This I Believe

Unwin, Stanley, Sir

  • Stanley Unwin describes his beliefs in tolerance, reverance, beauty, liberty, justice, law, progress (despite some adjustments caused by WWI), and the happiness that can be found through work prompted by love of something.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Sir Stanley Unwin has been the president of the International Publishers Congress since nineteen-forty-six. He is the chairman of three publishing firms: George Allen and Unwin, John Lane, and Bodley Head. He was formerly the president of the Publishers Association of Great Britain and during the war, was the principle spokesman for the trade in its dealings with the government. He is himself author of a classic about his trade, “The Truth about Publishing.” Since the war he has concerned himself mainly with the export of books and recently completed a twenty-five thousand mile business tour of the Middle East and Far East. Here now is Sir Stanley Unwin.
I am not a philosopher and make no claim to original ideas. I accept the Christian view of the nature and predicament of man. And as a nonconformist and an old-fashioned liberal, I believe in such temporally outmoded things as tolerance and reverence; reverence for beauty in all its forms, reverence for the things that have made England what it is, such as liberty, justice, and law.
Up to July nineteen-fourteen, I was so conscious of what appeared to be the ordered progress of things that life seemed comparatively simple. I believed one had merely to endeavor to follow the Christian ethic and take one’s part in furthering that progress in the many practical ways that presented themselves.
In nineteen-twelve, when in the wide-open felt of South Africa I had my first taste of real freedom—I had had my nose very firmly on the grindstone since the age of 15—I was able to experience the wide joy of living. But in August nineteen-fourteen, the feeling that all was right with the world vanished overnight. But I could and do still believe:
A sun will pierce
The thickest cloud earth ever stretched;
That, after Last, returns the First,
Though a wide compass round be fetched;
That what began best, can’t end worst.
Nor what God blessed once, prove accurst. [Browning]
That I am able to believe this, I owe to a consciousness of what Matthew Arnold described as “a Power not ourselves that makes for righteousness.” A consciousness which nothing moves. A consciousness doubtless fortified by the many occasions in my mother’s life when I observed at work, and thus experienced, “the faith that moves mountains.”
I believe with the members of The Society of Friends that there is an inner light available for the help and guidance of those who seek it. I believe in the words which Lowes Dickinson in his masterpiece The Modern Symposium puts into the mouth of John Woodman, that “Now, as of old, in the midst of science, of business, of invention, of the multifarious confusion and din and hurry of the world, God may be directly perceived and known.” And as he says a little later in the same moving address: “It is not by violence or compulsion, open or disguised, that the kingdom of heaven comes. It is by simple service on the part of those that know the law, by their following the right in their own lives and preaching rather by their conduct than by their words.”
I believe that we are all of us born, though in varying degree, with a creative instinct, the exercise of which is essential to our well-being. And this belief accords with Carel Chapek’s prescription for a happy life: “To do what we have to out of love for the thing.”
That was Sir Stanley Unwin, the dean of British publisher’s who is now the president of the International Publishers Congress.