Saturday, July 13, 2013


Reserve Opinion

Iris Origo (1902-1988), Images and Shadows (London: John Murray, 1970), p. 53 (on her grandfather Hamilton Cuffe):
Though a man of strong moral convictions, his mind was always open to the 'other fellow's' point of view. I remember my mother telling me that, when the news of the Jameson Raid had just reached England and all her young friends were ardently championing the 'gallant raiders', she wrote to her father, who was then abroad, a youthful letter reflecting this enthusiasm and received, by telegram, a damping reply: 'Facts not yet ascertained: reserve opinion.'

I think, too, that this natural impartiality was reinforced by an aristocratic conviction that too great vehemence, or too extreme an expression of opinion, were slightly ill-bred. I remember exclaiming as a child, in full assurance of being approved of: "I hate so and so; he says Ireland should break away from England at once!"—and being suppressed, as he glanced at me over his spectacles, by the quiet reply: "But, my dear, one doesn't hate people on account of their political opinions!"
There is a misprint in the index on p. 274:
Cuffe, Hamilton, see Desert, Earl of
For Desert read Desart.

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