The Victorian Age
MANY snags and muddles in national and international politics arise from the fact that politicians and statesmen can never start from the beginning in any problem or in any debate. They always have different things to gain or protect. Political history seldom reveals any consistent patterns of rigorous logic and clear thought, precise formulations and strict deductions. On the contrary, the political drama is played by human beings like ourselves who have the deep infirmities as well as the strengths of their characters and their causes. Some of them wrangle and push as they grope or run towards their goals. The tactics of other men often reveal military ingenuity and acumen of a high order. Sometimes, too, political arguments display considerable technical skill in inventiveness. Meanwhile, rhetorical phrases leap and fall. Dark intuitions shuffle by. Strategy, skilled and unskilled, is made in the smoke and the shadows. Men of high moral principles find themselves allied with machine politicians whose ideals, if not innocent, are clearly seen through their half-shut eyes. Some men upon the political stage plod slowly and surely, refusing to make any compromise, even with common sense. Others are sure that they can travel fast and gloriously by restless and exhilarating shortcuts. These things, and many more, are the atoms and elements with which any adequate analysis of politicians and politics must begin and terminate.
Many paragraphs have been written about political history, about political science and government in our democratic societies. It is indeed strange that so little has been written or said about the role of the professional politicians. Their position in society has been gradually changing, but their nature and character, their skills and methods,