Essays in Persuasion

London: Macmillan, 1931, xiii, 376 pp.; New York: Norton, 1963, 376 pp.


Here are collected the croakings of twelve years – the croakings of a Cassandra who could never influence the course of events in time. The volume might have been entitled ‘Essays in Prophecy and Persuasion,’ for the Prophecy, unfortunately, has been more successful than the Persuasion. But it was in a spirit of persuasion that most of these essays were written, in an attempt to influence opinion. They were regarded at the time, many of them, as extreme and reckless utterances. But I think that the reader, looking through them to-day, will admit that this was because they often ran directly counter to the overwhelming weight of contemporary sentiment and opinion, and not because of their character in themselves. On the contrary, I feel –reading them again, though I am a prejudiced witness – that they contain more understatement than overstatement, as judged by after-events. That this should be their tendency, is a natural consequence of the circumstances in which they were written. For I wrote many of these essays painfully conscious that a cloud of witnesses would rise up against me and very few in my support, and that I must, therefore, be at great pains to say nothing which I could not substantiate. I was constantly on my guard – as I well remember, looking back – to be as moderate as my convictions and the argument would permit.

Project Gutenberg Canada