EPILOGUE

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Since the last volume of these Memoirs was completed more than one of the old friends who have occupied the stage has passed to the great silence, and it is too late to recast the written page and insert the Ave atque Vale which would have been their due. Among them were Curzon, Milner, and, I may add, both for his own and his father's sake, another of a somewhat younger generation, Eyre Crowe. All of these had devoted their best energies to the service of the State, and in their several ways they were to their contemporaries memorable examples of a type of character which has made the Empire great. Empire and democracy are, I believe, only compatible so long as we can continue to produce a sufficient number of pre-eminent men of such fibre, who will make their shoulders efficiently broad to sustain its burden, who will endure criticism, often intemperate, and accept disappointments with serenity, content to have served with all their heart and brain.

The loss of which I have been most sensible after an intimate association of nearly fifty years has been that of George Curzon, and, since in his strenuous life the most attractive side of his character was less appreciated by those who only knew the outer man, I would add one word more here to the recollections recorded. In the early days of our friendship at Oxford I remember his saying to me with that note of earnestness which made his clear voice impressive, "There has never been anything so great in the world's history as the British Empire, so great as an instrument for the good of humanity. We must devote all our energies and our lives to maintaining it." His long career of public service was splendidly consistent to an end, for the realization of which he was already then striving to equip himself adequately. It was an ambition which in the late seventies and early eighties inspired a number of our contemporaries at Balliol, and not a few of them have played a distinguished part in giving effect to it. Their numbers are much reduced to-day. But with us of the older generation that are left the confidence remains that, in spite of different methods of application appropriate to the advance of time, the same high sense of duty to the Empire will prevail among the younger men.

In a more modest sphere of activity I have done what it lay in me to do to uphold those ideals of our youth, as certain pages of these memories bear witness. What I have acquired of experience and what remains of energy and enthusiasm I would willingly devote to the service of the State if opportunity should offer. But if the renunciation of a professional career after thirty-seven years spent in foreign countries should involve the ringing down of the curtain and the actor's bow, then my last word should be one of gratitude for a life which has been singularly full of incident and interest, and which, irradiated by an ideal companionship, has brought me far more than I ever anticipated when I embarked upon the great adventure. Faithful to a tradition instilled in early years, I have never asked anything of others, and yet I have received much. I have endeavoured, so interpreting my professional duty, to do justice to the peoples among whom I have lived and worked. But I have given my heart to my country.




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