forfeited right to rule over Christians, 300
Turnin, 247, 253

Udine, 253
Ukraine, surrendered to Germans, 273
Ulster, crisis (1914), 170;
  speech to exclude (1910), 337

Valenciennes, 284
Venice, 253
Venizelos, M., Greece agrees to join Allies, 186;
  refuses, 188;
  Bulgaria pledged to Central Powers, 190;
  resignation of, 193;
  resumes office, 194;
  mainstay of alliance in Near East, 300, 346
Verdun, 302
Versailles Council, set up, 255;
  functions, and opposition to, 258;
  defence in House of Commons, 262;
  meetings of, 280
Vienna, 248
Villa Murat, Parisian residence of President Wilson, 301
Villers Bretonneux, 278
Vitry, 151
Voluntary Schools Bill (1897), 109-111
Voluntary system of recruiting, doubts as to, 199
Von Below, General, attack on Italy, 252
Von Tirpitz, Admiral, 269
Vosges, The, 151

War, Secretary of State for, Mr. Lloyd George appointed (1916), 233
War Cabinet, formation (1916), 244
War Committee, suggested daily sittings, 178
Warsaw, 176, 200
Watkins, Sir Edward, 100
White, Mr. Henry, 287
Williams, Llewellyn, 98
Williams, William, boyhood friend, 24, 29
Wilson, President, 158;
  organises reinforcements (1918), 276;
  overtures from Prince Max, 282;
  arrives at Paris, 286;
  at Peace Conference, 290;
  League of Nations scheme, 298, 299;
  return from America of, 303;
  contrast, 355

Ypres, 199, 252

Zeppelin, Count, 153



                           TRANSCRIBER NOTES

Misspelled words and printer errors have been corrected. Where multiple
spellings occur, majority use has been employed.

Punctuation has been maintained except where obvious printer errors
occur.

Some illustrations were moved to facilitate page layout.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Prime Minister" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home