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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 1369
AUTHOR: Prince Clemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar von Metternich (1773–1859)
QUOTATION: [Policy] is like a play in many acts, which unfolds inevitably once the curtain is raised. To declare then that the performance will not take place is an absurdity. The play will go on, either by means of the actors … or by means of the spectators who mount the stage…. Intelligent people never consider this the essence of the problem, however. For them it lies in the decision whether the curtain is to be raised at all, whether the spectators are to be assembled and in the intrinsic quality of the play.
ATTRIBUTION: KLEMENS VON METTERNICH, Aus Metternich’s Nachgelassenen Papieren, vol. 8, p. 190 (1880), as quoted by Henry Kissinger, A World Restored, chapter 4, p. 41 (1957).