What Really Happened at Paris: The Story of the Peace Conference, 1918-1919

By Edward Mandell House; Charles Seymour | Go to book overview

II
THE ATMOSPHERE AND ORGANIZATION OF THE PEACE CONFERENCE

BY CLIVE DAY

As soon as the armistice had put an end to open war and brought peace in sight, people naturally began to speculate on the manner in which the terms of peace would be drawn. The average citizen assumed an august assembly, a sort of Parliament of the World, which would announce the bases of a just and lasting settlement: amended territorial frontiers, reparation of damages, and a revised code of international law. The Allies were united in purpose, and were now at last in a position to translate into fact the ideals which would make the world safe for democracy.

Over against this vague forecast of the man in the street it is interesting to set the picture of the Conference which has been drawn after the event by some of its critics. They picture a melodrama. Here in the gloom meet the three leading actors who determine the whole action of the play. Other figures make their entrances and exits, but serve merely as foils to set off the three great characters. These are heroic figures, great in their abilities and ambitions, but great also in their human weaknesses. The audience cannot hear their voices, which are so low that they do not carry across the footlights, but it follows the course of the plot by their actions. In the last scene the critic conceives force and guile prevailing over the weaknesses of the character who

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