Page:Great Speeches of the War.djvu/328

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[The following is the substance of a statement of Britain's case given by the Lord Chancellor in an interview with a prominent American Press Representative.]

We ask you in America—all, whether for or against us, heirs of the early struggles of our race—to realize that when we say we are fighting for life we use no figure of speech. Hyperbole there is in plenty, of course; but this is not hyperbole. We are fighting for life, and we ask the forbearance of America while we prosecute the struggle. If we appear in a wholly new situation to go beyond some of the rules of the books we shall not violate the dictates of humanity, and shall not turn back the clock of civilization. We take it that our interest in ending the war quickly—ending it in the only way in which the Allies can afford to see it ended at all—is also the interest of the United States. Germany's submarine warfare on belligerents and neutrals alike is a thing with no analogue. We are compelled to meet it. In devising a plan, we have given anxious study to the interests of neutrals. We have settled upon certain general principles that seem to us more favourable to neutrals than are the hitherto sufficient principles of international law.

Some American newspaper, I believe, has said that we, in our turn, are destroying a "scrap of paper." We think we are creating a "scrap of paper," and one with which neutrals, possessing full knowledge, will find no reason to quarrel. If we had recourse to the full rigours of the conventional blockade, we could claim to confiscate ships and cargoes seeking to evade it. What we want to do is to spare neutrals all possible inconvenience and injury—spare their crews, ships, and cargoes—and still throw the last ounce of our naval strength into the effort to break the system that despotism has set in operation against the happiness and prosperity of the world.

About America let me say two or three things with all emphasis. We do not assert any right to ask America to come