737: Smug.

The attempt to oppose external and mechanical barriers to the freedom of the spirit will create in the long run an atmosphere of stuffiness and smugness, and nothing is more intolerable than smugness. Men were guillotined in the French Revolution, as Bagehot suggests, simply because either they or their ancestors had been smug.

(Irving Babbitt, Rousseau and Romanticism. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1919, p. 25).

737: Smug.

735: The Mule of Politics.

“I gathered at an early age,” continued Lyle, “that I was expected to inherit my father’s political connections with the family estates. Under ordinary circumstances this would probably have occurred. In times that did not force one to ponder, it is not likely I should have recoiled from uniting myself with a party formed of the best families in England, and ever famous for accomplished men and charming women. But I enter life in the midst of a convulsion in which the very principles of our political and social systems are called in question. I cannot unite myself with the party of destruction. It is an operative cause alien to my being. What, then, offers itself ? The Duke talks to me of Conservative principles; but he does not inform me what they are. I observe indeed a party in the State whose rule it is to consent to no change, until it is clamorously called for, and then instantly to yield; but those are Concessionary, not Conservative principles. This party treats institutions as we do our pheasants, they preserve only to destroy them. But is there a statesman among these Conservatives who offers us a dogma for a guide, or defines any great political truth which we should aspire to establish? It seems to me a barren thing, this Conservatism, an unhappy cross-breed; the mule of politics that engenders nothing.”

(Benjamin Disraeli, Coningsby. London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1870, pp. 146–147).

735: The Mule of Politics.

733: Commit No Nuisance Here.

Commit no nuisance here. Charles X alone really understood this question. By ordering the suppression of the newspapers, he did a great service to the arts and to civilization. Newspapers are a species of courtiers or jobbers who interpose between artists and public, between king and people. We know what fine results have followed. These perpetual barkings deaden inspiration and fill heart and intellect with such distrust, that we dare not have faith either in a poet or government; and thus royalty and poetry, the two greatest things in the world, become impossible, to the great misfortune of the people, who sacrifice their welfare to the poor pleasure of reading every morning a few broadsheets of bad paper soiled with bad ink and bad style. […]

The reading of newspapers prevents the existence of true scholars and true artists. It is like a daily debauch which makes you come enervated and strengthless to the couch of the Muses, those hard and difficult maidens who require their lovers to be vigorous and quite fresh. The newspaper kills the book, as the book has killed architecture, and as artillery has killed courage and muscular strength. We are not aware of what pleasures newspapers deprive us. They rob everything of its virginity; owing to them we can have nothing of our own, and cannot possess a book all to ourselves; they rob you of surprise at the theatre, and tell you all the catastrophes beforehand; they take away from you the pleasure of tattling, chattering, gossiping and slandering, of composing a piece of news or hawking a true one for a week through all the drawing-rooms of society. They intone their ready-made judgments to us, whether we want them or not, and prepossess us against things that we should like; it is owing to them that the dealers in phosphorous boxes, if only they have a little memory, chatter about literature as nonsensically as country Academicians; it is also owing to them that all day long, instead of artless ideas or individual stupidity, we hear half-digested scrape of newspaper which resemble omelets raw on one side and burnt on the other, and that we are pitilessly surfeited with news two or three hours old and already known to infants at the breast; they blunt our taste, and make us like those peppered-brandy drinkers and file and rasp swallowers, who have ceased to find any flavor in the most generous wines, and cannot apprehend their flowery and fragrant bouquet.

(Théophile Gautier, Mademoiselle de Maupin. Paris, London and New York: Société des Beaux-Arts, 1905, pp. xlii–xliv).

733: Commit No Nuisance Here.

732: Fearful.

A government strong enough to act in defiance of public feeling may disregard the plausible heresy that prevention is better than punishment, for it is able to punish. But a government entirely dependent on opinion looks for some security what that opinion shall be, strives for the control of the forces that shape it, and is fearful of suffering the people to be educated in sentiments hostile to its institutions.

(Lord Acton, The History of Freedom and Other Essays. London: MacMillan & Co., 1907, pp. 64–65).

732: Fearful.