THE AUTHENTIC BIOGRAPHY OF COLONEL BECK by J. H. HARLEY COLONEL BECK AS SEEN BY THE WELL KNOWN POLISH CARTOONIST CZERMANSKI CONTENTS FOREWORD I. A MAN OF THE HOUR II. HIS EARLY YEARS III. SCHOOL AND COLLEGE IV. THE BAPTISM OF FIRE V. A RUSSIAN INTERLUDE VI. FROM FIELD TO FOREIGN OFFICE VII. THE MINISTER AT HOME VIII. THE MINISTER AT WORK IX. THE MINISTER AND POLANDS POLICY APPENDIX FOREWORD BY THE POLISH AMBASSADOR Such a book, in my opinion, is especially needed at the present hour because I am wrell aware that Colonel Beck has for a long time been regarded by many as the mystery man of Europe or as simply a suave and clever diplomatist. As a statesman he has certainly had more than his share of the criticism which usually attends the work of public men. In some respects this is not a wholly disadvantageous result, for to call a man dangerous or enigmatic is to make the public anxious to know as much as it can about him. Personally I knew very well that there was a great deal in this that did not do him justice, because, having the honour to enjoy his friendship, I regretted that such criticisms too often overlooked his great gifts, his penetrating mind, his large pover of vision, his ability to reach right into the core of events, his terse and epigrammatic definitions and his original way of think ing as shown in his ability to comprehend even the most involved and delicate conceptions. But what I value in him most of all is his great courage. This is not only personal, the courage of the soldier, but it has become that even greater courage which consists in holding fast to your convictions amid all the circumstances and discouragements of life. He has a keen sense of national dignity and he makes this a criterion and estimate of the affairs of State. Coming now to my own personal views and experi ences, I cannot abstain from dwelling on a point which will appeal to all who know anything about the con ditions of a diplomatic service, and that is the sense of complete security which any who work with him feel and enjoy. He is always ready to assume full responsi bility for any honest work done by them, even if, as sometimes happens, such work has been followed by consequences which have arisen from a mistake. c He has a great deal of what the French call esprit, as the author of this book says, and his ironical and caustic comments sometimes penetrate to that deeper side of life where the comic abuts on the tragic. . . . But all these qualities are suffused and ennobfed by a religion of honour, the inspiring force of which was revealed in the peroration with which he concluded his speech in the Seym when announcing the British guarantee The biographer repeatedly mentions that Colonel Beck is a disciple of Marshal Pilsudski, and there cannot be the slightest doubt that he took over from the great Marshal the main ideals, principles, and methods on which his life was based. That does not mean, however, that as he grew in stature he did not develop his own individual style, but it does mean that if we are to attain to a full understanding of Beck as a man we must take into account that deep devotion to Marshal Pilsudski which will remain as a kind of religious ardour throughout all the rest of his life. I shall be exceedingly happy if, thanks to this book, there may emerge a deeper understanding of Colonel Beck which will correspond more exactly with the real man as he is and as he works. Perhaps in that progress he will drop some of these qualities which embroider the man of mystery but he will gain at the end, because those who read this book will arrive at a better appreciation of his real and undoubted qualities as a Minister and a statesman. EDWARD RACZYNSKI.