Politics from Inside: An Epistolary Chronicle, 1906-1914

Politics from Inside: An Epistolary Chronicle, 1906-1914

Politics from Inside: An Epistolary Chronicle, 1906-1914

Politics from Inside: An Epistolary Chronicle, 1906-1914

Excerpt

AMONG the many kind things said of my earlier volume, none pleased me more than the comment of a lady who had known my father well. She wrote: “I do so delight in the way your father seems present in every line of the book—his beautiful inspiration,” and the proper introduction to these letters would be some account of my early life, of the influences by which I was surrounded from childhood upwards, and above all of the family circle which gathered about my father. Yes, that should be the first chapter, but can I write it?

I was reading a little time ago an account of his early years by an author of individuality and distinction. His childhood seemed to have been unhappy, and he loathed his schools, both private and public. It was a dreary tale, not untinged with bitterness in the telling, which left a bitter taste in the mouth of one reader, but at least it served to deepen my sense of the debt I owe to those who throughout my life have surrounded and shielded me with their untiring love.

And yet it might have been so different. A mere recital of the vicissitudes of my earlier years would seem to preclude such happiness and make impossible the fullness of family life and love. My mother died when I was born, after three short years of perfect happiness, but not without having planted in my father’s breast that love of flowers which meant so much to him throughout his life. “You must not laugh at Joe’s gardening,” she wrote to my grandmother Chamberlain. “I am going to make him a real gardener,” and long years afterwards, as I accompanied him on one of his Sunday morning reviews of his orchids, he said to me: “I don’t know after all that any flowers ever gave me more pleasure than the first sixpennyworth of red daisies that I bought in the Market Hall and carried home to plant with your mother in our little garden in the Harborne Road.”

In accordance with my mother’s wish my elder sister and I were placed in charge of her unmarried sister under my grandfather . . .

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