The Fall & Rise of Mackenzie King, 1911-1919

By F. A. McGregor | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
'A Heaven-sent Deliverance'

If an election had been called in the early months of the war, as had been rumoured, Mackenzie King would have seized any opportunity to find a place for himself in Parliament, where his undoubted abilities could have been put to their best use. He had been seeking such an opportunity for nearly three years, ever since the defeat of 1911, but time and again his hopes had been frustrated. He was gradually becoming convinced, so he wrote to a friend, that 'public life hereafter must be a closed opportunity to me'. Family illnesses and unrequited affections weighed on him; he was engaged on what was little better than 'hack work' for the party, which brought him little income and, worse still, little opportunity to give of his best. He admonished himself for his feelings of depression and tried to put on a brave front before the world. But underlying everything was a pervading unhappiness and disappointment that his new life, so full of promise, should so soon have taken on the appearance of failure. Looking back on the bleakness and frustrations of many months, he summed up all his misery in an exclamation, 'How terribly broken down on every side is the house of life around me!'

Deliverance, however -- he described it as a 'Heaven-sent deliverance' -- was to come, and from an unforeseen quarter. On June 1, 1914, he received from the Rockefeller Foundation an in-

-92-

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