Page:Great Speeches of the War.djvu/319

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Great Speeches of the War

avalanche which had swept across the French frontier, but now at last, not for an hour or for a day, but for four long days in succession, it has been rolled steadily back. [Loud cheers.] With battles taking place over a front of a hundred or a hundred and fifty miles one must be very careful not to build high hopes of results which are achieved, even in a great area of the field of war. We are not children looking for light and vain encouragement, but men engaged upon a task which has got to be put through. Still, when every allowance has been made for the uncertainty in which these great operations are always enshrouded, I think it is only fair and right to say that the situation to-night is better, far better, than a cold calculation of the forces available on both sides before the war should have led us to expect at this early stage. [Cheers.]

It is quite clear that what is happening is not what the Germans planned—and they have yet to show that they can adapt themselves to the force of circumstances created by the military power of their enemies with the same efficiency that they have undoubtedly shown with regard to plans long prepared, methodically worked out, and executed with precision and deliberation. The battle, I say, gives us every reason to meet together to-night in good heart, but let me tell you frankly that if this battle had been as disastrous as, thank God, it appears to be triumphant, I should come before you here to-night with unabated confidence—[cheers]—and with the certainty that we have only to continue in our efforts to bring this war to the conclusion which we wish and intend. [Cheers.]

We entered upon this war with no desire to extend our territories or to advance and increase our position in the world, or in no romantic desire to shed our blood and spend our money in Continental quarrels. We entered this war reluctantly, after we had made every effort compatible with honour to avoid being drawn in, and we entered it with a full realization of the suffering, of the loss, of the disappointment, of the vexation, of the anxiety, and of the prolonged and sustained exertion which would be entailed upon us by our action. The war will be long and sombre; it will have many reverses of fortune and many hopes falsified by subsequent events, and we must derive from our cause, and from the strength that is in us, and from the traditions and history of our race, and from the spirit and aid of our Empire all