Magazine article The Spectator

Too Nice to Like

Magazine article The Spectator

Too Nice to Like

Article excerpt

From Sir Peregrine Worsthorne Sir: In my memoir, Tricks of Memory, published as far back as 1992, after expressing regrets for that unfortunate Sunday Telegraph profile on John Julius Norwich, I tried to explain my reasons for having commissioned it. 'What stuck in my throat about John Julius, ' I wrote, 'was that he had lived in public life through years of Britain's decline without making enemies.' My objection was the same as the one Flaubert made of George Sand: 'a lack of hate'.

For rather similar reasons, the Sunday Telegraph under my editorship also carried a comparably disobliging profile of Isaiah Berlin, another bien-pensant public figure who had managed to remain bland and charming throughout those dreadful years. John Julius, as Petronella says in her Spectator Diary (29 October), was and is 'a genuinely delightful man'. Quite so -- too nice, too bland, too, in a word, tolerant. So of course I never told her that John Julius was 'the most evil man in the world'. …

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