619: Appreciation in the Grand Style.

Plagiarism is an art in which the finest critical power is exhibited by means of creation. To understand fully another man’s work is to create it anew under the form of an idea, and to embody this idea in another artistic mould is to criticize the original work in the best manner. The greatest of poets are naturally the greatest of critics; their plagiarism is appreciation in the grand style.

(Edward Wright, “The Art of Plagiarism,” The Living Age, Vol. CCXLI, 1904, p. 373).

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619: Appreciation in the Grand Style.

617: Which Will Be the More Popular?

As De Tocqueville predicted, innovations in the direction of extensions of suffrage will always be successful in America, because of the selfish timidity of her public men. It is the nature of ultra democracy to make all its politicians time-servers; its natural spawn is the brood of narrow, truckling, cowardly worshippers of the vox populi and of present expediency. Their polar star is always found in the answer to the question, “Which will be the more popular?” As soon as any agitation of this kind goes far enough to indicate a possibility of success, their resistance ends. Each of them begins to argue thus in his private mind: — “The proposed revolution is of course preposterous, but it will be best for me to leave opposition to it to others. For if it succeeds, the newly enfranchised will not fail to remember the opponents of their claim at future elections, and to reward those who were their friends in the hour of need.” Again: it has now become a regular trick of American demagogues in power to manufacture new classes of voters to sustain them in office. It is presumed that the gratitude of the newly enfranchised will be sufficient to make them vote the ticket of their benefactors. But as gratitude is a very flimsy sort of fabric among Radicals, and soon worn threadbare, such a reliance only lasts a short time, and requires to be speedily replaced.

(Robert Lewis Dabney, “Women’s Rights Women,” The Southern Magazine, Vol. VIII, 1871, p. 328).

617: Which Will Be the More Popular?

616: A Feeble Facility of Abdication.

One of the features of a revolutionary era is the prevalence of a feeble facility of abdication. The holders of power, however natural and legitimate it may be, are too ready to resign it on the first demand. They do not take time to consider whether their power is rightful or not, whether it has or has not on the whole been used for good, whether, if in any case it has not been used for good, they cannot amend their course, or whether it is likely to be better employed by those to whom they are called upon to transfer it. The nerves of authority are shaken by the failure of conviction. It is an inevitable consequence of the demagogic system that every demand for the suffrage, reasonable or unreasonable, should prevail as soon as it shows strength, because the politician is afraid by opposition to make an enemy of the coming vote.

(Goldwin Smith, “Woman Suffrage.” In: Essays on Questions of the Day. New York: Macmillan & Hall, 1893, p. 185).

616: A Feeble Facility of Abdication.

615: The Last Moment of the Old Europe.

When Captain Leigh Fermor, working with the Cretan resistance in the 1939 war, captured General Kreipe and carried him off to a cave in the Cretan mountains, the General was at first not unnaturally nervous of the villainous appearance of his captors, but the next morning was a brilliant one, and they all crowded together to the cave mouth. You could see the snow on every peak in the White Mountains blazing with sunlight, and eagles floating in the clear blue sky. Captain Leigh Fermor was entranced, and murmured to himself the first stanza of Horace’s Soracte poem, ‘Vides ut alta stet nive candidum…’ The General heard him, and continued the poem in Latin to the end. The link held of course, and they became friends from that moment. There is something about this story, some resonance of the past — it could have happened after all in 1643 and not 1943 — that suggests that was the last moment of the old Europe.

(Peter Levi, Horace: A Life. New York: Routledge, 1998, p. 2).

615: The Last Moment of the Old Europe.