Quote About European Diplomacy

Some famous person, possibly in the 18th or 19th century, once said

something like "anybody who claims to understand europe is lying." I

don't remember the exact quote. The meaning was, european diplomacy

and politics are so complicated and esoteric that any attempt to

explain anything simply is bound to be wrong, and/or nobody can

possibly understand everything.

Who said it, and what's the exact quote?

Request for Question Clarification byscriptor-ga

Dear spolsky,

Is it possible that the orginal quote referred to the dukedoms of

Schleswig-Holstein, still Danish provinces until 1864 and with a

historical and political background so complicated that no one was

able to understand it? Since these dukedoms were a notable object of

European political crisis between 1848 and 1864, an important and

famous British politician said something quite famous about this. Do

you think this could be the topic of the quotation?

Regards,

Scriptor

Clarification of Question byspolsky-ga

that might be it. When I hear the quotation I'll know if it was the

one I was thinking of 🙂

The gist of the quotation was either "look, don't pretend to

understand it, it's too complicated" OR "anything you can say about

something that complicated is bound to be an oversimplification"

Request for Question Clarification byscriptor-ga

Dear spolsky,

Normally, Google Answers does not allow "trial answers" … but in

this case, the danger of making a mistake is rather big, so I will

tell you what I think might be the quotation you are looking for. If

you consider it to be the right one, simply let me know and I will

post it as a "regular" answer.

"The Schleswig-Holstein question is so complicated, only three men in

Europe have ever understood it. One was Prince Albert,who is dead. The

second was a German professor who became mad. I am the third and I

have forgotten all about it."

This quotation is attributed to Lord Palmerston, British Prime

Minister in the 1860s, who was commenting the perpetual crisis

concerning the dukedoms of Schleswig and Holstein on the Jutland

peninsula, which finally led to the German-Danish War of 1864.

However, there is no proof Palmerston really ever said or wrote this.

Rather it seems to be a synopsis of what he said in Parliament.

Let me know what you think about this quote.

Regards,

Scriptor

Clarification of Question byspolsky-ga

That is not the quote I'm looking for, but it is good enough for my

needs. So answer it and I'll pay for it, then I'll repost my question

to see if anyone can find the original quote I had in mind. Thanks!



One thought on “Quote About European Diplomacy

  1. Dear spolsky,

    According to your wishes, I hereby post my suggestion as an answer.

    "The Schleswig-Holstein question is so complicated, only three men in

    Europe have ever understood it. One was Prince Albert,who is dead. The

    second was a German professor who became mad. I am the third and I

    have forgotten all about it."

    This quotation is attributed to Lord Palmerston, British Prime

    Minister in the 1860s, who was commenting the perpetual crisis

    concerning the dukedoms of Schleswig and Holstein on the Jutland

    peninsula, which finally led to the German-Danish War of 1864.

    However, there is no proof Palmerston really ever said or wrote this.

    Rather it seems to be a synopsis of what he said in Parliament.

    I did not search for this quotation since I already knew it from my

    history studies about Schleswig-Holstein. I only did some background

    research, hoping to find the exact source. This remained, alas,

    fruitless. Nevertheless, this quote can be found literally hundereds

    of times, with minor variations (sometimes, the "German professor" is

    a "Danish statesman").

    Suggested search terms for additional research on this special quote:

    palmerston "schleswig-holstein":

    ://www.google.de/search?q=palmerston+%22schleswig-holstein%22&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=de&meta=

    Thank you very much for your generosity and best regards,

    Scriptor

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