By Lord Robbins
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Additional info for Autobiography of an Economist
This particular brand of liberalism at any rate did not prescribe quietism. There were no conscientious objectors in our family. As for me, I was stirred to the depths of my being. This was not so much from a sense of antagonism to the enemy, although not unnaturally this was not altogether absent, but much more from a sense of universal upheaval, a sense of outrage to the proper order of the world. I lived in a mood of high excitement as if in the midst of some cosmic symphony. I wrote a poetic drama, in the mode of Shelley's Hellas, entitled Peace Exiled.
But the trains, and hence the arrival of newspapers, were delayed; and when we eventually read of what had happened, it was all so much out of date that we were still in the dark about what was going on. We knew, however, that something more was likely to happen, if only because of the incessant shelling in our part and another shift of locality, this time to Bac-Saint-Maur to a position behind the Portuguese division. Nevertheless, things were not yet so bad that I was not able to visit a hospital in the rear for a quite excruciating session with an incompetent dentist who thrust arsenic into my laterals with instructions to visit him again a week from then.
It was true that there had been the Boer War. That, however, was thought to have been the result of spontaneous wickedness on the part of a Conservative Government; and the difficulties that had arisen in that connection had been such that it was hoped that even Conservatives would no more commit such follies. From the rivalries and tensions of continental Europe they averted their gaze, preferring to believe that the effects of war on a large scale in modem international society would be so damaging and disruptive that, if confronted with the danger, no statesman, however unregenerate, would dare to run the risk.
Autobiography of an Economist by Lord Robbins