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.

He began life with no gifts from the gods; it was not in his horoscope to be either a saint or a hero; no one was less likely to create enthusiasm or to become a legend; and yet by resolutely following the road of duty, by earnestly and stubbornly striving to serve his country’s interests, and by never for one moment considering in that service the safety of his own life or the making of his own fortune, this rough and ordinary man bred in himself a greatness which, magnified by the legend itself created, helped his country in one of the darkest hours, perhaps the very darkest, of its long history.

One could wish that behind this formidable greatness of personality there had been greatness of mind, greatness of character, greatness of heart, so that he might have been capable of directing the whole war and holding the politicians in leash to the conclusion of a righteous peace.  But these things he lacked, and the end was what it was.

“Character,” says Epicharmus, “is destiny to man.”  Lord Kitchener, let us assert, was faithful to his destiny.  And he was something more than faithful, for he sanctified this loyalty to his own character by a devotion to his country which was pure and incorruptible.  Certainly he can never be styled “the son of Cronos and Double-dealing.”

LORD ROBERT CECIL

LORD ROBERT CECIL

(EDGAR ALGERNON CECIL)

Born, 1864.  Educ.:  at Eton and Oxford.  Private Secretary to his father, the late Marquis of Salisbury, 1886-88; called to the Bar, 1887; M.P. for East Marylebone, 1906-10; for Hitchin Division of Herts, 1912; Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, 1915-16; Assistant Secretary for Foreign Affairs, 1918; Manager of Blockade, 1916-18.  Author of Principles of Commercial Law and Our National Church.

[Illustration:  LORD ROBERT CECIL]

CHAPTER VIII

LORD ROBERT CECIL

     "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."—­EMERSON.

If a novelist take for his hero an educated gentleman who expresses contempt for the licence and indecencies of modern life, it is ten to one that the critics, who confess themselves on other occasions as sick of prurient tales, will pronounce this hero to be a prig.  In like manner, let a politician evince concern for the moral character of the nation and it is ten to one his colleagues in the House of Commons and his critics in the Press, and everywhere the very men most in despair of politics, will declare him to be a fanatic.

This has been the unfortunate fate of Lord Robert Cecil.  He is regarded by his countrymen as unpractical.  Men speak well of him, and confess willingly that he is vastly superior in character and intellect to the ruck of politicians, but nevertheless wind up their panegyrics with the regretful judgment that, alas, he is a fanatic.

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