Lord Rosebery (1847 – 1929)

From: Rosebery – Statesman in Turmoil (2005), by Leo McKinstry:

“Sunk into melancholia by the First World War, Lord Rosebery wrote in the autumn of 1916:

I look back on my life as a long dark tunnel which I have traversed not without pleasure but also with pain and anguish. The flowers, the pleasures, evanescent at best, have disappeared and I can only see the passage black, gloomy with poisonous hissing like snakes, with abysses yawning on each side into which I have stumbled, with memories hanging like stalactites from the room, the floor a stagnant marsh exhaling pestilence. Sinister memories like bats scurry about, past sorrows still alive flap along like owls. I can feel nothing but desolation and horror. How was I able to struggle through such long drawn agony, I ask myself, for I have said the joys have evaporated like will o’ the wisp. And as I strain my eyes through the darkness I see at the further end a pretty, smiling, innocent child, in whom I recognise myself.

In reality, Rosebery’s early years were much less carefree, featuring bereavement, loneliness, poor health and maternal indifference…”

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