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- OF THE PRIME MINISTER - 159/159 -


'What thing is that?'

'Your retirement from official life. If the country is to lose your services for the long course of years during which you will probably sit in Parliament, then I shall think that the country has lost more than it gained by the Coalition.'

The Duke sat for a while silent, looking at the view, and, before answering Mr Monk,--while arranging his answer,--once or twice in a half-absent way, called his companion's attention to the scene before him. But during this time he was going through an act of painful repentance. He was condemning himself for a word or two that had been ill-spoken by himself, and which, since the moment of its utterance, he had never ceased to remember with shame. He told himself now, after his own secret fashion, that he must do penance for these words by the humiliation of a direct contradiction of them. He must declare that Caesar would at some future time be prepared to serve under Pompey. Then he made his answer. 'Mr Monk,' he said, 'I should be false if I were to deny that it pleases me to hear you say so. I have thought much of all that for the last two or three months. You may probably have seen that I am not a man endowed with that fortitude which enables many to bear vexations with an easy spirit. I am given to fretting, and I am inclined to think that a popular minister in a free country should be so constituted as to be free from that infirmity. I shall certainly never desire to be at the head of Government again. For a few years I would prefer to remain out of office. But I will endeavour to look forward to a time when I may again perhaps be of some humble use.'


OF THE PRIME MINISTER - 159/159

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