Western Mail, 9 May 1916

Sound Advice + Zoom In
POLONIUS (to Laertes): Beware of entrance to a quarrel, but, being in, / Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee. - "Hamlet." "Let me give you a second matter which seems to be worrying some of my very best Liberal friends. They are rather shocked in their hearts because I am throwing such fervour into the prosecution of the war. I hate war. I very very often feel a sense of shock pass through my system when I realise what the terrible machines which I am helping to manufacture are intended for. But you either make war or you don't. It is he business of statesmen to strain every nerve to keep a nation out of war, but once they are in it it is also their business to wage it with all their might." - Mr. Lloyd George at Conway.

Here the cartoonist again calls upon a quotation from Shakespeare as inspiration. The quotation is from Hamlet Act I Scene 3 and is from the speech of Polonius advising Laertes to win any quarrel in which he becomes involved. This cartoon depicts Lloyd George as Polonius advising John Bull to take much the same approach towards the war and it is taken from the former’s speech made in Conway on 6 May in which he set out his arguments in favour of the Military Service Act and the introduction of conscription. He stated: ‘I am told that the fact that I supported it [conscription] proves I am no longer a Liberal. Well, there must be a good many Liberals in the same plight, because the other night barely one-tenth of the Liberal Party voted against it. … After all … great democracies in peril have always had to resort to compulsion to save themselves. … It is purely … a means of organising the strength and virility of a nation to save itself from oppression, and that is why, as a Liberal fighting the battle of liberty in Europe, I have no shame in declaring for compulsory enlistment as I would for compulsory taxes or for compulsory education, or … for compulsory insurance.’ According to Chris Wrigley (Lloyd George, 1992, p. 74), in this speech he ‘expressed what was truly the essence of his wartime politics’, in the lines quoted in the caption, after which Lloyd George added ‘I want this to be the last [war], and it won’t be unless this war is effectively managed by us. A badly conducted war means a bad peace, and a bad peace means no peace at all. That is why I have urged that this war should be conducted with determination.’

Events: None assigned

Topics: Art and Literature, Munitions, Recruiting

Individuals: David Lloyd George , John Bull

Back to top


You can submit a comment to us about the above speech using the form below.

Please note that at present, comments are not automatically displayed publicly on the site.

There are currently no comments available for viewing for this speech