Great Speeches of the War/Churchill (2)

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RT. HON. WINSTON S. CHURCHILL

[Speech at a great public meeting held in the Tournament Hall, Liverpool, on September 21, 1914.]

Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen:— It is well that the force and spirit of all classes and interests in the British Empire are all flowing together into one great channel, and moves forward to the realization of the whole strength of the British people. The times in which we live are terrible; the course of events has passed outside the boundaries of the most daring imagination. The actual facts are so stunning, the scale of all the phenomena presented to our view so vast, that we can only feel, each one of us, that we must just lay hold of the next obvious simple step which duty indicates. [Cheers.] How we shall reach the end we cannot see now. But the immediate step before us we can see quite plainly. [Cheers.]

I have not come here to ask you for your cheers: I have come to ask you for a million men for the gallant Army of Sir John French—a million of the flower of our manhood, nothing but the best, every man a volunteer—[cheers]—a million men maintained in the field and equipped with everything that science can invent or money can buy, maintained and supported by the resources which, while we maintain command of the seas, we can draw from every quarter of the globe and feed up steadily to their full strength until this war is settled in the only way. [Loud cheers.] I come to ask you for this with great confidence, because it can quite easily be done as long as we continue all of the same mind. [Cheers.]

My friendship with Mr. F. E. Smith is one of the most cherished possessions of my life, and I am glad to be on this platform with him. In a few days he is off to the war—[great cheering]—and I join with you in wishing that he may come back when matters have been satisfactorily adjusted. [Cheers.] I have only one song to sing. These are days of action rather than of speech. You have no need to be anxious about the results. God has blessed our arms with unexpected good fortune. For myself, having studied this matter with some attention, I could not have hoped that at this stage of the war circumstances would have been so favourable to the Allied cause. [Cheers.] We must look to the solid foundations, to our real sources of strength, and even if the battle now proceeding were to prove as disastrous as it appears likely to prove triumphant, and even if other battles were to come, evil in fortune and sinister in consequences, still the British Empire, if its resolution does not fail, can finally settle the matter as it chooses. [Cheers.]

So far as the Navy is concerned, we cannot fight while the enemy remains in port. We hope a decision at sea will be a feature of this war. Our men, who are spending a tireless vigil, hope they will have a chance to settle the question with the German Fleet, and if they do not come out and fight they will be dug out like rats in a hole. [Cheers.] Under the shield of our Navy you can raise an army in this country which will settle the war within six or seven months. We can without difficulty, without boasting, without indulging in speculation, undoubtedly put into the field 25 Army Corps, comprising a million men, who, for their personal quality, understanding of the quarrel, spontaneous and voluntary energy, and initiative will not find their counterpart in the Armies of Europe. [Cheers.] There is no reserve of manhood, there is no reserve of vital energy, on the side of our enemies which can prevent that million of men from turning the scale in our favour. [Cheers.] In my opinion, it is only a question of time and Britain holding firm. It is only a question of how much blood is to be shed, and the more men we can send the less the slaughter will be. [Cheers.] As to the causes of the war, you have but to cast your minds back to 1860, from which time can be traced successive acts of violence on the part of Germany. There have been three recent occasions on which Europe has been on the verge of war, but it was averted by the patience and self-restraint of France. The late Lord Salisbury was forced to the conclusion that it was impossible to maintain a foreign policy based upon association with Germany. Germany began the building of a great navy for our undoing. Every detail of the German scheme proved that it was meant for us—for our exclusive benefit. [Laughter.] You recollect the Agadir crisis. The war would have happened then if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not gone to the Mansion House and made a speech, but they thought they would wait a little longer.

I became responsible for this great department of the Navy, and I have had to see every day evidence of the espionage system which Germany maintained in this country. I have had the evidence put under my eye, month after month, of the agents whom they have maintained year after year here in great numbers. These men have exported all the details of our naval organization that they could get by bribery and subornation. That, they might say, was a protective measure, because we have the stronger fleet. Every dirty little German lieutenant—[laughter]—coming on leave to England has thought he would curry favour with his superior by writing home details of where water can be got, where there is a blacksmith's forge, how much provisions there may be for a battalion or a brigade in this village or that township of our peaceful island. We have been subjects of a careful and deliberate and scientific military reconnaissance. Well, they know all about us—[laughter and cheers]—if they like to come they know the way. [Prolonged cheering.] I was sure from her plans and railway arrangements that Germany would violate the neutrality of Belgium, but Belgium's sufferings will not go unredeemed. The might of England will be exerted patiently until full reparation has been obtained. [Cheers.]

I rejoice we are all together, and that we have the whole Irish people with us. Party politics are put on one side, but when, after the war is over, we go to the cupboard to take them out again things will never be quite the same. [Cheers.] The Orangemen of Belfast have given their rifles to the Belgians, and there is no one in Britain—Liberal or Nationalist—who would allow them to be any the worse off for that.

The German Ambassador in the United States has been indulging in some vague talk of peace, but peace ought not to be on the lips of those who are invading the territory of their neighbours and who are carrying fire and sword through peaceful provinces. While that spectacle continues, and while the smoke of their abominable cruelty is going up to Heaven, it is no time for talk of peace on the lips of the German Ambassador to the United States. Peace! ah, we are only just beginning. [Great cheering.] Peace with the German people may be arranged in good time, but peace with Prussian militarism?—no peace short of the grave with that vile tyranny. [Renewed cheers.] Peace will be found, in the words of his Majesty the King, when the worthy causes for which we are fighting have been fully achieved. We may live to see the Christian States of the Balkans restored to their proper racial limits; we may see Italy's territory correspond with her Italian population; we may see France restored to her proper station in Europe and in her rightful place; and we may see that Old England had something to do with it all. If these results be achieved, the million men will not have been demanded or supplied in vain, [Cheers.]