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Item 178 - Arthur James Balfour Catalog 543 (Jan 2019)

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TLS, one page, 6.75 x 8.75, personal letterhead, September 17, 1914. Letter to lexicographer Frank H. Vizetelly. In part: "I do not think that I have used the word Armageddon in reference to British domestic Politics. For many years the observers of Continental Politics and Students of German ideals have foreseen the possibility of some world catastrophe such as that which has now occurred; and doubtless many in this connection have made use of the word 'Armageddon.' Very likely I have been among their number." In fine condition, with unobtrusive staple holes to the top. Although the 'Armageddon' refers to the place where the final battle will be fought between the forces of good and evil, as proclaimed in the Bible, it had taken on new meaning with the advent of World War I earlier in 1914. The entry for 'Armageddon' in the dictionary released by Funk & Wagnalls, prepared under Vizetelly's supervision, concludes with, 'the term has been applied to any great conflict or slaughter.' It is especially interesting to note that Balfour believed in the Zionist cause of establishing a home for the Jewish people in Palestine, which is where the biblical Armageddon is located; it was World War I that significantly shaped the modern Middle East, with the Balfour Declaration to establish Palestine as a homeland for the Jewish people being incorporated into the Treaty of Sevres at the conclusion of the war. The date of the letter here offered, September 1914, was a particularly dangerous and chaotic time during World War I, as the fighting ramped up into full force with gruesome results.

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