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Full text of "TheCompleteMemoirsOfGeorgeSherston"

In 1917 the last thing he expected me to be capable
of saying to him was—"Such knowledge as I have of
the why and wherefore of this War is only enough to
make me feel that I know nothing at all." He would
have said it of himself, though, since he was merely a
plain scientist, and not an omniscient politician or
political writer. And he would have added that it
pained him deeply to feel that he was "at war" with
German scientists. (At that time I did not know that
he had studied at Heidelberg.)

As regards the "larger aspects" of the War, my
method was to parade such scraps of information as
I possessed, always pretending to know more than I
did. Even Rivers could not cure nie of the youthful
habit (which many people never unlearn at all) of
being conversationally dishonest. All he could do was
to make me feel uncomfortable when I thought about
it afterwards—which was, anyhow, a step in the right
direction. For instance, he would be saying some-
thing about the Franco-Prussian War, and I would
bluff my way through, pretending to know quite a
lot about the Alsace-Lorraine question (though all I
knew was that I'd once been introduced to a pre-
bendary called Loraine, who subsequently became a
canon, and who had prepared Aunt Evelyn for con-
firmation somewhere about the year 1870). Worse
still, I would talk about some well-known person as
if I knew him quite well instead of having only met
him once. Since then I have entirely altered my pro-
cedure, and when in doubt I pretend to know less
than I really do. The knowledge thus gained is part
of my indebtedness to Rivers.

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