The thing is, it's horribly easy to dislike someone for his (or her) virtues; it's not nearly as easy to cherish someone despite, or even because, of his (or her) vices.
When it happens, it's a sign we've been entirely seduced.
He gets us both ways.
Horace Rumpole started off in a TV series starring the actor Leo McKern, and later Rumpole's...can I call them adventures?..were transcribed by his creator, John Mortimer, into several books. I love the books, and I love Rumpole. He may be old, unclean, cigar-fumed, plump, unambitious, contrary - and unsuccessful, too, as the world judges it - but he is shrewd, brave, and, most of all, he has an understanding of, and love for, his fellow men that flows as wide as the Thames near whose banks he plies his slightly grubby trade, and wider than the woefully cheap claret in which he find consolation at the end of each doggedly determined day.
Rumpole spends his life defending petty criminals - who may have been convicted of dozens of crimes but who just might not have done this particular one - and annoying more or less everyone else, including the judges, his wife, and those colleagues of his whose social and professional ambitions aren't assisted by being associated with someone covered in cigar ash, and whose barrister's wig was bought decades ago from a retired Chief Justice of Tonga.
caricature of Leo McKern as Rumpole from the episode Rumpole and the Younger Generation.
Rumpole has his small vanities (the glories of the Penge Bungalow murder trail are never forgotten), but he is in just as frequent rueful contemplation of his inadequacies. He sees himself, as he sees everyone, whole; and the lowlier they are, the more he loves them.
And I'll tell you something: in Rumpole we have proof that an entirely illusionary character can make the world a better place.
And Hallelujah for that.
Word To Use Today: defence. Rumpole only ever defends, never prosecutes, which is one reason for his lack of professional advancement. The word comes from the Latin dēfendere, to defend.