Out of love for one’s neighbor
England, 1990 – 1920’s. The history of Chester Nimmo, a man who was only one step away from the post of prime minister of England, is told by his ex-wife.
Nina Woodville gets acquainted with Chester when he serves as a clerk in an office for the purchase and sale of real estate in a small provincial town. Nina is an orphan, she was brought up by her aunt who ecstatically plays political games and eternally pushes this or that young talent of a male member to a particular committee. Chester walks in her pets, because he tidies up her bills and tells city gossip. He is thirty-four, he has an attractive, although somewhat vulgar, in the opinion of young snobs, appearance, comes from a very poor family. Chester is a self-taught, nonconformist and radical, a “good Christian” and a very eloquent person, a worldly preacher of the evangelical community. Nina does not interest him at all, she has been
in love with her distant relative of Jim Latter since childhood and is expecting a child from him. But she does not have time to blink, as the efforts of her aunt turns out to be the wife of Chester, who agrees for much for Nina’s sake, and for the sake of “five thousand pounds of dowry and family ties.” However, we must give him his due – he is so polite, delicate and nice that Nina does not feel unhappy and finds that in marriage with him there are positive aspects. All that is required of it is “to be preventive.” Of course, they have little in common. What surprises her most is that Chester often turns to the Lord (for example, he calls God’s blessing on their union every time before going to bed with her), as well as his hypertrophied class feeling. Coming from the lower classes, he sees in everything the “secret collusion” of the ruling classes, and even treats his wife as a class enemy, constantly reproaching her with the fact, that she despises him for “non-professionalism.” He genuinely hates the gentlemen, but at the same time declares that he always
wanted to marry a lady. In general, Nina soon becomes convinced that such a person can not be approached with usual standards, it is surprisingly combined hypocrisy and sincerity, anger with the poverty of the people and the desire for personal well-being, sensitivity and cruelty. He does not need to force himself to believe that he at the moment responds to his goals and desires, and on the next day it’s as holy to believe in something exactly the opposite. A close acquaintance with Chester and his entourage leads Nina to the idea that all politicians live in a “ghostly world of intrigues, chimeras and ambitious aspirations” and nobody cares about “truth and honesty.” But Chester’s lies each time contain a certain amount of truth, and a purely egoistic desire for power is clothed in a beautiful form of taking care of the welfare of the people and the country, and this happens on a subconscious level – at the moment when Chester Nimmo says something, he really thinks so, and that is his strength. Life for Chester – just a “balance of power,” so it’s pointless to reproach him for immorality.
The political career of Chester begins with an open letter to the newspaper and a pamphlet against the Tarbitton municipality, which are full of exaggerations and lies. But it is thanks to the storm caused by these publications that Chester becomes a member of the municipality and a candidate for the county council. The next step is anti-war rallies (the Anglo-Boer War is coming), usually ending with scandal with self-mutilation, but Chester’s name falls into the central newspapers, and he immediately becomes a notable figure. Nina, willy-nilly, is drawn into Chester’s activities, helps him, and the more she finds out her husband, the greater the dislike to him. Jim returns from the army, their romance resumes, Nina is about to leave Chester, but he catches her at the train station and in the waiting room, pronounces a heartfelt speech, from which follows, that their marriage is beneficial not only to themselves, but also to “neighbors.” The main gift that nature gave to Chester Nimmo is the gift of the speaker: a “penetrating” voice, eloquence and conviction of one’s own rightness – this is enough to successfully manipulate people. And returning to Chester, Nina is in the thick of the election campaign (for a seat in parliament from the Tarbitton district), and she does not get to Jim. In the course of everything, even the pregnancy of Nina (she is expecting a child from Jim), Chester wins, and he and Nina are taken out of the town hall. He admits that he waited for this twenty-five years. to successfully manipulate people. And returning to Chester, Nina is in the thick of the election campaign (for a seat in parliament from the Tarbitton district), and she does not get to Jim. In the course of everything, even the pregnancy of Nina (she is expecting a child from Jim), Chester wins, and he and Nina are taken out of the town hall. He admits that he waited for this twenty-five years. to successfully manipulate people. And returning to Chester, Nina is in the thick of the election campaign (for a seat in parliament from the Tarbitton district), and she does not get to Jim. In the course of everything, even the pregnancy of Nina (she is expecting a child from Jim), Chester wins, and he and Nina are taken out of the town hall. He admits that he waited for this twenty-five years.
A new stage is beginning – the way to the heights of power. Chester buys a mansion in London, which turns into the headquarters of radicals, his whole life passes in continuous meetings, meetings and discussions. He becomes a prominent figure in the party, because he expresses the interests of a certain group of radicals and has a frenzied energy. In addition, he knows how to come into contact with the right people – big industrialists and even landlords, who until quite recently called them “bloodsuckers” in their speeches. As a result of the new connections, his financial situation improves considerably: wealthy liberals who prefer to submit proposals to parliament remain in the shadow, not only lend him large sums, but also offer a director’s seat on the board of two companies and a share in the joint-stock company attacked,
After the elections of 1905 (when the liberals won a complete victory over the conservatives) Chester Nimmo is a member of the new government, where he holds the post of deputy minister, and four years later – the minister of the coal industry. He is surrounded not only by glory, but also by hatred. Former “comrades-in-arms” accuse him of “selling himself to the capitalists” and “enjoying the joys of his position” (considering that it is true that his wife knocked him out of the way), the radicals’ council threatens to deprive him of support. And the former rebel Chester now highly appreciates loyalty and, although he still believes in “class conspiracies,” prefers not to specify which class he represents.
“Cheering” Chester, which occurs in 1913, in no way is the result of remorse, he simply decides to “put on pacifism,” because the majority of voters are afraid of war. A trip around the country brings him thousands of votes, he becomes one of the most influential people in the House of Commons. During the July government crisis after another rally in defense of peace, it all seems that Chester is about to become prime minister, but… the war begins. And then Chester Nimmo takes a step, because of which he will be considered the embodiment of “hypocrisy and treachery.” Instead of resigning like other members of the government who opposed the war, he as if nothing had entered the office of Lloyd George as a minister of heavy industry. At the same time, in a public speech, that before “was misled,” and now wants to “stand on the side of the cause of peace and freedom against aggression.” Nina is surprised to see that although Chester simply “switched” to another camp, many believe that he acted correctly and honestly, and the number of new friends is not less than the number of enemies acquired. Chester himself cynically notes that “all this fuss will be forgotten very soon.”
Having reached the heights of power, he ceases to pretend to be a defender of the destitute, does not hide contempt for the people, cold-bloodedly and cruelly punishes old friends as soon as they begin to interfere with him. Before Nina, he also does not consider it necessary to pretend, and from a meek, delicate, and tolerant husband turns into a capricious family despot. Chester really loves Nina, and love makes him the ruthless enemy of his wife. Hardly moved to London, he puts a spy, his secretary, to her, and then makes every effort to spoil Jim Latter in the colony. Each step is aimed at linking his wife, depriving her of freedom, and only a natural ability to put up with circumstances and fear keep her next to a man she never could love. Just as detrimental to his influence on the fate of Nina’s children,
Chester’s star rolls up soon after the war (1918), and it happens just as unexpectedly as its take-off began in its day. During the next election campaign, the crowd throws Chester Nimmo rotten tomatoes. Most likely, this failure is a sign of general cooling towards the liberal party, which is confirmed by the great catastrophe of 1924, when the liberals suffered a crushing defeat in the elections (and Chester among others). He is already an old man, Nina still leaves him for Jim, but Chester, on the pretext of working on memoirs, for which he needs Nina’s constant help, lives in their house. He still manages to make unexpected love attacks on his ex-wife, which makes Jim angry. Nina lives in constant tension, but feels very happy, because never before Jim “did not love her so much.”