PAUL Johnson, writing in an article in...


PAUL Johnson, writing in an article in the May/June issue of The American Enterprise, has this to say about modern-day royalty:

"Both in Britain and in Japan . . . royalty as a constitutional instrument has a reasonably good chance of long-term survival.

"Despite enormous differences, Britain and Japan have important things in common. Both are islands, densely populated, and without any abundance of natural resources -- their peoples are obliged, therefore, to earn their living in the world by exercising their ingenuity in manufacturing, finance and trade. Both, in consequence, tend to be practical rather than theoretical peoples, measuring traditions and institutions by their utility rather than their logic. Monarchy . . . is metaphysical: but it has worked with mysterious efficiency in Britain throughout the twentieth century, and the fact that its success (on balance) cannot be explained rationally does not deter the British people from appreciating its record.

"The Japanese have had . . . the same experience with their royal institution. So both countries, I predict, will continue their love affairs with monarchy. But there will be tiffs and quarrels ahead, to which Britain is becoming accustomed but which in Japan will have all the excitement and dangers of novelty."

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THE REALITY of generational change continues to sink in. Leon Russell is hardly a well-known name these days. Nevertheless, he made the news over the weekend when the country's first baby boomer president quoted some lines from a Russell song in eulogizing his childhood friend, Vincent Walker Foster Jr. at his funeral in Little Rock.

Leon Russell cut quite a figure in the '60s, with a long mane of gray hair, a voice just raspy enough to command attention, and songs with lyrics that linger in the mind, like these recalled by President Clinton last Saturday:

"I love you in a place that has no space or time. I love you for my life, you are a friend of mine."

For any age, a fitting tribute from one friend to another.

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