George Nathaniel Curzon
Winston Churchill and Harold Nicolson present the life story of George Nathaniel Curzon formally in a quite similar way - George Nathaniel Curzon introduction. Both authors discuss Curzon’s biography in a strict chronological order, they both start form the youth; proceed with the career development and political events the participator of which was Curzon. However, the approach to the narrative is different in Churchill and Nicolson. Thus Nicolson presents the positions and quotes of numerous Curzon’s contemporaries which add to the integral picture of this prominent figure and promote the understanding of his political concept in general.
Besides Nicolson describes at length any circumstances in which Curzon was to make his decisions. Different is Churchill approach, who displays a lot of his own subjective observations without going much into historical context. Churchill writes about Curzon as about the contemporary and acquaintance of him. These different approached are easily explained on the one hand by different volumes dedicated to Curzon’s activity: Nicolson spared almost 400 pages for description of issues related to Curzon’s life whereas Churchill confined himself to only 10 pages.
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On the other hand, Winston Churchill is himself a prominent, if not the most prominent, British historical figure and so the value of his views is equaled to the views and reminiscences of Curzon’s contemporaries as the first-hand information. To compare and contrast the Churchill’s and Nicolson’s approach it would be appropriate to focus on presentation of a particular event from Curzon’s life. In this paper the description of the situation that arose immediately after the resignation of the Lloyd George Government in 1922 will be used to demonstrate difference and similarities of the two approaches.
Describing the historical context of the events of 1922 both, Nicolson and Churchill, mention that the overthrow of Mr. Lloyd George’s Coalition government in 1922 was planned, and the crisis approached in the autumn. There were several meetings at Churchill’s house at which Lloyd George and Churchill discussed the increasing difficulties with Austen Chamberlain, Balfour, Curzon and Birkenhead, trying to find a solution. Both, Nicolson and Churchill, write that in the presence of everyone, Curzon gave his agreement to go with coalition government in an appeal to the country.
However, further events Nicolson and Churchill approach from different positions. Thus, Churchill states that he was surprised to learn about Curzon’s decision to move to a new government: “we were somewhat surprised that Curzon threw his weight against us, that Curzon retained the Foreign Office under the new Government” (Churchill, 1937, 243). It looks very strange that Churchill treated Curzon’s decision from own personal point of view rather than from the position of state’s interests.
So he notes that “No doubt he hated Lloyd George. But then there was his cordial promise to us all. ” (Churchill, 1937, 243) It is difficult to understand why Churchill failed to find the explanation for Curzon’s actions other than a trivial revenge to Lloyd George. At the same time Nicolson goes into details explaining the reasons of the Curzon’s decision. Thus, he maintains that the ground for such Curzon’s action was a wish to conduct the policy of Foreign office, which he considered to be correct.
It was the period (September 1922) of Chanak Crisis, when British and French troops stationed near Chanak to guard the neutral zone of the Dardanelles were threatened with attack by Turkish troops after the recapture of Izmir (Smyrna) following the Greek defeat. The Prime Minister made decision not to allow the spate of Turkish nationalism to pour into the Balkans unrestricted and Curzon agreed with that decision. However, as Nicolson observes “Curzon disapproved the methods of the last few weeks, he could not disguise from himself that the principle which had thus been maintained was among the cardinal articles of his own faith. (Nicolson, 1934, 277) This was the main reason why Curzon decided to adopt the position of Bonar Law and remain in his office as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Holding his office Curzon participated in Lausanne Conference where he, despite the unfavorable circumstances, successfully supported the positions of Britain in dispute with France and Turkey. Churchill even doesn’t mention this success of Curzon’s policy. Whereas, Nicolson states, “The Lausanne Conference reestablished Curzon’s reputation and his self-confidence.
His handling of that Assembly will always remain among the classic examples of expert diplomacy. It will thus be mainly from the angle of diplomatic technique that this abortive Conference will be examined. ” (Nicolson, 1934, 282). Despite the fact that the presentation of George Nathaniel Curzon’s life by Churchill and Nicolson is given from different points of view both authors come to the same conclusion. Curzon was a prominent political figure and one of those politicians to whom Britain is obliged for its success and prosperity.