Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Quote of the Day: Great Statesmen

It is difficult to think of any politician who has lived to be eighty and still been regarded as a success. What we call a ‘great’ statesman normally means one who dies before his policy has had time to take effect. If Cromwell had lived a few years longer he would probably have fallen from power, in which case we should now regard him as a failure. If Pétain had died in 1930, France would have venerated him as a hero and patriot. Napoleon remarked once that if only a cannon-ball had happened to hit him when he was riding into Moscow, he would have gone down to history as the greatest man who ever lived.

-- George Orwell
I discovered that this essay was online thanks to this blog post. Actually, a lot of Orwell's fabulous work is online there -- well worth exploring, especially if Orwell's essays have somehow passed you by.

Update: Familiar with Orwell's more famous essays, I had never before seen his rather charming list of eleven rules for making good tea. This, incidentally, is not some metaphor for politics or literature or a jumping off point for anything else: it's just what it claims to be. Here's point ten:
[O]ne should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.
Like a good stereotypical American, I drink coffee not tea; but this essay makes me want to give tea a try this afternoon...

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