Nobility comes in rough packages – Shoghi Effendi, Charles Dunning and the cigarettes.


Marion Hofman told this story about the Knight of Baha’u’llah to the Orkney Islands, Charles Dunning.

Charlie was small, slightly strange-looking.  The children in Kirkwall used to run after him and throw stones and sticks and call him names. He was simple and uneducated.

Charlie went on pilgrimage during the time of the Guardian.  At dinner the other guests were shocked because Charles spoke very forcefully to the Guardian telling his views – and wagging his finger at the Guardian to emphasize his points.  The Guardian laughed and took it all in good spirit.

Worse was to come.  After the meal Charlie took out his packet of cigarettes, lit one and puffed away.  Shock – horror!

The Guardian who loved Charlie (and I like to think was trying to deepen the other guests) instructed that a packet of 20 Players Navy Cut cigarettes be at Charlie’s dinner-table place for the remainder of the pilgrimage.

Roger’s comment:

At that meeting Marion Hofman had driven to the rest home where Charlie had retired to and brought him to the meeting to present him to us whilst she gave her eulogy.  He was a rough diamond, done-up but still scruffy, a bit clown-like. This taught me powerfully that nobility comes in modest packages AND that the Guardian really knew the wheat from the chaff. Only God knows how many simpering idiots Shoghi Effendi had to put up with – Charles was very little but 100% the real thing – and I suspect refreshed the Guardian’s spirit.

The Guardian’s humanity cut through what we would now call political correctness.  He understood the man’s sincerity was far more important than manners that were beyond Charlie’s experience.