A few years ago, at a dinner following a lecture I delivered in the University of London, I was staggered when a prominent figure in the political world and former teacher of philosophy at Oxford, Richard Grossman, said that he thought my career had been the most satisfying and enjoyable life of anyone that he knew. I retorted that such a view hardly tallied with the chapter in his book The Charm of Politics, called 'The Strange Case of Liddell Hart'. It seemed to me that I had failed in my main aims, and that almost every time there had been a prospect of being appointed to a post that I would have dearly liked, it had not come off!
Dick Grossman's answer to ^this was that, although often appearing to fail, I had repeatedly succeeded, in the long run, in getting my ideas adopted—even if not in my own country. He ascribed this effect in large part to what he called a ' way of writing irrespective of the consequences'—pursuing and expressing the truth as seen, without worrying about the outcome, personal and otherwise. Although a hazardous course it had turned out a case of 'casting your bread upon the waters', and he pointed out that it had brought me the means of continuing “to seek the truth, and write it, with an independence that no one in the Services or in politics could achieve.”
“That, in itself, must have been very enjoyable,” he said, “whatever the frustrations met.” He recalled Aristotle's saying that “Happiness is the activity of the best tiling in us, and this energy is contemplative”—keeping one's mind fully employed and fully active in the pursuit of truth.
So perhaps I have had a pleasanter life, and a more satisfying one than I have realised, when conscious of exasperation at failing to get one's ideas accepted here, and then to see them all too often taken up abroad, to the disadvantage of the country I had been trying to serve. Gradually I have become more philosophical about this, and Cross-man's comment has helped to make me more aware of the enjoyable side.
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