Page:Great Speeches of the War.djvu/325

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Great Speeches of the War

small retaliations and reprisals here and there and think that because they have cast away the treasures not only of civilization, but of military honour, our responsibility for maintaining them has become less real or less effective. [Cheers.] Let us concentrate on the simple and obvious task of creating a military force so powerful that the war, in default of any other good fortune, can certainly be ended and brought to a satisfactory conclusion.

However the war began, now that it has started it is a war of self-preservation for us. [Cheers.] Our civilization, our way of doing things, our system of Parliamentary life, with its voting and its talking—[laughter]—our party system, our party warfares, the free and easy tolerances of English and of British life and existence, our method of doing things and of being ourselves, alive and self-respecting in the world—all these are brought up in violent contrast, in violent collision, with the organized force of bureaucratic Prussian militarism, [Cheers.]

That is the struggle which is open now, and which must go forward without pause or abatement until it is settled decisively and finally one way or the other. On that there can be no compromise or truce. It is our life or it is theirs. We are bound, having gone so far, to go forward without flinching until the very end. [Cheers.] This is the same war, the same great European War, that would have been fought in the year 1909 if Russia had not humbled herself and given way to German pressure. It is the same war that Sir E. Grey—[cheers]—stopped last year. And now it has come upon us. But if you look back across the long periods of European history to the original cause, you will, I am sure, find it in the cruel terms enforced upon France in 1870, and in the repeated attempts to terrorize France which have been the characteristic of German policy ever since.

The more you study this question the more you will see that the use the Germans made of their three aggressive and victorious wars, against Denmark, against Austria, and against France, has been such as to make them the terror and the bully of Europe, the enemy and the menace of every small State upon their borders, and a perpetual source of unrest and disquietude to their powerful neighbours. Now the war has come, and when it is over let us be careful not to make the same mistake or the same sort of mistake as Germany made when she had France prostrate at her feet in 1870. Let