Sir Arthur Nicolson, Bart., First Lord Carnock: A Study in the Old Diplomacy

Sir Arthur Nicolson, Bart., First Lord Carnock: A Study in the Old Diplomacy

Sir Arthur Nicolson, Bart., First Lord Carnock: A Study in the Old Diplomacy

Sir Arthur Nicolson, Bart., First Lord Carnock: A Study in the Old Diplomacy

Excerpt

This book covers nearly half a century of diplomatic history. Arthur Nicolson entered the British Foreign Service a week before the Battle of Sedan, and left it a fortnight after the Battle of Jutland. During these forty-six years he witnessed the rise and fall of the German Empire, and saw his own country cease to be the strongest Power in the world.

He was personally identified with almost every phase in that slow, and at the time unrealised, process, by which England and Germany were gradually impelled towards their mutual destruction. It may thus be of value to trace, in terms of an individual experience and of a single personality, those recondite displacements of weight, prejudice and sympathy, which, between the year 1870 and the year 1914, produced the European War.

The old diplomatist has not been fairly treated by his posterity. If he failed to foresee the war, he is, and with full justice, called a fool: if he did foresee the war, he is, quite unjustly, considered a knave. I trust that this biography may do something to correct such false perspectives. It is unnecessary to assume that such men as Bethmann Hollweg, Grey, the two Cambons, Hardinge, Jagow, Metternich, Pourtalès, Mensdorff, Schoen, or Nicolson were less high-minded than those who gather to-day in the Salle de la Réformation at Geneva. What was wrong was the civilisation which they represented. But if we are tempted to regard our own state of mind as more humane and more enlightened, we should remember that we were . . .

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