The sun writes his name
In a neat stroke ‘cross the sky:
His report is in.
Archive for April 12th, 2009
LORD GEORGE NATHANIEL CURZON (British) (1859 – 1925) Viceroy of India (1898 – 1905)
The present day image of the British Raj derives much from Curzon viceroyalty, which marks most significant period of his political career. Never before or after he was able to hold the centre stage and the coveted prize of it all – the Prime Ministership he had set his heart upon – he lost to Stanley Baldwin narrowly. His sense of superiority and prodigious talents caused many to view him with alarm. His failure was more than anything else owed to personal reasons. While at Eton, he was a controversial figure who was liked and disliked with equal intensity by large numbers of masters and other boys. This strange talent for both attraction and repulsion stayed with him all his life: few people ever felt neutral about him.
(trivia: his life at Eton was clouded by a scandal that sent Oscar Browning,his tutor in disgrace. He was junior to Oscar Wilde and when the latter in disgrace requested for favor to put in a word in right places he didn’t care to answer him.)
Though he was foreign secretary from 1919 to 1924 he made it both a spectacle, splendid as never before, and an efficient machine. Fired by that masochistic dedication to hard work which the late Victorians too often confused with high minded philanthropy and with the very aristocratic belief in the modifying value of justice and good government for the masses, Curzon was the model of the benevolent despot. He despised and discounted the infant Indian National Congress – ‘representative’, he said, ‘only of their middle class selves’. His partition of Bengal (1905) was justifiable on grounds of administrative efficiency. But it gave bith to a turmoil of nationalistic resentment and religious antagonism between Muslim and Hindu. Curzon’s policy was designed to make the Raj eternal. Ironically their chief significance was the impetus they gave its disruption.
Few statesmen have experienced such changes in fortune in both their public and their personal lives. Curzon’s career was an almost unparalleled blend of triumph and disappointment. Curzon served the war cabinet but did not have Lloyd George’s support. The Prime Minister thought him overly pompous and self-important, and it was said that he used him as if he were using a Rolls-Royce to deliver a parcel to the station; Lloyd George said much later that Churchill treated his Ministers in a way that Lloyd George would never have treated his; “They were all men of substance — well, except Curzon.” Although he was the last and in many ways the greatest of Victorian viceroys, his term of office ended in resignation, empty of recognition and devoid of reward. This sense of opportunities missed was summed up by Winston Churchill in his book Great Contemporaries (1937):
The morning had been golden; the noontide was bronze; and the evening lead. But all were polished till it shone after its fashion.
How does one calculate the incalculable? Here are some novel measures that could be the answer for the wiseacres of our times who think they have seen it all but can’t say if it rocks or sucks.
Madoffian cent: the first cent that starts a pyramid scheme and also end up as the last regardless of what happens to the scheme.
AIGiga: a corporate unit that sets the perks and other benefits for the bosses who let the demise of the house under controlled conditions.