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Full text of "War-time financial problems"

THE   MEDIEVAL  CONQUEROR      199

The career has been opened, more or less, to talent.
But the handicap is so uneven and'capricious that
only exceptional talent or exceptional luck can fight
its way from the bottom to the top, the process by
which it does so is not always altogether edifying,
and the result, when the thing has been done, is not
always entirely satisfactory either to the victorious
individual or to the community at whose expense he
has won his spoils. The prize of victory is wealth
and buying power, and the means to victory is, in
the main, providing an ignorant and gullible public
with some article or service that it wants or can be
persuaded to believe that it wants. The kind of
person that is most successful in winning this kind of
victory is not always one who is likely to make the
best possible use of the enormous power that wealth
now puts into the hands of its owner,

Those who are fond of amusing themselves by
looking back, through rose-coloured spectacles, at
more or less imaginary pictures of the good old
mediaeval times, can make out a fair case for the
argument that in those days the spoils were won by
a better kind of conqueror, who was likely to make
a better use of his victory. In times when man was
chiefly a predatory animal and the way to success in
life was by military prowess, readiness in attack and
a downright stroke in defence, it is easy to fancy that
the folk who came to the top of the world, or main-
tained a position there, were necessarily possessed of
courage and bodily vigour and of all the rough
virtues associated with the ideal of chivalry. Per-
haps it was so in some cases, and there is certainly