The Independent today published the obituary of Lord Richard Acton, descendant of the famous Lord Acton, who wrote, Powe corrupts, absolute power corupts absolutely.
Here are a few choice paragraphs from the obit:
“….In his essay, “A Colonial Childhood: Coming of Age in Rhodesia” (North American Review, June 1990), he wrote about the particularities of his Jesuit education: “The bamboo cane played a huge part in discipline. I remember that in one term I was beaten 55 times in 84 days. My crimes were talking and cheek.” Another crime was using the excuse of going into town to play squash, which he did badly, in order to catch the last two races of the day at Salisbury racecourse. While hoping mainly to see his father’s thoroughbreds, Richard was not above betting on races in which the family’s mounts were not running. None the less, the school made him prefect in 1959.
“The famously child-hating Evelyn Waugh, who included a visit to his friend John Acton’s Rhodesian farm in his book A Tourist in Africa, gave the flavour of life at Mazoe in a letter to Ann Fleming on 10 March 1958: “Children were everywhere, no semblance of a nursery or a nanny, the spectacle at meals gruesome, a party-line telephone ringing all day, dreadful food, an ever-present, tremendously boring ex-naval chaplain, broken aluminium cutlery, plastic crockery, ants in the beds, totally untrained black servants (all converted by Daphne to Christianity, taught to serve Mass, but not to empty ashtrays). In fact every thing that normally makes Hell, but Daphne’s serene sanctity radiating supernatural peace. She is the most remarkable woman I know….
In 1994, his friend and fellow Catholic Lord Longford asked him for advice on family values for an upcoming debate. “I don’t think I can,” Acton confessed. “I’ve had three wives. Why don’t you try the Earl of Kimberley? He’s had six.” When Labour Health Minister Lord Hunt gave a speech in 2003 condemning smoking in public, Acton rose and intoned, “Is my noble friend aware that a very eminent parliamentary under-secretary of state for health was in the guest room bar smoking a very, very large cigar, and blowing the smoke in my direction?” Hunt, as the offending party, was aware. Thanks to Acton, so was the rest of the House, and the two remained friends.The Acton family motto is Valliance avance l’homme, “valour advances the man”. In Richard Acton’s case, it was the man who advanced the valour.”