Magdalen and the Great War

Magdalen inviteThis term’s Magdalen College Library & Archives Talk will feature Dr Robin Darwall-Smith, Magdalen College Archivist, talking about ‘Magdalen and the Great War’.
Robin will discuss the impact of the First World War on Magdalen
College, and among the themes he will consider are: the College in the summer of 1914; how Magdalen functioned during the war and who was there during this time; what happened to its members on the front; and how the College chose to remember the war afterwards.

Including a chance to see a related exhibition in our Old Library, which was curated by Robin and our Archives Assistant, Ben Taylor.

Monday 24th November (7th week), 17.30 Magdalen College Summer Common Room, Cloisters III
All welcome, RSVP to library@magd.ox.ac.uk

Oxford’s new podcast series explores the ‘British’ poetry of World War One.

ww1-poetryThe poetry of World War One has been some of the most important and influential work of the twentieth century. It has shaped our attitudes to war, and has remained ingrained in British cultural consciousness. In this audio collection world-leading experts revisit this important body of work to provide deeper insights into some of the most read British soldier poets, as well as providing new perspectives and introductions to a more expansive canon including Irish works, the poetry of the Empire and women poets.

Produced as part of the Faculty of English Spring School (3-5 April 2014), the series is the first of its kind covering the topic of World War One poetry. It is  available under a Creative Commons license for free download and reuse from iTunes U and the Oxford Podcasts web site.

 

War or Peace? 10 days in the Summer of 1914 – 4 August (part 2)

Harcourt arrived at 10 Downing Street at 11:15 pm. Already there were the Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey; the Prime Minister, H.H. Asquith; the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill; the Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George; and the Home Secretary, Reginald McKenna.

The German answer to the British ultimatum is ‘unsatisfactory.’ The British ambassador to Germany, Sir Edward Goschen, has ‘asked for his passports.’ The United Kingdom declares war on Germany.

There is a long discussion as to war tactics. Winston Churchill ‘wants to block Amsterdam & mouth of Rhine, Asquith & Grey insisted that we w[oul]d not violate neutrality of Holland.’

Harcourt told his Cabinet colleagues that he ‘c[oul]d tomorrow destroy or seize g[rea]t wireless German station in Togoland.’

There is discussion about the British Expeditionary Force. Harcourt ‘pointed out dangers of doing this to India & Crown Colonies and home (possible revolution in north). I told Asq[uith] & Grey that this was vital to me. No decision today.’

Harcourt thinks that David Lloyd George is ‘weakening in his peace “convictions” under the impression of mad popular enthusiasm in streets for war.’

Harcourt’s political journal features in the Bodleian Libraries exhibition The Great War: From Downing Street to the Trenches.

Entry for evening of 4 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 1).

Entry for evening of 4 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 1).

Entry for evening of 4 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 2).

Entry for evening of 4 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 2).

War or Peace? 10 days in the Summer of 1914 – 4 August (part 1)

Writing from notes made on Foreign Office telegrams, Harcourt reports that John Simon and Lord Beauchamp remain in the Cabinet ‘pro tem.’

Britain will fire upon the German dreadnought The Goeben ‘in the Mediterranean if it tries to stop French transports: we are to stop her getting out to prey on our commerce in the Atlantic.’ The Cabinet decided that The Goeben ‘will be warned that if she shoots at French transports we shall sink her.’

The Cabinet is ‘sending an ultimatum to Germany & to have the answer by midnight.’ Harcourt writes that ‘Germany has informed Belgium that her territory will be violated by force of arms.’

The Cabinet discussed the seizure of German colonies. Harcourt advised the Cabinet that it was better to wait and that he was ‘holding back Dominion Exped[itionary] forces for the present & they approved.’

Germany has declared war on France. Harcourt insisted to the Cabinet, with the agreemtent of the Prime Minister, ‘that orders sh[oul]d be sent to our Mediterranean Fleet not to fire on Goeben till we have become at war with Germany. Winston [Churchill] was compelled to send these orders & at once.’

Harcourt writes that ‘there are many German spies here now & have been for a long time: we have full evidence against them & shall seize them at once.’

The Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, read out to the Cabinet the ultimatum being sent to Germany: ‘we must have an assurance from Germany – similar to that from France last week – as to the neutrality of Belgium.’ Harcourt reports that Germany is ‘said to have sent an ulitmatum to Sweden & may do so to Norway.’

Foreign Secretary Grey informed the Cabinet of his desire to ‘offer Holland & Norway (as well as Belgium) a guarantee of future integrity if they will remain neutral now.’

The Cabinet received news of a telegram received by the French embassy reporting that German forces are said to ‘have penetrated to Verviers between Liege and German frontier.’

After the meeting of the Cabinet, Harcourt attended a meeting of ‘commerical men’ with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George.

We shall be publishing the second part of Harcourt’s entry for 4 August 1914 to commemorate the centenary of the British declaration of war at 23:00 GMT.

Harcourt’s political journal features in the Bodleian Libraries exhibition The Great War: From Downing Street to the Trenches.

Entry for 4 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 1).

Entry for 4 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 1).

Entry for 4 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 2).

Entry for 4 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 2).

Entry for 4 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 2).

Entry for 4 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 2).

Entry for 4 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 4).

Entry for 4 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 4).

War or Peace? 10 days in the Summer of 1914 – 3 August

The Cabinet meets in the morning. Burns and Simon have resigned and Morley is ‘probably going.’

Belgium has received ‘demand from Germany for neutrality & has categorically refused. Germans concentrating at Liege.’ Grey says: “We must support Belgium & France”.

The leaders of the Conservative and Unionist opposition can see the logic of Burns’s position: ‘they agreed with Burns, fleet proclamation is a declaration of war.’

It appears that Germany has ‘offered Belgium neutrality if they allow passage of German troops.’ The German ambassador Lichnowsky has stated that Germany will not attack the French coast with its fleet, but ‘Grey does not think Lichnowsky authorised to say this.’

Asquith says that it is now necessary to mobilize the army, ‘not for Expeditionary force, but for home safety & defence.’.

A committee is appointed to deal with food supplies. The Cabinet debates extending the Bank Holiday for two days, and using postal notes for a few days whilst waiting for £1 & 10/- notes to be issued. There is fear that ‘there may be a run on P.O. Savings Bank £150 mill[ion]s.deposits.’

Asquith is in a sombre mood, and tells the Cabinet that the Cabinet’s authority is ‘ much shattered’ by the resignations, and that he fears Labour and the Irish will oppose him. He feels that he might have resigned, but he cannot see how any government could form with a majority in the House of Commons. He ‘dislikes and abhors a coalition – experiment none w[oul]d. like to see repeated.’ He will not ‘separate from Grey’; he feels that a continuance of the present government ‘remains in best interest of the country’ though it is a ‘most thankless task to me to go on.’

Simon states that ‘“if country at war it was the duty of men like himself and the Peace party to support the Govt.”: he broke down.’

The Cabinet resumes at 6 p.m. The German ultimatum to Belgium has come in: ‘very stiff.’

Churchill says “the Fleet will be absolutely ready by 4 a.m. tomorrow”.

Asquith says that ‘Army mobilisation will be completed by Sunday – we have 3 days more.’

Grey is to telegraph to Germany tomorrow morning to demand an answer over their ultimatum to Belgium.

Colliers in South Wales are said to have gone on strike as they ‘won’t dig coal for War.’

Asquith is hopeful that Simon may not resign after all.

The Cabinet decides that Lord Buxton should take up his post as Governor-General of the Union of South Africa, and sail in spite of the risk of capture.

Harcourt’s political journal features in the Bodleian Libraries exhibition The Great War: From Downing Street to the Trenches.

 

Entry for 3 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 2).

Entry for 3 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 2).

Entry for 3 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 3).

Entry for 3 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 3).

Entry for 3 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 4).

Entry for 3 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 4).

Entry for 3 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 5).

Entry for 3 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 5).

 

 

 

 

War or Peace? 10 days in the Summer of 1914 – 2 August

Harcourt continues to be active in the peace party. At midnight Simon and Illingworth visit his London home, 14 Berkeley Square, to ask him to join a delegation to Lloyd George at 11 Downing Street in the morning. At the meeting they agree they ’w[oul]d not go to war for mere violation of Belgian territory’, and that they would try to hold up any decision about British intervention.

Harcourt and Lloyd George go to 10 Downing Street to convey the views of the peace party to the Prime Minister at 11 a.m. Asquith listened, but ‘s[ai]d nothing.’ The Cabinet meets immediately after this, and approves the emergency financial arrangements discussed in earlier meetings, and also the war risk shipping insurance scheme. News arrives that Germany has declared war on Russia, and that German troops have invaded Luxembourg. At this stage it seems that they might be avoiding Belgium.

The German ambassador (Lichnowsky) has seen the Prime Minister, and in tears told Asquith that he believed it would be Germany that ‘is going to be crushed’ and not France. He thinks his government ‘mad.’ The Foreign Secretary Grey had seen Cambon, the French Ambassador, who was also in tears. Grey informs the Cabinet that he has told Cambon that Britain has made no decision about her action if Belgian neutrality should be violated, or the German fleet should come into the Channel. However, he wants to be able to reassure Cambon that if the German fleet attacks the French coast, Britain will intervene with her navy. He wants to be able to make a statement to this effect in Parliament tomorrow. The Cabinet decides that nothing should be said on these matters to Cambon today, though Grey wants to make this promise to France today, and is ‘much stronger than before for joining in war.’

As the Cabinet sits, a letter arrives from Andrew Bonar Law, leader of the Opposition, offering support if Britain should go to war, and stating that ‘it w[oul]d be fatal to the honour and security of the U.K. to hesitate.’ Winston Churchill says he will resign if Britain does not go to war on the violation of Belgian territory; John Morley says he will resign if Britain does go to war. John Burns announces his intention to resign over Grey’s plan to use the fleet to defend the French coast. He is asked to hold off until the evening Cabinet meeting.

In the afternoon, the peace party meet for lunch at Lord Beauchamp’s house in Belgrave Square. Many are angry that they are being pushed into decisions too quickly, and Simon thinks they ought to have resigned. Harcourt disagrees as he now believes that ‘a German fleet attack & capture of French territory’ on the Channel coast is ‘a British interest.’ The party agree that a German traverse of Belgian territory was not a cause for war, but that occupation or a threat to Belgian independence was a ‘vital Brit[ish] interest.’

The Cabinet meets again at 6.30 p.m. Grey has told Cambon that no British decisions have been made, and Cambon has accepted this ‘quietly’. Churchill has met the French naval attaché, and has arranged to ‘open “the joint naval signal books”’, a decision that angers Morley who says that this was an ‘attempt to create an alliance for war.’ Grey says he will not inform Germany about the decision to intervene against a German fleet attack on the French coast. Some of the Cabinet feel this is a mistake. It is now clear that the Germans have entered French territory via Luxembourg. Simon asks Churchill ‘if any orders given to attack German fleet if they come out tonight.’ Churchill says ‘definitely “No.”’ Harcourt says ‘it w[oul]d be monstrous to attack them if they were coming out not ag[ain]st us and without having been informed of our decision.’

John Burns says he must resign as nothing has changed.

As Colonial Secretary Harcourt receives a letter at 10 p.m. from the Admiralty suggesting placing a South African garrison and guns in Walfisch Bay in German West Africa. He rushes to McKenna’s house where the Prime Minister is dining to persuade him that this scheme is ‘mad’ and that such a position ‘w[oul]d be eaten up by Germans in an hour.’

Arthur Ponsonby visits Harcourt at 11.30 p.m. to ask how the peace party is getting on. He tells Harcourt that the peace M.P.s are split – ‘many of them think the violation of Luxembourg vital!!! Not one memb[er] of Cab[inet] (not even Grey) attaches any importance to this!!’

Harcourt’s political journal features in the Bodleian Libraries exhibition The Great War: From Downing Street to the Trenches.

Entry for 2 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 1).

Entry for 2 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 1).

 

Entry for 2 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 2).

Entry for 2 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 2).

 

Entry for 2 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 3).

Entry for 2 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 3).

 

Entry for 2 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 4).

Entry for 2 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 4).

Entry for 2 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 5).

Entry for 2 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 5).

 

Entry for 2 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 6).

Entry for 2 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 6).

 

 

War or Peace? 10 days in the Summer of 1914 – 1 August

Writing up his journal from notes made in Cabinet on the reverse of Foreign Office telegrams, Harcourt reports that ‘Germany is short of 30-40% of wheat supply.’ He writes that the Lord Chancellor, Viscount Haldane, spoke at length regarding the crisis in Europe. Haldane argued that the German ambassador, Prince Lichnowsky, should be informed that the observance of Belgian neutrality was a ‘deciding factor’ for Britain and that British neutrality should be promised ‘if France not invaded.’ Harcourt adds that the Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, has still not provided any committment to the French ambassador Paul Cambon.

Harcourt describes the attitude of Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, as ‘very violent’ and that Churchill is pushing ‘to mobilise the whole navy.’ The Prime Minister, H.H. Asquith, responded by saying that there would be ‘no proclamation before Monday.’ Harcourt notes that Foreign Secretary Grey supported Churchill’s stance.

The Cabinet decided that a dreadnought battleship being built in Britain for Turkey should not be allowed to leave. The Cabinet also discussed a message from the German Emperor, Belgian telegrams, Italian neutrality and the suspension of the Bank Act. Harcourt writes that Churchill made a long speech on tactics to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George, replied.

At 2:00 pm a meeting of the Cabinet Commitee was held in the Board Room at the Treasury. The Governor of the Bank of England, along with his Deputy and others, were informed that the Cabinet had decided to bring forward a Moratorium Bill on Monday to suspend all standing orders. The bankers requested to be allowed to deposit £15 million of gold and £30 million of securities in the Bank of England and to receive £45 million of notes in exchange.  Harcourt writes that the committee agreed but notes that ‘the B[an]k of England were very obstinate.’

The Admiralty has requested the authority to begin the ‘examination of all ships in defended ports.’ The Prime Minister has approved this and Harcourt, as Colonial Secretary, has telegraphed the orders to the British dominions and colonies. The state providing insurance for shipping in respect of  war risks is now being considered.

Harcourt’s political journal features in the Bodleian Libraries exhibition The Great War: From Downing Street to the Trenches.

Entry for 1 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 1).

Entry for 1 August from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 1).

Entry for 1 August 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 2).

Entry for 1 August 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 2).

Entry for 1 August 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 3).

Entry for 1 August 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 3).

War or Peace? 10 days in the Summer of 1914 – 31 July

The London Stock Exchange has been closed until further notice. The Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, informed the Cabinet of his meeting the previous day with the French ambassador, Paul Cambon. Grey told Cambon that he was unable to answer about British support for France without consulting the Cabinet. Harcourt writes that Grey ‘proposed to tell him this afternoon that present Eng[lish] opinion w[oul]d not support our participation. If Belgium violated, might change public opin[ion] but in any case we could never promise assistance without assent of the H[ouse] of Commons.’ Grey is to meet Cambon again later in the afternoon and assured the Cabinet that he would ‘make no promise as to our action in hypothetical circ[umstance]s.’

Harcourt reports that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George, has been gauging business opinion on the developing European crisis. The Bank of England and the City are said to be ‘aghast’ at the possibility of Britain being dragged into a conflict. One businessman predicted to Lloyd George that if Britain entered a European war there would be ‘wholesale unemployment, population starving’ and ‘England will be in revolution in a week.’ Harcourt notes that Lloyd George was ‘very eloquent ag[ain]st our participation & impressed Cabinet.’ However, Harcourt continues to believe that because Lloyd George ‘depends on public opin[ion] he may wobble over again in 2 days.’

Harcourt is now confident that ‘this Cabinet will never join this war’ although he notes that ‘several colleagues are uneasy on the subject of our treaty obligations to Belgium.’ His confidence is reinforced with news received in the morning that Austria and Russia have ‘begun talking again.’ Grey is proposing to meet the German ambassador, Prince Lichnowsky, and ‘to suggest that Berlin should get Vienna to make some reasonable offer to St Petersburg and then if Russia proved unreasonable it might give us ground to wash our hands of Russia or to secure Russian acceptance of offer.’

Harcourt reports that Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, was ‘very angry’ that the Cabinet rejected his wish to instigate a plan devised by the Committee of Imperial Defence for national war shipping risk insurance. Churchill’s hiring of the Cunard ship Acquitania and commandeering of South Wales coal yesterday have both been cancelled.

The meeting of the Cabinet concluded at 1:00 p.m. following further discussion of the situation in Ireland. The Prime Minister, H.H. Asquith, told all ministers that they must not go far from London.

In the afternoon, Harcourt reports that the European crisis is ‘suddenly much worse.’ Russia has fully mobilised both its army and navy. Germany has declared itself to be ‘in a state of war’ and that ‘either she or France may strike tonight.’

The Bank rate has been put up to 8% and there has been a ‘considerable run on Banks for gold from depositors.’ The Prime Minister had an audience with the King between 3:15 and 4:00pm in the afternoon and then met with the Governor of the Bank of England.

Harcourt’s political journal features in the Bodleian Libraries exhibition The Great War: From Downing Street to the Trenches.

Entry for 31 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 1).

Entry for 31 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 1).

Entry for 31 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 2).

Entry for 31 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 2).

Entry for 31 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 3).

Entry for 31 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 3).

Entry for 31 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 4).

Entry for 31 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 4).

Entry for 31 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 5).

Entry for 31 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 5).

Entry for 31 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 6).

Entry for 31 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 6).

War or Peace? 10 days in the Summer of 1914 – 30 July

Harcourt writes that news reached him in the morning that a search of ships had been made at Gibraltar the previous night. This was contrary to orders sent by the Admiralty. Harcourt responded by sending telegrams to all British dominions and colonies to prevent such searches. He fears that searches of German vessels may provoke an ‘incident.’

He continues to be alarmed by the attitude of Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty. Harcourt has learnt that Churchill has hired the Acquitania from the Cunard shipping company and speculates whether Churchill intends to use the ship for the transport of troops to Belgium or as a guard ship in Mersey. Harcourt also reports that Churchill has ‘commandeered all coal in South Wales’ and is said to have spent over £1,000,000 on ‘Precautionary stage expenses.’ Harcourt thinks Churchill ‘has gone mad’ and fears that ‘he is carrying his preparations too far & getting prematurely in the war stage.’

During Prime Minister’s Question Time, the Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, informed Harcourt of a ‘shameful proposal’ received from Bethmann Hollweg ‘that we should declare our neutrality on promise from Germ[an] Govt. that they w[oul]d respect neutrality of Holland: ditto of Belgium after they had violated it to attack France: w[oul]d not, after crushing France, annex European territories (tho’ take her Colonies): subsequently offer us European neutrality & friendship in general affairs.’ The proposal was rejected.

The French ambassador, Paul Cambon, is to see Grey today to ‘put the question are we going to help France if war breaks out’. Grey is to respond that he cannot answer without a Cabinet, which is to be held tomorrow, but will ‘tell him that in pres[ent] circ[umstance]s public opinion here not support or enable H.M.G. to give an affirmative answer.’ Harcourt reasons that if Cambon is ‘wise’ he ‘will accept non-committal answer sooner than negative’

Harcourt has declined to send a telegram asking Australia to place her fleet under the command of the British Admiralty on the grounds that it was ‘premature, unnecessary & that I wanted initiative to be taken by Australia.’ He received an ‘unofficial’ offer to do so from Australia at 5 p.m. With regret, he telegraphed the Admiralty’s request for the Australian fleet to go to ‘War stations.’

He has been informed by Emmott and Vernon, of the Colonial Office, that the French delegates to the New Hebrides Commission ‘must return to France on Sat[urday] (convinced that war will be declared by Monday).’

John Morley has informed Harcourt that he will resign from the Cabinet upon his signal.

Harcourt ends his entry for the day in pessimistic mood: ‘War situation I fear much worse tonight. Pray God I can still smash our Cabinet before they can commit the crime.’

Harcourt’s political journal features in the Bodleian Libraries exhibition The Great War: From Downing Street to the Trenches.

Entry for 30 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 1).

Entry for 30 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 1).

Entry for 30 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 2).

Entry for 30 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 2).

Entry for 30 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 3).

Entry for 30 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 3).

Entry for 30 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 4).

Entry for 30 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 4).

Entry for 30 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 5).

Entry for 30 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 5).

War or Peace? 10 days in the Summer of 1914 – 29 July

Ireland again tops the Cabinet agenda. Harcourt reports that the Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, arrived at Cabinet half an hour late following talks with the German ambassador. He describes the situation in Europe as ‘very bad’ with the Austrians refusing to continue negotiations in St Petersburg. News reached the Cabinet during its meeting that Russia has mobilised troops in ‘certain towns on her Southern frontier.’

The Cabinet discussed Britain’s liabilities for the guarantee of Belgian neutrality under the terms of the European treaty of 1839. Harcourt outlines the difficulty of the British position: ‘Russia says we can prevent Europ[ean] war by saying we shall support France – Germany says we can prevent it by saying we shall not do so.’ Harcourt writes that Foreign Secretary Grey ‘is afraid that at any moment France may ask us if we mean to stand by her.’ No Cabinet decision was made on this matter today.

Harcourt remains committed to leaving the goverment if there is a decision for war. He claims to be certain that ‘I can take at least 9 colleagues out with me on resigination.’ He also notices a change in the attitudes of David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill who are ‘less bellicose today.’ He suspects that their opinions fluctuate with popular opinion and that soon they will be ‘wobbling back to war.’

Churchill has moved his ships in the North Sea to ‘war stations.’ Grey is proposing to meet the French and German ambassadors in the afternoon and will inform the German ambassador that he ‘may not assume that we [Britain] shall not join France.’ The French ambassador is to be told ‘you must not assume that we shall join you.’ Harcourt believes this to be a ‘sound, strong & honest diplomatic position.’

After Cabinet, Harcourt went to the Colonial Office to send ‘Precautionary telegrams’ to the British colonies and dominions.

At the close of the day, Harcourt notes ‘European situation getting worse tonight.’

Harcourt’s political journal features in the Bodleian Libraries exhibition The Great War: From Downing Street to the Trenches.

Entry for 29 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 1).

Entry for 29 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 1).

Entry for 29 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 2).

Entry for 29 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 2).

Entry for 29 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 3).

Entry for 29 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 3).

Entry for 29 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 4).

Entry for 29 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 4).

Entry for 29 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 5).

Entry for 29 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 5).

Entry for 29 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 6).

Entry for 29 July 1914 from the political journal of Lewis Harcourt (page 6).