Lansdowne’s Letter

There are frequent calls in Britain to increase inclusion, to get rid of elitism, especially in the House of Lords, but the aristocracy have not been all bad. At the height of Margaret Thatcher’s slashing of the welfare state, it was often these elite gents who had the time to read proposals properly, and as they were not constantly looking nervously towards the next election, they often had a longer view of politics.  But being rich and powerful did not always protect them from the pain of losing a son for no good reason. 

From ‘And So To Bath’

“In Calne church is a wooden cross, a memorial to the son of the 5th Marquis of Lansdowne who died at Ypres. “This cross is in turn connected with a famous letter written by Lord Lansdowne in 1917, asking that the Great War should be brought to an end before either side had been brought to the misery of complete defeat. The Times refused to publish the letter but the Daily Telegraph did, and it fell like a bombshell, heard above the roar of a world in desperate conflict. Judging from the abuse it brought down upon Lord Lansdown, it might have been a proposal to increase the bloodshed instead of an attempt to raise the quiet voice of reason, save millions of lives, and stem an avalanche of disaster for the human race. Lord Lansdowne predicted a later necessity of adjusting the world’s trade and of settling territorial claims by judgement rather than force. The Allies would win the war, doubtless, but at a cost that would create a barren victory. Never has a letter created such a storm, coming as it did from a former Foreign Secretary. Under the deluge of abuse Lord Lansdowne sank back into a silence he maintained until his death. The war raged on. How right he was, how feasible was his proposal at that stage of the war must ever remain debatable; but of the letter’s nobility and its prophetic insight there can be no doubt in this disillusioned age.”




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