October 13th 1999.
My dear Headmaster,
I put the finishing touches at a late hour last night to a play which I have written for your Professors to perform to the Students. I do not know whether such ill-educated boys will care for a strictly historical drama of this kind, but its educational value is so obvious, that I venture to think it may be as interesting to them as one of their history lessons. It will also teach them something of Klovenia, a country about which I find that there is great ignorance in England, even among the so-called educated classes.
The action of the play takes place in the year 1975, and as the period of European history between the Great War of 1914-1918 and the present day seems never to be studied in your school, a short summary of the main events from 1918 to 1975 might be issued to the audience with the programme.
Immediately after the Great War, the League of Nations was formed with its headquarters at Geneva: the main object of the League was to discourage, and finally to abolish, war as a means of settling international disputes. In a very short time all the civilised nations had joined the League with the exception of Klovenia, a small country somewhere to the east of Jugoslavia: the King of Klovenia, Petrozin V, was one of the worst monarchs in European history: his court was corrupt: he governed for many years without a parliament, devoting the taxes of the country purely to military purposes. In spite of this he was popular with his subjects. Owing to King Petrozin’s aggressive policy, the League in 1935 brought pressure to bear on Klovenia to join the League of Nations and to depose her sovereign: after two years of discussion, King Petrozin abdicated and went to live in Paris, where for many years he was a leading figure in the nightclubs. The ex-crown-prince married a lady from the chorus of the Folies Bergères and their son, Prince Karyl, who figures in this drama, was born in the year 1947. A socialistic republic was set up in Klovenia on a plan designed by the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Oswald Mosley, O.W.D.: this proved a complete failure, as the Klovenians had no idea of self-government: the result was that the power gradually drifted into the hands of unscrupulous aristocrats, who hotly resented any further interference from the League of Nations, as for instance in the year 1974 when the Klovenian cabinet laid claim to gold mines recently discovered in Jugoslavia and the League decided the dispute in favour of Jugoslavia, on the ground that the gold, being discovered on Jugoslavian territory, belonged to Jugoslavia. This discursion into Klovenian politics is necessary for a proper understanding of the historical events recorded in this play.
For the first eighteen years after the formation of the League of Nations the peoples of the world were unable to adopt a policy of complete mutual confidence and unity. The first great step towards international unity and world peace was taken in the historic session of 1937, when the Portuguese representative proposed that in all schools of countries belonging to the League the educational authorities should introduce the compulsory teaching of Esperanto, the universal language which had hitherto been spoken by nobody: an amendment was moved by the German representative that the universal language should henceforward be English, on the ground that English was the Teutonic language most widely spoken in the civilised world: the amendment was seconded by the French representative in a courteous speech in which he pointed out that as the English speaking peoples experienced considerable more difficulty than any other nation in the learning of modern foreign languages, it would be a humane act to relieve their children of so irksome a necessity: this amendment was carried without opposition. The result of this memorable decision was that by 1975 a generation had grown up so accustomed to the use of a common language that every civilised nation could speak perfect idiomatic English, without a trace of foreign accent, with the sole exception of the United States of America.
This important step was followed in 1944 by another of almost equal importance – a unanimous vote for complete disarmament by all members of the League. A period of five years was allowed for the completion of this work, so that in 1949 no country possessed any warships, army, guns, military aircraft or armaments of any kind. In order to ensure the strict observance of this Treaty, an international Police Force and Secret Service was formed, with its Headquarters at Geneva. Its agents were instructed to report to Headquarters any suspicious act which appeared to threaten the Peace of the World.
There is one more event in this period which calls for mention: between 1930 and 1960 the fashions in dress, both of men and women, were becoming so outré, that the aesthetic sense of the civilised world was more and more outraged. The League of Nations took the matter up and in 1961 passed a resolution, opposed only by one of the younger French women representatives, that the world should resort to the sober fashions of the year 1930. This decision was immensely popular with the dressmakers and tailors in all countries; most of whom retired from business in the following year with immense fortunes.
From this brief summary it will be seen that the League of Nations has had a most beneficent and far-reaching influence on the history of the World. In the year 1975, in which the startling events recorded in this drama actually took place, the League had the wholehearted support of all the countries in the Globe with the sole exception of Klovenia.
That, my dear Headmaster, will be sufficient introduction to enable your Students to follow the action of the play. I trust that your staff of Professors will be strong enough to stand the strain of the number of rehearsals which will be needed to do justice to my little essay in historical drama.
Alas, I see no likelihood of my being able to avail myself of your kind invitation to come to see your performance. I am boxed up here with a pile of literary work, as I am at present engaged on a history of Klovenia from 1970 to the present day. But I hope you will have a successful evening.
Yours most sincerely, Bassett Kendall