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.

But, in truth, both these strokes of military strategy were sound in conception.  I doubt indeed if the military historian of the future, with all the documents before him, will not chiefly condemn the Allies for their initial failure to make Antwerp a sea-fed menace to the back of the German Armies; while even in our own day no one doubts that if Lord Kitchener, in one of his obstinate moods, had not refused to send more divisions to Gallipoli we should have taken Constantinople.  The fault of those operations lay not in attempting them but in not adequately supporting them.

Mr. Churchill has had bad luck in these matters, but even here it is the lack of character which has served him most ill.  He never impressed Lord Kitchener as a man of power, although that sullen temperament grew in the end to feel an amused affection for him.  He did excellent work at the Admiralty, work of the highest kind both before and at the outbreak of war, but his colleagues in the Cabinet never realized the importance of this work, judging it merely as “one of Winston’s new crazes,” Ministers speak of him in their confidences with a certain amount of affection, but never with real respect.  Many of them, of course, fear him, for he is a merciless critic, and has an element of something very like cruelty in his nature; but even those who do not fear him, or on the whole rather like him, will never tell you that he is a man to whom they turn in their difficulties, or a man to whom the whole Cabinet looks for inspiration.

General William Booth of the Salvation Army once told Mr. Churchill that he stood in need of “conversion,” That old man was a notable judge of character.

LORD HALDANE

LORD HALDANE

The Rt.  Hon. Richard Burdon Haldane was born in 1856.  Graduate of Edinburgh University; Professor of Philosophy, St. Andrew’s University; Barrister, 1879; Q.C., 1890; created 1st Viscount, 1911; M.P. from Haddingtonshire, 1885-1911; Sec’y for War, 1905-12; Rector of Edinburgh Univ.; Chancellor, Univ. of Bristol; Author of various philosophical works.

[Illustration:  RT.  HON.  RICHARD BURDON HALDANE]

CHAPTER X

LORD HALDANE

"He is Attic in the sense that he has no bombast, and does not strive after affect, and that he can speak interestingly on many subjects ‘without raising his voice.’"—­GILBERT MURRAY (on Xenophon).

If for nothing else, the nation owes Lord Haldane a debt of gratitude for the example he has given it in behaviour.  No man so basely deserted by his colleagues and so scandalously traduced by his opponents ever faced the world with a greater calm or a more untroubled smile.

Lessing said of grief in sculpture that it may writhe but it must not scream.  Lord Haldane has not even writhed.  When a member of the House of Lords asked him what he proposed doing with the two sacks crammed full of abusive letters addressed to him there by correspondents who thus obeyed a vulgar editor’s suggestion, Lord Haldane replied with very good humour, “I have an oyster-knife in my kitchen and an excellent scullery-maid in my establishment:  I shall see only my personal letters.”

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