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V

The delegates were invited to Milan. At a luncheon at Cernobbis on the banks of Lake Como, the British delegations invited me to respond on their behalf. My friend, Sir Philip Dawson, suggested that I should address the gathering in Italian. Other delegates spoke in the language of their own countries, and he thought it would be interesting for a delegate from Australia to reply in Italian. I pointed out that, as he well knew, there was a slight difficulty about it—I had no knowledge of Italian. He then suggested that I could conclude my remarks in it and that he would give me half a dozen sentences which I could read. He wrote them out, dividing them into syllables to ensure correct pronunciation.

Having spoken about Australia and the relationship between different parts of the Empire, I added: “The Empire Parliaments carry on their work under the sheltering folds of one flag. Under that flag we have grown from tottering infancy to what we are to-day. Britain has built up a Commonwealth of nations bound together by feelings of mutual trust and for purposes of mutual advantage and mutual protection. The objective


  ― 354 ―
of international parliamentary conferences should be to build up a similar understanding amongst the countries of the world in furtherance of peace and civilisation.” I then went on to say I would conclude in “their own beautiful language.” I then read in Italian clearly and carefully so that everyone could hear distinctly an expression of the thanks of the British delegates to various people and institutions. I added that we had greatly enjoyed our visit to Italy, spoke of the Conference and its work, and on behalf of the British delegates “wished prosperity and happiness to the great and glorious people of Italy.” My remarks in English had been received in respectful silence. They were not understood, but what I said in Italian was evidently appreciated. It was punctuated by many rounds of loud applause.

After the luncheon the chairman sought me out and spoke to me volubly in Italian, congratulating me on my excellent command of the language of his country, the choiceness of my diction and my correct accent! Fortunately my friend, Sir Philip Dawson, was with me to tell me what he was talking about.

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