Posts Tagged ‘statesman’

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Richelieu, Armand Jean du Plessis de (1585-1642)

Richelieu called the Red Eminence (L’Eminence Rouge)and feared. He was crafty and ruthless in his attempt to lift France from medieval backwardness to the glory she was destined for. He dominated French politics from 1610 till his death.
A bright child, Armand-Jean du Plessis studied theology as a teen and at the young age of 21 was appointed Bishop of Luçon. In 1622 he was made a cardinal and from there rose to become head of the Royal Council and prime minister of France in 1624. He was adviser to the widow of Henri IV and her son Louis XIII. King Louis XIII was a weak ruler and Richelieu filled the void, more or less running the empire. He established royal absolutism in France by suppressing the political power of the Huguenots. The siege and capture of Rochelle, which he conducted in person (1628) was followed by the submission of other Huguenot strongholds. Richelieu, however, secured for the Huguenot body a certain measure of religious toleration. His astuteness is evident in the way he used his success in this conflict with moderation.
He reduced the influence of the nobles by blowing up their castles and banning private armies. In foreign policy, he sought to weaken Habsburg control of Europe and involved France in the Thirty Years’ War. Though France was a Catholic country he supported Protestant countries in order to diminish the hold of the Catholic league of states. The asuteness of his foreign policy saw France emerge at the end of Thirty Years War as the most powerful nation in Europe. In order to cut the power of Spain he supported the Portuguese in their struggle for independence. Devious and brilliant, he increased the power of the Bourbon dynasty and established orderly government in France.
One of the less known but of far reaching influence he exerted was in the way he encouraged arts. He founded the Académie Française and rebuilt the Sorbonne.
He brought innovation in administering the kingdom through superindents of regions who exerted extensive powers but were directly responsible to the central government that was in himself.
He encouraged road and canal constructions throughout the length and breadth to spur trade and industry. He also encouraged French colonial expansion in the Far East,India and the West indies.
Ever since Dumas’ novel Three Musketeers (1844)in Richelieu’s name has become synonymous with political intrigue and ambitious power “behind the throne.”


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In The House Of The Lords

The House of Lords was generally considered as the grave of eloquence. When someone remarked that Disraeli would find the Lords tame after the Commons, he replied,”I am dead;dead but in the Elysian fields.”
A young peer once asked Disraeli what course of study he had best undertaken to qualify himself of speaking so as to catch the ear of the House of the Lords.
“Have you a graveyard near your house?” asked Dizzy.
“Then I should recommend you to visit it early of a morning and practise upon the tombstones”.
Final Days
Disraeli was already ill and as he corrected the proof of his final speech in Parliament,he said wearily, ”I’ll not go down to posterity talking bad grammar”.
As death drew near, Disraeli ravaged by gout and asthma,quipped, ‘ I have suffered much. Had I been a nihilist, I would have confessed all.’

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When Churchill was felicitated on his eightieth birthday by a grateful nation, he replied in the House thus, ”I have never accepted what many people have kindly said, namely that I inspired the nation. It was the nation and the race dwelling all round the globe that had the lion’s heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.”

The young Churchill was a troublesome boy.
“Churchill, I have very grave reason to be displeased with you.” said the head master of Harrow School.
“And I, sir, have very grave reason to be displeased with you.” replied the impudent scholar.

“Mr. Churchill, I care for neither your politics nor your moustache,” remarked a young female dinner companion to the newly bewhiskered Winston.
“Don’t distress yourself,”  he replied, “You are not likely to come in contact with either.”


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An interview with Winston was sure to yield much more than what was bargained for. His comments were sure to make a good copy  and often barely concealed the irrepressible impishness of the man. Fiercely loyal to Clementine his comments on the fair sex often brought out the battle of sexes;
When Churchill was told that savants are declaring that by the year 2100, the women would be ruling the world his rejoinder was, “still?”

When asked by an American feminist for his comments about equality between the sexes and what woman’s future role should be , he replied after a pause: “The same, I trust, as it has been since the days of Adam and Eve.”


Once he was asked if he knew any professional women. He answered promptly: “I’ve never met any amateur ones.”


Once asked why he always seemed to miss trains and planes he said, ”I am a sporting man. I always give them a fair chance of getting away.”


At a time when asked why he painted only landscapes he replied that ‘trees never complained about its likeness.”


While talking about the Greek general Plasiras, during the Greek Civil War, 1944, Churchill exclaimed: “Plasterarse eh! Well I hope at least he hasn’t got feet of clay.”


Churchill was asked by an admiring lady if he was a pillar of the Church. He replied that he was more likea flying buttress. “I support it from the outside.”

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Once Disraeli feeling indisposed got up from his seat in the Treasury office saying to his secretary, ”Don’t bother me with the routine work. Please attend to all of it yourself.” He walked towards the door and opened it. “But of course if there is any really important decision to be made..” he paused and seconds before closing it behind he added,”…make it.”
A M.P who had been offered a knighthood did not feel easy and he consulted Dizzy who advised him to accept it but tell everyone that he had refused it.
“Because you get all the credit of having rejected it until you recieve it.”
“And then?”
“You will get all the glory of receiving it after having rejected it.”
While engaged in talk with some cronies he at one point said that he could not remember the pub which came up in discussion. The ‘King’s Arms’ at Berkhamstead it was.
One recalled a barmaid who was a very handsome and a jolly girl. ”You must have been in the ‘King’s Arms’ one insisted.
“Perhaps if I had been in her arms I might have remembered it.”Dizzy answered.

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His sudden surges of eloquence which amazed people who he met before he became a power in politics is scarcely ever heard now. By the time his ascendency over his party was complete he had fixed in place the persona that characterised him henceforth: calm dignified and sphinx-like. Only his flashing eyes gave life to the face;his talk being measured, grave epigrammatic and delivered in a deep equable tone.
He was a master of prose and in his lifetime his novels were much talked about. He was also a master of verbal duel in which he never chopped where he could slice with his nimble wit.

None of his novels is a work of genius but they are the works of a genius. He had the poetic temperament without the poetic talents. His novels are so many attempts to reveal his feelings in his evolutions as a statesman. Lack of flesh and blood in his characters were to a certain extent saved by his coruscating wit.He once wrote:’ Nobody should ever look anxious except those who have no anxiety.”
In his twilight years, whenever his illness and his duties permitted,Dizzy continued to dine out and deliver some deathless quips. Once when he was asked whether he read a novel that was making a stir, the author of Vivien Grey, Alroy, Coningsby, Lothair and Sybil replied,” When I want to read a novel I write one.”
compiler: benny

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