Saturday, December 30, 2017

Best of Bytes: Sir Archibald Kerr

Caution: risqué content

My father in law, Noel, drew my attention to a wartime letter by Sir Archibald Clark Kerr (1882-1951). Sir Archibald was an Australian who served as a British diplomat, being Ambassador to China 1938 to 1942, Ambassador to the Soviet Union between 1942 and 1946 and to the US between 1946 and 1948. 

Despite his many years of loyal service to Britain, his friendships with Stalin during WW2 and the Kaiser’s sister before WW1, and the fact that he was a disappointed suitor of the Queen Mother, he is today best remembered for a letter he wrote to Lord Pembroke in 1943 whilst he was Ambassador to Moscow: 

A transcript of that letter is as follows:
Lord Pembroke
The Foreign Office
6th April 1943 
My Dear Reggie,  
In these dark days man tends to look for little shafts of light that spill from Heaven. My days are probably darker than yours, and I need, my God I do, all the light I can get. But I am a decent fellow, and I do not want to be mean and selfish about what little brightness is shed upon me from time to time. So I propose to share with you a tiny flash that has illuminated my sombre life and tell you that God has given me a new Turkish colleague whose card tells me that he is called Mustapha Kunt.  
We all feel like that, Reggie, now and then, especially when Spring is upon us, but few of us would care to put it on our cards. It takes a Turk to do that. 
Sir Archibald Clerk Kerr,
H.M. Ambassador.

Superb. One luxuriates in the beauty of the language, simple, informal, yet elegant.

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