The Mirrors of Downing Street eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 117 pages of information about The Mirrors of Downing Street.

To the self-absorbed, vision is impossible.  Mr. Balfour, unable to penetrate the future, has lived from day to day, enjoying the game of politics for the fun of confounding critics and managing colleagues, enjoying too the privilege and dignity of power, but never once feeling the call of the future, or experiencing one genuine desire to leave the world better than he found it.  And now he ends his political career clinging to a decorative office under the leadership of Mr. Lloyd George.

At the end of his Gifford Lectures, after an argument which induced one of his listeners to say that he had a stammer in his thoughts, Mr. Balfour announced his faith in God.  One may recall Pascal’s exclamation, “How far it is from believing in God to loving Him!”

I have always thought it significant of his true nature that Mr. Balfour should be one of the worst offenders in that unlovely Front Bench habit of putting his feet up on the Clerk’s table.  The last time I was in the House of Commons Mr. J.H.  Thomas was lying back on the Opposition Front Bench with his legs in the air and his muddy boots crossed on the table.  The boorishness of this attitude struck my companion very sharply.  But I pointed out to him that the difference between Mr. Thomas, the Labour member, and Mr. Balfour, the great gentleman, was merely a size in boots.



     Born, 1846; entered Army, 1866; Colonel, 1899; Burmah Campaign,
     1891; Viscount, 1914; Baron, 1914; Earl, 1914; Sec’y for War, 1914;
     died, 1917.

[Illustration:  LORD KITCHENER]



     "I never knew a man so fixed upon doing what he considered his

Soon after he had taken his chair at the War Office, Lord Kitchener received a call from Mr. Lloyd George.  The politician had come to urge the appointment of denominational chaplains for all the various sects represented in the British Army.

Lord Kitchener was opposed to the idea, which seemed to him irregular, unnecessary, and expensive, involving a waste of transport, rations, and clerks’ labour.  But Mr. Lloyd George stuck to his sectarian guns, and was so insistent, especially in respect of Presbyterians, that at last the Secretary of State for War yielded in this one case.  He took up his pen rather grudgingly and growled out, “Very well:  you shall have a Presbyterian.”  Then one of his awkward smiles broke up the firmness of his bucolic face.  “Let’s see,” he asked; “Presbyterian?—­how do you spell it?”

This was one of his earliest adventures with politicians, and he ended it with a sly cut at unorthodoxy.  A little later came another political experience which afforded him real insight into this new world of Party faction, one of those experiences not to be lightly dismissed with a jest.

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The Mirrors of Downing Street from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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