PRIME MINISTER IN PEACE 1918-22
DURING the first half of 1919 Lloyd George was mainly occupied with the Paris Peace Conference and the preparation of the Treaty of Versailles--a conference, it has been said, which never met, and a treaty which was a myth. There is some basis for both statements. But the comprehensive term, conference, may be allowed to describe the 2,000 meetings, plenary and subsidiary, private and public, of some sixty commissions and committees, ranging from 200 or 300 persons to the diminishing councils of ten, five, four, and three, all seeking peace and pursuing it. The Treaty of Versailles may be regarded as a myth in the sense that it became customary to debit to it most if not all the miseries which have befallen Europe since its imposition.
President Wilson arrived in London from Paris on 26 December 1918, and was given a great public reception and a banquet of unusual splendour at Buckingham Palace. Lloyd George rather grudgingly concedes President Wilson's immense prestige at this moment. 'He did not make the same appeal' to 'the combative instincts' of the British as Clemenceau and Foch did, said Lloyd George in his book on the Peace Treaties, but there are other than combative instincts even in the British, and to the common conscience the American President spoke as the great voice of Humanity.
At Buckingham Palace President Wilson received Lloyd George and Balfour, who found him 'extremely pleasant', 'genial and friendly in his accost'. His special concern was that the League of Nations should be placed first on the Conference agenda. To this Lloyd George readily agreed.
In December thirty-two states had been invited to send delegates to Paris, but no one had settled what was to be their relation to the five Great Powers. Which meetings were they to attend? Which problems were they to discuss? How many treaties were there to