Weekend Reading: Keynes Quoting Malthus

Weekend Reading Jan Christian Smuts to M.C. Gillett: The Griqua prayer...

Jan Christian Smuts: To M. C. Gillett, Paris, 7 May 1919...

...No, I cannot come over this week-end as I must stop here at this juncture for a few days longer on the off-chance of being useful. I go today in a frock-coat and top hat to join in handing the Germans our so-called Peace Terms. And my mind will go back to another May day in 1902 when Peace Terms were handed to the Boers. And in less than five years those terms had been blown to smithereens by fate and only the semblance of the British flag remained as a reminder of the victors' terms.

And so it may be again. Let us not lose faith in God, the Disposer of things, and in simple human nature which is so much wiser and braver than what one would infer from the activities of the statesmen and the leaders. I often nowadays have the feeling as if some great Spirit is back of things and quietly moving the pieces of history behind the camouflage of our petty stage. So let us have faith and await the greater issue, which, however, may not be in our day.

What a striking reference you made in your last to the anti-Corn Law agitation. I told Keynes what you had written and he said how true it was and he had never thought of it in that way. Poor Keynes often sits with me at night after a good dinner and we rail against the world and the coming flood. And I tell him this is the time for the Griqua prayer (the Lord to come himself and not send his Son, as this is not a time for children). And then we laugh, and behind the laughter is Hoover's terrible picture of thirty million people who must die unless there is some great intervention. But then again we think things are never really as bad as that; and something will turn up, and the worst will never be. And somehow all these phases of feeling are true and right in some sense.

And in it all I do miss you, miss you greatly. How you and Arthur and I would talk things over if we were together. But complete Holism is not yet; time and space are terrible facts; and so we submit for the present and await our turn of good times. And thank you for the Message to Seekers. I have the original as my book-mark in Spinoza which I am again reading.

There is spring in the air and spring in the world, both inner and outer; may spring come soon to the distracted races of men.

Ever yours,