I’ve been reading (with immense enjoyment) Rose Macaulay’s 1928 novel Keeping Up Appearances. One short passage puzzles me. William is being urged to speak to the young man his daughter is engaged to, and says:
Lot of harm done by speaking, that’s what I’ve found. Too much speaking brought the Great War about, and too much speaking ever since has stopped us getting ahead with the peace. Women are forever wanting to speak. They think it settles everything. You’re just like all these statesmen, you women are: always think you’re going to set the world right talking round a table.
William is not presented as a sophisticated or well-informed character, but what can he mean by: ‘Too much speaking brought the Great War about’? Too much diplomacy and treaty-making? Or is Macaulay just showing him applying a cliche unthinkingly?
The novel is very funny indeed, especially about the embarrassments of class. Highly recommended.