OrnaVerum
v 5.10.00
6 Oct 2018
updated 7 Jul 2019

Retrospective

In his biography of Joseph Chamberlain (a book, published in 1977, which William might possibly have read in the remaining couple of years before his death, given his fascination with political and constitutional history), Enoch Powell observed that

"All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs."

Take out the references to politics, and we get an epigrammatic jewel concerning human life in general – I find it hard to think of anyone, whether historical figures or people of my own acquaintance, whose lives were one long crescendo. Even Alexander the Great and his antithetical Galilean opposite, who had conquered two quite different worlds by the time of their deaths at 33, were indelibly defined by that very cut-off.

William, starting a long way down the field, gradually pressed forward, despite setbacks of various kinds, and eventually achieved a reputation amongst all who knew him, as a farseeing and inventive individual, and a very wise and kindly exemplar to his friends and family. But he was overtaken in business matters by unforeseeable developments in technology, and in his personal life by a catastrophic series of cerebrovascular mishaps aka strokes, which combined to produce an irreversible diminuendo.