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Thoughts And Fancies

by Lord Rankeillour

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THOUGHTS AND FANCIESbyLORD RANKEILLOURCONTENTS POLITICAL Politics and Politicians Speech in the House of Commons 23rd July 1924 The Threatened Wrack Speech in the House of Lords 26th November 1936 Speech in the House of Lords 9th March 1939 Lay of a Hungarian Royalist The Two Houses ECCLESIASTICAL Some Handicaps of the Church Some Accidentals of the Church FICTION The Case of Milly Sennen POLITICS AND POLITICIANS HERE are various classes of mankind who J seem peculiarly capable of exciting the resentment, or, it may be, the professed con tempt of their fellowcitizens. Clergymen, lawyers, medical men, appear at all times to have their instinctive enemies, and to them may now be added politicians, if constant allusions in current writings be good evidence of popular opinion. Ignorance, incompetence, mendacity, low craft, selfish indifference to higher interests, and sometimes actual financial corruption, such are among the allegations freely launched, albeit in such general terms that no retribution in the courts can follow. If, however, there be any one who wishes to judge fairly the class impugned, it behoves him to learn something of the conditions under which they have to work. Now, politics implies the business of govern ing, and governing means the art of steering, both in letter and in fact. Further, steering implies wind, waves, and rocks, and the success of the steersman or captain depends on the capacity of his rudder, his engines, and his crew. Neither theoretical knowledge, nor courage, nor willpower will bring a ship into harbour of itself. Navigation is a complicated and applied science, but in the application of his art to his end the captain of a ship enjoys the singular advantage of an absolute control over the men and the machinery that serve him. Far otherwise is it with the captains of most Ships of State in modern times. Louis XIV. of France may have said with truth, I am the State Mussolini or Stalin may think it now but most rulers know only too painfully that they govern only by the capricious consents of many persons and divers interests under many forms. And just as the servants of an autocrat watch anxiously for his frown or smile, so do the Ministers of a democracy note the moods of that public opinion on which their reign in the end depends. Both the names, courtier and politician, have come to possess an ill connota tion, and individuals of either class may be unprincipled or timid, but neither, of whatever character or courage, can be indifferent to the humours of those with whom the power im mediately or ultimately lies. In Great Britain the ultimate power lies with the huge mass of adults who are voters, the immediate power with the House of Commons, subject to certain checks and delays.



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