Triveni Journal

1927 | 11,233,916 words

Triveni is a journal dedicated to ancient Indian culture, history, philosophy, art, spirituality, music and all sorts of literature. Triveni was founded at Madras in 1927 and since that time various authors have donated their creativity in the form of articles, covering many aspects of public life....

C. Y. Chintamani: An Estimate

By C. L. R. Sastri, B.Sc.

"He can understand the measurable things which can be brought to a statistical test; he cannot understand the impalpable things. I can imagine him being profoundly moved by a meeting of the Royal Statistical Society; I cannot imagine him feeling emotion at the inarticulate grievances of the agricultural labourer. He is deficient, in fact, in imaginative insight. He does not enter into your mind. . . . If he could live on the plane of ordinary men he would widen his experience and double his prestige. For all great achievements in politics come from the creative use of the imagination, and without its authoritative insight, we miss the significance of those inner visions which, in the end, so largely determine our lives."(My italics.)–Professor Harold J. Laski on Sir Herbert Samuel. (The Daily Herald, February 28, 1931: P. 8).


It is not my intention to write the ‘Life’ of Mr. C. Y. Chintamani. I leave that to more suitable hands. For one thing a ‘Life’ cannot be ‘done’ within the (necessarily) limited space of a magazine. It is, of course, only too true that these are not the days of long biographies: Mr. Lytton Strachey and his disciples have long ago knocked the bottom out of them. But, all the same, and however much brevity may be desirable in itself, I doubt whether it is possible to convey an adequate idea of any person within the compass of a short article. Much, of necessity, will have to be discarded; and, in the process, the good may go with the bad; the baby may be poured away with the bath-water. Selection and abridgement are not always conducive to a thorough comprehension. The only excuse for them is the lamentable shortness of life; and, in their own interests, writers must be indulgent towards their readers, must be mindful of their time; else their effusions will not be read at all. So I shall try to be as concise as possible, presenting only what seem to me to be the more salient features in Mr. Chintamani's country of the mind.

Writing about living persons is the riskiest thing imaginable: it is the most thankless job under the sun. In the first place, one lives too near the hero to be able to judge him with that amount of detachment that is necessary for even a passable valuation. In the second place, there is always the danger of treading (however innocently) on your hero's corns. You may, indeed, applaud him as if he were Socrates and Alexander and Napoleon and Mussolini and Pilsudski rolled into one compact and homogeneous whole. But, incorporate in your almost uniform and hectic adulation the least soupcon of qualification, the tiniest bit of adverse criticism, and lo! You will be condemned to eternal perdition, you will be cursed till the last syllable of recorded time. In fact, writing upon contemporaries is like walking on a tight rope: at any moment one may fall, with a resounding thump, on to the base earth. It, therefore, requires all one’s circumspection, it needs to be treated with what someone has called ‘the hutmost delixy and tack.’ Further, ‘portrait-painting’ (in words no less than in colors) is an art like another; and to attempt a branch of literature of which (among recent practitioners) Mr. A. G. Gardiner and late Mr. ‘E. T. Raymond,’ or, to give him his real name, Mr. E. Raymond Thompson, are the shining-lights, may well daunt even the most audacious heart. However, I shall face the ordeal as bravely as I can: it is so much better to dare and lose than not to dare at all.


Mr. Chintamani may deny, but it is, to anyone who looks at it dispassionately, merely incontestable that he was (metaphorically speaking) born with a silver spoon in his mouth, that the gods were specially active at the time of his birth. I do not, in saying this, imply that it can be boasted of his nativity, as Glendowar boasted of his:

" . . . . at my nativity
The front of heaven was full of fiery shapes,
Of burning cressets ; and at my birth
The frame and huge foundation of the earth
Shaked like a coward.
These signs have marked me extraordinary;
And all the courses of my life do show
I am not in the roll of common men."

But, without breaking forth into such lyrical ecstasy, without dissolving into such dithyrambics, I repeat, what is simply undeniable, that he was born under a most lucky combination of stars. Mr. Chintamani has only recently turned fifty; a comparatively young age for a man of his widespread fame: and, except for a short period while he was still very young, his life has, so far, run extraordinarily smoothly, his lines have been cast in extremely happy places and situations. I do not, of course, deny that he has had to work tremendously for his success, Nor do I deny his immense, his wonderful, talents. But, nowadays, the world is full–nay, over-full–of people that are working themselves to death and yet not achieving anything even remotely suggestive of ‘big’ or ‘great.’ As Hazlitt says somewhere: "It is not merely that our names are not known in China. They have hardly been heard of in the next street." My whole point is that, without at all intending to rob Mr. Chintamani of the fame that is justly his, he seems to have secured it at a (relatively) small price. His life, up to the time of writing, has been, if I may be allowed the expression, a series of successful marches from one post of occupation to another: it is almost as if he had only to take the trouble to arrive at a particular place, and doors automatically opened to him, without so much as his being put to the (base) necessity of knocking at them.


What is it that one thinks of as the most salient point in Mr. Chintamani's career? Why–it is nothing less than this,–namely, that he is a ‘self-made’ man, if ever there was one: nor have I the least doubt that it is the point that he himself would stress more than another, were his opinion solicited. ‘Self-made’! What magic, what witchery, there is in that double-pronged word! What enchanting visions it recalls of a certain Dr. Samuel Smiles–and of a much lesser man, a certain Mr. Marsden of the United States! But, alas! as day succeeds to day, and night replaces night, there appears to be a very noticeable fading in the charm of that word. For these, if any, are the days, par excellence, of ‘self-made’ men and women. They are, as someone has wittily, but none-the-less accurate1y, put it, at least three a penny. The most of the famous men and women of today are ‘self-made’: panting pen toils after their names in vain. There is, then, no longer any perfume, any ‘virtue,’ in that (once) hypnotic word: no ‘magic casements’ open at the mention of it. As competition becomes fiercer and fiercer, ‘self-made’ men begin to swarm the world like bees round a hive. But when Mr. Chintamani was fashioning his career, was moulding it to its present shape and size, that word had not reached its nonage as it has now. On the contrary, it shone with the majestic splendour, the blinding radiance, of the noon-day sun: or, if this be regarded as a patent, though pardonable, exaggeration, at least with the borrowed brilliance, the derivative dazzle, of a full-moon in a clear sky. Thinking to that time, then, it becomes evident that Mr. Chintamani was making himself ‘on his own lonesome,’ as it were,–without, that is, any adventitious aid from anybody: no, not even from God Almighty: for, your typical ‘self-made’ man would scorn even Divine assistance, as, in his opinion, it would detract something from the finished cloth of his glory–that cloth which was, if the fancy be permitted, so entirely ‘Swadeshi,’ so entirely ‘home-spun,’ and to the making of which no ‘foreign yarn’ was ever contributed. Fiddle-sticks! There is, in this vast and heterogeneous world, no such thing as a ‘self-made’ man or woman. Some extremely credulous persons imagine themselves so made, that is all: if the truth were known, it would be found that they were made as much by others, and by outward circumstances, and by Heaven-sent opportunities, as anyone else that, in his rustic honesty, confesses to having had considerable extraneous help. I will not try to prick with the pin of a private scepticism the current faith regarding ‘self-made’ men, but I cannot help thinking that it is all so much sound and fury signifying nothing, that it is all so much cant invented by persons that have risen from the ground to the leaf, in order, if I may say so, to self-glorify themselves.


Consistency has been the guiding principle of Mr. Chintamani's life. In Roman Law, we come across an arresting expression: "Semel heres, semper heres" (once an heir, always an heir). Of him who is the subject of this article it can be said, as it can be said of very few indeed: "Once a journalist, always a journalist." Well, Mr. Chintamani may, with justification, lay the flattering unction to his soul that he has been a faithful servant to his mistress–journalism–in all sorts and conditions of times. He may repeat, with Ernest Dowson:

"I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion."

Journalist he is, and it is as a journalist that he will be remembered by posterity. At any rate, it is undeniable that journalism was his first passion; and though, as time went on, other interests also came to occupy his mind, it must be said to his credit, to his intellectual integrity, that, even while sweating for them, he never wholly lost sight of his life's work, and returned to it the moment he was emancipated from alien toil: that, to put it differently, though, for the time being, those other interests "served to grace his measure," journalism was "his real flame" all along–aye, even when uncomfortably shivering in St. James' Palace a few months in allegiance to a misconceived duty.

Mr. Chintamani was born and bred in Vizianagaram in the Andhra Desa; and while still in the fourth or fifth form fell violently in love with newspapers and politics, and when other boys were panting and perspiring after such mystifications as are to be found throughout the length and breadth of Euclid, he would be surreptitiously reading, the ‘Hindu,’or the ‘Bengalee,’or any other paper he could get hold of, or else would charm the hours away by going through the various Presidential Addresses of the Indian National Congress, from the time of its inception to date. It is easy to fathom the reason of his extraordinary success both in journalism and in politics: that reason is none other than his early fondness for it. Recently that best of dramatic critics and one of the best of living English prose-writers, Mr. Ivor Brown, confessed: "A fool had brought me to Latin, but a wise man brought

me to Virgil." But Mr. Chintamani had no need of any such deus ex machina for being brought (foolishly or otherwise) to his chosen subjects of study: he himself brought himself to them out of the abundance of love that he bore them: he was his own inspirer. Depend upon it, when a man shows unmistakable indications of a strong and ineradicable attachment to any subject under the wide canopy of heaven–ten to one he will one day master it and bring unforgettable credit both to himself and to it. What does Stevenson say?

"To be wholly devoted to some intellectual exercise is to have success in life; and perhaps only in law and the higher mathematics may this devotion be maintained, suffice to itself without reaction, and find continual rewards without excitement." 1

R. L. S. was, of course, wrong in restricting his examples to "law and the higher mathematics": the sentiment holds good of journalism also. Journalism is as great and as difficult an art as any other; and, as in the others, unless one is prepared to give the whole of oneself to it, one cannot make a success of it. I am aware that the world is full of journalists nowadays: especially the Western world, where they seem to grow on every tree-top and every factory-chimney,–in fact, wherever there is the least bit of space for them to grow on. Journalism is a noble profession, even if some journalists are far from noble: and just now it is true enough that there are more reprehensible journalists per square inch of the earth's surface than there are honourable ones. But I am, in this context, speaking of the more worthy sort of journalists; and of these Mr. Chintamani is one of the most distinguished examples. Had he been born in England, he would have been more than an equal to your Spenders and Gardiners, your Garvins and Stracheys; and as a memoir-writer (but of that anon) he would have held his own with the best anywhere. Extraordinarily fortunate as he has been, he has been slightly unlucky in having been born in India: for having regard to his unusual talents, I cannot but confess that opportunities have been wanting for the realisation of the highest in him. The Leader is, doubtless, the best Indian-edited paper in the country. But he who thinks that it gives sufficificient scope for the expression of his genius does irreparable injustice to Mr. Chintamani. There are heights in him that he has not scaled: nor ever will, circumstances being what they are. Compared to the British species, Indian journalism is still in its infancy; and though, with the passing of days, it is making remarkable headway, it would be foolishness to bracket it with the former. But I dare to say that, were Mr. Chintamani suddenly elevated to the editorship of any daily in England, he would not only not shame himself but would shed such light on it "'as never was on sea or land." It is opportunities that make a man; and in India, except perhaps in the department of law, there is not a sufficiency of them in any field for her sons to lift themselves up from comparative obscurity to the empyrean of supreme success. Unless the standards are extremely high, the ensuing results will not be high enough. In the country of the blind, we are told, the one-eyed are the monarchs. So far as journalism is concerned, ours is a country of the blind, and what successes we have are so only on the above principle. Mr. Chintamani is not capable of boasting, but if, in an expansive mood, he were to repeat that excellent line of Drayton's, "My thoughts bred up with eagle-birds of Jove,"–why, there would not be much of ill-manners in it, because, in so far as those thoughts of his relate to his beloved profession, they have "bred up with eagle-birds of Jove": but having done so, they have not the means of realising themselves to the fullest extent, of "expanding" themselves, in Walter Pater's celebrated phrase, "to the measure of his intention." And more's the pity.


Mr. Chintamani, along with Mr. K. Natarajan of the Indian Social Reformer and the late Mr. Karunakara Menon of the Indian Patriot (alas! long since defunct), learnt whatever was to be learnt of his profession under the loving care of that doyen of Indian journalists, the late Mr. G. Subramania Iyer of Madras. Those, really, were in a manner of speaking, the giant days before the flood. People were better in the mass, there was usually a hearty give-and-take, and superior minds did not, as a rule, disdain to commune with inferior ones: on the other hand, they were only too eager to share the things of the intellect with whosoever was anxious to be thus benefited. Great men did not completely and irretrievably doff their humanity, they did not erect unscalable barriers round about their persons: per contra, they were free and easy going, and their knowledge and wisdom could be availed of by anyone who chose to do so. In fact, it seems to me that what Hazlitt said of the period immediately following the French Revolution can be applied, mutatis mutandis, to the time of which I am speaking:

"Somehow that period was not a time when nothing was given for nothing. The mind opened, and a softness might be perceived coming over the heart of individuals beneath ‘the scales that fence’ our self-interest:"

The training that the trio mentioned above received from that distinguished son of India stood them in good stead then as well as thereafter: for it is only fair to refer their glorious latter success to the uncommonly good coaching of their common master. On this view of the matter, I take leave to say that only half of their success is theirs, sui generis: the other half must, undisputedly, be laid at the doors of Mr. G. Subramania Iyer. In these things tuition counts for at least as much as the gifts one brings with onself to the task in hand. In one sense of the term, indeed, the clay is almost nothing: the potter's hand is everything.

Just how Mr. Chintamani, then working in a half-baked moffusil paper in remote Vizianagaram, ‘cottoned on,’ in the colloquial phrase, to Mr. Subramania Iyer, or vice versa, is a tale soon told, though the telling of it does not at all render the essential nature of the transaction any the less baffling. The mystery remains a myslery even when it is explained. Mr. Subramania Iyer once paid a hurried visit to far-off Vizianagaram on some business. Mr. Chintamani, though lacking in cash and, what is more to the point, in any degree–that surface-polish of modern education, which is now-a-days a million times more important even than real, solid, substantial knowledge–was indefatigably preparing himself to meet Fate whenever it should deign to come to him; and though only a failed F.A., and poorer than poverty, he held himself in readiness for the impending visit of the great man, and when that visit materialised, boldly went up to him (as though he had a prevision of success) and asked for a job in his office: on the combined strength, I suppose, of his poverty, his insatiable interest in Congress Presidential Addresses and newspaper leading articles, and an ingrained belief in his own worth–a belief that a plentiful lack of shirts in the family wardrobe seemed not in the least to impair. Well, the upshot of it was–whether my readers will believe me or not–that Mr. G. Subramania Iyer readily capitulated to the charms of the youngman's pleadings on his own behalf (though on what one of the four grounds mentioned above I cannot say); and not only appointed him sub-editor in his famous paper on the spot, but, if I remember rightly, did not allow the grass to grow under his feet and (for fear, perhaps, of losing his precious bargain) took him away along with himself to distant Madras and to a different people from his own fellow-Andhras, or fellow-Telugus: for Mr. Chintamani hates the word ‘Andhra’ almost as much as Miss Catherine Mayo hates the word ‘Hindu.’ Thenceforward Mr. Chintamani made himself: or, rather, if the truth were to be told for once, I should say that Mr. Subramania Iyer made Mr. Chintamani's career, and made it, moreover, on such sure and firm foundation that even when the time came for the veteran's supporting hands to be snatched away from it, it should not prove treacherous and fail his disciple's feet. In the lives of ‘self-made’ men there are always, let it be understood, one or more Subramania Iyers in the ground: but, for that very reason,–that is, for their being in the ground–practically nothing is heard, or allowed to be heard, of them, and the hero himself contrives to live in the limelight for all the time. In Mr. Chintamani's career there are at least two more men, besides he of whom so much has been written already, who acted as benevolent pulleys to the upraising of himself from the bottom to the top: I mean the late Rao Bahadur Mr. R. N. Mudholkar of Amraoti, and (God be thanked) the still living Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, of Allahabad.


From Madras, Mr. Chintamani took himself; in due course, to Allahabad to serve in the Indian People–a semi-weekly, which, later on, was merged in the present Leader. Even before going to Allahabad he had made the acquaintance of Pandit Malaviya and others in the Lahore Congress to which he went all the way from Madras; and there he made his first speech. He was very young, that was his first visit to the Congress, he was absolutely unknown, but, nothing daunted, he wrote out his speech beforehand, got it by heart, bathed in the river, put on holy ashes, prayed to God deeply and fervently, and then wended his way to the Pandit's tent and repeated the experiment with Mr. Subramania Iyer at Vizianagaram on, if possible, a larger scale and with more splendid success. I should, in all fairness, say that Fate urged him on, because no other mortal, and with such scanty credentials, would have bearded two or three lions in their own dens with such undoubted victory as Mr. Chintamani did in Madras and in Lahore. The great men did not push him away, or order their chaprasis to push him away (as would have been done in these days), but bore with him, and, at last, allowed him, however unwillingly, to speak in the open Congress. Mr. Chintamani, we may be sure; did not wait to be asked twice, but leapt to the platform and delivered his first and urgent message to the nation in no faltering terms and in exactly the same form as he had previously written it down. The morning bath and the holy ashes and the passionate invocation to the Ruler of All had, I doubt not, their respective shares in the coming off of his maiden speech. At the next session of the Congress, as was only natural, things eased off a bit, and he again succeeded in taking the platform. Thenceforward there was practically no Congress meeting (uptil 1916) wherein he did not impress his audience with his fervent patriotism and persuasive eloquence. All too early, Mr. Chintamani became an All-India man.

After the Indian People episode, he was appointed Assistant General Secretary of the Indian National Congress, and, in that capacity, was closely associated with the late Rao Bahadur Mr. R. N. Mudholkar, whose native town of Amraoti he made his headquarters for some of his most happy years. Happy, of course, he was bound to be; all things conspired towards that one end. But journalism–that cunning jade!–was not minded to give him a permanent holiday away from herself, and so the Leader was started in Allahabad in 1909, mainly through the efforts of her most honoured son, Pandit Madhan Mohan Malaviya, and he was called to his former place as Joint-Editor with Mr. N. Gupta. The latter left the place after some time and Mr. Chintamani has been the sole Editor of it ever since, but for a period of three years or so when he joined the United Provinces Government as Minister for Education and Industries.


Before closing this part of my article, let me jot down a few points in regard to his journalistic capabilities. There is absolutely no doubt that Mr. Chintamani is a born Editor. He seems to have imbibed the knowledge of his profession with his mother's milk. If one wants to see him at his best one must see him as he is in his editorial chair. There he has few rivals and no master. Whatever he does not know of Politics and Economics is not worth knowing. His genius for fact and figures is almost uncanny. You will never find his mind ‘in an undress,’ as Charles Lamb would have put it, when these sciences are in question. The drearier the facts and the figures, the more he relishes them. Leave him to roam about freely in a wilderness of Blue Books, and he will thank you from the bottom of his heart. His gala day is the day when a copy of the Budget Speech in the Assembly comes to him. He shuts himself up with it in his room for hours and hours together–only tea or coffee being allowed admittance, for he is a great tea-drinker and would have held his own with Dr. Johnson in a tea-drinking contest–and when at last he emerges from it you can see a strange light in his eyes and his whole face is irradiated with a beatific smile.

Not only does Mr. Chintamani find himself absolutely ‘at home’ among such dry details and soul-less statistics: his style takes on a chasteness that is, alas! so woeful1y lacking elsewhere in his dissertations. When he is dealing with economical and sociological problems he becomes an entirely different man from his ordinary self: his words arrange themselves in a pattern that is a delight to the eye as well as the ear. The stuff is perfect both in manner and in matter, and one easily wishes for more of it. But take an article of his at random, and you are disillusioned; it is vitiated throughout by that disease known the world over as ‘journalese.’ But he possesses one quality that makes up for everything else, and which very, very few journalists, English or Indian, can boast of in an equal degree: I mean his lightning-like rapidity of writing. Indeed, I may say of Mr. Chintamani, as Hazlitt said of John Cavanagh, the famous fives player: "His service is tremendous." He writes at a furious pace; but the wonder is that not a single mistake creeps in. Perhaps, however, it is not a wonder, after all, in the case of a person who knows Bain's ‘Grammar’ almost by heart: though, I must confess there are many worthy gentlemen who seem to have no end of grammatical lore, but who, at the same time, are not above committing a few ‘howlers’ at certain frequently recurring intervals in their compositions:

"Rules for good writing they with pain indite,
Then show us what is bad by what they write."

It is a delight to watch Mr. Chintamani in his editorial chair. The whole office is hushed, there is only an hour or so to catch the mail, and the paper has not yet been printed: probably, there is news of first-rate importance, and Mr. Chintamani has been waiting till the last minute to write his article. Then, when he has not a second more to lose, he seizes pen and paper, and the sentences rush upon one another at such speed that one suspects that a Robot, not a human being, is letting them loose. The head-foreman himself waits upon him and, as each slip is dashed off, he runs with it to the compositors, and almost by the time the last slip is written, the proof of the whole article is brought in. Mr. Chintamani is an expert proof-reader, and with his flashing eyes he not only corrects the proofs but makes whatever changes he chooses to while in the process of correcting. Then, his whole face crimson with anger against the diabolical principle in the universe that makes possible such delay in the transmission of news and such muddiness in the heads of those who run the Press department, he rushes to the place where the printing is done, and lays about him with such fury that not a soul dares to look at him but, instead, works with all his might, and the paper that, otherwise, would have come out only four or five hours later is finished within the twinkling of an eye, and for that day at least everyone is saved. Mr. Chintamani is not less lovable when he is in his irate moods than when he is in his more genial ones.


I said at the commencement of this article that, as a memoir-writer, Mr. Chintamani can hold his own against anybody in the world. It is true, pathetically true, that not a single book of memories has issued from his pen so far, nor probably ever will. But, if he were to gird up his loins for that task, his book should be a roaring success. His work brought him in touch with almost all distinguished persons in the country, dead and alive, and he has a considerable acquaintance even among Englishmen and Anglo-Indians. What is more, he has a knack of piercing through the outer shell of their personalities and coming upon their real, their human, selves. And what he has once learnt, he never, never forgets. The result is that he remembers uncommonly well whatever is significant in the lives of those with whom, at one time or another, he came in contact, and even to listen to him, while the stream of his discourse rolls on to its appointed end, is a delight in itself. Mr. Chintamani is a master of narration and nothing that he writes or speaks is suffered to tire the reader or listener. Even when, for the thousand and oneth time, he declaims against the Congress and the Civil Disobedience Movement and, in the process, draws a too flattering picture of his own life-long creed, Moderatism, falsely called ‘Liberalism,’–that creed upon which he has thriven like a cedar of Lebanon,–even then, I say, he is not dull, but imparts to his audience something of his own fire, something of his own conviction.

I wrote a few pages earlier that consistency is, and has been, the guiding principle of Mr. Chintamani's life. Though that is true in the main, I must say to his credit that there was at least one occasion when he departed from his usual practice and adopted a more inspiring policy. It was when Mrs. Annie Besant and her two trusted lieutenants, Mr. B. P. Wadia and Mr. G. S. Arundale, were interned in Coimbatore in the height of the ‘Home-Rule’ agitation of 1917. Mr. Chintamani had been opposed to that agitation from the start. But the moment it was announced that three distinguished persons were made to suffer the extreme penalty of the law for their conduct, his gorge rose at the very mention of it, and he, then and there, indited a fiery leader under the inspiring caption, "Rally Round Home-Rule!"For a few months he was a Home-Ruler, and though later on he resigned from the Home-Rule League, still those few months will stand to his eternal glory. After all, it does not do to be always worldly-wise, to be practical, to be finicky, to be, in short, counting the pence and letting the pounds go.

Why is it, one asks oneself, that, during last year's agitation, when the Government did almost everything except pass orders for a general massacre of Indians–why is it, one asks oneself, that Mr. Chintamani did not remember his former glorious attitude and write a leading article under the inspiring caption, "Rally Round the Civil Disobedience Movement."As he himself loves to put it, echo answers, "Why?"

The truth is that the Indian Liberal programme, whether it is whole-hog or little-pig, is at least a whole decade behind the times; it is, so far as class-spirit is concerned, "as narrow as the neck of a vinegar cruet." Moreover, it lacks all the things that are calculated to inspire confidence in the masses. Of course, the Indian Liberals may say: "But we do not want to inspire the masses: ours is a more intellectual movement." As a matter of fact, they do say so; for which the simple but sufficient answer is: "If you feel like that, then there is nothing to prevent you from clearing out of the field altogether and leaving it entirely at the disposal of more democratic, and less superior, organizations."

There is no virtue in reiterating incessantly: "I have been a Moderate up to now and will remain one to the end of my life." In like manner Mrs. Micawber protested her faithfulness to Mr. Micawber, and declared that she would never desert him. Well, but Mrs. Micawber had reason as well as morality on her side: she was, after all, Mr. Micawber's own wedded wife. But what can be said for the Liberals? Mr. Robert Munro, in his book, Looking : Fugitive Writings and Sayings, reports the following highly suggestive incident:

"You have probably heard of the candidate in the South who patriotically affirmed, ‘I have been born an Englishman, I have lived an Englishman, and I hope to die an Englishman.’ A voice from the of the hall exclaimed, in accents unmistakably Scottish, ‘Man, hae ye no ambeetion?’ "2

I should like to suggest to your dyed-in-the-wool Liberals, "Men, hae ye no ambeetion?"

I have no space, I fear, to write about other things: his interest in spiritualism, his opposition to the Andhra Province movement, etc., etc. So I shall conclude my confessedly inadequate sketch with a few general observations. Mr. Chintamani is a very sociable man, and when he is in a genial mood one never tires of his company. As a conversationalist he has no peer, and to hear him discourse in English is a liberal education in itself. Dr. Johnson said of Goldsmith: "He wrote like an angel and talked like poor Poll." Mr. Chintamani talks as well as writes–if not exactly like an angel, at any rate like someone only a few degrees below an angel. He never, I suspect, had to wrestle with words: and never felt English to be a foreign language. I wish, however, he had experienced greater difficulties with that tongue at the very beginning: for, then, he would have been a much more graceful writer than he is. Your rapid writer is not necessarily a good writer; and easy writing is not necessarily easy reading. "I write with ease," said the confident young gentleman to Sheridan. "Yes," replied the great man, "but easy writing makes d– hard reading."

As a man, as well as a politician, Mr. Chintamani has one fault: he has no imagination. He cannot put himself in another's place; and thus it comes about that he is so fatally certain of himself. The words that I prefixed at the top of my article apply to him most appositely. Professor Laski might easily have written his essay on Mr. Chintamani instead of, as he has done, on Sir Herbert Samuel: the sentiments hold equally true of both. I have said just now that Mr. Chintamani is often fatally certain of himself; and that is partly why he is now where he is. This world is not for the Doubting Thomases. All the same, one could wish Mr. Chintamani were not so positive about practically everything under the sun. Though, to be sure, that way lies success, it does not, I take leave to say, conduce to the right development of the soul; and to such persons the adjuration uttered by Cromwell on a famous occasion comes pat: "I do entreat you, in the bowels of the Lord, to search your hearts, and conceive the possibility that you may be wrong."

To Mr. Chintamani duty is next to godliness: that is to say, duty as he conceives it. He sees to it that, so far as in him ties, nothing–not even what is called a ‘family tie’–stands between it and him. Sometimes, of course, his mania for it leads to comic situations. Once there was a very, very insignificant Committee meeting of some select members of the United Provinces Legislative Council: anyway, it was a ‘Committee meeting,’ however and from wherever chosen. It was certainly not of a nature to convulse the world to its very foundations, to ‘make’ or ‘unmake’ kings or nations. Well, to cut a long story short, he very nearly absented himself from the marriage of one of his sons for the sake of that meeting; and I have no doubt that it weighs upon his conscience still that he was persuaded to swerve, however little, from the straight path of duty. In these days, it does one good to come across such people, people in whom the quality of honesty has developed so far that they are loth to use–to take a minute instance–a single office letter-paper for private purposes. Mr. Chintamani, I am proud to say, is one of them, and Mahatma Gandhi is another; and greater praise than this (viz. to be thus bracketed with that saintliest of men, if only in one matter) cannot be, to paraphrase Jeannie Deans’ Scotch into English, in all the world that lies between the two ends of a rainbow.

1 ‘Weir of Hermiston’: P.19, Tusitala Edition: Heinemann.

2 Quoted by the New Statesman of July 19th 1930: P.480.

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