The Right Hon. The Earl of Balfour, K.G., O.M., F.R.S

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Abstract

THE genuine statesman, so we read in the Republic, will be the man who, in contemplating the true good, makes it a pattern for ordering the State and individuals and his own conduct who spends much of his time in philosophic reflection, and yet, when his turn comes, endures for the sake of the public welfare the toil of politics and ruling, not as though he were performing some meritorious deed but simply as a matter of duty. In writing of the great personality lost to the nation on Mar. 19 last, one can scarcely avoid recalling the well-known portraiture. For, if ever in the chequered course of human history Plato's ideal has been to some extent realised, it was in Lord Balfour's case. Other political leaders have been classical scholars, men of letters, and even men of science. Who, however, among Prime Ministers, has ever before not only made philosophy his main pursuit as an undergraduate, but also at the age of thirty published in a technical journal an elaborate criticism of the transcendental theory of knowledge of sufficient importance to elicit replies from such eminent Kantian scholars as Edward Caird and John Watson? And, needless to add, this was the outcome not merely of a passing phase in the career of a distinguished public man it was the prelude to a large number of subsequent efforts in the field of speculative thinking, interest in which was no less keen in the man of eighty than in the man of thirty.

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