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Frank Fox.

From the old dog : being the letters of the Hon. --- ---, ex prime minister to his nephew online

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her own shores inviolate, second to take a share in
the responsibility of Empire defence.

Your affectionate Uncle.



155



L'ENVOI.



XIX.

L'ENVOI.

SYDNEY, 4/5/-.

My Dear Jack: The heartiest of congratulations.
You have won your high office and it is a high
office, that of a Cabinet Minister, one of the trusted
councillors of the nation honestly and squarely.
May you long enjoy its honours and its usefulness.

But, my dear boy, no more letters. "Give you
advice on your new responsibilities." NO, my boy,
no. You must now give advice; not take it.

I confess I shall drop this political correspond-
ence with some regret. It has amused me to fight over
the old battles, to talk to old audiences, to revive
old arguments, in these letters to you. I know that
I must have been often garrulous and prosy; have
talked to you "as if you were a public meeting."
But you will forgive, Jack. You will forgive.

Now I'll end with a few notions that I formu-
lated at different times, mostly after-dinner times,
and jotted down in my "ordinary" book. They

157



"FROM THE OLD DOG"

represent my parting words of advice to the
honourable the Postmaster-General, and are really
not political.

It is impossible to wisely govern a people, no
matter how enlightened, on a system of pure logic.
If we were all, in practice and theory, philosophers
of the Spencerian or some other such school which,
thanks to the Great Graciousness, we are not Par-
liaments elected with a sole regard to the first prin-
ciples of economics, and laws based on absolute
logic, might be possible. And it would be a very
dull country. As things are, in practical states-
manship, abstract logic has to be seasoned with a
little of the sauce of human nature, which is a
feminine and self-contradictory sort of thing.

Conscience is not innate; it is the sum of our
experiences. A few years in politics will teach
you how profound a truth is this I have thought out
for you.

Procrastination is the saviour of time; so many
problems settle themselves if they are only neg-
lected long enough.

Man is to a great extent what he eats; also How
and When he Eats. It is impossible to get good
ethics from disordered stomachs.

The dominant error of the faddist is in his view
of life. He looks for the things he must not do,
instead of doing what comes naturally and joyously
to him, and being happy. Life, after all, is to be

158



L'ENVOI.

lived. To enjoy oneself cheerfully, without inter-
fering with the cheerful enjoyment of others, is the
first duty we owe .for the gift of being. It is folly
to fence off the gladness of the universe with a
series of keep-off-the-grass notices. Eat what you
like, and what likes you. Drink by the same rules.
As far as you may, do what work you like and what
likes you. That is a practical Gospel of Life, and
if there is need to stretch it further, be careful of
undertaking responsibilities: having undertaken
them, be more careful of carrying them through.
And when the time comes die cheerfully, and be
buried as unobstrusively as your friends will allow.

Wine is a mercenary force to be used with great
caution, and constant precaution against treachery.

Don't follow this modern tendency to look for
great causes in trivialities. It has goneout of fashion
to lift questioning hands to the sky. And, since
humanity must believe, we stretch them out to the
palmist, dive them deep into our pockets for a
Dowie with wings, but no power of flight; or, in a
higher sphere, passing over the common and mer-,
cenary humbugs, let our faith nestle in the arms of
some earnest and gentle enthusiast who has found
"the Great Secret" in "Christian Science," a "Nut
Diet," or "No Breakfast."

Don't be too wise don't put your gentle follies
into harness and seek a utility pretext for your
pleasures. It is not well to leave yourself with

159



"FROM THE OLD DOG"

nothing to do, simply because you choose to do it
without motive of use.

You must burn yourself up in your work if you
wish to be a light to your generation.

There is no better equipment for life than a con-
firmed habit of optimism. It is a supporting staff
to the very lips of the grave "Are you at peace?"
they asked of the optimist on his death-bed.
"Yes," he whispered, comfortably. "If I get to one
place I always liked a dry climate; if to the other
well, I've ever longed for a chance to complete
my musical education."

May you, in the fulness of time, be Prime
Minister.

Your affectionate old Uncle.



[THE END.]



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Online LibraryFrank FoxFrom the old dog : being the letters of the Hon. --- ---, ex prime minister to his nephew → online text (page 8 of 8)