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form and cadence but pungent and picturesque. The Little Man, as the saying is, kept his tail up; and the British Lion, though it had a very naturally rampant tail of its own and no real need for this particular form of encouragement, felt itself particularly obliged. There was, besides, something in the quality of Mr George's speeches akin to the sentimentalism in Dickens's novels -something which took the fancy of the British Public and proved at once more heartening than Mr Asquith's classical periods or Mr Balfour's graceful dialectic.

And it was not the English only but the French also to whom Mr George's personality appealed at this juncture of affairs. Renan,* as Mr Fisher has reminded us, foretold, on the morrow of 1870, some development of the original Celtic strain in the British race in conformity with the urgent need of Europe for a FrancoBritish understanding. It was to something of this kind, doubtless, that Mr George seemed to our neighbours to give expression. The time came, indeed, when the French found his character less agreeable than they had supposed, but at this important juncture in the history of the Anglo-French Entente they were delighted with the agile, vivacious, keen-eyed little duellist, who seemed to be almost one of themselves and to reverse that tradition of unimpulsive, unimpressionable British statesmanship which had so often thwarted them in times past.

By such graces, then, as have been named, by pluck, by luck, by mobility, by dash and daring and defiance as well as by swift sentimental touches of the Welsh harp, Mr George rose with the rising fortunes of the Allies during the summer of 1918 to the first eminence in the eyes of Europe. All the leading ministers of the other great belligerent nations had changed once and again in the course of the War. He alone remained, a glittering figure, secure of the suffrage of his countrymen, actually greater and more powerful than when the War began. It is no idle phrasing to say that the fate of Europe lay in his hands, for the supreme question, when it came to making peace, was upon which side he would throw his weight. There were, of course, things he could not do. Yet, standing as he did between the uninstructed idealism

* 'La Reforme Intellectuelle,' p. 153.

of America, upon whose promised mercies Germany had cast herself half in despair, half in hope, and the embittered realism of France, mourning over her ravaged fields and the corpses of her sons, his counsel, as the accredited representative of the British people, enjoyed an unrivalled authority. Precedent and tradition, and, indeed, common sense also, invited him to emulate the example of Wellington and Castlereagh, by whom France, guilty of a more prolonged assault upon civilisation than modern Germany, had been wisely saved from the just price of her misdeeds. The German Republic of 1918 needed, not less than the restored French Monarchy of 1815, such tolerable conditions of peace as should commend it to the approval of the disillusioned German people. But such distant prospects exercised no enchantment upon his mind; and in the interval between the Armistice and the Peace he fell into temptation. Excessively attentive to political opportunity he perceived at this moment a chance that might never recur of settling conclusions with his former chief and laying the foundations of a new party obedient to himself. Although in 1901 he had found occasion to condemn the policy of taking the judgment of the country whilst a war-fever was still running in its blood, and, although in 1918 no one contested his claim to settle the terms of peace, he decided to go to the polls before the Blockade was raised or the urgent necessities of Europe were at all alleviated. To make a certain victory still more assured he promised the Electorate such reparations as were in excess of anything he had a right under the terms of the Armistice to obtain, and such a punishment of the Kaiser as was far in advance of anything he was in a position to count upon.

The Prime Minister's tactics proved embarrassingly successful. He achieved the greatest of personal successes; he reduced the Liberal opposition to a very small remnant; he returned to Westminster with an immense parliamentary majority at his back; and he went to Versailles with the heaviest of mill-stones about his neck. Those who were acquainted with the workings of his mind at that time were aware that it was not unaffected by considerations of prudence and a sense of reality. A memorandum, subsequently published by Signor Nitti, disclosed to the chiefs of the Conference an unexpected


moderation in his views, whilst an article of the same character in the Westminster Gazette' by Mr Sisley Huddleston, which, it seems, he secretly inspired but publicly repudiated, discovered to his alarmed supporters the versatility of his ways. Voices of vengeance from across the Channel bade him remember what was expected of him, what others had said with his tacit concurrence and, above all, what he had said himself; and he was not disobedient to their admonitions. His diplomacy, whilst safeguarding not unskilfully the particular interests of England, permitted the French to control the destinies of Europe; and his signature was appended to a treaty so ill-judged in its general drift that the most urgent problem for Europe for some while afterwards was how best to set its provisions aside. As often as not the Treaties of Peace asserted the claims of nationality and self-determination when they worked to the advantage of the Entente Powers, but the claims of the strategical frontier when they did otherwise; whilst all the hatred of the Allies was consolidated into a huge, unformed block of reparations which left Europe in uncertainty and its exchanges in confusion. If, as he assured an audience four years afterwards, it is the business of statesmen to look ahead,' † it must be admitted that he was ill-equipped for his business. There are those, indeed, who urge that passion ran so high in 1918 that it was idle to press the claims of reason. Yet, as we have seen, the history of the Peace of Paris a hundred years before had demonstrated to perfection the power of calm and resolute wisdom in face of repeated and greater provocation. Unmoved by the wishes of his colleagues in the Government, undeterred by the prospect of that 'severe criticism ... in Parliament'‡ which he subsequently received, Castlereagh, even after the crowning irritation of the Hundred Days, insisted upon giving France terms that bore no relation to her crimes, but were determined by a desire to confirm her new Government in power, and to satisfy the requirements of the peace of Europe; and in all this Wellington stood beside

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* The facts will be found set out in the 'Times' of April 6, 1922, p. 7. + Times,' May 26, 1922.

Cp. Prof. Webster's article in the 'Cambridge History of British Foreign Policy,' 1, p. 514.

him. And, if the aim of settlements be to get something settled, it must be admitted that Metternich and his coadjutors made a much better thing of the Peace of Vienna than Mr George and his colleagues of the Peace of Versailles. Patient of the past, distrustful of the future, content to rebuild rather than to reconstruct, they reached an arrangement which, for better or worse, outlived the storms and earthquakes of close upon a hundred years. What the Versailles settlement was worth, with Germany in confusion and Russia in convulsion, no one could say at the time or can tell even now. But the frequency and plurality of Mr George's post-Treaty congresses in comparison with those initiated by Metternich, affords some measure of the instability and insufficiency of his work. With the vast paraphernalia of his diplomacy, with his legion of secretaries, typists, journalists, and hangers-on, with his pleasant villas and his special trains, he became, indeed, in the years that succeeded the Peace of Versailles a jest to the humorist and a burden to the tax-payer. His ambulatory Foreign Office supplanted the proper one; and, to the discomfiture of all the prisoners of hope, his amateur congresses, dominated by the war tradition, elbowed out the League of Nations with its trained staff, its better orientation and its real science. The results obtained did much to avenge the organisation which he had rudely pushed aside, for they were little enough. The French held him to the spirit and almost to the letter of the Versailles Treaty; and it was precisely from this that he wanted to get away.

Here lay indeed an illustration of Mr George's supreme defect as a statesman. He had grown so accustomed to find his policy change, his pledges fail of their performance. his morality adapt itself to the suggestions of the passing hour, that he did not well understand what perplexity and inconvenience his gyrations, defaults, and countermarches caused alike to the honourable and the confiding. His cheery forecasts and his plausible undertakings lost their charm for the miners and the farmers who supposed themselves cheated of coal-nationalisation and guaranteed prices; for the exsoldiers who had expected to find homes fit for heroes to live in, and found, in fact, their old habitations in worse repair; and for a nation which had been roused to

exertion by pleasing visions of a new heaven and a new earth, and learned in the event that human nature remains constant, even when Prime Ministers become erratic. So notorious grew his vagaries that the wags and the wits began to make merry over the singular instability of his mind. A talk with Lloyd George,' they said, 'is like a walk with a wood-cock.' 'Who is the Prime Minister of England?' inquired the propounders of riddles. And the answer was, 'The last man who has spoken to Lloyd George.' But abroad they did not let him off so philosophically; and in France, where they came to think him, not without reason, a gay deceiver, he became anathema.

In his dealings with Russia, and again in his dealings with Ireland, the Prime Minister's opportunism attained a climax. He had hailed the Russian Revolution at its beginning with faith and hope, although there were men in England who could have told him in what way that catastrophic adventure was sure to end, if the War continued. But, when his expectations were disappointed, he fell into a fresh mistake and wasted an alarming amount of public money in financing the bands of the Russian émigrés against the armies of the Russian nation. No sooner was this plan in its turn discredited than again he changed his tune. The Bolshevist enemies of civilisation became the fortunate proprietors of 'bulging corn-bins,' and, as time passed, the Prime Minister developed a growing desire for their society. Bolshevist emissaries, therefore, whose presence he would have welcomed at Prinkipo in 1919, were received in London in 1920, and ultimately entertained at Genoa in 1922. By that last date, however, the fair vision of the bulging corn-bins had been exchanged for the ugly realities of an appalling famine, and the question was no longer what Russia could give but what she could get. With such antecedents the Genoa Conference necessarily became the acid-test, as the phrase was, of Lloyd-Georgian diplomacy; and the more so that the Americans avoided it, because they were men of business, and the French gave it the cold shoulder, because they were men of honour. It failed as most men could see beforehand it must fail, for lack of any common foundations of contractual fidelity; but to the students of Mr

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