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PUBLIC NOTICES. A THRILLING SPEECH, Issue 15640, 3 November 1914
A THRILLING SPEECH
LORD ROSEBERY ON THE WAR. Lord. Rosebery delivered a thrilling speech on the war recently at Broxburn, Linlithgow. “We have met.” he said, “ at a very solemn moment in the. history of this country—more solemn, I think, than any that has occurred in the history of the world —and yet a month ago, say, on August 1, we were all at peace, with scarcely a thought of war. Within a month our armies have been hewing their way through desperate odds. M e have had two lists of casualties, and may soon have a third or fourth. Our Fleet been in action. The whole face of Europe is convulsed as bv an earthquake, with the march of millions of armed men. What a change, and in how short a time, and how did this change come about? —A Spark in the Magazine.— “We shall not know for some years to coma the secret history of what brought about this war. We know the simple outside facts—the simple surface facts that Austria declared war against Servia, that Russia declared she must stand by s'ervia. that Germany said she must stand by Austria, and that France, said she must stand by Russia. It was really a spark in the midst of the great powder magazine which the nations of Europe have been building up for the last 20 or 30 years—a spark alighting in that tremendous powder magazine which, with infinite toil —misapplied toil, I think -the nations of Europe have been constructing. When you go on building up armaments against one, another there comes a time when either the guns go off of themselves, or else the people say : ‘We can no longer bear this burden of suspense. M e had better make an end of it and come to blows at once.’ —How We Come In.— “How do we come in? All through the correspondence that led up to the declaration of war you will see that our Government, and of course its mouthpiece and skilful agent, Sir Edward Grey, was skilful and energetic and untiring in trying to suggest methods by which peace might be preserved. (Cheers.) I do not think that he had a fair chance, because the time was too short, and all the time the armies were being mobilised, and when armies are being mobilised war becomes almost inevitable. But, at any rate, that was our part in the general contentions of Europe—peace. Our second was this—honor. (Cheers.) Wo were parties to a treaty, to which France and the kingdom of Rrussia were also parties, guaranteeing the independence and the integrity o? Belgium. Wo determined, rightly or wrongly, wisely or unwisely, but T think rightly and wisely—(hear, hear)—that so long as any power remained in the arm of Great Britain she was bound not to go back upon her pledged word to Belgium, and she was determined that if Germany were determined to violate her word Great Britain would not violate hers. Belgium is at this moment a welter of fire and blood and destruction, the work of one of the Powers that had sworn to guarantee her independence. How long would the British people have endured such a spectacle at their doors as that? We should have gone in then, and gone in too late, and should only have had the remorse of our first hesitation. —World’s Greatest War.— “ This is the greatest war that the world has ever seen—beyond all comparison the greate-. war the world »b ever se*--. Idle battle of Leipzig, in which Russia, Austria, and Prussia fought against the Emperor Napoleon and crushed him, was called the Battle of the Nations, but it was not the battle of nations; it was the battle of great armies. It was reserved for this war to be the Battle _of the Nations. Every man on the Continent of Europe who l can bear arms is under arms at this moment, excepting in a few countries. Among all the Great Powers of Europe, except Italy, every man at this moment is under arms. But wo are' not in that position. We have never gone in for conscription ; we have never demand od that every man should bear arms for his country. ' But remember this: that by the common law of Great Britain every man, valid and capable of bearing arms, is bound at the. call of bis country to do so. —A Righteous Cause.— “ There is one thing that is perfectly clear in all this matter —those who go to light will go to fight in a righteous cause. (Loud cheers.) We are fighting for the independence of Belgium against a power which guaranteed it and has destroyed it; wc are fighting for the freedom of France, a friendly Power who is allied with ourselves ; but wo are also lighting for the sanctity of the public Jaw of Europe—(loud cheers)—which, il our enemies he the conquerors, is torn up and destroyed fo” ever. When the German Foreign .Secretary was asked if ho was really going to infringe the neutrality of Belgium, he said : ‘You are not going to war for that —going to war for a scrap of paper.’ A great Power that treats ‘scraps 01 paper’ like that is not unlikely to l>o scrapped herself. The German Chancellor, when he vindicated this policy in Parliament, said ; ‘ We knew we were doing wrong in invading the neutrality of Belgium, hut we were compelled to do wrong." A nation that begins a great war by declaring that its foundation is wrong, and that it is obliged to do wrong, is likely to fare badly if there he a God in Heaven. (Great cheering.) Then, we are not merely fighting for Belgium. France, and the. sanctity of public law. but we arc also fighting for ourselves. We do not fight to gain an acre of territory, we do not fight to gam any advantage for ourselves; we only fight to secure our own liberties against an oppression which would he intolerable. I know that we have seen wars in our time in whieh the loss of a province or two ended the war. That will not he so in this. We have ■seen wars in which an indemnity of money put an end to the war ; that will not he so now. —lf We Were Beaten.— •• Make no mistake, this is a fight to a finish. If we go under now, we go under for ever. I do not ask you to suggest to yourselves that you will go under for a moment —(cries of ‘ Never !’)—but if you are not going under, every man who is capable of defending his country is bound to step into the breach. (Cheers.) Just think. Try and imagine what it would ho if we were beaten. I do not suppose we should bo annexed as a province. That is unthinkable—to see foreign uniforms, foreign police, foreign laws, foreign taxgatherers in our country. That I discard as absolutely impossible. But there is another very ’improbable contingency which might happen—which would happen if we were defeated—whieh is that we would be reduced at once to an inferior Power, living at the good-will of our superior lord, living on sufferance, our Army limited, our Navy limited, our Empire cut up and , divided among the plunderers, a position iso abject that we can’t realise it now. If j we were to sink to be a third-rate Power, ! in the position that I have described, I j for one would from my heart and soul that all our people as thev now exist were to pass into exile and into death, and leave this island vacant for some superior race. (Cheers.) —We Shall Win.— “We are going to win, because a nation and an Empire like ours cannot be extinguished by any such warfare as this. W© are going to win because wo have our people united as they never have been befoce. (Oteexßy}
“We are going to win because our Dominions ami Empires outside these island" vie with each other in generous emulatin' as to which shall give us most support is. supplies and money and men. “Above all, we are going to win because we have a high, a pure, and a just cause, and we can appeal with humble, but, I think, earnest, confidence to Him who, in
the words of our beautiful old paraphrase, we recognise as the God of Bethel, hv whose hand Our people still are led.”
PUBLIC NOTICES. A THRILLING SPEECH, Issue 15640, 3 November 1914
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