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The Mirrors of Downing Street Some Political Reflections by a Gentleman with a Duster   By: (1871-1929)

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" Right and wrong are in the nature of things. They are not words and phrases. They are in the nature of things, and if you transgress the laws laid down, imposed by the nature of things, depend upon it you will pay the penalty ."



G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS NEW YORK AND LONDON The Knickerbocker Press 1921




Printed in the United States of America


America and England have worked and fought together and have brought to a successful conclusion the great war in defence of civilization against a military imperialism which was threatening to dominate the world. They have now responsibilities together in connection with the measures needed to assure the continued peace of the world and to secure, particularly for the smaller states and for communities not in a position to become independent nations, the protection of their liberties, to which they have as assured a right as that asserted by a state of first importance which can support its claims with great armies.

In this work of helping to adjust the present urgent problems of the world, England is demanding cooperation from America. America could not if she would, and would not if she could, escape her responsibilities, as the strongest nation in the world, a nation standing for the rights of men, for leadership in the family of nations. With these joint responsibilities resting upon England and America, the personalities of the men who have during the past few years had in their hands the direction of the affairs of the United Kingdom and of the great British Commonwealth must possess an assured interest for every intelligent American.

The clever author of The Mirrors of Downing Street has brought together a series of critical and biographical studies, presented as "reflections" from the mirror in the Imperial council chamber, of thirteen typical Britons who have done noteworthy work during the years of the war and who are now grappling with the problems of the peace. The name of the author is not given, but he is evidently one who has had intimate personal association with the statesmen and administrators whose characters he presents. These analyses are not always sympathetic, and we are not prepared to say that they will be accepted as final. They are, however, based upon full knowledge of the conditions and a close personal study of the men. Intelligent Americans will be interested in the opinions held by a clear headed, capable English writer of the characters of leaders like Mr. Asquith, Lloyd George, Mr. Balfour, Lord Robert Cecil, Winston Churchill, and others, and they will find in these pages first hand information and clever and incisive studies of noteworthy men whose influence has counted, and is still to count, in shaping the history of Britain and of the world.


NEW YORK, December, 1920.


Let me say that I hope I have not betrayed any confidences in these sketches.

Public men must expect criticism, and no criticism is so good for them, and therefore for the State, as criticism of character; but their position is difficult, and they may justly complain when those to whom they have spoken in the candour of private conversation make use of such confidences for a public purpose.

If here and there I have in any degree approached this offence, let me urge two excuses. First, inspired by a pure purpose I might very easily have said far more than I have said: and, second, my purpose is neither to grind my own axe (as witness my anonymity) nor to inflict personal pain (as witness my effort to be just in all cases), but truly to raise the tone of our public life.

It is the conviction that the tone of our public life is low, and that this low tone is reacting disastrously in many directions, which has set me about these studies in political personality... Continue reading book >>

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