After the election notices to quit were showered upon the tenants. What happened? They were turned out by the score on to the roadside because they dared to vote according to their consciences. But they woke the spirit of the mountains, the genius of freedom that fought the might of the Normans for two centuries. There was such a feeling aroused amongst the people that, ere it was done, the political power of landlordism in Wales was shattered, as effectually as the power of the Druids. It is my ﬁrst memory of politics, and that is why I am proud to be President of the Gladstone League.
(Lloyd George, speech at Queen’s Hall, London, 23 March 1910, The Times, 24 March 1910)
Went to Houses of Parliament – very much disappointed with them. Grand buildings outside but inside they are crabbed, small and suffocating, especially House of Commons. I will not say but that I eyed the assembly in a spirit similar to that in which William the Conqueror eyed England on his visit to Edward the Confessor, the region of his future domain. Oh, vanity.
(Lloyd George, diary entry, Saturday, 12 November 1880 in W.R.P. George, The Making of Lloyd George, London, 1976, p. 101)
It comes to this. My supreme idea is to get on. To this ideaI shall sacriﬁce everything–except I trust honesty. I am prepared to thrust even love itself under the wheels of my Juggernaut, if it obstructs the way, that is if love is so much trumpery child’s play as your mother deems courtship to be. I have told you over and over that I consider you to be my good angel–my guiding star. Do you not really desire my success? If you do, will you suggest some course least objectionable to you out of our difﬁculty? I am prepared to do anything reasonable & fair you may require of me. I cannot–earnestly–carry on as present. Believe me–&mayHeavenattestthetruthofmystatement– my love for you is sincere & strong. In this I never waver. But I must not forget that I have a purpose in life. And however painful the sacriﬁce I may have to make to attain this ambition I must not ﬂinch–otherwise success will be remote indeed...
(Lloyd George to Miss Margaret Owen, ?1885, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Lloyd George Papers)
You know that I am a Welsh Nationalist of the Ellis type. Have more or less thoroughly studied the Church, land and temperance questions.
(Lloyd George to D.R. Daniel, 5 July 1888, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Daniel Papers)
We have never quarrelled with tyranny as the Irish have done. We have rather turned the other cheek to the smiter ... This resolution is a ﬁtting climax to this meeting’s programme. You have pledged yourselves to – Disestablishment, Land Reform, Local Option and other great reforms. But, however drastic and broad they may appear to be, they after all simply touch the fringe of that vast social question which must be dealt with in the near future. There is a momentous time coming. The dark continent of wrong is being explored and there is a missionary spirit abroad for its reclamation to the realm of right. That is why I feel so sanguine that were self-government granted to Wales she would be a model to the nationalities of the earth of a people who have driven oppression from their hillsides, and initiated the glorious reign of freedom, justice and truth.
(Lloyd George, speech to South Wales Liberal Federation, February 1890 in W.R.P. George, The Making of Lloyd George, London, 1976, p. 166)
Recent by-elections prove that the country is sick and tired of Mr Balfour’s baton-and-bayonet rule in Ireland, and of his desperate attempts to repress by martial law legitimate aspirations of a generous nation. I come before you as a ﬁrm believer in and admirer of Mr Gladstone’s noble alternative of Justice to Ireland. Whilst fully recognizing that the wrongs of Ireland must of necessity have the ﬁrst claim upon the attention of the Liberal party, I am deeply impressed with the fact that Wales has wants and inspirations of her own which have too long been ignored, but which must no longer be neglected. First and foremost amongst these stands the cause of Religious Liberty and Equality in Wales. If returned to Parliament by you, it shall be my earnest endeavour to labour for the triumph of this great cause. I believe in a liberal extension of the principle of Decentralization. There are also such questions as ‘One Man One Vote’, Graduated Taxation, ‘A Free Breakfast Table’, and many another much-needed Reform; but what availeth it even to enumerate them while there is a Tory Government in power?
(From Lloyd George’s election address, Caernarfon Boroughs by-election, April 1890 in H. du Parcq, Life of David Lloyd George, vol. I, London, 1912, pp. 95, 96)
Shortly after I wrote my letter of yesterday to you I got up & spoke for the ﬁrst time in the House of Commons ... There is no doubt I scored a success & a great one. The old man & Trevelyan [Sir G.O. Trevelyan (1838–1928): Liberal MP], Morley, [John Morley (1836–1923): Liberal MP], Harcourt appeared delighted. I saw Morley afterwards & he said it was a ‘capital speech – ﬁrst rate’ & he said so with marked emphasis. He is such a dry stick that he wouldn’t have said anything unless he thoroughly believed it. I have been overwhelmed with congratulations both yesterday & today Tom Ellis who is genuinely delighted because one of his own men has succeeded – told me that several members had congratulated Wales upon my speech. Stuart Rendel said I had displayed ‘very distinguished powers’. There is hardly a London Liberal or even a provincial paper which does not say something commendatory about it.
(Lloyd George to Mrs Lloyd George, 14 June 1890, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth)
The Welsh party met on Tuesday to discuss Disestablishment & elaborately resolved to do nothing. They met last night to discuss the G.O.M.’s [Grand Old Man, Gladstone’s nickname] letter & unhesitatingly determined to take action in advance of all other sections in support of ‘their great leader’. That’s Rendelism. We, the younger lot, are inclined to grumble at this. Unfortunately, at this juncture it is impossible to get up any sort of interest except the Parnell crisis.
(Lloyd George to Tom Ellis, 27 November 1890, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Ellis Papers)
I cannot express to you the regret Evans and I felt at your absence during the Tithe ﬁght. It was such a glorious struggle for Wales. Wales practically monopolized the attention of the house for fully three weeks. To my mind, that is the great fact of the Tithe Bill opposition.
You may have learned of the new Disestablishment Campaign the Welsh National Council proposed initiating. A skeleton scheme has been formulated by the Joint Executive and unless the very regrettable jealousies of the North & South Wales Federations upset the business I think it is bound to succeed.
We young Welshmen are jolly glad to hear that you are on your way back. I fancy we shall have another Welsh ﬁght over free education. Don’t you think so? Of course you have heard of our splendid victory of the Local Veto Bill. Quite unexpected as the Welshmen were all absent with the exception of 7 staunch teetotallers amongst them.
(Lloyd George to Tom Ellis, 11 April 1891, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Ellis Papers)
One of the main elements of Mr Lloyd George’s character is push. He is largely endowed, too, with worldly wisdom. A superﬁcial observer of the man may pronounce him rash and indiscreet; all who are thoroughly familiar with his history will, however, unite in saying that his rashness and indiscretion must be more apparent than real, for they always prove advantageous to him as a party politician by strengthening his position in his constituency and in the country generally. Even this little revolt of his, untimely though it may seem to most of us, will tell hereafter, we feel conﬁdent, to his advantage. It is distinctly in his favour that he has the courage to revolt at all. If the Government yield to his demands, great will be his reward; if the Government decline to yield to his demands, great will be the disgrace in the sight of the Welsh people, not of Lloyd George, but of the members who have refused to follow his lead. But why did he revolt? Was it because he felt that he must do something heroic, something sensational, if the attention of his countrymen was to be distracted from his complete discomﬁture in the Welsh Disestablishment Debate? If the revolt is to be regarded as a tactical movement designed for some such purpose as this, it must be acknowledged to have turned out a perfect success. The courageous little rebel has entirely over-shadowed the fallen parliamentary champion of Welsh Disestablishment.
Mr George has a very interesting personality. He is very affable, very frank and outspoken. He has a bright and intelligent face and (in private life) very pleasing manners. One hardly knows what a Campbellite–Particular Baptist ought to look like, but one has no difﬁculty in bringing before one’s mental eye the typical outward characteristics of a popular demagogue. These are by no means the outward characteristics of Mr Lloyd George.
He once delivered a powerful speech on Temperance in the House of Commons; he has delivered many equally powerful speeches on the subject in his constituency. He is one of the half-dozen total abstainers in the ranks of the Welsh parliamentary party.
Take him for all in all, he seems by far the best-ﬁtted of the Welsh members for the leadership of the National party in the House of Commons ... He is quick-witted; he is eloquent; he is daring; in a word, he is perhaps the truest Celt that Wales has ever sent into the House of Commons.
(T. Marchant Williams, ‘Mr David Lloyd George’, The Welsh Members of Parliament, Cardiff, 1894, p. 26)
Dear Mr Asquith,
I understand that a deputation of Welsh members propose waiting upon you to press for the adoption by the Govt. of Mr Lloyd George’s amendment to substitute a national council for the Commissioners to be appointed under the Welsh Church Bill. I think that you ought to be acquainted with the fact that the Welsh members are by no means unanimous on the question. I was present at the ﬁrst meeting of the Welsh members at which the amendment was discussed and strenuously opposed it. The sense of the meeting was so evidently against it that Mr Lloyd George proposed to adjourn the discussion stating that the amendment would not be reached for some time and this was agreed to. I was not present at the next meeting and I think if you will enquire of the deputation you will ﬁnd that there was only a small minority of the members present and so Mr Lloyd George got his way.
The Church party may support the omission of the word commissioners but they will certainly strenuously oppose the substitution of National Council therefor.
The object is to help on the question of Welsh Home Rule, a movement that has no hold whatever on the Welsh people at large. When it was ﬁrst mooted in my constituency,I opposed it on the ground that we ought not to fritter away our strength in starting new and crude movements but rather to concentrate on the question of disestablishment & nothing more was heard of it in Eiﬁon.
I hope the Government will stick to the Bill on this point & if that is done the support of the amendment will collapse.
(J. Bryn Roberts, MP, to H.H. Asquith, 18 May 1895, Bodleian Library, Oxford, Asquith Papers)
It is not, however, strictly accurate to say that we ‘accepted’ Ll. George’s amendment, and I think you showed rather too great a tendency to whitewash him after the underhand & disloyal fashion in wh. he undoubtedly acted. So far as I remember, he had no associate or apologist among the Welsh members.
(H.H. Asquith to Tom Ellis, 30 November 1895, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Ellis Papers)
Got a capital meeting last night altho’ the audience in these semi-English districts are not comparable to those I get in the Welsh districts. Here the people have sunk into a morbid footballism.
(Lloyd George to Mrs Lloyd George, 19 November 1895, from Tredegar, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth)
The meeting of the Federation was a packed one. Associations supposed to be favourable to us were refused representation & men not elected at all received tickets. There were two points of dispute between us. By some oversight they allowed me to speak on one & we carried it – as it turned out not because the majority of the meeting was with us but because they went to the vote immediately after my speech & I can assure you the impression made could be felt. I simply danced upon them. So they refused to allow me to speak on the second point. The majority present were Englishmen from the Newport districts. The next step is that we mean to summon a Conference of South Wales & to ﬁght it out. I am in bellicose form & don’t know when I can get home.
(Lloyd George to Mrs Lloyd George, 16 January 1896, from Newport, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth)
The meeting was disgracefully packed with Newport Englishmen.
(Lloyd George to Herbert Lewis, 16 January 1896, Penucha MSS, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth)
Before this number will have appeared, the ﬁrst Session of the present Parliament will have closed. Welshmen have reason to be proud of the achievements of their members. It has, in one sense, been the most Welsh session on record. If you look through the ‘unfathomable bog’ of Hansard, you will light upon the name of a Welsh member almost on every page. Mr Lloyd George has more than justiﬁed the high opinions that were entertained of him by his friends. Some cavillers used to think – or, at least, to say – that Mr George was only effective when he appealed to the prejudices of the most ignorant among his countrymen. ‘He carries no inﬂuence except among the mob’ we were told. ‘If you want a man of weight you must go to Mr Solemn Heavyside or Mr Pompous Verbosity.’ We were even told to distrust Mr George’s undoubted eloquence. ‘Of course’, said they, ‘Lloyd George is a good speaker – of a sort. He can rouse the enthusiasm of a crowd; he can talk most eloquently of Nationalism and Cymru Fydd and such vague things; but he is not a statesman or a debater. He is excellent on a popular platform – but he is a nobody in the House. There it is men like Mr Sprightly Keen and Mr Fluent Commonplace who are listened to with attention and respect.’ Of course these critics knew all about it – for did they not spend a night in the House of Commons two years ago, and, if I remember rightly, was it not Mr Lloyd George himself who procured admission for them?
This session, if it has done nothing else, has, at all events, put a stop to this idle chatter. Mr George is recognised to-day as the ﬁnest Parliamentarian that Wales has yet sent to the House of Commons, for with inﬁnitely little resources he has ‘scored’ repeatedly over the ‘strongest Government of modern times’. Sir William Harcourt paid the young member for Caernarvon a handsome compliment publicly on the ﬂoor of the House for the way in which he has fought the Tory Government; but even stronger expressions of admiration have been used by politicians on both sides of the House in private. Mr Lloyd George not only has shown an intimate knowledge of the rules of the House, a readiness in debate, and a keen perception of the weak points of the Tory case, but he has been able, by this pluck and resolution, to do more than any other man to infuse a new courage into the Liberal ranks, and to discredit the methods and the policy of an overbearing majority. For all that, I humbly think that Mr George did greater work last year than this. This year he has only been called upon to show ‘grit’ and cleverness in ﬁghting the enemy; last year he was put to a far more severe test – of standing up for principle against his friends.
(W. Llewellyn Williams, ‘Through Welsh spectacles’, Young Wales, August 1896, p. 192)
I spoke in the House today a chefais hwyl anarferol. Glad I did it. Wasa bit ashamed of my silence but I could not break the ice for the ﬁrst time. You have no idea what a feeling it is. I pitched into them as they had not been pitched into before. Hit straight from the shoulder. Wish you had been there. I got my chance & used it. The Government had published a false translation of the Transvaal documents! Just think of that. I bullied the Speaker almost. Joe [Joseph Chamberlain (1836–1914); Colonial Secretary] got him to call me to order for saying it was done deliberately. I retorted that if it was not done deliberately then the negligence was a criminal one seeing that it had sent hundreds of brave men already to their death. Either criminal negligence or forgery. I leave it to the right honourable gentleman to elect. It doesn’t matter to me which. The Radicals cheered. Of course I said Chamberlain personally could not have been guilty of such a thing. But I said someone has & I want to know who. I have never uttered such home truths in that House & no one replied to me. They seemed quite ﬂabbergasted for the moment.
(Lloyd George to Mrs Lloyd George, 27 October 1899, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth)
Whatever differences there may exist as to the South African War, no one disputes that Mr Lloyd-George has gained great political distinction during the last two years. Hitherto, his fame was mostly conﬁned within the borders of Wales; and, perhaps, some future historian will say that Wales blundered in not asserting a monopoly over Mr George’s talents such as Ireland has always asserted over her most brilliant sons. But Wales’ loss has been England’s gain, and at a time of great political dearth in political leadership, it has been no small help to English Radicals that they should receive such a timely reinforcement.
When Mr Lloyd George emerged from boyhood, his uncle was ambitious that he should enter some profession. The law presented itself as the easiest, and, with the help of his uncle, Mr Lloyd-George was able to serve his articles. He and his brother passed through the necessary training, and settled down in Criccieth as professional solicitors in a small way of business. It was the time of Tory supremacy. The political representation of Wales had long been in the hands of the Conservatives, with the exception of a few weak-kneed, elderly Whigs. But Young Wales was on the warpath, and, already, that movement had begun which has regenerated the Welsh Party, and given the succession to youth and enterprise. The question most to the front in the latter eighties throughout North Wales was that of the tithes. The attempts of the Church to assert their claims to the utmost had awakened a spirit of bitter resentment among the people. This frequently took the form of forcible resistance to the claims of the tithe-owners. The result was that the owners appealed to the law, and many of the farmers and peasants were brought into court. Mr Lloyd George took up their cases, and it was in the zealous and successful defence of the farmers and peasants of Carnarvonshire that he ﬁrst earned his reputation as a speaker. It was in the Carnarvonshire Courts that he ﬁrst displayed those qualities of dash and energy which have since made him famous. His legal reputation quickly spread through Carnarvonshire, and a happy chance enabled the Liberals of the day to adopt him as their champion. In 1890, a by-election occurred at the Carnarvon Boroughs, which had hitherto been held securely by the Conservatives. Several names were brought forward in the Liberal Association for the candidature, and among them was that of young Lloyd-George. He was but 26 years of age, and it was natural that the older men should raise many objections to the nomination of a mere youth for an important Welsh constituency. Until quite recently, he had scarcely been heard of, and it seemed a very rash thing to take him on such slender credentials. But it was always the good fortune of Mr Lloyd-George that his own friends have believed in him more than his acquaintances. They all supported him on this occasion, and proved sufﬁciently in earnest to carry the point. The Tories put up a powerful candidate to oppose him in the chief local landlord, Mr Hugh Ellis-Nanney, and, for a few weeks, the eyes of the country were centred upon the ﬁght. The issue hung in the balance, and it seemed scarcely possible that Mr Lloyd-George should succeed. Finally, he gained the seat by a bare majority, and thus went into the House of Commons at an age when many men have scarcely emerged from a university. His record since 1890 is probably in the minds of all my readers, and a few words will sufﬁce to sum it up here. Its main feature has undoubtedly been his manful championship of the cause of Welsh nationality – his attack on the Welsh Church, his defence at all times of Welsh Nonconformists, his zeal for unsectarian education, his passionate love for his own people.
He has fought election after election in the Carnarvonshire Boroughs, gradually increasing his majority in the face of most hostile forces. Often have his foes prophesied defeat, but always in vain. His chief opponent has retired into private life, with a consolatory knighthood. Sir John Puleston, a powerful Tory knight, came, saw, and was conquered. Now, ambitious young Tories shirk the task of assailing the Carnarvon Boroughs. Across the water from Criccieth you can see the hills of Merionethshire, which invite Mr Lloyd-George to a safe seat and easy repose. But that would be to repeat the blunder of Antaeus. Wisely he remains on his own ground, and knows that every effort spent on his native soil adds to his strength at Westminster. From each election he goes back to Parliament stronger; and never stronger than at the Election of 1900, when, in spite of all sinister hopes, he went back with a doubled majority.
For a young man of 37, this is surely a remarkable career. Here is a man without university training, without high birth, without riches, who has already climbed to a high political reputation. What is the secret of his power? I answer – Character. Mr Lloyd George has now plenty of self-acquired culture. He has read many books, and he has travelled much during the last ten years. But all these things are but the trappings – the garnishings of the real man. His root-power lies far beyond anything that is received by training or education. It lies in a certain fund of unexhausted strength, a certain fount of aboriginal power. He is not yet ‘sickled o’er with the pale cast of thought’. Take a recent event in his career – the purchase of the Daily News. While all the wise men of the Liberal Party were shrugging shoulders and drawing long faces, when experience and prudence were being recruited to swell the forces of despair, when all the warriors were gazing hopelessly at the apparently impregnable fortresses of Fleet Street, the young shepherd went apart, and took his two smooth stones from the brook. It is thus that the giants are killed and the heights conquered – by not believing them to be unconquerable. Thus, action has its root in faith, and hoary wisdom is ashamed. It is said that when a friend protested to Mirabeau that a thing was impossible, he replied angrily, – ‘Do not utter that foolish word in my presence’. In that, at any rate Mr Lloyd George is like Mirabeau. He has cut out the word ‘impossible’ from his vocabulary.
But the audacity of Mirabeau was the audacity of contempt and pride. It was beaten by the facts. The audacity of Lloyd George has a deeper root. He believes in the goodness of men. He believes that in the worst pass you can always rally the good in man if you call it out in the right way. He can remove mountains because he believes in humanity.
(Harold Spender, ‘Mr D. Lloyd George MP’, Young Wales, March 1901, pp. 67–9)
Ll. G. showed tremendous determination & driving force in carrying the thing through. It remains to be seen whether it will lead to the educational uniﬁcation of Wales or not ...
Lloyd George came to the second meeting, swept everything before him in the most peremptory fashion, & carried them in favour of the English plan. I had a chat with him at his ofﬁce this morning & learnt that his plan was to preserve uniformity throughout Wales in order that we might ultimately have a Central Board for Wales for elementary as well as intermediate purposes.
(J. Herbert Lewis’s diary, 11 November 1902, Penucha MSS, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth)
The situation in Wales is becoming exceedingly interesting. The leading Church laity are showing a marked disposition to accept the terms which I have induced some of the Welsh County Councils and the whole body of the Welsh Liberal members to offer them. The proceedings at the conference of Welsh County Councils held at Llandrindod on Friday were quite dramatic in their unanimity. Several Tories had come there to ﬁght but after a dialogue between Lord Kenyan and myself, in the course of which the general outline of the terms suggested was remarked, all these Conservatives and Churchmen enthusiastically accepted the proposed compromise and undertook to urge their clerical leaders to agree to a conference.
The Welsh Tory Press is also veering round. There is today in the Western Mail a strong letter from the Vicar of Swansea, who is probably the most popular clergyman in South Wales, strongly advocating the acceptance of my proposals.
(Lloyd George to W. Robertson Nicoll, 3 March 1903, Nicoll MSS)
Having had no literary education himself, [Lloyd George] is unable to realize the needs of the education system. He regards it simply as a political scaffolding and so long as he can see his way to set up the scaffolding he does not trouble himself with the character of the ediﬁce.
(A.C. Humphreys-Owen, MP, to Lord Rendel, 18 June 1905, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Rendel Papers)
Lloyd George has practically nothing to say for Labour ... Has Lloyd George, the talented son of the people, nothing better to offer than a wrecked Education Act, a bafﬂed aristocratic Church party and a pilloried Chamberlain. It seems he has not.
(Labour Leader, 16 June 1905)
The agitation about Welsh Disestablishment is becoming a little menacing. The Nonconformist Ministers are afraid it is being squeezed out by more urgently pressed claims & they have summoned a great Conference for next Thursday to pass strong resolutions & I have no doubt to make stronger speeches in support of them ... There is a good deal to be said for all this anxiety &I think their demand reasonable. Wales has returned Liberal majorities for Disestablishment since 1865. Gladstone then put them off for 30 years. They are afraid that Wales being small & silent may be forgotten even now.
I wish you could see your way to send me a strong letter. You have no better friends than these half-insurgent Welsh ministers ...
(Lloyd George to Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, 5 October 1907, British Library, Campbell-Bannerman Papers)
What is and has been our programme? First of all stands the establishment of complete civil and religious equality. Non- conformity is the religion of the working men of Wales, and to demand equal treatment for the Free Churches in every school maintained out of public funds, and equal position for those Churches in the eye of the law in all things is simply to put forward the claim that the religious institutions of the people shall not be regarded as inferior by the State to those patronised by the aristocracy of the land.
What is our next legislative idea? The emancipation of the Welsh peasant, the Welsh labourer, and the Welsh miner from the oppression of the antiquated and sterilising and humiliating system of land tenure. Who are more concerned in the success of this part of our programme than the workmen of Wales? Both villager and town workman are vitally interested in the settlement of this problem. The present state of things on the land means that the sustenance of the labouring man is often sacriﬁced to the sport of the idle few; that almost as large a share of the produce of the soil goes into paying for the permission to cultivate it as is allotted towards maintaining the labourers who till it through the sweat of their brow; that the continued enjoyment of the fruits of the labour of the whole of the rural community may depend upon the caprice of one man. Surely this is enough matter of itself to call for reform. But that is not all. The man who ﬂees from this tyranny into the town is preceded by it there into the recesses of its darkest slum.
What more have we inscribed on our Welsh national programme? There is the calling in of the aid of the State, which means the concentrated power of all, to assist the moral reformer in the creation of a nation of sober people. How? By removing the temptation to inebriety by interposing legal obstacles in the way of excessive drinking; by so improving the conditions and environments of the people that the despair of squalor shall not drive them to drink. Drink has kept the workmen of this country back a whole generation on the road to progress. It is also an essential part of our national programme to bring the best and highest educational facilities within the reach of the poorest child in the land. We have already done more to achieve this object within the last thirty years than any nation in these islands, but we have only just begun. There is nothing more essential to the permanent emancipation of the working classes of this country than that they should be thoroughly trained in the schools of the land for the struggles in front of them. To crown all, we seek the extension of the powers of self-government to Wales so as to enable her sons and daughters to manage her affairs without hindrance or embarrassment from those who possess neither the time nor the inclination to attend to them, or even to acquire any adequate knowledge as to what these affairs are. No candidate can ever hope successfully to contest an industrial constituency in Wales who does not pledge himself unreservedly to advance these reforms to the best of his power and opportunity.I cannot imagine any genuine Labour candidate desiring to do anything else. Therefore I say conﬁdently that the Labour movement contains no menace for Welsh nationalism.
(Lloyd George, speech to Welsh National Liberal Council, Cardiff, 11 October 1906, South Wales Daily News, 12 October 1906)
British Liberalism is not going to repeat the errors of Continental Liberalism. The fate of Continental Liberalism should warn them of that danger. It has been swept on one side before it had well begun its work, because it refused to adapt itself to new conditions. The Liberalism of the Continent concerned itself exclusively with mending and perfecting the machinery which was to grind corn for the people. It forgot that the people had to live whilst the process was going on, and people saw their lives pass away without anything being accomplished. But British Liberalism has been better advised. It has not abandoned the traditional ambition of the Liberal party to establish freedom and equality; but side by side with this effort it promotes measures for ameliorating the conditions of life for the multitude.
The old Liberals in this country used the natural discontent of the people with the poverty and precariousness of the means of subsistence as a motive power to win for them a better, more inﬂuential, and more honourable status in the citizenship of their native land. The new Liberalism, while pursuing this great political ideal with unﬂinching energy, devotes a part of its endeavour also to the removing of the immediate causes of discontent. It is true that men cannot live by bread alone. It is equally true that a man cannot live without bread. Let Liberalism proceed with its glorious work of building up the temple of liberty in this country, but let it also bear in mind that the worshippers at that shrine have to live.
It is a recognition of that elemental fact that has promoted legislation like the Old Age Pensions Act. It is but the beginning of things. Legislation of this character is essentially just, and it is a severe reﬂection on our civilisation that we should have waited so long ere we undertook the making of a provision of that kind for the aged and deserving poor. There are 43 millions of people in this country. They are not here of their own choice. Whether they are here by accident or the direct decree of Providence, at any rate they had no control or voice in the selection of the land of their birth. If hundreds and thousands of them either starved or were on the brink of starvation, we must not blame Providence for this misfortune. There are abundant material resources in this country to feed, clothe, and shelter them all – yea, and if properly husbanded and managed, to do the same for many millions more.
(Lloyd George, speech to Welsh National Liberal Council, Swansea, 1 October 1908, South Wales Daily News, 2 October 1908)
The Archbishop of Canterbury Randall Davidson was born & bred a Presbyterian. He is a mercenary soldier & general of the English Establishment.
Lloyd George trusts him. I have never done so, &I have known him for longer than Lloyd George, whose lack of bitterness & human friendliness in controversy are splendid qualiﬁcations but sometimes cause him to be over-generous to opponents. When in full cry his bark is most animating & exciting but I think he never bites. At any rate there is never venom, not even gall, ... The Tory & Society denunciations of his platform style are all based on its utter frankness & simplicity. He is thought rude & vulgar, and held guilty of degrading his great ofﬁce. No credit is given him for real chivalry and fairness to opponents. Think of Chamberlain or even Disraeli & their rancour and bitterness! There is neither snobbishness nor uncharitableness in Lloyd George. And to me his total want of pose or pretension is a charm of character as well as manner that more than compensates for any occasional over-freedom of expression.
(Lord Rendel to Principal T.F. Roberts, Christmas Day, 1909, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, archives)
I shall be glad to ﬁnd myself in the car starting. I am not cut out for Courtlife. I can see some of them revel in it. I detest it. The whole atmosphere reeks with Toryism. I can breathe it & it depresses & sickens me. Everybody very civil to me as they would be to a dangerous wild animal whom they fear & perhaps just a little admire for its suppleness & strength. The King is hostile to the bone to all who are working to lift the workmen out of the mire. So is the Queen. They talk exactly as the late King & the Kaiser talked to me if you remember about the old Railway strike.‘What do they want striking?’‘They are very well paid’, etc.
(Lloyd George to Mrs Lloyd George, 16 September 1911, from Balmoral, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth)
Ah! The world owes much to the little ﬁve-foot-ﬁve nations.
The greatest art in the world was the work of little nations; the most enduring literature of England came when she was a nation the size of Belgium ﬁghting a great Empire. The heroic deeds that thrill humanity through generations were the deeds of little nations ﬁghting for their freedom. Yes, and the salvation of mankind came through a little nation ... Wales must continue doing her duty. I should like to see a Welsh Army in the ﬁeld. I should like to see the race that faced the Normans for hundreds of years in a struggle for freedom, the race that helped to win Crecy, the race that fought for a generation under Glendower against the greatest captain in Europe – I should like to see that race give a good taste of its quality in this struggle in Europe; and they are going to do it.
(Lloyd George, speech at Queen’s Hall, London, 19 September 1914)
There is a great deal of difference between the temptation to leave your work for the pleasure of being cramped up in a suffocating malodorous chapel listening to some superstitions I had heard thousands of times before & on the other hand the temptation to have a pleasant ride on the river in the fresh air with a terminus at one of the loveliest gardens in Europe. [Mrs Lloyd George had scolded her husband for going for a trip on the river with S.T. Evans, MP, on a Sunday, instead of going to chapel.]
(Lloyd George to Mrs Lloyd George, 13 August 1890, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth)
Your joint telegram as to the action taken by the Government in reference to the bombing school incident gave me a great shock, and I immediately wired you my ﬁrst impressions. I think it an unutterable piece of insolence, but very characteristic of this Government. They crumple up when tackled by Mussolini and Hitler, but they take it out of the smallest country in the realm which they are misgoverning. It is the way cowards try to show that they are strong by bullying. They run away from anyone powerful enough to stand up to them and they take it out of the weak. In the worst days of Irish coersion [sic], trials were never taken out of Ireland into the English courts. They might be removed from Roscommon to Dublin, but they were never taken to the Old Bailey. I cannot recall a single instance in the past of its having been done in the case of Wales. Certainly not in a criminal case. This is the ﬁrst Government that has tried Wales at the Old Bailey.I wish I were there, and I certainly wish I were 40 years younger. I should be prepared to risk a protest which would be a deﬁance. If I were Saunders Lewis I would not surrender at the Old Bailey,I would insist on their arresting me, and I am not sure that I would not make it difﬁcult for them to do that. This Government will take no heed of protests which do not menace it. I hope the Welsh Members will make a scene, and an effective one, in the House.
(Lloyd George to Megan Lloyd George, 1 December 1936, from Jamaica, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth)