Men I Have Painted/William G. C. Gladstone
THE youth of England that survived the battle-fields has been shaken and shattered, either in body or in mind; those who were too young to fight are bewildered by the aftermath of the war. Most of those who fought and those who stood by and watched are finding a solace in sport, and it is well for them and the future generation that in innocent physical exercises they discover a happy alternative to the social and political game now being played.
When Browning wrote—
Our men scarce seem in earnest now.
Distinguished names? And yet somehow,
It seems as if they played at names
Still more distinguished, like the games of children,—
he foresaw the games continuing into the future, and played with false earnestness and hidden motives.
One youth there was who, had he survived, would have re-entered the political game to fight for fair-play and for upright and honest dealing.
But the Master of Hawarden, the brilliant heir of an illustrious grandfather, a shining young Parliamentarian, was allowed through some fateful error to risk his life and lose it uselessly, though honourably, as a soldier, when his civic virtues and talents entitled him to permanent usefulness in the Council Chamber.
The youth is gone, and old men carry on the game undisturbed and unperturbed.