The Fall & Rise of Mackenzie King, 1911-1919

By F. A. McGregor | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
A Futile Search for a Seat in Parliament

Mackenzie King's first recorded reaction to the defeat of September 1911 was one of relief from strain; his second reaction, a desire to return to the fight. These seemingly contradictory sentiments were expressed in the same entry in his diary, written in Toronto on the Sunday after the election:

The sense of relief from the strain of office is almost indescribable. It is the first time for years that I feel as I used to feel when I came first into the civil service. I cannot but believe that defeat is all for the best, and that out of this will come opportunities of a fuller & better life.

Out of his mixed feelings the fighting spirit surged to the top: 'I must confess defeat has made me feel more like fighting than ever, I do not experience any feeling of ingratitude on the part of the people -- ignorance and viciousness yes plenty of both, & that is the sad part but points more clearly the need.' Understandably, he was tired after such a strenuous but unsuccessful campaign, but he was determined to make the best of what he hoped would be only a temporary retirement, to prepare for an even more strenuous future. He thought of this in terms of study and travel but

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