29 MARCH 1940, Page 15



IWAS speaking in Paris at the Sorbonne last week on the subject of Anglo-French misunderstanding. I pointed out that it was not surprising that after eight centuries of almost unremitting rivalry each nation should have derived a false impression of the other, and that these impressions should have crystallised into preconceived ideas. The French schoolboy, for instance, was led to regard the English as selfish, hypocritical, perfidious, violent and a trifle crude. The British schoolboy learnt to consider the French as rest- less, militaristic, unreliable, frivolous and somewhat profli- gate. Each of these two portraits was a caricature. The British are not more selfish than other peoples ; their hypocrisy is due, not to a desire to deceive others, but to a desire to find some spiritual comfort for themselves ; nor has any virile race been as loyal, as tolerant, or so subtly gentle as we are ourselves. Conversely, the French are in fact a consistent and pacific people, and their standards of seriousness, good conduct and domestic fidelity are higher and more exacting than our own. If only we could direct our attention to the immense seriousness of the French, and if only they could find time to appreciate our great kindliness, then indeed might the two peoples acquire a more intimate liking for each other. And meanwhile, pending the time when affection may develop, let each people regard the other with respect. Since it is on the basis of mutual respect that manages de convenance are founded.

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