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FOREWARD...By A.P. Herbert I cannot believe - as the Chairman always says - that Khaki Roberts needs any introduction from me. Nor can it be altogether seemly for a junior member of the English Bar (who never practised) to commend, or recommend, his leader. But I am so proud to call myself a friend of that benevolent and brilliant giant that I said 'Yes' at once, like some incautious witness in his artful grip.
Now, having read his rich, roaming memories, I think that I have found the clue to his flattering request. Describing his first days at Rugby, he says : 'I was large, uncouth, untidy, and desperately shy'. 'Shy ? ' That will surprise anyone who has seen him dispersing a pack of forwards or shattering a crooked litigant. But this witness, I believe, is truthful.
He is shy - and modest, too - in spite of his enviable powers and his luminous past. But he was never so shy, I suppose, as when he found that he had written a book, much of it about his own opinions and experiences of life : and my real job, I feel, is not so much to excite the reader as to reassure the writer.
Mr. Roberts - or may I call you Khaki ? - I can assure you that we all feel shy when the labour is done and :ne 'large, uncouth, untidy' wads of typescript are lying about. 'Why did we do it?' we think, 'And who will care ? ' Well, I, for one, am very glad that you have given us a little of your story, not a full or formal autobiography but a savoury fork-lunch from a plentiful diary. In these days of science and specialists, there are not too many many-y-sided 'characters' about; and you are one of the few.
I meet you on Grand Nights at the Temple (you very grand, myself a humble guest), I meet you (both of us losing) at 'the dogs', I meet you at the Saints and Sinners, that happy gathering of miscellaneous, amusing men, 'men-of¬the-world ', men of sport and art and entertainment. But on how many fields we never met or could! How many Queen's Counsel, I wonder, have played cricket for their college, lawn-tennis for their university, rugger for Devon and Oxford and England (I note that you were one of the first men to get your International before your Blue), and Justice for Civilisation at the Grand Assize of Nuremberg?
I found your account of Nuremberg fascinating, although, shy boy, you tell us nothing of the part you played yourself. You give us a tantalising glimpse or two of the courts: but one day, I hope, if you ever retire, we shall have another book about your own adventures at the Bar.
And then - apart from the bigger things - I found on every page some little reminder or reflection that must please all vintage men, and, I think, should please some of the young as well. I am glad that you loved Arnold Bennett and E. V. Lucas too: I enjoyed your shy but shrewd excursions into literature and history : and the young, who see all Heaven in a television screen, should know that there were days when the schoolboy, going back to school, received from father - a golden sovereign. Those were the days. Thank you, dear Khaki, and good luck to your labours! A.P.H.