The Pomp of Power
New York: George H. Doran Company. 1922. 8vo. 360 pp. $3.00.
AN author, who presumably remains anonymous from motives of good form, for he does not veil his identity from those directly familiar with the events he describes, relates in this volume his experience during and after the war in the governing circles of England and France, and describes the people he knew there, He incidentally appraises much that has been previously published on the subjects he discusses, and he advances with vigor and clarity personal opinions that compel attention. His mind is legalistic. He culls no flowers of thought and sentiment outside his well-hedged English garden of political and diplomatic tradition. He is probably a sound-minded and well-mannered British gentleman, of the type that pleases Americans because he meets perfectly their preconception of an Englishman, and irritates them because he is hopelessly blind to their own shadings of feeling and belief. This very revelation of personality, betrayed even by marked idiosyncrasies of style, lends human interest to subjects otherwise somewhat denuded of their freshness by the ravages of post-war writers. The result is an unusually readable book, with an edge of independent conviction, and the authority of first-hand knowledge.
The twelve chapters encompass a comprehensive field, including a politico-military sketch of the war, an intimate description of outstanding political episodes and personalities in England and France between 1914 and 1921, and probably the best existing brief political discussion of the Versailles Treaty and the resulting controversies.
Quotable passages are numerous. Those relating to America and Americans naturally catch the eye. At Paris, ' Mr. Lloyd George often got the better of Mr. Wilson and sometimes of M. Clemenceau. But in the former instance Wilson either did not realize it or awoke to the fact too late; while Clemenceau knew it, and when he had to bow to it, did so sardonically, as part of the game.’ The author’s final judgment upon America’s influence at Paris is not flattering: ‘ President Wilson’s part in the Peace Conference may be summed up by saying that he was responsible for between two and three months being wasted in drafting, out of its time, a document that was rejected by his own country, thus leading to complications which might have been avoided had Congress ratified the Treaty itself. To achieve that end Mr. Wilson sacrificed his own principles and the interests of the civilized world.’ It is needless to say that the author does not esteem highly the League of Nations.
Two other notable facts characterize this discussion of the Conference and its work. The author accepts the Treaty as just, because it is technically legal, and, indeed, he is pro-French in the existing Treaty controversies. Here, as in other matters relating to it, he stands with the French. For him there are apparently no undetermined economic factors in the unsolved problems of Europe; in fact economics does not enter into his philosophy. In the second place, he assumes that, if a break with France should prove inevitable, then a British alliance with Germany would become a necessary alternative for the present entente. The old school diplomat and the traditional policy of England speak here.
VICTOR S. CLARK.