Sir Ronald Storrs was an official in the British Foreign and Colonial Office who held several important posts including Governor of Jerusalem, Governor of Northern Rhodesia and Governor of Cyprus. T.E.Lawrence described Storrs as “the most brilliant Englishman in the Near East, and subtly efficient, despite his diversion of energy in love of music and letters, of sculpture, painting, of whatever was beautiful in the world’s fruit… Storrs was always first, and the great man among us”.
“I met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá first in 1900, on my way out from England and Constantinople through Syria to succeed Harry Boyle as Oriental Secretary to the British Agency in Cairo. (The episode is fully treated in my Orientations published by Ivor Nicholson and Watson. I drove along the beach in a cab from Haifa to ‘Akká and spent a very pleasant hour with the patient but unsubdued prisoner and exile.
When, a few years later, he was released and visited Egypt I had the honour of looking after Him and of presenting Him to Lord Kitchener who was deeply impressed by His personality, as who could fail to be? The war separated us again until Lord Allenby, after his triumphant drive through Syria, sent me to establish the government at Haifa and throughout that district. I called upon ‘Abbas Effendi on the day I arrived and was delighted to find Him unchanged.
I never failed to visit Him whenever I went to Haifa. His conversation was indeed a remarkable planning, like that of an ancient prophet, far above the perplexities and pettiness of Palestine politics, and elevating all problems into first principles.
He was kind enough to give me one or two beautiful specimens of His own handwriting, together with that of Mishkin-Qalam, all of which, together with His large signed photograph, were unfortunately burned in the Cyprus fire.
I rendered my last sad tribute of affectionate homage when in 1921 I accompanied Sir Herbert Samuel to the funeral of ‘Abbas Effendi. We walked at the head of a train of all religions up the slope of Mount Carmel, and I have never known a more united expression of regret and respect than was called forth by the utter simplicity of the ceremony. “