A History of England in the Eighteenth Century - Vol. 5

A History of England in the Eighteenth Century - Vol. 5

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A History of England in the Eighteenth Century - Vol. 5

A History of England in the Eighteenth Century - Vol. 5

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The qualities of mind and character which in modern societies have proved most successful in political life are for the most part of a wholly different order from those which lead to eminence in the spheres of pure intellect or pure moral effort. Originality and profundity of thought, the power of tracing principles to their obscure and distant consequences, the intellectual and imaginative insight which penetrates to the heart of things and expresses in a perennial form the deeper emotions or finer shades of human character, can be of little or no service in practical politics. Nor are the moral qualities that are required in the higher spheres of statesmanship those of a hero or a saint. Passionate earnestness and self-devotion, complete concentration of every faculty on an unselfish aim, uncalculating daring, a delicacy of conscience and a loftiness of aim far exceeding those of the average of men, are here likely to prove rather a hindrance than an assistance. The politician deals very largely with the superficial and the commonplace; his art is in a great measure that of skilful compromise, and in the conditions of modern life the statesman is likely to succeed the best who possesses secondary qualities to an unusual degree, who is in the closest intellectual and moral sympathy with the average of the intelligent men of his time, and who pursues common ideals with more than common ability. 'The first quality of a . . .

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