Arthur Henderson’s Acceptance Speech on the occasion of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, December 10, 1934.
Your Royal Highness, Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. President, Members of the Nobel Peace Committee, and Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am deeply touched by the kind words which you, Mr. Prime Minister, have used today in introducing me to this distinguished gathering. You will, I am sure, appreciate the emotions which are evoked in me by the decision of the Trustees of the Nobel Peace Committee. I recall the names of some of the devoted servants of humanity and peace to whom this great honour has been awarded in the past – President Wilson, Dr. Nansen, Léon Bourgeois, Sir Austen Chamberlain, Dr. Stresemann, my old friends and collaborators, the late Aristide Briand and H. Branting. May I not be pardoned, therefore, if I am experiencing a deep feeling of pride that you should have thought it fit and proper to add my name to that illustrious list?
You were good enough to make special mention, Mr. Prime Minister, of the Disarmament Conference. You asked: “Is the Conference alive? is there still hope?” It would be a sad day, not only for us here but for the great masses of humble citizens in all lands, if that question had to be answered in the negative. As you have stated, Mr. Prime Minister, I have devoted nearly three years to the work of the Disarmament Conference. It has been a period of anxious and exacting labours for all – a period of difficulty and delay and disappointments – of hopes deferred. But if success has yet to be achieved, at least that decisive and heart-breaking word “failure” has not been written. And I cannot conceive that it will be allowed to be written.
I have spent a long life-time in public affairs, and I would say, without any hesitation, that there is no human issue upon which the aspirations, hopes, and yearnings of the peoples are concentrated in a greater measure than that of the achievement of a secure world peace. You, Sir, reminded us of the words of one of your distinguished compatriots, who has said that: “The thought of Peace is the greatest thought in the world”. Thoughts are most fruitful in action, and I can imagine no greater or more fruitful action in the world than that which leads the peoples into the golden age of Peace and Freedom and Security. Men walk by faith and not by sight. If we have faith in humanity, in the divine spark which is in all of us, faith in the community of toil and suffering and the common struggle after a fuller and nobler life, which is mankind’s heritage upon this earth, then, with courage and steadfastness of purpose, we cannot fail to achieve mankind’s greatest goal – the establishment of a world brotherhood founded in Peace, Security, and Freedom.
Again I thank all concerned, and trust that with God’s help I may ever prove worthy of the confidence which you have shown.
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