Thursday, December 1, 2022

The importance of listening

I enjoy reading about 19th century history. Today, about Lord Palmerston, who was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, including during the American Civil War. He dominated British foreign policy from 1830 until his death in 1865. Today Dan McLaughlin quoted the Duke of Argyll about how members of his government handled him.
His first impulse was always to move fleets and to threaten our opponents, sometimes on trivial occasions, on the details of which he had not fully informed himself by careful reading. Then, on finding his proposals combated, he was candid in listening and in inquiring and if he found the objections reasonable, he could give way to them with the most perfect good humour. This was a great quality in a man so impulsive and so strong-headed as he was, and so prone to violent action. It made him a much less dangerous man than he was supposed to be. But I made it an all-important matter that he should have colleagues who understood him and were not afraid of him.
John Douglas Sutherland Campbell, Duke of Argyll, Viscount Palmerston, 1892.

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